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Tutorial: Going Back, Part 1: Tinking Your Knitting

In many of my classes, I meet students who panic, get cold sweats and have nightmares about undoing their knitting to fix a mistake. Today, in part 1 of my little "Going Back" series, I'm going to show you how to "unknit" your knitting so that you no longer suffer those fears.

"Tink" is "knit" spelled backward, and indeed, tinking simply means unknitting your stitches one by one so you can fix a mistake that isn't too far back. If you messed up on the current or previous row, then tinking is the way to go for the repair. If you erred farther back than that, then you'll want to tune in next issue for part 2 (Riiiip It). All right, let's dig in!

First, all you need to understand is that the stitch below the right-hand needle (those little V's) are what we are going to put back on the left-hand needle, undoing the current live stitches that sit on the right needle.

Here are the two views of the stitch we are going to bring back into "live condition".

Fair warning: The written instructions look way more complicated than it is, so compare them to the pictures and you'll say, "AHA!"

Step 1: Angle your knitting so that you can see the "bump" of the stitch below at the back of your knitting. Insert your left-hand needle into the stitch below, from front to back.

Step 2: Lift that stitch onto the left-hand needle and start scooting the live stitch on the right over to the edge of the needle.

Step 3: Keep scooting that right-hand stitch until if comes off the right-hand needle and then pull the working yarn (which is what that dropped stitch is) through the stitch sitting on the left-hand needle.

Step 4: Keep pulling the working yarn out of the loop on the left-hand needle until it is gone! And there you go. You have tinked one stitch.

Keep repeating Steps 1 through 4 until you have tinked all the stitches you need to.

For reference, here's how to tink purl stitches!

Step 1: Angle your knitting so that you can see the "bump" of the stitch below at the front of your knitting. Insert your left-hand needle into the stitch below, from front to back.

Step 2: Insert your left-hand needle into the stitch below, from front to back. Lift that stitch onto the left-hand needle and start scooting the live stitch on the right over to the edge of the needle.

Step 3: Lift that stitch onto the left-hand needle and start scooting the live stitch on the right over to the edge of the needle. Keep scooting until it comes right off the needle.

Step 4: Pull the working yarn (which is what that dropped stitch is) through the stitch sitting on the left-hand needle, thereby saying farewell to the old stitch that was originally on the right needle. Keep repeating Steps 1 through 4 until you have tinked all the stitches you need to.

Now, tell me, that isn't so hard, is it? I'll bet you are excited and hoping you mess up so you can try it out, aren't you?

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