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Author Archives: Barbara Breiter

  • 3 Different Ways to Shape the Neckline of a Sweater

    This column by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.

    shapenecklineWhen making a pullover sweater in either knitting or crochet, there are many different ways to construct a sweater. In some cases, you will be working from the top-down in one piece (working from the neckline downwards, adding stitches for your raglan sleeves, and then coming back in for the body); you might also work in the round from the bottom edge, splitting the stitches at the arm holes and then working on the front and back separately.

    Often you'll see instructions like this:

    Shape Neck

      K14 (15, 16, 16) sts, join a 2nd ball of yarn and bind off next 6 (8, 8, 10) sts, k to end. Working both sides at once with separate balls of yarn, dec 1 st at each neck edge every other row 3 times - 11 (12, 13, 13) sts. Work until same length as Back to shoulders.

    When you shape the neck of the front of a pullover, in particular a crew neck or a v-neck, you are ensuring that the neck opening will be large enough so that it fits over the head. There are two components: the width and the depth.

    The depth is generally several inches. This is why the neckline shaping begins before the front armhole reaches the depth of the back armhole (where usually only width is of consequence to the total neck opening).

    To begin, stitches are eliminated in the center and then decreasing takes place on each side of these center stitches to further widen and shape the neck opening. When the depth is completed, the shoulder stitches are usually bound off.

    We'll be discussing how to shape a neckline when you work the sweater in pieces, starting from the bottom edge and working up towards the neckline.

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  • 3 Questions To Ask Yourself When You're Substituting Yarns

    This column by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.

    3 Questions to Ask Yourself When You're Substituting Yarns

    The time will come when you need or want to substitute a yarn in a pattern. The reasons for this are varied. Perhaps the yarn recommended is discontinued; perhaps it's too expensive, or perhaps it's a fiber you don't wish to use.

    1. What is the weight of the yarn?

    Worsted? Bulky? You need to select a yarn in the same weight class. If you don't, you won't be able to obtain the correct gauge and your project will not be the correct size. You may eventually be able to obtain the gauge of the pattern but it will be as stiff as cardboard or very loose (depending on if you selected a lighter or heavier weight). For a project such as a sweater, this will have a huge impact.

    For a listing of Lion Brand yarns by weight click here.

    You can often combine multiple strands of a lighter weight yarn to achieve the same weight as a heavier one. Be sure to check your gauge very, very carefully when doing this. Yarns within the same weight class still work to various gauges. For example, a worsted weight yarn is usually classified as one that works between 16 and 20 sts per 4 inches.

    These are approximate equivalents:

    • 2 strands fingering = one strand sport.
    • 2 strands sport = one strand worsted.
    • 2 strands worsted = one strand super bulky.

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  • Should You Carry the Yarn Along the Side or Cut It?

    This column by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.

    When working a pattern in stripes, sometimes you'll see an instruction "Carry the yarn not in use along the side" (as with the Knit Shell Beach Washcloth shown at right); other times you won't see an instruction at all.

    When to Carry the Yarn Along

    What should you do then? "Carry the yarn along the side" means nothing more than leave the color you are currently not using at the side of your work without cutting it. You'll pick it up again later when you are to use that color again. If you are not going to use the color for 4 more rows, the next time you are at the edge where the unused yarn is, you will need to twist it with the color you are using. This will keep a loose loop from forming (the loose loop might get snagged or look unattractive if it isn't twisted into the other yarn).

    If you're working 2 rows of one color followed by 2 rows of a second color, carrying the unused yarn makes sense, because all the color changes are on one edge of the piece, meaning that you can simply pick up the next color at the side and proceed.

    If you're alternating three colors, working 2 rows each, you will need to twist both colors not in use. Drop the color you just finished behind the other two, twist the other two, pick up the next color you need and continue.

    When to Cut the Yarn

    Quintessential Country Afghan

    If the pattern is anything other than 2 rows of color A followed by 2 rows of color B, even though you've been told to carry it, you still have a personal choice to make and should consider several factors that may lead you to cutting it every time instead. The down-side to cutting the yarn is that you will have many more ends to weave in (but if you weave in as you go, this task will not be as daunting). The upside? The row edges will be much neater. This should be especially considered when you are making a scarf or a throw where the edges will be seen (as with the Quintessential Country Afghan, shown left). In a sweater, the edges will be hidden in a seam; however, the seams will be bulkier because you've carried the yarn so that’s a negative factor to consider.

    There is no hard and fast rule but generally if you are going to be working more than 4 rows before needing the color again, strongly consider cutting it. Some people will stretch this to 6 rows. Every time you twist the yarns, you are adding more bulk to the edge.

    And you can always weave in those ends while watching TV.


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