Turn back time

Cher wanted to do it. Hermione needed a Time-Turner for it. Today, we show you how to do it with nothing more than needles and yarn.

We all know what it’s like to look down at your knitting and realise that you’re doing the wrong thing. This bit was supposed to be in the other colour, or it was meant to be purled, or this row was actually intended to be the cast off row. If there’s a lifeline in place, it’s probably several rows down. But the problem’s on this row, not far below. Ripping back to the lifeline and then knitting back up would take a long time.

If you know how to reverse just the row you’re on, then you save time. The process is known as tinking (because t-i-n-k is the opposite of k-n-i-t), and here’s how to do it. We’re demonstrating with our little swatch again, so if you’d like to follow along with this, get some stitches on the needles and work a few rows.

Half way across a row, take a moment to look what’s in front of you. The stitch that you’ve just worked has grown out of a stitch on the row below – that’s the lower stitch, the loop just below the leftmost stitch on the right hand needle:

Put the tip of your left hand needle into that lower loop, from left to right, front to back.

Because your left hand needle is holding that stitch, the lower stitch can’t drop. So nothing bad is going to happen if you slip the tip of the right hand needle out of the upper stitch:

After you’ve slipped it off the right hand needle, a wee bit of magic has happened: you’ve undone the last stitch you knit and it’s now back on the left hand needle:

And that’s it – that’s how to undo a knit stitch. If you’ve got more to undo, just repeat the stages until you’re back at the point you wanted to reach.

If you want to tink a purl, the process is the same, and here’s the pictures to show you. Each purl grows out of the stitch below in exactly the same way – the only difference is that it’s got a little bump on the front of the work:

The left hand needle goes into the lower stitch from left to right, front to back, in exactly the same way…

…and the tip of the right hand needle slips out of the upper stitch, leaving the lower stitch safely undone on the left hand needle.

That’s time travel, and we don’t even have a Tardis. Sorry about that.

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