Knowing how to mend a hand-knit sweater will extend the life of your favourite knitwear. You’ll save a lot of time and money and you get a gold star for not creating more waste than necessary.
Two Methods To Mend A Hand Knit Sweater
There’re two main methods to mend an unravelling sweater. Please note that these methods do not cover how to mend a hole in your knitwear.
Which method you should choose depends on the amount of extra yarn you have to work with. It’s entirely possible to mend a sweater with no extra yarn but it’s a lot less work to mend one with a spare ball at hand.
Watch How To Mend a Sleeve on a Hand-Knit Sweater
Why You Should Mend Your Knitwear
There are four main reasons to mend your knitwear:
- You can make your precious knitwear last a lot longer.
- It will save you money as you won’t have to buy yarn to knit a replacement.
- It will save you time. It takes a lot less time to mend a sweater than to knit one.
- It’s good for the planet. You’re using fewer resources and creating less waste.
Throwing vs Picking
I’m a picker or continental knitter and this means it’s quite easy for me to mend with the yarn stands on an unravelling sweater. I simply pick the yarn as I normally would when making a stitch.
If you are a thrower or English knitter, then you may find it a bit awkward.
I would suggest you simply give in, learn how to pick and come to the dark side (muahaha).
No, wait, you don’t have to do that but you may want to use a crochet hook more and play around until you find a way to create the stitches that works well for you.
What You’ll Need
- Your unravelling item.
- A crochet hook, the same size or smaller than the needle the item was knit on.
- DPNs (Double Pointed Needles, sock needles).
- Extra yarn if you have any, or a different yarn if you enjoy visible mending.
- Possibly a scissor.
Method 1: No Extra Yarn
This method is fiddly but perfect if you don’t have any extra yarn. With a little patience, you’ll get your back into working shape. You may, however, want to consider if you have a different yarn that you could use for some visible mending if you want the fast, easy mending experience method 2 provides.
Step 1 – Rescue Your Stitches
First, we want to make sure we’re not creating more work than necessary for ourselves. So grab a DPN and start picking up every stitch you can. Focus on the stitches at the top level. Once you have all of them on your needles you can deal with the dropped stitches in step two.
Step 2 – Picking up Dropped Stitches
Once you have all your top-level stitches secured you can deal with any dropped stitches.
You may have stitches dropped to various levels. In that case, use a new needle for every level. Don’t worry about knitting any stitches right now. You also don’t have to worry about which way your stitches go on the needle, as long as you get them unto a needle you’re good.
Step 3 – Knitting Dropped Stitches
It’s now time to work the dropped stitches back up to the top level. Depending on the pattern, you want to knit as facing. This means if you are working with ribbing you want to knit every knit stitch and purl every purl stitch.
If you are working in stockinette, you need to knit stitches on the right side and purl on the wrong side if you are turning your work. You may find it easier to work it all from the right side though.
Take your time as this is the fiddly bit of this method. Make sure you are always working with the bottom strand when knitting dropped stitches.
If you miss a dropped stitch you’ll have less yarn to work with which makes it difficult to work with.
Using a crochet hook will make it a lot easier to work the dropped stitch up to the correct level.
Step 4 – Bind Off the Stitches
Once you have all your stitches on the same level you will need to bind off your stitches. If you have a tiny bit of yarn to work with you can do any kind of regular bind off you like.
If you don’t have any yarn at all to use, you can bind off your stitches by lifting each stitch over the next as in a regular bind off but without knitting the stitch first. Make sure to identify which stitch you should end with on your needle. It has to be the one closest to the end of your yarn.
When you only have your last stitch left on the needle, simply pull it out and weave in the end to create a nice finish.
This bind off method is not stretchy but it will work in a pinch.
Method 2 – When You Have Some Yarn to Work With
Method 2 is my preferred method. It’s faster, less fiddly and it will leave you with a beautiful, unnoticeable mending job. but it does require yarn. If you want the mending to be invisible, you’ll need more of the yarn as you made the item with.
If you don’t mind visible mending you can use any yarn you like. If you are working on cuffs or something similar, you may want to remove the old cuff entirely and make a new one on both sleeves to simply turn the mending into part of the design.
Step 1 – Take a Trip to the Frog Pond
Method two is quick because you replace the fiddly work of dealing with dropped stitches in method 1 by frogging.
(DID YOU KNOW? If any of the terms used confuses you, then you can get familiar with the 11 most used knitting terms or get The Ultimate Guide to Knitting Terms: Over 50 Terms Explained.)
Rip your stitches back to a point where the yarn is sound and there are no or very few dropped stitches left.
Step 2 – Pick up the Stitches
Once you’ve frogged back as far as you need, you have to put all the stitches on needles. You don’t have to be too concerned about getting them on right.
Be careful not to tug on the stitches too much as it will make stitches drop down, especially in more slippery yarn.
Step 3 – Deal With the Dropped Stitches
You are very likely to end up with at least a few dropped stitches, so work them up to the level of your other stitches.
Remember that it may be easier for you to use a crochet hook if you are only dealing with one dropped stitch.
Step 4 – Decide How Much You Need to Knit
You’ll need to know how much you’ve frogged and thus how much you need to reknit.
You can do this by counting the rows/rounds on an intact piece or by referencing your pattern. If you have 20 rounds on the intact cuff and ten left on the frogged cuff, you have 10 rounds to knit.
Step 5 – Bind Off the Stitches
When you’ve reknit your piece to the correct length you have to cast off your stitches as you normally would. And there you have it a fully mended piece of knitwear.
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