Do you have a sweater that you continually tug on to make it just a little bit longer? Or do you stretch it and steam it over and over again to try to get a little more length?
I knew I couldn't be the only one who has knitted an entire sweater, seamed it, wore it a few times, and then decided it was a bit too short!
I've knitted a too-short sweater and actually fixed it! It can be done. You have to cut the sweater near the hem, though, so it's a face-your-fears sort of fix.
Lisa Kartus, the author of one of my favorite knitting resource books—Knit Fix—has written some step-by-step directions for lengthening a sweater after the fact. I thought you might want to add this technique to your bag of tricks…just in case you ever need it.
Changing Length from the Cast-On Edge
PROBLEM: The piece is too short or too long at the cast-on edge.
FIX: Lengthen or shorten it by removing the cast-on and knitting in the opposite direction. If you want to shorten or lengthen a sweater that was knitted from the bottom up, take out your scissors and skinny circular needle. It's impossible to unravel from a cast-on edge. You must remove any hemstitch patterns, whether they be ribbing or garter or what have you, because stitches knitted in opposite directions won't line up; they'll be shifted a half-stitch to one side.
You'll need scissors, a coil-less pin, and a needle three or four sizes smaller than the needles you used in your project. Here's what you do:
1. Decide where you want the new hem/cuff to begin and mark it with a coil-less pin. (If your sweater is seamed, take out the side seams.)
Ready? Take a deep breath.
2. Clip one stitch about two rows above the length you've marked. Turn your work around so that you're holding it hem side up.
3. Pull the cut yarn end through the nearest stitch, the one just above it. Before pulling the yarn end through the same stitch again, secure the stitch onto the small needle (Figure 1).
4. Remove the yarn end from this stitch and repeat across the row or round. If you snipped in the middle of the row, free all the stitches in one direction. Then free the remaining stitches in the opposite direction and secure using the other end of the circular needle. You'll know you're done when you're holding a needle full of stitches (right legs forward) and the hem comes off in your hand (Figure 2).
At this point you may want to close your eyes for a moment and recover. Me, I hear myself shouting, "Yes, it worked!"
Move the stitches onto the regular needle, join new yarn, and knit to the correct length. If there is no hemstitch pattern, insert one to disguise the change in direction.
When not to try a clip fix:
Be careful with unraveling any nubby yarn, bucle, mohair, etc. It can be done by required teasing the fibers apart with great patience.
Bind off loosely.
You can also use this fix to redo hems or cuffs that are too tight or too loose.
If you have to use this technique, it's fail safe, just like all of the other fixes in Knit Fix. If you don't have a copy, what are you waiting for?