A Letter From Chris Wall
Readers remain the best source of knitting inspiration and techniques. In this issue, I'll answer another letter and hope that others will benefit from my response.
A Letter From Chris Wall:
"I love the newsletter and read it as soon as it pops up! I do have a question that I have never seen addressed. We all have ripped out our share of rows from the end of a piece, but can I rip out part of the beginning rows? I started a piece and found that I did the first pattern a lot tighter than the end, so I would like to redo the beginning. So far, no one has any information; can it be done? I was thinking that I could weave a holder piece of yarn through the beginning, transfer it to needles and then knit from there. My project does have a stockinette stitch that I can work with, so it should not be hard to identify the stitches. Any experience with this? Thanks and keep the newsletters coming."
Chris, my experience has been that it is an exercise in frustration to pick out the cast-on row. Most of the cast-ons of which I am aware cannot be easily undone from the start point. Since the links of knitting go in one direction only, removing a row from the beginning is far more challenging than pulling out a row from the end most recently knitted.
Snip One Little Stitch
A far easier task would be to remove the pattern that you knit too tightly by clipping a stitch at the point where you are satisfied with your gauge. If you are knitting in a pattern stitch, I strongly urge you to find a row with only one color or a knit row to make reconnecting easier after the correction. From there, pull out one stitch at a time. You will want to capture the upper stitches on a small-diameter circular needle to have them ready to graft back together later.
After you have separated the too-tight knitting from the rest of the piece, pull out the rows that are incorrect. You may now re-knit the patterns, taking care to use either a larger needle or looser stitching to achieve the gauge you desire.
Knitting Done on a Closed Course by Professionals: Do Not Try This at Home
It would seem to be a simple matter to use the needle holding the captured stitches and knit in the opposite direction. I will confess to trying to do just that in the days before help could be found on the Internet or a local yarn-shop expert was available.
If you pick up the stitches and head south, your patterns will be off track by one-half stitch. In plain stockinette stitch, one-half stitch is not a huge problem, but with any other pattern, I fear you will not be happy with the results. If you are doing stranded knitting with more than one color or a textured pattern, the "V" formed by the stitches would also be off-kilter, a technical term for "not what you want."
Time to Graft
When you have accomplished this task, slowly and carefully graft the last row of the re-knit piece to the row on the capture needle, using a light touch. If grafting seems too much trouble, consider how much time you have spent thus far on the project and how long it would take to re-knit the entire piece!
On our website, CreativeKnittingMagazine.com, you can read through archived newsletters anytime you'd like. In the Nov. 7, 2008 newsletter, I wrote at length about sewing seams with mattress stitch. In the second section, Horizontal Seams, the illustrations and directions can easily be translated to grafting. The only difference is that you will not pull the yarn tightly after five or six stitches. Aim for a tension close to that of the knitting itself.
If your stitches are a bit loose here, fear not. It is far easier to gently snuggle up the loose stitches afterward than to try to loosen stitches that are too tight! Loosening tight stitches is not really doable anyway and may lead to strong language and thrown projects!