In the beginning, learning how to knit can be frustrating.
Mistakes are common.
And if you don’t know how to fix them, they can stop you from making any real progress.
The good news is that these mistakes are easy to fix.
With a few fixing techniques under your belt, you should be able to identify and fix your mistakes with ease and confidence.
Below are some of the most common knitting mistakes that beginners make and how to fix them, in the hope that you will be able to pick up your knitting again and finish the project you started.
Let’s get right to it:
Mistake #1: You put your knitting down in the middle of a row. Now you don’t know which direction you were going
Solution: The working yarn (the yarn connected to the ball), will be hanging from the last stitch you worked. Make sure that this stitch is on your right-hand needle when you begin.
As Liat Gat reminds us in this helpful video – “Right is right”:
Mistake #2: Your stitches are too tight. It’s hard to move them up the needle.
There may be a few reasons for this:
Cause #1: You might be making the stitches on the tapered part of your needle.
Solution: Make sure to push your stitches back onto the widest part of the needle each time you make a new stitch.
Cause #2: You may be tightening each stitch after you work it by tugging on the yarn.
Solution: Stop doing this. Instead, hold your yarn loosely, and each time you make a new stitch, gently lift up the right needle to make it slightly bigger.
Cause #3: You may be holding your yarn tension too tight. Are you wrapping the working yarn around your fingers?
Solution: Try to find a comfortable tension when you hold your yarn or try just holding it more loosely in your palm.
TIP: If you are using wooden needles, try switching to metal ones. The stitches will slide more easily.
Mistake #3: Your knitting is getting wider at the edges (but you’re trying to knit straight).
(OR There are too many stitches; You have an extra stitch)
Cause #1: You may have accidentally knit into the first stitch twice.
If you are new to knitting, you may have made an accidental increase at the beginning of a row. The first and/or last stitch of a row can be looser than the others, and sometimes twists around so that the two legs of the stitch below it are closer to the needle. You may have worked into the legs of the stitch below the first stitch as it twisted around the needle
Solution: You have 3 options:
- If it is on an edge that will be sewn into a seam later, you can just decrease it again as soon as you notice. Place a waste yarn marker where you had the extra stitch, and when you are sewing up the garment, take the extra stitch in the seam allowance at this point.
- If it bothers you to leave it there, you can drop the second stitch off the needle and unravel it to the point where the unintentional increase was made. Redistribute the extra yarn into the adjacent stitches. The selvedge stitch will likely be looser here.
- Unravel your knitting to the point when the error was made and continue from there.
Cause #2: You may have split a stitch while knitting into it, creating what looks like two stitches.
Solution: If it’s on the same row, or a couple of rows below, you can unknit to the stitch and knit it as one again.
Cause #3: You may have created an accidental yarn over (wrapping the yarn over the needle to create another stitch).
Solution: Unknit to the yarn over and unwrap the yarn from the needle
Mistake #4: You’ve dropped a stitch
Solution: If you have just dropped the stitch, simply pinch just below the stitch to stop it unraveling. Pick it back up by inserting the tip of the left-hand needle into the dropped stitch from the front.
Solution #2: If it has already unraveled, there will be a loose strand above the stitch. You will need to re-knit that strand before you place the dropped stitch back on the needle.
The easiest way to do this is with a crochet hook.
Being careful not to stretch your fabric too much (this will cause it to unravel further)…
- Insert the crochet hook into the dropped stitch from the front (make sure the strand is behind the stitch)
- Grab the ladder strand
- Pull it back through the stitch to the front.
- Repeat steps 1-3 until all the ladder strands have been re-knit
- Place it on the left hand needle.
It’s important to learn how to fix dropped stitches, since it’s going to happen a LOT! Here’s a couple of useful videos to help understand the process – courtesy of the brilliant Michelle Hunter and Liat Gat:
Mistake #5: Your knitting looks uneven and “messy”
Cause: You may not be holding the tension of your working yarn consistently. Some stitches will be loose and some will be tight, causing your knitted fabric to look uneven.
Solution: If you are new to knitting, this is a common problem that will improve with practice. The key is to find a comfortable and consistent way to hold your yarn. Washing and blocking your work can also help even out your knitting.
Mistake #6: You are starting a new row, but the yarn is attached to the second stitch instead of the first
Cause: When you worked the last stitch of the previous row, the yarn somehow slipped off and was never pulled through to make a new stitch.
Solution: Turn your work around as if you are finishing the last row. Slip the last stitch back onto the left needle, and work it again. Now you can turn your work and start the new row.
Mistake #7: Some of your stitches cross over other stitches
Cause #1: Incomplete stitch: You inserted your needle into the stitch and wrapped the yarn around the needle, but you slipped the old stitch off the left needle without pulling the new stitch through it. Both the old stitch and the new stitch are on your right needle.
Solution: Slip the intervening stitches back to the left needle or unknit the intervening stitches and put them back on the left needle. Knit it again, ensuring that you complete the new stitch.
Here’s an excellent video by Liat Gat:
Cause #2: Inserting incorrectly: You inserted the needle into the stitch a little lower than you should have, catching the stitch in the row below. When you pulled the new stitch through, you exited in the correct place, leaving the stitch from the row below on your needle, along with the new stitch.
Solution: Knit across across your needle to the mistake. Slip the double stitch off and unravel the stitch. You’ll need to pick the dropped stitch* up from two rows back up with a crochet hook and put it back on the needle *see above #4.
Cause # 3: Exiting incorrectly: You began the stitch correctly, but when you pulled the new stitch through the old one, you accidentally went too low and picked up the stitch from the row below. Now the new stitch and the one from the row below are both on your right needle.
Solution: Knit across across your needle to the mistake. Slip the double stitch off and unravel the stitch. You’ll need to pick the dropped stitch* up and put it back up onto the needle *see above #4.
Mistake #8: Your knitting has holes in it (and you’re not sure why!?)
Cause #1: Accidental yarn over. Somehow, you have created an extra wrap or yarn over on the needle, which leaves a large hole. This may have happened if you tried to knit a stitch while the yarn is in front.
Solution: To avoid an accidental yarn over, make sure that when you knit a stitch, the yarn is in the back. When you purl a stitch, make sure the yarn is in front.
To fix an accidental yarn over, unknit to the mistake and unwrap the yarn over. Continue knitting as usual.
Cause #2: Mistake when working m1 stitch. When you make a m1 increase (lifting the bar between two stitches and knit into it), you may be knitting into the front of the stitch, which tends to leave a big hole.
Solution: When you make a m1 increase, make sure to knit into the back loop to reduce the size of the hole.
Cause #3: Picking up work mid-row and starting again in the wrong direction (see #1)
Solution: Avoid putting down your knitting mid row. Your finished knit fabric will look neater if you complete your rows in one sitting.
Of course, this isn’t always possible. So, when you pick up your knitting after putting it down mid-row, make sure that the working yarn is attached to the last stitch on the right needle.
Check out the great video below by Staci at Very Pink. In it she covers these three common reasons for holes in your work and how to avoid and/or fix them.
So, there you have it! The most common knitting mistakes that beginners make (and how to avoid them in future!)
When you’re just learning, mistake are inevitable. But don’t give up!
Go back and identify where you have gone wrong and see if you can fix the problem. In the process, you’ll learn a great deal about your knitting and will be able to avoid these mistakes altogether!