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How To Undo Knitting Mistakes And Get Stitches Back On Your Needles

Blog » Fix Knitting Mistakes » How To Undo Knitting Mistakes And Get Stitches Back On Your Needles

How To Undo Knitting Mistakes And Get Stitches Back On Your Needles

Liat Gat - Founder

September 12, 2010

To knit with confidence, you have to know how to undo stitches in knitting, that is, take out your knitting stitch by stitch. You can also take out whole rows of knitting, if you know how to put your stitches back on the needle correctly.

Undo KeyEveryone makes mistakes.

One of the most annoying knitting problems you probably face from time to time is not knowing how to undo them.

Alternatively, once your stitches are unraveled, you may not know whether you’ve gotten them back on the needles correctly.

I’ve made you two videos to clarify the correct way to undo your stitches, and I explain why you shouldn’t worry about getting your stitches back on the right way at first.

Tinking or Frogging: Undo Knitting One Stitch At A Time

“Tinking” (knitting spelled backwards) just means undoing one knitted stitch at a time and placing the old stitch back on the left needle. Here’s how to do it:

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To undo knitting one stitch at a time, insert the left-hand needle from front to back into the stitch that is directly below the stitch on your right-hand needle.

(Gasp) How to Undo Knitting A Few Rows At A Time

When you need to undo more than a few rows, it’s fastest to remove the needle(s) and pull your yarn out, undoing all the rows at once.

Here’s how to put your stitches back on the needles when you’re done unraveling:

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If the recovered stitches are facing the wrong way,
just knit them through their back loops.

Yay! Now you can un-knit with confidence and unravel with grace!

Just keep this in mind: messing up is part of knitting, and the faster you can fix your mistakes, the happier you will be.

Related Posts:

If this tutorial on how to undo knitting was helpful, post in the comments!

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Stop making these common mistakes and knit with confidence

51 thoughts on “How To Undo Knitting Mistakes And Get Stitches Back On Your Needles”

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  1. This will probably be a really good reference for me, usually try to knit simple things, but even after 40yrs I still make mistakes.

  2. Thanks for this- my trick to getting stitches back on the needles after I rip out rows is to place the stitches onto a much smaller needle. Then I start knitting them off the small needle onto the correct sized project needle. If I need to re-orient the stitches I do it when i get to the stitch. This is why I always have a size 1 circular needle handy!

  3. Undoing is something I know a LOT about because, I knit for my own enjoyment in the process not to “make things”, and I am very particular about errors in my work. When I first began knitting I thought maybe one incorrect stitch here and there would not be noticable, but what I learned very quickly is that they stick out like sore thumbs! So, I regularly tink and unravel and re-knit. However, pulling more than a row or two could mean destroying a lot of really good stitches to remake one. That is why I learned how to vertically tink a column of stitches. To reach down deep into the work and switch that one stitch that is incorrect, 4 or more rows back. This method has a few limitations; it’s very difficult to do if it is in an area with complex stitching (twists, cables, etc). If more than a single stitch needs to be corrected (which can often happen if you are working in a pattern) it’s best to tink each column individually, and if the stretch of stitches that need correction are more than just a few, I have found I just prefer to pull the row.

    1. Elias - KnitFreedom Customer Happiness

      Hi Mitzi,

      I’m going to be passing your comment along to Liat, but I want to let you know that she is currently on maternity leave (she is expecting her baby very soon) and will be taking up to 1-2 weeks to answer.

      Thanks so much for your patience and understanding!


  4. “Right” and/or “wrong” position of loops on the needle depend on knitting style. Please clarify to students of knitting that one simply works THE LEADING LEG. The finished product is what counts, not how 6 out of 10 people got there with the so called “correct” loop orientation.

    1. Elias - KnitFreedom Customer Happiness

      Hi Esseike,

      I’m going to be passing your question along to Liat, but I want to let you know that she is currently on maternity leave (she is expecting her baby very soon) and will be taking up to 1-2 weeks to answer.

      Thanks so much for your patience and understanding!


  5. Thank you Liat! I am left-handed and pretty much a self-taught knitter. Then I discovered Knitfreedom! Yay!! I now knit 2-at-a-time toe-up socks using the Magic Loop method and totally enjoy the knitting process. I have not been able to knit anything else, but I’m pretty good at socks. This year I gave hand knitted socks to my friends and some family — I love the funky colors and fun patterns! I truly appreciate your videos. They have helped me a LOT!

  6. How do I undo a Slip1 K1 row in my sock heel flap? I know how to undo the knit stitch, but what about the slipped stitch? Which way? Purl wise or knit wise, etc. Everything looks wrong! Any advice?

      1. How do i undo the back of a sweater that I have just knitted because i dont like it . I cant re call if I start at the beginning or the end ??

        1. Mary Claire Phillips - KnitFreedom Knitting Expert

          Hi Kathleen!

          Bummer that you don’t like the sweater, but awesome that you’ll be reusing that material for something else :) I would start at the end of the sweater as it’s usually easier to unravel from there.

          Mary Claire

  7. Wow, just thinking how smart I’ve gotten about knitting over the years and then here you are with a new trick I didn’t know. How crazy to never think of knitting into the back of backward stitches. DUH! You are so smart. Now, if you could just give back all of the time I’ve wasted, turning stitches around. Live and learn. Thank you. I always love your videos and your voice.

  8. I was hoping maybe you could help me out. I finished knitting a blanket, then decided that I need to add another ball. I’m curious to know if I can simply unravel the bind-off stitches and then attempt to do what you’ve demonstrated in the video?

  9. KnitFreedom is my greatest and most helpful, go-to!!! Thank you. And since I’m new to knitting as well as searching your site, please direct me to a video and/or instructions of how to correct ssk’s? Instead of slipping knit-wise, I slipped purl-wise. I did this for several rows with knitting across, alternating rows. Thanks.

    1. Thanks Ruth! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

      First, it’s not too big of a deal to have slipped the stitches purlwise instead of knitwise. I would just continue on the project.

      If, however, you want to go back and fix them, you would fix them just like any other mistake in knitting. You have three choices:

      1) Undo your knitting stitch by stitch until you get to the first mistake (above, called “Tinking or Frogging: Undo Knitting One Stitch At A Time”)

      2) Pull out several rows and undo your knitting until you get to the first mistake (above, called “(Gasp) How to Undo Knitting A Few Rows At A Time”)

      3) Knit to directly above your work and drop the stitches down to the mistake, fix it, and repair the stitches back up the column (

      I hope this helps!

    1. Hi Biannca,

      First of all don’t panic! You are in great shape since the mistake is in the row you are on. Go to the top of this page and you will see a video called: Tinking or Frogging: Undo Knitting One Stitch At A Time. I suggest that you watch it several times then you should be ready to undo the row you are on, and get back to knitting your blanket. You can always get help on our Knitfreedom Forum on Ravelry Your questions will also help others who are having the same problem!


  10. Hi Liat,
    I was wondering if there was a way to undo three inches of ss, in the round, and still keep the markers in place? I was mindlessly knitting and went past the place where I needed to begin my increases. I know I could tink but it’s going to take a long time! I’m not afraid to rip out knitting in the round but in not sure how to keep the markers in place. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Heather!
      I’m assuming the markers are on the needles, which is why you’ll lose them if you rip out your knitting, right?Why don’t you take the markers and move them down below where you need to rip out to, and just stick them into the knitting itself in between the stitches? You can hook the markers around the ladders of yarn that go between the stitches. You’ll have to use locking stitch markers but in a pinch you can use a safety pin.
      I hope that helps!

    1. Candy Franks – KnitFreedom Customer Happiness

      Hello Sandee,
      You can undo the ribbing if you’ve done a toe-up sock. If that’s the case, just undo your bind-off and unravel the ribbing (see How to Take Out Your Knitting Stitch by Stitch). Then redo the ribbing.
      If you made a top-down sock (i.e. started with the ribbing), there’s no easy way to take out just the ribbing and re-do it. If you’re going to trash the socks anyway, you might as well try this: Cut off the ribbing and pull out the tiny cut bits of yarn. Then thread the live stitches onto the needles and knit the ribbing and bind off. This link should help you:

      Happy Knitting!

  11. I have an old wool scarf and I do not wear it anymore and would like to unravel it and make something else but the scarf is bought…is it possible? Or do the knitted factory items can not be reused/ unraveled?

  12. I just finished a Christmas sock, and have the wrong name on it. I was wondering if there was a way to undo the top of the sock and reknit it with the proper name, without having to do the whole sock over again. The sock is knitted from the top down. I know that I will have to knit the name the opposite way, so that it will look right once done. Can you help me with this.?

  13. My preferred method for fixing mistakes is tinking, and I tink ssk, sk2p, and other multi-step stitches. What I struggle with is tinking the end stitch in a garter row. I don’t understand what goes wrong when that last stitch it loose and when I go back to knit it it doesn’t look right and I don’t know how to fix it. I usually wind up tinking more rows until I get to a last stitch that works. I have never seen this addressed in any knitting website, forum or book. Can you help? Thanks!

  14. Hi!

    I just learned how to stitch today. My friend started me with the first stitch all the way around for a beanie. I’m using a circular knitting rope thing (technical term?)

    Anyways, I was alternating 2 regular knit and 2 purl for the base of the beanie. I zoned out and did like 6 extra knits so I made what’s probably the biggest mistake and just pulled all of the loops apart. Instead of carefully putting the loops back on the other side. Is there any way to salvage this? Super beginner mistake!

  15. I have been knitting for many years, and now I have a big problem witn a garter stitch scarf I am making. I was done and bound off in lace pattern. It didn’t lay flat so I ripped it out and put stitches back on needles and started knitting again. After several rows I could see small holes and the garter stitch looked awful. I have unknit 3 more times and the same thing is happening. I am unable fix this and I hate to rip it all apart, I have 1 1/2 skeins of sock yarn already knit into this. Can you help.

    1. Hi Donna,

      I’m so sorry your bind-off messed everything up! I will try to help if I can. It’s better if you can post in our forum on Ravelry because then you can tell us what pattern you’re using, etc. It’s hard for me to help you fix it because I can’t see really what’s wrong.

      There’s no need for you to rip it all out though! Worse comes to worst, I recommend that you take it to a yarn store or a knitting friend and have them fix it.

      If the scarf is in garter stitch, I recommend you use the Icelandic Bind-Off, which is great for garter stitch. But I understand that you need to fix the messed-up stitches first.

  16. Hi Liat, I have a question about a pattern. When I got to the arm hole and it says bind off 1 or two stitches at the beginning of the row. I don’t quit understand what I am supposed to do. Can you enlighten me please. Thanks

  17. Thank you from the bottom of my knitting bag! I just started knitting last year and my biggest problem is fixing mistakes because I don’t “read” my knitting very well. I’m bookmarking all these fixes because I know I’ll be using them! I love your posts!

  18. Liat, love your videos. Thank you so much for such good information.
    My problem is that I bound off too tightly in 1×1 rib and had to take it out. How can I pick up those rib stitches?

    1. Carefully! :) No, I’m just kidding. Don’t worry about which way they go back on the needle, just get them back on there. Then, as you do the bind-off row again, you can fix or re-knit or purl each stitch before you bind it off.

      It will be tough but it’s very good practice!

      I also added this to my list of videos to make, because I think it’s a great question. Thanks!

  19. I dropped a whole line of stiches when I put them back on the needle and start knitting the stiches or wrong the front is in the back and the back is in the front how do I fix this

    1. No worries! I think, from what you described, you just need to get back into ready position and make sure the yarn is coming off the back needle. You might need to flip the knitting over to get into the right position.

    2. Sharon, if you put the stitches back on the needle and they are facing the wrong way, just knit them through the back loops. That way you turn them around correctly and knit them at the same time.

  20. Elizabeth Liggett

    Thank you for your information — the first one, on how to unknit one stitch at a time, was a revelation to me. What you did is much simpler than what I’ve struggled with! I see that you have videos on picking up both dropped knit stitches and purl stitches. But what about picking up garter stitches? I was several rows (LONG rows — the scarf is knit the long way) of garter stitch past a dropped stitch I noticed, and not wanting to unknit and reknit those LONG rows, I managed to pick up the stitch and the ones in rows above it — but it ended up being a stockinette stitch for about five rows in a garter stitch scarf. Ouch. I’m just hoping the recipient didn’t notice. I felt totally overwhelmed at knowing how to fix it the right way.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      What a great question! Here’s what I would do for picking up garter stitches. Stretch out the knitting with your hand a little bit, so you can see if the dropped stitch needs to be knitted or purled. If it needs to be knitted, you know how to fix it. If it should be purled, TURN your work around so the back is facing you – now pick up the stitch as if if were a knit stitch – which it is! Turn your work back around, pick up the knit stitch, and keep flipping your knitting back and forth, until you have picked up the stitch all the way to the top. It’s too easy! And you don’t have to mess up with picking up a purl stitch at all.

      And I guarantee the gift recipient didn’t notice. :)

  21. Great info! What about when you messed up 10 rows back? Do you have any tricks for managing that much undoing? Would appreciate the help (-:

    1. Sondra Scroggins

      I’m doing a scarf with just the plain ‘knit’ stitch and have messed up by using a different technique in wrapping the yarn around my needle when transferring the stitch to the other needle. How do I remove all these rows and start back where the original stitch is

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