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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Dropped Stitch—Accidental and on Purpose

Every knitter of any experience has had the experience:  finding you’ve dropped a stitch. Usually we notice it when our stitch count is off.  If we’re lucky we discover it before too many rows have passed; if we’re lucky it’s a simple purl or knit that’s been left behind. 

Back in the days when ladies wore long stockings, we’d sometimes develop a “runner,” which looked like a little ladder that would go all the way up to the top of the stocking unless we stopped it with a dab of clear nail polish.

The same runner develops when we’ve dropped a stitch, although our subsequent knitting may disguise it.  The task is to reveal the ladder, find the missing loop at the bottom of it, and coax that errant loop back up the ladder’s rungs, one at a time (careful, don’t miss a rung) to the needle, keeping to the proper knit or purl sequence as we go.  A crochet hook makes this easier.

I find it more comfortable to hook the loop back up the ladder’s rungs if it’s a knit stitch I’ve dropped, so if I’m looking at a dropped purl, I’ll turn the work so it’s now a knit.

Now, here’s a secret I’ll share with you:  Since I’ve been doing my own designs, I sometimes drop stitches—a long, long ladder of them—on purpose.  That k sequence just needs to be a p series, I’ll decide, and so I release it and open those ladder rungs for, oh, quite a ways down sometimes.  It seems easier than ripping, especially if the design change is local and minor.

I could do this with a block of stitches, and did once, until I found the tension suffered.  Now I ration myself to one deliberate stitch column drop-and-change at a time, going to its neighboring column when k has been transformed to p, or vice versa.

So there is an alternative to a major rip fest.  Just keep a good crochet hook handy. 

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