I think perfection is ugly. Somewhere in the things humans make, I want to see scars, failure, disorder, distortion.
The great thing about knitting a stranded shawl: no shaping, and therefore no worries about fit!
The bad thing? The rows get very, very long the further you go.*
Now, this isn't necessarily a problem. I like knitting (news flash!), so the prospect of knitting more stitches isn't, in and of itself, a deal breaker. Frankly, if it were, I most certainly would not be besotted with stranded knitting using fingering weight yarn and size 2 needles, right?
But, when you discover that you've made a mistake, it can be very disheartening. VERY disheartening!
This is where it is time to reach deep into your creative self and come up with some alternate ways to fix errors that have to be fixed--WITHOUT ripping back hundreds of stitches.
Regular readers know that I'm fairly tolerant of some types of mistakes, but even my feckless approach has its limits. If this happens to you, here are two techniques that might suit (and please be kind about my juggling of knitting and camera!):
Duplicate Stitch on the Fly
I discovered that I had knit two stitches in green that were supposed to be coral (the two stitches on the left-hand needle).
I pulled these stitches off the needle and pulled out the green (the large loop).
I took a long length of coral yarn and knit those two stitches, replacing them on the left-hand needle and leaving long ends that will be darned in later. These stitches are a little wonky right now because they haven't been anchored yet, but all will be well when I've had a chance to darn them in. I'm not concerned about that too-long green float right now--I'm counting on the slight felting that occurs when blocking to force it into submission.
Fixing Problems Several Rows Down
This shawl pattern is very large (55 x 55) and not quite predicable. Plus: I'm not the most attentive knitter. So the only surprising thing about this mistake is that it took me so long to make it! In this example I had moved the entire motif over by 1 stitch, inadvertently lengthening it. I didn't notice until it came time for the motif to meet up with another one six rows later.
I dropped the offending stitches down to the row where it all began.
The first step is to identify the green and coral in the first fixed row; it is very helpful to corral the other floats with a safety pin. You locate the appropriate floats by looking at the fixed stitches either side of the stitches you are working on and seeing which yarns come out of that row. Sometimes I turn the work to make it easier to see what is going on. Then you knit the correct pattern with the float yarn.
What if the float yarn isn't long enough? Good question. In this example, each corrected row had the same stitch count of each color as the incorrect row, but it is possible that you will need to apply the Duplicate Stitch on the Fly technique if your situation is different.
Here I am at nearly the final row--it all becomes more clear! When I'm working in the lower rows I use double point needles, but as I get closer to the final rows I just put the stitches on the regular needles. Whatever works for you!
Slow and steady, coupled with good lighting, win the day!
*Assuming you are knitting from the point.