Repairing Knitwear: Tips and Techniques

Knit Repair Tips

Snags, rips and tears can happen to even the most well-made knitwear, either from snagging on an object or through natural wear. Some of these snags are easy to mend, but others require a little more work.

Darning is a repair technique that fills a hole with new material, making it nearly invisible. This is a good way to repair small holes and moth holes in sweaters.

1. Snags

Snags or pulled stitches are one of the most common knitting mistakes. They are especially noticeable in hand knit fabrics like sweaters, but they can also occur on commercially made garments. You can often prevent snags from occurring by checking your clothes before wearing them and ensuring that they don’t catch on things like zippers or doorknobs. If you do get a snag, there are a few quick fixes that will save your garment.

For the quickest fix, try using a blunt yarn needle to push the errant thread to the wrong side of the fabric. This will hide the snag and keep it from unraveling further. If your fabric can stand steaming, you can steam the snag to further secure it. This technique will work on any type of snag, but it is particularly effective on open weave or lightweight commercial knits. The best part is that you can do this repair on the go, even while wearing your garment.

2. Unraveling

Many knitters dread the idea of unraveling their work to fix a mistake. Thankfully there are ways to fix mistakes without a lot of untangling!

First, examine the area you want to repair. If it’s a small hole caused by moth damage or just one row of yarn that came loose, a simple graft with contrasting thread should do the trick.

For a larger hole, you’ll need some mending supplies like a darning mushroom or embroidery floss thread. Then, stitch vertical rows of your repair yarn across the area of the hole – making sure to leave long tails whenever you start or end a row of stitches.

Tinking is a great way to repair holes because it fills the gap with new material that can look undetectable! Watch the video to see how it’s done. Knock on wood you won’t need to use this method often, but it’s good to know that you have options!

3. Damaged Stitches

Sometimes a stitch isn’t actually broken, but it’s pulled out of shape or has become thin from wear and tear. It’s important to treat these with care because they can provide germs with a direct route into the body, which can lead to infections.

To fix a damaged stitch, use a blunt needle and spare yarn to create a new stitch in its place. A crochet hook can also help with this; just insert the spare yarn under and over a whole stitch AE for a single-row repair, or under two stitches at a time for a longer repair.

Twisted stitches can happen for many reasons, from accidentally knitting through the back of a stitch to picking up a dropped stitch and knitting it through the wrong side of the fabric. These repairs are more involved, typically requiring reweaving stitches in a technique called a Swiss darn (duplicate stitch) or unraveling and reknitting twisted cables.

4. Damaged Areas

Often, moth holes and other damage can be repaired by darning. This is a technique that fills the hole with new material and is a skill that requires attention to detail. When done well, it is virtually undetectable.

A quality knit repair can make your sweaters last longer and add a touch of personality to your wardrobe. It’s also easy to do for most knitters, and it’s a great way to keep your favorite sweaters in good condition without having to wear them out.

To mend holes, you’ll need a darning mushroom (sometimes called an “egg”), some scissors, spare buttons and a sturdy darning needle. A small embroidery hoop may also help, depending on the size of your sweater and the size of the hole. You’ll also need yarn in a color that matches the fabric of your sweater, or that contrasts it purposely. You can even use thread in a cotton or all-purpose blend, if you like.

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