Monday, March 24, 2014

A faster, easier way to tink

Unraveling, tinking, ripping-out, frogging*: these are all names for un-knitting already-knit fabric, and there is a range of methods for doing it, from slow-but-sure to fast-and-bold. Today's post shows a combo method--fast, yet sure.

At the slow end of unraveling, there is tinking. "Tink" ("knit" spelled backwards) means to unpick knitting, working backwards down the row to transfer each stitch from needle to needle, while pulling the running yarn out of each stitch in turn, during the transfer process. Worked over a long stretch, this stitch-by-stitch approach is dull work, yet many knitters do it patiently, preferring to be slow but sure.

At the bold end of unraveling, there are the knitters who slide the work off the needles, yank out arms-lengths of yarn until the target row is reached, then pick the bare naked loops onto a needle. The upside of the bold approach is speed. The downside is the necessity to grab the naked loops without a lot of manipulation so as not to start ladders or draw the yarn out of nearby stitches. In practical terms, this leads to ply-splitting.

If correcting split stitches on the fly is not a problem for you, just keep on doing as you are doing now, no need to read further, you expert, you! However, if you're a tink-er wishing for more speed, today's post shows a combo method.

It is possible to slide the work off the needles, yank out yarn with abandon, yet slow down as you near the target row and catch the underlying loops perfectly: no ply-splitting, and here's how:

  • Slide the work off the needles
  • Unravel by pulling out yarn, as fast as you like
  • STOP one row (or if you are cautious, two rows) short of the target row.
  • take a very thin knitting needle in your active (knitting) hand, and unravel the last row(s) as shown in the below you-tube video. 

Note that you ARE splitting the plies of the EXISTING stitch (the one you're removing).  Yet, once that stitch has been pulled out, the underlying stitch (the one you want on the needle) is unsplit. If you take care to set the stitches on the needle RIGHT arm forward, the stitches will not be mis-mounted.

In some instances some of the stitches MAY be mismounted (left leg forward) because sometimes, it is easier to pick them up that way unsplit  IF you are getting mismounted stitches, you can either go through the work again, changing the orientation of the mis-mounted ones, or you can straighten them out as you knit into them, by inserting the needle through the back loop. There is more information at this post on length reassignment surgery (second and third illustrations).

Using a very thin needle speeds pick of the stitches of the target row. Further, you do not need to slide the stitches onto the original size needle to begin the re-knitting process, you can knit them right off the thin needle.  This is because the stitches you're catching onto the thin needle were originally formed over a needle of the correct size.  The thin needle is simply a holder.  As long as you work the new row with a needle of the correct size, no fabric-distortion will result. For further reading on this subject, here is a link to a whole post about it.

CAVEAT:  As neat as this trick is, I myself wouldn't do it on lace, or on anything knit with silk.

Good knitting! TK

*frogs say "ribbit-ribbit," sounds like "rip-it, rip-it," yeah?