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Author Archives: Kendra

  • Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover KAL: The Final Seams!

    Welcome back to the finale of our knit-along! We're finishing these beautiful sweaters today, and I for one can't wait! Now that your collars are finished and in place, it's time to set in the sleeves and sew the final side seams.

    As I'm sure you can tell by now, I'm a planner. This is especially true when it comes to setting in sleeves. The first step is to pin the sleeve in place, matching the strange shape of the sleeve cap into the armhole opening of the sweater. To do so, I fold the sleeve cap in half to find the center of the top bind off and pin this point to the shoulder seam, which is the top center of the armhole. Next move to the outside edges, pinning the initial armhole bind-off notch to the bind-off notch of the sleeve cap (both are the same number of stitches and pin directly together). Then pin the center point of these two areas, and then the center of those resulting sections. Now can you see how the sleeve cap fits in?

    Pinned cap

    Time to sew it in! I've chosen to use a different yarn to sew in the sleeve because the mattress stitch seaming will not show through the sweater. Part of the softness and appeal of Amazing is that it is constructed of one single strand of yarn instead of multiply plies, but I chose to sew the sweater with a slightly stronger plied yarn, Vanna's Choice, which can handle the wear and tear of the seaming we're about to do. I like to set in my sleeves with one long strand of yarn which I join at the top shoulder seam then pull to the center of the yarn. I work down one side of the sleeve cap to the underarm, then return to the shoulder seam and repeat down the other side of the cap. This makes the seam consistent on the front and back because both were worked from the top down.

    To set in the sleeve cap, I utilize all three types of mattress stitch that I discussed last week, each applied in different seaming zones. For the top bind-off sections you will work the horizontal-vertical type, then you will hit a section of horizontal-horizontal along the gentle slope of the sleeve cap. After that it's back to horizontal-vertical for the next section of bind-offs, and finally end with the vertical-vertical seam to join the two bind-off notch portions together. Phew! See the following photo for what I mean as far as the seaming zones. I also work to ease the pieces together, skipping stitches occasionally to make the pieces fit together smoothly.


    Once the sleeve is set in, it's time for the final seams: sewing the sleeves closed and sweater sides together. This home stretch is the simplest seam - it's all the basic mattress stitch working under the horizontal bars one stitch in from the edge of both pieces. Again, I like to pin first so that I can ease the pieces together as I go, pinning the bottom edges, the top of the ribbing, and then some midway points between.

    Start seaming--the finished sweater is so close! Work carefully to make sure you can line up the sides of the body without any bunching.  After the seams are done, I weave in all of my ends and give the collar and seams a light steaming to soften them. I finally have a finished pullover!

    Finished sweater

    I know this sweater has been a journey, and I hope you all have finished sweaters you are proud of. Although I love how this sweater fits me, the intended recipient is actually my mom. She taught me to knit as a child, and I owe her for my love of yarn crafting. She contacted me weeks ago when she got her Lion Brand newsletter and found out I was hosting this KAL and asked me about joining in. While I would have loved to have her knit along as well, I made her a different offer instead: "Do you want mine when I finish it?" Having only knit her small things in the past, I really wanted to make her this pullover to give her something special to keep her warm in the Utah winter. So now that this gorgeous sweater is done, it's time to send it off to her. I'll post a photo when she gets it so you can all see how it looks!

    Thanks for joining me in this KAL--it has been great talking to you, helping each other through the process, and seeing all of your success. Please continue to comment and share your progress and finished sweaters--I can't wait to see them!
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  • Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover KAL: Working the Collar

    Welcome back to the Wisteria Pullover Knit-Along! My sweater pieces are knit and blocked, and I'm ready to get this pullover finished! In getting started to put mine together, however, I realized there are quite a few different finishing techniques involved and quite a large collar to knit, so I'm going to break the finishing work down into two posts, this week and next. Let's get started on the shoulder seams and collar!

    The first step is to seam the shoulders in order to create the back neck opening for the collar. To do so, I recommend a type of seam called the mattress stitch. There are three different types of mattress stitch: horizontal to horizontal stitches (side seams), vertical to vertical stitches (shoulder seams), and vertical to horizontal (the collar and part of the sleeve cap). As you can see, we'll be employing all three along the way to finishing our sweater! Starting at the outside edge of your shoulder seam, pin your front and back pieces together and begin seaming, working your darning needle under both legs of the V on one piece and then under both legs of the V opposite on the other piece, as shown in the following image. I've used a golden yarn so that you can see the stitches, but keep in mind that these will be visible, so you should use the same yarn as for the main body. For more information on seaming click here.


    I like to keep the tension of this seam similar to my knit stitches, instead of pulling it tight so that the seam looks like another row of stitches, but it's entirely up to you. Here's why mine looked like after seaming:

    Shoulder Seam

    Repeat with the other side and voila! Starting to look a bit more like a sweater? Now you can start to picture where this collar is going to fit in. So now it's time to pick up stitches to start knitting the shawl collar. The way the collar is constructed is this: you pick up and knit a certain number of stitches along the back of the neck and begin working in 2x2 rib; gradually more stitches are cast on at the beginning of both rows to elongate the collar but give it a nicely-shaped curve, then it is knit until it is wide enough to fill the gap we created in the front.

    To plan mine, I counted how many bind-off stitches I had along the back of the neck opening and found I had 32 - 2 short of the 34 I needed to pick up. I accounted for this by picking up my first and last stitch from the shoulder join, then used the 32 stitches I bound off before ato get my 34 stitches to start the collar. Working from right to left, pick up and knit each stitch until you have the number required. By planning ahead, you can evenly space these stitches instead of getting to the end and having to stretch across or cram in a bunch of stitches. For more information about picking up stitches, click here. Here's what the process of picking up and knitting looks like (again, I've used contrast yarn, but you'll be using your main body yarn):

    Picking up stitches

    To add the stitches at the beginning of the row, one simple method is the backwards loop cast on. Click here for more information on how to do this cast on. Just as a word of advice: once you have your added stitches, the pattern says to work in K2, P2 rib as established - be aware that on your right side rows, you will need to start with 2 purls, or you will throw off the rib pattern.

    If you made your neck opening deeper or more shallow, now is the time to adjust your collar length to fit your opening, keeping in mind the collar is sewn in with the ribbing slightly stretched. I worked the pattern as written, and my collar fit well. Although the opening looked very deep, it worked out very nicely. Keep working in 2x2 ribbing until the side edges of the collar are the same height as the bound-off opening in the neck, which for me was just over 4 inches. Remember the back section of the collar will be wider than this, which creates the shawl collar.

    Now it's time to sew it into place. We'll be using a different version of the mattress stitch for this: the vertical-horizontal type. This method combines the technique of the other two versions: you work under the V of the vertical piece, then under the bar one stitch in from the edge of the horizontal piece, back and forth, then pull them together to make the seam disappear. Again check out the page we have about seaming by clicking here, where you can see what I mean between the different horizontal and vertical stitches (disregard the garter stitch seams since we have stockinette and ribbing.)

    I chose to secure the bottom of the collar first, then attach it down each side so I could fit it in smoothly. I joined the left side of the collar (your left, the sweater's right side) first, using a simple whip stitch between the side of the collar and the bound-off stitches of the neck opening, since this part of the seam will be covered up by the overlap. Next I attached the other side of the collar on top, carefully working my vertical-horizontal mattress stitch to make the join as invisible as possible, resulting in this:


    I applied the same type of seam to the sides of the collar, pinning the collar in place first: one in the middle, then two on either side of that, to ensure that I could make the collar lay flat and even. It takes some patience to make it look right, but it's worth it! Here's a picture of my finished collar and I couldn't be happier!


    As I mentioned last week, once I finished knitting the sleeves it was time to get those blocked and ready for seaming. As with the front and back of the sweater, it's very important to have your pattern schematic and a measuring tape handy when blocking so you can shape and size the sleeves to the exact measurements you want in the finished piece and it makes seaming much easier. My sleeves are all pinned out and drying, ready for next week!

    So enjoy your week and completing the collar of your sweater, and next week we'll set in the sleeves and seam up the sides, then enjoy our finished pullovers!
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  • Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover KAL: Time for Sleeves and Blocking

    Welcome back to the Wisteria KAL! I hope working the front of your sweater went well and working through the "at the same time" was a success. Now that the body of the sweater is done, it's time to give it some sleeves! When working sleeves I find it helpful to work them both at the same time for two reasons: it helps ensure they turn out the same shape and length, and they are both done at the same time! Personally I'm not a big fan of knitting the same exact thing twice, so it's really nice to get them done all in one go. After working the top of the front piece at the same time, working on both sleeves is a snap!

    To set up for knitting both sleeves at once, you'll need two separate balls of yarn and a long needle, preferably a circular needle at least 29" long. Using one ball, cast on the instructed number of stitches for one sleeve, then drop that yarn. Now using your second ball, cast on the same number of stitches for the second sleeve. Now start knitting across both sleeves -- just be sure to use the yarn attached to each sleeve and not carry the same strand all the way across both! Here's a shot of my sleeves in progress:

    Knitting the sleeves

    The sleeves begin with 3 inches of ribbing, just like the body pieces, then increases begin immediately in the stockinette section and continue for most of the sleeve. The increase used for the sleeves is the knit into the front and back (kfb), and you can learn more about how to work this stitch by clicking here. There are many repeats of the increase row as you work your way up the sleeve, so it's important to keep track of how many you have done. The nice thing about the kfb increase is that it makes what looks kind of like a purl bump (a little bar) on the right side of your work so you can count your increases if you lose track. Once the increases are completed, work even until the indicated length (or your desired length, measured from wrist to underarm). Afterward it's on to the sleeve cap!

    Sleeve caps can be a bit tricky, but we'll make it through with the help of our row gauge. Remember back in the post about gauge when I told you to go with the needle size that gives you stitch gauge but to know what your row gauge is? This is when it comes into play: the instructions for shaping the sleeve cap are based on the row gauge of the pattern (6 rows/inch) so that the finished cap will fit into the armhole depth we already knit. If your row gauge is off, you may end up with a sleeve cap that is too tall or too short to properly fit into the armhole. But don't despair! It takes a bit of math so bear with me, but we can figure out how to make your sleeve cap fit based on your own row gauge.

    After the initial bind-offs every row, the pattern says to repeat the decrease row every other row (every right-side row), which is the same as saying every 1/3 inch (2 rows at 6 rows/inch gauge, 2 rows divided by 6 rows/inch equals 1/3 inch). To calculate when you should work your decreases, multiply your row gauge by 1/3 inch to find out how often you should increase. However, from your comments in the gauge post, it sounds like that most of you are getting a row gauge of just slightly over 6 rows/inch - somewhere in the range of 26-30 rows over 4 inches, which will give you an increase every 2.5 rows or so. In that case, I would advise that you throw in a regular knit row (with no increase) a few times along the way (and purl back) to make your cap a bit taller, then you can block it to the exact shape later. If your row gauge is looser (less than 6 rows/inch), you may need to make a few decreases on the purl rows so your cap doesn't get too tall before you complete your decreases. My best advice is just to keep an eye on how tall the cap is getting and refer to the schematic in the pattern to make sure you are on track for the right size. Your sleeves should end up looking roughly like this:


    As you are working on your sleeves, it's a good time to block the front and back of your sweater so they can dry while you keep knitting. To block my pieces, I fill my bathroom sink with lukewarm water and a cap-full of wool wash (why not clean it while I'm at it, right?). I leave it for 10-15 minutes then drain the water and gently squish the pieces to remove excess water. I carefully transfer my knitting to a towel, scooping them up so they don't stretch out of shape when wet, and then roll them in the towel to get out more of the excess water. I lay out my blocking boards (a yoga mat or layered towels work, too!) then get my blocking wires, pins, a measuring tape and the pattern schematic. Being careful to follow the schematic measurements, I pin out both pieces of the sweater to the size indicated, measuring each part as I pin and adjusting as necessary. I personally don't block out the ribbing and instead start my pins and wires above the ribbing because I want it to retain its natural tendency to pull in. If you want to the bottom of your sweater to be less shaped, you can also pin out your ribbing, but keep in mind that it will have less elasticity. This is how it looked once I was done:


    Now let the pieces air dry. Repeat this process with your sleeves once they are knit as well, and next week we'll be ready to seam the pullover and knit the collar! A finished sweater is soooo close! Have a great week!

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