How to Fudge – Mason-Dixon Knitting

Dear Kay,

In my recent post about discovering a long-abandoned project, my Hadley pullover, I confessed to getting the thing back on track by correcting out-of-whack stitch counts.

Several knitters asked for information on how exactly I corrected this stitch count problem.

The method I used?


You know: that half-assery that will get you from Point A to Point B. Sort of. If you squint at it.

Merriam-Webster has a lot of value-loaded definitions for the verb fudge, including:

  • to devise as a substitute: FAKE
  • to fail to come to grips with: DODGE
  • to exceed the proper bounds or limits of something: CHEAT
  • to fail to perform as expected
  • to avoid commitment: HEDGE

So negative! So judgey! Way to be high and mighty, Merriam-Webster. I’m sure all your Véronik Avery pullovers are perfection.

I don’t actually disagree with any of these definitions—every one of these was a factor in what I did to fix my Hadley. But I maintain that fudging is one of the best things about knitting. Unlike many things in life (taxes) (also taxes) (mostly taxes), knitting can be as perfect or imperfect as you choose it to be.

For me, I tread that line between interested and unbelievably slack when it comes to my knitting. And fudging is absolutely a central part of what I do.

What Is Fudging?

Fudging occurs any time you veer off the blacktop of a pattern or general rule of knitting in order to avoid ripping back and reknitting.

Fudging is all about expediency—getting past a rough patch in a project. This can be all sorts of things:

  • Forgetting to do a decrease or increase.
  • Blowing a stitch pattern.
  • Seaming inconsistently.
  • Using the wrong color.
  • Failing to count.
  • Dropping a stitch.
  • Twisting a cable in the wrong direction.
  • Running out of yarn.

When to Fudge

It’s a judgment call. There’s the 70-mph rule: would somebody notice the mistake while driving by your sweater at 70 miles per hour? If so, you need to do that hard thing and rip it back.

For the 99 percent of mistakes that don’t fall into that category, we have the art of the fudge.

How to Fudge

Study the problem. In many cases, fudging is simply the acknowledgment that you did something wrong and finding peace with that. You leave the twisted cable, the wrong color, the stitch pattern that has too many yarnovers.

When you need to do something in order to continue, this is where the art of the fudge comes in. One example:

The stitch counts in that Hadley pullover were going to gum up the yoke to come if I didn’t get them back on track. Having no idea when the mistakes happened (it could have been on Round 2 for all I remembered), I opted to fudge. I figured out where to slide in the necessary decreases and increases to clean it up. One sleeve will be wonky. But only I will ever know about it, because the overall impression when you see this Hadley sweater is WOW WHAT A YOKE. Nobody’s looking at the cream background.

Your own situation will vary. But think about what you can reasonably do to get back on track. That dropped stitch 62 rows down? You can simply stitch it in place using the same yarn: done. Run out of yarn? Time for a Moment of Improv. Wish you’d done the sleeve decreases correctly? Does it still fit over your arm? It’s fine.

When Not to Fudge

You don’t fudge when you’re feeling fresh and feisty. You gladly rip out six feet of blanket because that first cable is one stitch off. You are a superhero.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt that fresh and feisty, but hey—I respect everybody who goes for it. Knitting is often my hidey hole for solace, when I’m feeling anything but fresh and feisty.



PS That Birkin weirdie up top? I finished the sweater before noticing I had spontaneously starting knitting the leaves in the wrong direction. A bit of duplicate stitch tidied it up—nobody on I-65 South is going to give me a hard time.



I’m pretty sure I slipped a fast one past Caitlin Hunter, the designer of my beloved Birkin. If she only knew . . .

Caitlin: Honey. I totally see it.

Categories:   Knitting