Cutting into your knits: How to lengthen, shorten or change finished objects

Have you ever knit something and found afterwards that the fit wasn’t quite right? Maybe it’s just a little too short, or perhaps too long?

Yep, me too. The good news is that you can easily fix that without ripping out the whole thing and having to start from scratch. In principle you can add length, shorten or re-knit the bottom of any knitted garment.

I knit these mittens last Autumn, and though I love the look and feel of them I didn’t wear them much over the Winter simply because they kept sliding annoyingly off my hands. My mittens needed new cuffs. It took me about a year to pluck up the courage, but I finally did roll up my sleeves and get to it.

Don’t make the same the same mistake of thinking it is too difficult to fix. It’s not. It’s totally doable and definitely worth it to get a garment that fits well and you will love to use.


Here’s how to do it:

1. Pick up a row of stitches on the garment where you later want to join to the new bottom piece.

2. Carefully snip into a stitch on the row below. You may be able to just pull the yarn through or you may have to snip the stitches as you go, depending on how 'slippery' or 'sticky' the yarn is. Separate the top and bottom pieces. Leave a tail of yarn on the top piece to weave in and secure later.

You now have the option to make changes to the bottom piece or knit a new one. For these mittens I knitted new cuffs with ribbing. However, if you want to add length to the original bottom piece, pick up the stitches and continue knitting until you reach the desired length. Alternatively, to shorten: pull the yarn of the bottom piece and unravel the number of rows you want to shorten your piece with. Then set the stitches back on a needle, stitch holder or some string.


3. With your new bottom piece ready, leave a fairly long tail of yarn and use a tapestry needle to graft the stitches together creating an invisible seam. (Also called Kitchener stitch.) There are some excellent tutorials on this, for example at Purl Soho, Garnstudio Drops Design and Vogue Knitting.

4. Finally, weave in any loose ends and you are done!

Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back and enjoy your "new" knitted garment to the full!