Tinking - How To Unknit Knitting Stitches

Tinking stitches is a simple knitting technique to use when you discover that you made a knitting mistake.  You don't have to unravel all your knitting, just learn how to tink stitches and you'll be fine.

Tink is the word knit spelled backwards, and 'unknitting' is another term knitters use as well.

Let's face it, we all make mistakes. The real trick is being able to fix knitting mistakes without unraveling all your knitting. When you unknit you're simply unraveling your knitting stitches one by one to the place where you made the mistake.  Then you fix it and carry on with you knitting.

Sound difficult? Don't worry, the good thing is unknitting stitches is quite simple to do and it's not as scary as unraveling all of your knitting because you're working on one stitch at a time.

When Would You Use Tinking?

It works really well if you found your mistake on the row that you're knitting on, maybe even the previous row. 

If you discovered a mistake much further down in your knitting tinking doesn't work so well.  

There are a couple of reasons why:

  • It can be nerve wracking to unknit a lot of rows
  • It can be a slow and tedious process

Of course....It is definitely possible.  I've done it but it gets really tiring going back stitch by stitch. And I've been doing a lot of that lately with my latest knitting project. Can't wait to finish.

Tinking Overview

In order to know how to tink stitches you need to read your knitting.  It'll make it a lot easier. And I'll help you.


Have a look at this picture. I've turned my knitting needle around a bit to show you the main parts here.  And I have marked the main characters (ha), the new stitch on the needle, the old stitch (this is the stitch you just knit off of the left needle) and the working yarn.

When you tink a stitch you'll be putting the old stitch back onto the left needle (in order to re-knit it) and undoing (unknitting) the new stitch off the right needle.  Make sense?

When you unknit a stitch you put your left needle into the old stitch as you gently slide the new stitch off the right needle.   You give the working yarn a tug to finish unknitting the new stitch

Note:  See how the new and old stitch are all basically connected by the working yarn? Knitting really is just a series of loops.  So neat..

Step-by-Step Unknitting Instructions  


I just noticed that I purled a stitch by mistake.  So I will unknit to the spot where the mistake is, tink it and carry on knitting. Follow the knitting instructions below to start tinking your knitting.

In the first photo I am pointing to the stitch just below the stitch on the needle.  This is the old stitch. With your left needle push it through the old stitch that is just under the stitch on the needle. 

First photo.  Slip the stitch off the right needle and gently tug on working yarn to release it.  Second photo just keep tugging on working yarn to completely release the stitch from the right needle.

And you're done.  The old stitch is now on the left needle and you just unknit a stitch.

When you reach the purl bump push your left needle right through the purl bump as you slide the stitch above it off the right needle. It's the same as the above instructions only it's a purl bump instead of a knit stitch. When you have that stitch on your left needle you can knit it and carry on knitting. You're done. Yay.

If you would like to watch how it's done this is an awesome video showing this technique both for knit stitches and purl stitches.  Enjoy.

Tinking Stitches Knitting Video

Happy Knitting!

Knitting Instructions

Knitting tips