Picture this: you're knitting merrily along when suddenly you realize that on the previous row, you somehow purled where you should have knitted and knitted where you should have purled. You only did this on two stitches and then straightened yourself out, but you didn't even notice it until now. Do you have to rip out the whole row you just knitted to go back and fix those two stitches?
Nope! The good news is, it's actually really easy to fix a mistake like this. It can be a single stitch you got reversed or a whole grouping, but you're going to work one stitch at a time, and you're going to do the same thing on each stitch. You can do this with just your knitting needle, but you'll find it easier with a crochet hook (something close in size to your knitting needle or slightly smaller). Please read all the way through the steps to make sure you understand what's going to happen before you start. Here we go:
- Remove the first stitch to be fixed from the left hand needle.
- Slip the top loop out of the next loop down (this is the stitch that's going the wrong way). This will leave you with a "bar" of yarn, either in front of the next loop down or behind it, depending on what kind of stitch it was.
- Move that bar to the opposite side of the loop. If you want the stitch to be a knit, start with the bar in back of the loop; if you want it to be a purl, start with the bar in front of the loop.
- Use your crochet hook or the tip of your needle to pull the bar through the loop, creating another loop.
- Place the new loop on the left needle and work it as to continue across the current row. (There's a great visual of steps 4 & 5--which are essentially just picking up a dropped stitch--available in our Learn To Knit center.)
Repeat steps 1-5 for each stitch you need to reverse.
Note that you can do this for multiple rows, even if you have some correct stitches above a mistake stitch. Just drop all the way down to the row below the mistake and then pick up the stitches in the correct orientation. What determines whether to use this method or go ahead and rip back is usually just a comparison of time and effort: which is going to require the least amount of both? For instance, if you're working on 50 stitches and you somehow screwed up 45 of them three rows back, you're probably better off just ripping back because it does take some time to drop each stitch down and then bring it back up again. But if you only messed up five of those stitches? Definitely just drop down, fix them, and be on your merry way once again.