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Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along, Week 5: Working the Front Bands

Knit-Along badgeToday I'm going to be talking about adding the front bands to your cardi and optional closures. The cardigan in the pattern is designed to be slightly open at the front, but I decided I'd like to have a closed front, which gives me an excuse to spend hours choosing just the right buttons! There are other ways as well to close your cardi -- you could use a shawl pin, or if you have some basic sewing skills, sew in a zipper.

First of all, you'll need to pick up the stitches down the edge of your left front. I decided to do the left front first, as the right front is where the buttonholes traditionally are on women's garments. To pick up stitches for the left front, start at the neck of the garment and work down towards the hem. When you come to pick up stitches for the right front, you will start at the hem and work to the neck. With the right side facing, put your needle between the first two stitches at the edge of your cardi, so your needle goes through the fabric from front to back. Wind your yarn around the needle, the same way you would to knit a stitch. Now you can pull the loop that you just wound around the needle back through the fabric to the front. If you find it difficult to hook the loop through with a knitting needle, try using a crochet hook. Carry on in this manner until you have the required number of stitches on the needle.

Picking up stitches for button bands

If you made no changes to the length of the cardi, you can just pick up the amount of stitches specified in the pattern. But if like me, you made your sweater longer, you will need to calculate how many more stitches you will need. To work this out, I just did some very simple math. You'll want to divide the total number of pick-up stitches for your size by the length of the garment in the pattern. For the smallest size, the pattern tells me to pick up 70 stitches, and I can see by looking at the schematic that the length of the front from the neck down to the hem is 13.5 inches.

70 stitches ÷ 13.5 inches = 5.1851 stitches per inch

So I round this down to 5 stitches per inch (alternately, you can do all your rounding at the end).

Now to find the total number of stitches I need to pick up, I need to multiply this stitches per inch measurement by my sweater's actual length. I measure the actual length of my own sweater, which is 23 inches.

23 inches × 5 stitches per inch = 115 stitches

Because you're working the bands in a pattern, keep in mind that you may need to adjust this number slightly. Since I'm doing the ribbed bands as in the pattern, I need to pick up a number that is a multiple of 4 plus 2. The closest number to this is 114, so that's how many stitches I will pick up down both fronts of my sweater.

When the left band is completed, I like to use safety pins to mark where I will sew my buttons. This will help me place the buttonholes on the right band. The easiest way to make a buttonhole is to do a yarn over, which leaves a little hole in your fabric. It also increases a stitch, so you will need to follow your YO with a decrease to keep the correct number of stitches. To make my buttonholes, every time I come opposite one of my safety-pin markers, I will do a YO followed by a knit 2 together decrease.

Finished button bands

Next week, I'll be talking about blocking your sweater, and the ways you can add embellishments to your design, even after the knitting is complete! See you then!

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