Help – I have way more stitches on my needles than I started with. What do I do?

Hi Hannah,

Accidental increases present a challenge to new and experienced knitters alike. For those who are new to the craft, the problem is often an inability to recognize what should be the first stitch of a new row. Sometimes it is pulled out of shape making it appear as two stitches instead of one. If

Hi Hannah,

Accidental increases present a challenge to new and experienced knitters alike. For those who are new to the craft, the problem is often an inability to recognize what should be the first stitch of a new row. Sometimes it is pulled out of shape making it appear as two stitches instead of one. If this distortion occurs over the course of several rows, your stitch count will grow very quickly.

New knitters also have a tendency to work accidental increases in the middle of the work. Working a knit stitch with the yarn in front will produce a yarnover. If it isn’t caught right away, this yarnover will be worked on the following row resulting in a higher stitch count. You’ll know if this is the case because you’ll see eyelet holes in the fabric where they don’t belong. This can be easily avoided by simply making sure the yarn has been moved to the back when you are working knit stitches.

More experienced knitters usually run into accidental increases while working complex lace and eyelet patterns. In most lace patterns, yarnovers are balanced with matching decreases within the same row or on a subsequent row in order to maintain the proper number of stitches. If your lace has grown unexpectedly, it is probably because you’ve missed a decrease somewhere along the way.

The easiest way to eliminate an unwanted to stitch is to work a decrease. If you only have one or maybe two extra stitches and you’re using a plain pattern stitch like garter or stockinette, try simply decreasing the unwanted stitches away at the end of a row. With careful blocking you may be able to disguise the extra fabric on one end of the piece. Unfortunately, decreasing won’t work if you have more than one or two extra stitches. You will have to frog (rip out the knitting) back to before the first accidental increase was made and then resume your work from that point. For lace or other complex patterns, make your life easier by inserting a lifeline on the last row of each repeat to more closely control the unraveling.

The best way to deal with accidental increases is to catch them early or prevent them altogether. Brand new knitters should take care to examine the first stitch of each row to ensure it is oriented correctly. However, ALL knitters, regardless of skill level, should take time to check your stitch count often. Use markers to separate stitch pattern repeats for easy counting and eliminate unwanted stitches as soon as they appear.

 

Happy Knitting,

Angelia

 

AngeliaRobinson Angelia Robinson is a knit and crochet designer residing in Los Angeles whose playful yet elegant designs explore the interplay of shape, texture, and style. Do you have a knitting question for Angelia? Write us (submissions@ilikeknitting.com) and include “Ask a Knitter” in the subject line.

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