Last week when I came home from the grocery store I was met at the door by my 8-year-old Golden Retriever Samson, as usual.
As he walked away I noticed he seemed to have some string wrapped around his two left legs. On closer inspection I realized it wasn’t string, but the yarn from the striped tank top I’ve been knitting from the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Debbie Bliss Magazine.
He had dragged it through three rooms to get to me.
The last time I worked on it I left it on the coffee table, rather than placing it in my project back like a responsible knitter. I’m not sure how it happened, but he obviously caught a paw in it when he hopped off the couch to meet me.
Since I had to bring in the groceries, I said a few choice words and stomped out of the house. (To my husband’s credit, when he heard the commotion and saw my project on the floor, he quickly and quietly started putting groceries away. LOL!)
Once I calmed down I was able to assess the situation. Instead of dragging the yarn balls, which would have been good, Samson dragged the sweater, which was bad. The circular needle got hooked on a planter, which caused the project to slide to the end, dropping five stitches off the needle in the process.
Luckily, Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 Ply is a 100% Merino yarn and I’m working at a fine gauge so the stitches only dropped down four rows.
Can you image the disaster if I’d been working with a slippery yarn or at a loose gauge?
With over 100 stitches on the needles, I decided to attempt a spot repair rather than rip all those rows back.
The first step is to catch the dropped stitches. Since it was only four stitches I used a US 2 double pointed needle to pick up the next row of live stitches through the right hand leg.
It is important to catch the right hand leg because that seats the stitches facing the proper direction. If you catch the left leg your stitch will be twisted and you’ll have to remember to untwist it before you knit it. However, sometimes it’s just best to get the stitches on a needle and worry about the details later!
US2 is the same size needle with which I’m knitting the project. Sometimes it’s easier to catch that first row with a needle one size smaller.
Then I untangled the loose loops of yarn from the dropped rows and organized them in the proper order. Since I was going to use those loops as my working yarn to reknit the lost rows I needed the loops to be in the order they would be used.
If you attempt this repair this step will make sense when you get to it. In this picture you can see how each loop is feeding off a row.
Then I ignored the rest of the project and pretended I was just knitting an awkward little swatch with little lengths of yarn. I used the double pointed needle and the far end of the circular. To complicate things I had to work on increase on the first rescue row, but I maintained my focus and it worked out fine.
Things got a little tight when I was next to the main body of the project, but I knew there was enough yarn available since those rows had been there once before!
In the blink of an eye I had reworked the dropped rows and you could hardly tell there was an issue at all. The last step in the reknitting process was to work across the reclaimed stitches to finish the row.
Then I set about untangling the yarn. I had picked up the pulled yarn carefully so it was more a matter of straightening things out and rewinding the balls than dealing with knots.
The whole repair from the time I sat down to having the yarn balls sorted out took about half an hour.
And you can be the project goes back in its project bag when I’m not working on it!
Now, this was an extreme circumstance, but this repair method has other applications.
You can use it if you drop stitches in the middle of a project as well. In fact, I think that situation is easier because the loops are more obvious.
You can use this method on purpose to repair an error a few rows down. For instance, if you are working a cabled project and notice you crossed a cable wrong you can drop the involved stitches down to the error, and work them back up rather then ripping out all the stitches on all the intervening rows.
About the only time this won’t work is if you need to add stitches you forgot. In that case you won’t have enough slack in the surrounding yarn and the repaired area with be too tight. (I was able to increase a stitch because I’d already worked it before the disaster occurred.)
You also can’t really decrease a stitch. In that case you might have too much slack after the repair is done.
If you want to test this method in a more relaxed situation you can knit a generous sized swatch in a worsted weight yarn, drop some stitches in the middle, and reknit them for practice.
I know it sounds scary, but it’s a good skill to have. Then the next time your pet gets into your project bag you’ll have confidence in dealing with the fall out.
If the idea of this repair seems too complicated an alternative would be to run a lifeline (or smaller sized needle) through the row below the point where the dropped stitches stopped. Remember to pick up the right hand leg of each stitch on your target row. Then rip with abandon confident your lifeline will hold the stitches. Ensure none of the stitches are twisted and continue knitting as though nothing happened.