General Knitty Chat

Rip it back and start again?

Every knitter has been there – the point at which you know you’ve gone slightly wrong in a pattern and really the best thing to do would be to rip back and re-knit the offending part. It’s one of the hardest decisions to make but believe me, ripping back is always the best thing to do. Even if the mistake is only obvious to you, it will bug you every time you wear that garment and if the mistake is in an item you’re knitting for someone else you will inevitably blurt out when you give it to them that there is a tiny mistake in there.

frogged yarnPersonally, I get the offending garment off the needles ASAP and start ripping back before I have a chance to talk myself out of it. This works best for me and I actually have quite a moment of calm sitting there surrounded by freshly-frogged wiggly yarn ready to knit the last few hours’ work again. “Are you completely mad?” I hear you cry. Well, yes I am, but not for this reason. Many years of knitting have taught me that there is little use in making-do with a knit. At the end of the day, knitting is a personal hobby and for the most part, the garment is for me and nobody but me will care about or even notice a mistake in the knitting but somehow, you will spot that mistake every time you wear that knit and you will feel the urge to point it out to others:

“Hi Suzie, nice sweater, did you knit it yourself?”

“Yes I did, but I really hate the fact that I forgot to cross this cable over – see, this one here? it’s supposed to go this way but it goes the opposite way and it really bugs me”

“um… yeah…..I guess, anyway I’ve gotta go now, bye.”

I am exaggerating (slightly) of course, but you know what I mean. We just can’t help pointing out defects and mistakes to people who compliment us so take the temptation away from yourself by knitting the best garment you can and this includes ripping back when you spot a mistake. You will thank yourself in the long run – believe me.

I recently had to rip back a project….. twice. And I was surprisingly calm about it both times. Why? Because it was a piece I’m designing and ripping back is part and parcel of designing well fitting garments. Even the most experienced designers have to regularly rip work back and re-design certain sections of a garment, and the resulting patterns are the better for it. In fact, I would be dubious about ever buying  a pattern from a designer who claimed they get it right first time every time as I know for a fact that the garments I’ve re-designed and re-worked have the best fit. I’m a serial tweaker and I firmly believe it’s these “tweaks” which I could easily ignore and leave out which give garments that extra little something which make them hard and fast favourites that you’ll want to knit again and again rather than just a so-so knit.

Sometimes, annoyingly, the ripping out and re-knitting only confirms that I was right the first time and no changes are made to the pattern, but at least I know this is the best fit for this particular pattern and I won’t be kept awake at night thinking “Maybe it would’ve been better if I did this……” and believe me people, designing knitting patterns can indeed keep you up at night!

So the moral of the story is…… rather than screaming with frustration next time you need to rip a project back, embrace the knowledge that you are making the best possible version of your garment. Wear it with pride knowing the hard work you put in to making it perfect.


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