A few days ago, I was knitting happily along on the body of the Big Cabled Sweater when I noticed that a few of my braided cables had gone wrong. Can you spot the “Oops” in the above picture? It’s on the little braid, just a few rows down from the needles. While I could have left it there, and sometimes do just ignore mistakes, I want this sweater to be as close to perfect as possible. So, I took this opportunity to fix the cable by dropping it down 10 rows and making it right. Want to see how?
First, slide the cable stitches off the needles, letting them drop down. Oooh… scary!
Next, use your fingers to gently unravel the cable, row by row, until you’re one or two rows below the first mistake.
It really helps to have a small dpn on hand. Put all the loose stitches on this needle and hold to the front of the work.
Now, you’re going to use the dpn, the right needle, and the loose strands of yarn behind the work to reknit the cable correctly. Remember, just like when you pick up a “normal” dropped stitch, you’ll start knitting with the lowest loose strand and work your way up that “ladder” until you’re at the top again.
(In this case, I had dropped the stitches down to a plain row, so on the very next row, I’d needed to work a single left twist across the middle stitches. The next row after that was plain knitting, then two right twists on the next row. And so on, and so forth.)
Once you finish working each loose strand, your cable should be as good as new. Slide the stitches back onto your primary needles and keep on knitting!
When to fix, when to rip?
In this case, I could have ripped out that last inch of knitting around the entire sweater, stitch by stitch, until I’d arrived at the mistake. It would have taken about a half hour to rip out, and about two hours of knitting to get back to the point where I had been when I noticed the problem. Instead, by spending a half hour dropping down – and fixing – the 12 stitches, I was able to spend those next two hours knitting further.
The right choice between Fix, Leave It, or Rip Back, isn’t always clear. So much depends on the situation, the project, the yarn, and your general tolerance for fussy work or mistakes. In this case, and with how much time it’s taken to knit even an inch on this garment, there was no way I’d rip back. By dropping down and trying to fix the cable, I also knew that even if I messed it up, it wouldn’t be any worse than that original mistake. So, it was worth a shot!