Advice on Fixing a Birkin

Despite the fact I know this type of yoke is ALWAYS too deep for me, I fell in love with the Birkin. I spent weeks picking out my colors. I happily knitted the color work, checking the depth and stopping immediately at the bottom of the leaves. And now that I’ve finished the whole sweater, the yoke is both too high and too wide at the top - too much fabric! I don’t think blocking is going to help.

I’ve fixed bottom-up patterned yokes before by ripping back and re-jigging the pattern and decreases to make it shorter at the top. But I’ve never fixed a top-down that has short rows. But I think it must be done, despite the fact that it makes me a bit nervous.

Should I try to thread a lifeline above the color work so I can rip back rather than tink? I used Spindrift, so the yarn is sticky, so ripping without a life line might work.

My initial thought is, if ripped back to above the color work that I just finish it as a boat neck in some way, or maybe I’ll just work dramatic decreases. Thoughts?

Sadly I also have to re-do the sleeves because I felt uncertain they would be big enough to go around my hefty upper arms and now they are too big. :frowning: But that is a more straightforward job - time consuming, but within my capabilities.

Will try to upload a picture if I can manage to take one that shows the problem.

Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom.

And here it is.


First of all, I absolutely love your color choices!
If it were me, I’d lifeline it, rip back, redo the math now with more solid info, and try it again.

(The other way I thought of would be to cut it with scissors and sew it back together, you know, like sewing. But since we know how to knit we don’t have to do it this way. :smiley:)

I have not knit this pattern in particular, but am currenlty working The Twigs, and I aim to change the body shaping to follow my hour glass curves rather than it’s designed bubble shape. So I am making similar calculations on that project. Solidarity.


:slight_smile: Thanks so much. The main color is Mirrie Dancers (Jamieson’s Spindrift) and I’ve used Plum, Scotch Broom, Prairie, and Teviot for the color work, picking up some of the colors in the mirrie dancers mix.

I appreciate your support … I’m pretty sure I can do this. Now thinking I may take it all the way back below the top leaves to get the decreases right … but I’ll probably first life line it above the leave to see if that is needed. Waiting for a very quiet morning with no disturbances before taking the plunge … will follow up with a picture when done.

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What a beautiful sweater. Maybe rip it back to just above the colorwork and finish it as a boatneck with an i-cord bindoff. Something like the neckline on the Telja sweater (see my photo) Sorry about the cat in the hat in the photo, it’s the only one I could find.


Your sweater is lovely and the i-cord idea is great. Will post and let folks know how it turns out … still waiting for a quiet few hours where I can rip it back without interruption!

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I’m not sure that you can rip it back if it is a top down sweater! I now do provisional cast ons for top-down projects, and complete the neck later, when it’s clearer how the sweater will hang. I think you’d need to cut it near the point you want the shape /size to change and manually unpick the last row. The yarn will be threaded through each stitch so this will be time consuming and a bit tricky!! I’ve done this twice before - it’s well worth it but takes a disproportionate amount of time.

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Yeah, you are right. I’ve put in a (rather sketchy) lifeline, cut off the ribbed collar, pulled/picked it back almost to the lifeline, put it back on the needles, and am now carefully picking back to get closer to the color work. Slow and steady … probably will do an I-cord bindoff to make it a boatneck, and then will reevaluate the sleeves once I see how the top comes out! :slight_smile:


Absolutely you can frog the top of a top down sweater! Once you get started, it is really no different from usual except for increases/decreases come undone a bit differently. For those, you might have to thread the yarn though in places. Once you are whee you want to be, pick up stitches and work up to the neck opening. I’ve done this successfully (also late-stage mods to hems of bottom-up sweaters similarly). One of many benefits to knitting in the round!

You certainly can’t frog ribbing from the cast on edge - that’s my main experience given that I wanted to redo neck lines! Ribbing has to be picked out stitch by stitch, with the full (and growing) length of yarn pulled through each stitch, making it really tatty. Hence it’s easier to cut ribbing off and pick up the stitches. I’ve never had to do this with stocking stitch but blogs suggest that this is easier. I’m going to have a trial with one of my swatches!

I now do a provisional cast on for top down sweaters so that I can do the ribbing and cast off from the bottom as this is more easily corrected if you don’t like the gauge or tightness!

Just to add to my last comments, I went back to a stocking stitch swatch to unravel from the cast on edge. The cast on (two tail) had to be unpicked stitch by stitch pulling the whole length of yarn through. The stocking stitch did unravel easily but the whole yarn length had to be pulled through each stitch at the row ends. So it should be fine in the round (I’m not sure how short rows would fare) but probably no good for flat knittting! I’ve learned a thing or two!

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Just beautiful.I love your colors. Cant wait to see how it turns out.

Oh, thank you! I’ve got it ripped back now (well, just about, about half a row to undo) and I think I’m going to knit one row around, put on an i-cord, and see what it looks like.

It hasn’t been my year for sweaters it seems, just ran out of yarn on another project (Sonation) which is now sitting with no sleeves while I figure out what to do (Miss Babs Woodbury oxidized silver is sold out).

OK, it is now blocked and here is what I did:

  1. Took a long time ripping back the top - carefully cut off the ribbing and then ripped and picked it back to a lifeline that I put in just above the color work. This was tedious and depressing and took a long time to accomplish because I wasn’t particularly motivated to work on it.

  2. I knitted around in the MC to make a good edge and then did an I-cord bind off, which I am pleased with.

  3. The yoke is still too big so before blocking I decided I will make a diagonal fold in the front, lining up the color work, and then tack it down in the back; I will then put three decorative buttons along the fold (maybe black velvet, maybe the little pewter flower buttons I have from Danforth Pewter, still deciding).

  4. Still a bit damp after blocking, but I am generally pleased with it - I made it very A-line and made larger sleeves to accommodate my large arms and a layer underneath. Letting it dry out before I tack down the front and then steam block the neckline and yoke before putting on buttons. Not sure it can really be called a Birkin anymore after all the changes, but I loved the color work so much I had to make one.

Lesson learned - no more top-down yoked sweaters for me - will stick to bottom-up where I can better control the depth of the yoke and/or more easily rip out and readjust.

Note: the white flecks in the sweater are actually dust on the bathroom mirror. :frowning: Oh the shame!


Great job saving your Birkin👍🏻 I think the balck velvet buttons would look lovely on top of the colorwork! Wear it with pride, you’ve earned it😉


Thanks for the kind words. Can’t wait to get buttons on it!