Thursday, January 24, 2008

Length reassignment surgery: lengthening and shortening knitwear

includes 3 illustrations, click any illustration to enlarge
As a frequenter of Ravelry, I have discovered that Ravelry is the greatest timesuck ever invented, although it is also the best website for all knitters (and spinners and crocheters) and you should join now lots of knitters would like to know how to make too-short knitwear longer, and too-long knitwear shorter, or remove a cast on and redo it, or otherwise start or end their fabric in some other place than it is now.

Now, this isn't very difficult, but it is scary the first time you try it, and there are a few shoals in the water, so that's the subject of today's post.

* * *
Problem:

Let us suppose that you have a sleeve or a hat which is TOO SHORT or TOO LONG, and that you have knit
  • from the top down
  • in the round or back and forth
  • in stockinette
Lucky you, that is the easiest case!

Solution:
  1. Unravel and re-knit longer/shorter.
* * *
Problem:
Let us suppose that you have a garment which is TOO SHORT or TOO LONG, and that you have knit
  • from the bottom up
  • in the round or back and forth
  • in stockinette
Solution:

(An aside: the below trick also works for catching live stitches out of an alread-knit stockinette fabric for ANY purpose, not just for lengthening or shortening).
  1. If you knit back and forth, unravel the seam to above the area where you will snip. If you knit round and round, just start right in with step 2.
  2. Snip one stitch of the garment in the round ABOVE the ribbing (for too short) or just where you want the ribbing to begin (for too long).
  3. Using a needle to pick out the yarn along the row or round (purple in the diagrams), unravel all the way around/across the garment.
  4. As each live loop pops free, catch it on your needles--the same needle you used to knit the garment in the first place. Don't worry now which way your stitch is laying, just worry about catching it.
  5. When the ribbing pops loose, put it aside, you will not need it now.
  6. Once all the live loops are caught on your needles, slip your way around the work again, re-orienting and catching each loop RIGHT ARM FORWARD.
  7. Attach a new, unkinked yarn by any of these methods: Russian join, overcast join, overlap join, back join.
  8. If the garment was too short, you are now ready to reknit, downwards, in stockinette to lengthen the garment sufficiently until it is time to start the ribbing again. This works because stockinette has the wonderful property of lining up REGARDLESS of whether it is knit "up" or "down."
  9. If the garment was too long, you are now ready to knit the ribbing from where your stitches are all on the needle. If you have taken out so much fabric that you are several increases higher in the garment, and there are more stitches on your needle than there were when you first knit the cuff/band/edging, switch to smaller (or even to MUCH smaller) needles to re-knit the cuff. This way, the cuff/band/edging will still fit, even though it is being re-knit on more stitches than the old one.
  10. If the garment was too short, and your leftover yarn is insufficient to do all the further knitting, unravel the part of the sleeve you popped off, and process it according to these instructions so that it can be reused.
* * *

Problem:
Your TOO SHORT or TOO LONG garment was not knit in stockinette. This means that the picked up stitches to be knit "downwards" will be a half-stitch off in the fabric pattern.

Solution:
  1. You need to think outside the box. If the fabric is a ribbing, do the additional knitting for the cuffs/bands/edging in a different ribbing. So, for example, if the garment fabric is 2x2 ribbing, do the edging ribbing in 2x1 or 1x1 or whatever other ribbing you've always had a hankering to try.
  2. If the fabric pattern is garter stitch, edge with seed stitch; if it is seed stitch, try a ribbing or a garter stitch, etc.
* * *
Problem:
Your garment is TOO SHORT and you do not have enough yarn to make it longer, no, not even if you recycle the popped-off bits.

Solution:
  1. Matching or contrasting color: If the garment body or sleeves (or hat or other garment) is/are too short, unravel the bands and recycle that yarn to lengthen the garment. Then use a matching or contrasting color in the same weight and kind of yarn to re-knit the bands. A blue sweater with green or gray bands would look smashing, and no one but you would know you never meant to have it that way all along.
  2. Different dyelot of the same color: It often happens, however, that the same color is available, but in a different dyelot. In that case, do the same thing: recycle the yarn of the same dyelot out of the bands to lengthen the garment, and use the different dyelot for the bands. Bands are most often made in a different fabric stitch (ribbing, for example) than the main body of the garment (which might be made in stockinette). The change of fabric pattern on the bands hides the change of dyelot better than simply adding the new dyelot on in the stockinette portion.
  3. Add a stripe of a different color: I don't normally advocate Kitchener stitching (grafting) the snipped off bits back on--the Kitchener stitch is a very slow one, and progress is glacial. Also, there is often a noticeable tension difference between the garment fabric and the Kitchener-stitched row. However, every guideline is made to be broken, and in the case of a too-short sweater for a person of athletic build, a very good effect can be had by snipping and separating the body just below the underarm, or just above the bottom ribbing, and knitting in a stripe of a different color to go around the body. The other part of the sweater is then grafted back on. This can be a successful strategy for too-short sleeves on an athletic person's sweater, also. (Why only an "athletic person?" because a person with a fuller figure, male or female, is unlikely to be much complemented by a stripe just below the bust/chest, or worse yet, a stripe around the belly.) Oh, oh wait, this works on baby sweaters too, for you procrastinators whose target baby has lengthened while the project lay becalmed on the needles for several months. For babies, the stripe looks best just above the bottom ribbing. (Easy Kitchener stitching instruction here.)

Good luck--and if your problem is not solved here, try posting on the "technique" board on Ravelry, or send me an e-mail at TECHknitting@hotmail.com

* * *
Addendum, Jan. 2013:  I've done a you-tube on a trick to quickly separate knitted fabric into two pieces--here ya go...



--TECHknitter
You have been reading TECHknitting on: "lengthen knitting and shorten knitting."