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Medusa Cascade shawl showing ruffled edging

Lace Rescue

The Afterthought Yarn Over

One of the easiest mistakes to make when working lace is missing a yarn over. This easy-to-make error can not only affect the look of your work, it can also throw off the stitch count and cause subsequent rows to be improperly aligned. But the good news is there is a nifty little trick that can prevent the tedious process of ripping back your knitting one stitch at a time – the afterthought yarn over.

Why its useful

Just like its name suggests, the afterthought yarn over is worked on a different row than a regular yarn over. It allows you to correct a mistake on the wrong side of the work (or opposite side for lace worked on both sides) without having to do any ripping or tinking or crying or cursing.


How it works.

Let’s pretend we made some mistakes on the Right Side of our piece and omitted a few yarn overs. In our sample, I skipped the yarn overs on left hand side of the Right Side of the piece.  (When  correcting a mistake, you obviously won’t have to deliberately skip the yarn overs).

Missing yarn overs


On the reverse side of the piece, work to the place the yarn over belongs. Find the yarn that runs between the last stitch on your right hand and the first stitch on your left hand needle.

Running thread between stitches


Pick up the running thread with the right needle tip so that the part of the running yarn closest to the right needle is in front of the needle. Place it on the left needle without twisting it.

Picking up running yarn


If you compare the stitch you just created to the regular yarn over next to it, you will see that the afterthought yarn over is oriented the same direction as the regular yarn over.

Comparison of stitch mount between afterthought yarn over and regular yarn over


Now work the stitch you just created the way the pattern tells you to work the yarn over. On our sample, the yarn overs are purled.

Purling afterthought yarn over


Here I have worked a few rows of lace using both afterthought yarn overs and regular yarn overs so you see how they compare.

Yarn over comparison in finished lace

Other than being a little smaller, there is no difference between the yarn overs worked on the row where the pattern instructs and the ones worked on the following row.


Other uses for afterthought yarn overs

In addition to its use for repairing lace, the afterthought yarn over is also useful when you want an easy increase but want a slightly smaller hole. I used this technique when working the worsted weight version of my Medusa Cascade shawl. The yarn overs in the Cascade Border are there to allow space for the ruffle to bell out and not really to be noticed. Because of the large needle size necessary for good drape with worsted weight yarn (I used a US 10 /6.0 mm), the yarn over holes were huge. By switching to the afterthought yarn over, I still get a nice floaty ruffle without giant holes along the sides.  See how neat those yarn overs look? You can see a comparison between the fingering weight and worsted weight version of the Cascade ruffle in the photos below.

Worsted weight version with afterthought yarn overs
Worsted weight version with afterthought yarn overs


Fingering weight shawl with regular yarn overs
Fingering weight shawl with regular yarn overs


There you have it. A simple technique for rescuing lace from the brinks of disaster without having to rip. I hope you enjoy using the afterthought yarn over.