Knit That Sweater: Finishing Techniques, Part 1: Fit
This is the first in a series (which is the first in a series). My pal Sandy Huff, designer extraordinaire, has agreed to be the first in a series of guest bloggers here at KnitOasis.com, and this is the first in her series on Finishing Techniques. There is some good stuff here, so pay attention and be sure to check back soon for the next installment.
You have completed knitting the pieces of your sweater--now what? Most knitting patterns are very vague about how to finish your sweater. Usually, you will see “Finishing: Sew shoulder seams, sew sides seams, weave in ends”.
For most, the process of finishing knitted pieces can be a unnerving and difficult job because we don’t love what we don’t understand. But, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a little planning and a little knowledge, finishing can be less daunting.
First things first--FIT!
Finishing actually starts at the beginning. When you are planning your sweater there are some things you can do to assure a polished and professional look.
Fit is very important! Why spend all that time knitting something that isn’t even going to fit. Take a look on Ravelry. Patterns made by others may give you a clue as to whether or not the piece will even look good on you. If available, find finished projects that are modeled on a body that is similar to your own. Check the schematic against sweaters that you already have in your closet that fit you to find the appropriate size you should knit.
None of us likes to swatch. But, swatching is the key to achieving the right size garment. Make a swatch at least 6”x6” in the stitch pattern that will be used in the garment. This will give you the most accurate stitch and row count. Most patterns give you gauge direction of a 4”x 4” swatch however, in my experience, the bigger the better.
Search on Ravelry for any errata. This will save you time and frustration later.
Your choice of cast on can greatly affect the finishing look of your garment. For a comprehensive book of cast ons I recommend Cast On Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor.
For ease in seaming your garments at the end, I suggest doing your increasing and decreasing two stitches from the edge even if the pattern directs you to do inc/dec at the very edge. This will create a smooth and clean selvedge line for seaming. If your garment is knit in a stitch pattern, I suggest keeping the last two stitches in stockinette stitch , also for a smooth and clean line for seaming later. If needed, you can add four sts at your cast on (2 extra sts per side) to facilitate the pattern st.
We all know how difficult it is to make picking up stitches look good. Plan ahead by adding stockinette stitch edges to the armhole, button band, neckline, sleeve caps or wherever you will be picking up stitches. Picking up these neat, clean stitches later will give you a more polished look and make the process easier.