Friday, February 13, 2009

Afghan KAL Snafu

Yes, I ran into a snafu while knitting my latest block for this year's afghan. And by snafu, I mean mistake, of course. Do you see it?

Maybe this will help:
As I used to sing with Sesame Street, "One of these bobbles is not like the others / One of these bobbles just isn't the same." Apparently this taught kids to be racist and quick to find fault with those unlike themselves, but in knitting it just won't do to have a "unique" bobble. No individuality here, thank you very much.

I still don't know what went wrong; I just know that when I paused to examine my work (ok, let's be honest: admire) I was appalled to find something that didn't look right. I showed the entire square to my husband (who's no knitter but has an eye for detail) to see if he could spot the mistake. I let him know there was a mistake, but not what or where it might be. Well, he spotted it right away and said it must be fixed. Yes, it must.

So I had a choice: I could tink(1) or frog(2) back 6 or 8 rows, or I could just undo the stitches that would lead me down to the mistake. The second option involved less reknitting and didn't preclude resorting to the first option if it didn't work. I've done enough of this type of repair to feel confident, but I've never done it for such a complicated pattern. We've got purl 3 togethers in here and (K1, P1, K1) into one stitch, so this was not just a straight up and down march. I would be making three stitches into one and one stitch into three as I went.

Step 1. Knit across the row until you get just before the stitches which are above the mistake. In this case, the "column" above the mistake was alternating between 3 stitches and 1. At this particular row, it was only 1, and I let that stitch fall off the left needle.
[right side facing]

Step 2. Gently pull out the stitches one row at a time until you get to the row just below the mistake. You have just undone your mistake: congratulations. Catch the stitch(es) onto a crochet hook approximately the size of your needles.  All the long "rungs" of yarn you see below are the pieces that will be needed to make new correct stitches, row by row.
[right side facing]

Step 3. Start knitting the rows back up, keeping in pattern, using the crochet hooks. This is, of course, the tricky part. You just have to remember that knitting and purling are the same thing but reversed. (A knit stitch on one side is a purl stitch on the other.) This will tell you which way to pull the new stitch through the old on the hook. In this pic, you see I have just (K1, P1, K1) into the stitch below. Hence the three crochet hooks.
[right side facing]

Here I have slipped all three stitches onto one hook and am about to "purl" them all back onto one stitch.
[wrong side facing]

Now I'm half way through the purl 3 together. I've hooked the yarn for the next row and have pulled it through two of the stitches on the hook. I'm about to pull it through the last one.
[wrong side facing]

Step 4. After working through all the rungs/rows, slip the final stitch(es) back onto the knitting needle. 
[wrong side facing]

And then check your work. After looking at mine for a few minutes, I figured out that I had knit 3 together instead of purling. So I took it all out and did it again. It's still less than 10 minutes and I figure that's way less than frogging and reknitting all those rows. (And it's better for your wool, too. Less wear and tear.) It is also an opportunity to see your knitting in a new way: you may learn something about how it all works together!

Now can you find it?
Well, I think I can too. But I think it's because the wool got a little fuzzy and tension hasn't quite evened out. I have studied it carefully and am sure that it is technically identical to the other bobbles even if it doesn't look quite even. I believe some blocking will make just about all of that go away.

In the context of a larger afghan made of 12 of these blocks, I'm really not concerned about it showing. I just wanted to make it right. I made the repairs on Wednesday night, and got the rest of the block knit and cast off last night.

Tonight is the long-anticipated hat exchange at Red Purl: wish me luck!

(1) tink: a technique of undoing stitches one at a time from right needle to left needle. The term is the word "knit" spelled backwards. (Good for complicated stitches or a small number of stitches to be undone)
(2) frog: to rip out your knitting by removing the needle from the stitches and pulling on the working yarn. When you're as far back as you want to be, you reinsert the needle and continue from there. The term seems to come from either the sound the stitches make as they're being unravelled or the words, "rip it, rip it" that you say as you go along. (Good when large areas of knitting need to be undone)


  1. Nice explination on fixing your mistake! This is how I do it, too. As a highly visual person (OK, almost exclusively visual) your pictures are wonderful!

    You write a nice blog. I'm really enjoying it.



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