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Ask Amanda: What do I do with an extra stitch?

When I was a teenager, I decided to teach a learn-to-knit class for kids at one of the yarn shops in my hometown. One of the girls seemed to catch on especially fast, so I let her do her thing and spent more time helping another student get started. When I looked up again, the speedy girl was still busily clicking her needles, but I was shocked to see that her knitting was getting wider instead of longer! It turned out that she was unintentionally working increases throughout every row, resulting in an ever-growing stitch count. She and I both got a big chuckle out of it, and then it was time to start ripping out a few rows!

Keeping your stitch count in balance is an important part of following a pattern (our model Emily did some balancing of her own while wearing Tarim in the photo on the above left). Not every case of accidental increasing will require ripping out, however. With extra stitches, I find that they’re best addressed on a case-by-case basis. Here are some things to consider after knitting extra stitches:

How many extra stitches are there? If it’s just one or two stitches, it’s pretty easy to conceal them by doing a strategically placed decrease. If there are multiple extra stitches though, it’s probably going to be hard to disguise the correction. In that case, prepare to rip out the rows.

What type of stitch pattern are you working? If it’s something simple and straightforward like stockinette or garter stitch, a sneaky little k2tog worked near an edge would be an easy solution for reducing your stitch count. If your project features more complicated knitting techniques like lace or a cable pattern, try slipping a k2tog in and see how it looks – if it still seems noticeable, then it’s probably better to rip out instead.

Did making the extra stitch leave a hole? In that case, you’ve got two options. You can either fix it afterwards, or rip it out and redo it. To determine the best course of action, be honest about your own knitting personality. If you’ve got a streak of perfectionism, the existence of that little hole is likely to bother you every time you wear your finished project, so bite the bullet and rip out your knitting. However, if you’re more forgiving about little mistakes, it’s pretty easy to use a little piece of yarn to close the hole from the wrong side, making it almost invisible.

With a little patience and experimentation, you can figure out which option will be best for each situation. Don’t let an extra stitch get you down!

4 thoughts on “Ask Amanda: What do I do with an extra stitch?

  1. I am a perfectionist the current sock I am doing I have totally started it twice and ripped it out halfway . I like it to fit and I have thick ankles but when it is done it is done LOL

    1. The ripping out part is always a bummer, but at least you know you’ll end up with a finished product that you love!

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