This week, I designed and knit a lovely boat neck sweater with a lace inset using Americo Original’s AMAZING new yarn Sedoso. This lace weight beauty is a luxurious blend of alpaca, silk and cashmere – It is so soft, like kittens. The yarn cakes look like little pillowy marshmallows! I held Sedoso double to make a sport weight, knit on a 3.75mm.
As this was my first set-in sleeve design, it was fraught with challenges. In fact, now that it is complete, I am not happy with the finished results in the sleeves and will take them out. BUT, I have violated one of my rules and tied in my ends to soon. This will mean carefully and studious dis-assembly: It wouldn’t be the first time!
With all the trials I’ve have had with this design, it got me thinking of some of the finer points of finishing I have learned. I share them with you here today:
ASH’s TIPS for IMPROVING YOUR FINISHING RESULTS
It all starts in the knitting…
Make all increases and decreases at least one stitch in from the edge. Mirror them. With a clear selvedge always on your seaming edge, it is easier to sew as edge stitches are clearly defined. Mirrored increases- Make one Right ( M1R) and Make one Left ( M1L) and mirrored decrease- K2tog and ssk- make attractive lines along seams (http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/increases). Increases such as knit front back (kfb) on edge stitches are challenging to match when sewing- feel free to choose the kind of increase YOU know will produce the best result, even if your pattern says otherwise.
Always join new yarn at the end of a row. Leave at least a 4″ tail ( for easy sewing in) and simply start knitting with the new ball, no knots or anything. Never join in the middle of a row, knit yarn together at double thickness, or tie a knot. When joining new yarn in the round, place join along side seam, under arm. The tails will be dealt with in final finishing. Most tails will be placed in a seam, making them easy to hide.
Getting ready to finish… Block first for easier seaming. Blocking out pieces lets you know before proceeding whether everything fits and it set at it’s proper size. It will also make edges more clear and less prone to curling while working. Blocking is especially helpful for garments that are knit flat or for items, like collars that will be applied. It is absolutely crucial for lace items that need to be “opened up” and will likely grow substantially in size.
Remember that stitch and row gauge are not the same. When picking up for bands across stitch edges, you will likely go stitch for stitch. Along a row edge, you likely be picking up in ratio of the stitch gauge ( also called “Rhythm Method”)- ex. 4 stitches for every 5 rows. Great resource about this here.
Use the right technique for each kind of seam. Each kind of edge has a “best practice” way to sew into it. I rarely recommend whip stitch, back stitch or any techniques done with the wrong side facing- Most successful finishing is done with the public side always facing you while you work, so you can tell how it will look! If you can SEE your seaming yarn, there is likely a better way to achieve a clean look. I highly recommend taking a class at your local yarn store all about finishing because many of these techniques are easier to learn in person! Check out these videos dealing with different kinds of seams:
- Garter to garter edge
- Side edges ( mattress stitch)
- Cast on to bind off
- Set in sleeves
- Three needle Bind Off
Tying up loose ends…
Weave in ends it TWO directions. People often tell me that their end come out, especially when using non-wool yarns that are slippery. Most of the time, ends can be sewn into seams- weave back and forth in one direction and then turn around and go back. With more visible spots, sew duplicate stitch; weave the tail through in the same route as a few stitches and then go back across the row below. Do not go over the same spot to make it less noticeable and not too thick. Always look at the FRONT of your work, making sure you are not pulling the tail too tight. Weaving in ends is a skill that takes a lot of practice, but following these tips will make sure that your ends are secure. Sometimes, alternatives will be needed- A linen sweater of mine had a pesky end that would not stay put- I actually used matching sewing thread to tack it down on the inside of the work.
And Keep on Learning!
Always look for new techniques. Take a class at your local yarn store; search YouTube; read blogs such as Techknitting and spend some time on Ravelry forums!
I hope you find these tips helpful. Please feel free to comment with your best practices!