Finishing Details

Sometimes the finishing phase of a hand-knit sweater can take almost as long as the knitting phase. However, because you have spent many hours knitting your project, you should spend a few more hours on finishing it to show it off in the best possible light. Besides blocking and seaming pieces together, there are also many finishing details that your project may need, such as buttonholes, collars, hems, and pockets.

Pick Up Stitches 164

Button Bands, Neckbands, Plackets, and Collars 168

Make Buttonholes 170

Reinforce Buttonholes 176

Put in a Zipper 178

Make Pockets 180

Turned Hems 184

Pick Up Stitches

Picking up stitches is what you do to add button bands, neckbands, collars, or decorative borders to the already finished edges of your knitting. After you pick up stitches along an edge, you use them to knit the part that you want to add—without having to sew the piece on. You can also pick up stitches at an armhole edge and knit a sleeve from the top down.

HOW TO PICK UP STITCHES ALONG A BOUND-OFF EDGE

1 Start at the top-right corner, with the right side facing, and insert the needle into the center of the V of the first stitch, just below the bound-off row.

2 Wrap the working yarn around the needle as you would to knit, holding a 6-inch tail.

3 Bring the loop of the working yarn to the front, as you would to knit.

You have now picked up your first stitch.

4 Repeat steps 1-3 across the edge, working from right to left, for each stitch.

Note: When you are done picking up stitches and are ready to begin knitting, be sure to switch back to your working needles.

HOW TO PICK UP STITCHES ALONG A VERTICAL EDGE

1 Turn your work so that the vertical rows run horizontally and the right side is facing.

2 Starting at the right corner of the pick-up edge, insert the right needle from front to back into the space between the first and second stitches, as shown. Wrap the working yarn around the right needle as you would to knit, holding a 6-inch tail.

3 Bring the loop of working yarn to the front, as you would to knit.

You have now picked up your first stitch.

4 Repeat steps 1-3 across the edge, working from right to left, skipping a row every few stitches.

Note: Because there are more rows per inch than stitches, you do not need to insert the needle between every stitch along a vertical edge. Doing so results in an edge that looks stretched out; skipping a row every few pick-up stitches makes up for the difference.

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Calculating How Many Stitches to Pick Up

It's easy to know how many stitches to pick up along a bound-off edge, such as a pocket top: You simply pick up 1 stitch in each stitch across the row. Because row height is less than stitch width, picking up stitches along a vertical edge is less straightforward. A good rule to remember when picking up stitches along a vertical edge is to pick up approximately 3 stitches for every 4 rows.

Pick Up Stitches

(continued)

HOW TO PICK UP STITCHES ALONG A CURVED EDGE

1 Starting at the top-right corner, with the right side facing, insert the needle into the center of the V of the first stitch, just below the bound-off edge of the shaping.

2 Wrap the working yarn around the needle, as you would to knit, holding a 6-inch tail.

3 Pick up all of the stitches on the horizontal section of the shaping until you get to the vertical section.

4 Continue picking up stitches as you would for a vertical edge, skipping a row every few stitches, if necessary. Be sure not to insert the needle into any large holes that are caused by the shaping, as doing so will result in a hole in your picked-up edge.

HOW TO PICK UP STITCHES EVENLY

1 Place pins, spaced evenly apart, along the edge where the stitches are to be picked up.

Note: Instead of using pins, you can tie bits of yarn as markers at even intervals along the edge.

2 Calculate how many stitches should be picked up between markers by dividing the total number of stitches to be picked up by the number of spaces between pins.

3 Pick up the appropriate number of stitches between each pair of markers.

3 Pick up the appropriate number of stitches between each pair of markers.

Closing the Gaps

Sometimes you get little gaps or holes when picking up stitches around corners, as for a shaped neck, mitten or glove thumb, or sock gusset. You can close up these gaps somewhat by picking up an extra stitch at the problem spot. Just be sure to knit the extra stitch together with its neighbor on the next row or round to get back to the correct stitch count.

Button Bands, Neckbands, Plackets, and Collars

Some sweater patterns call for bands and collars that are knit as separate pieces and sewn on at the end. Others indicate that you knit the band or collar directly onto the garment by picking up stitches. Either way, it is a good idea to acquaint yourself with the various parts of a sweater.

NECKBANDS AND BUTTON BANDS

Neckbands are frequently worked on smaller needles in ribbing, seed stitch, or garter stitch. Neck shaping alone can have an unfinished look, and so it is usually desirable to attach or knit on a neckband. There are many varieties of neckbands— crewneck, V neck, and square neck, to name a few.

Some cardigans are finished with strips of knitting along the vertical edge, called button bands; one button band has buttonholes on it, and the other has buttons sewn to it. Button bands can be worked in various stitch patterns but they are commonly worked in ribbing, seed stitch, or garter stitch, to lie flat. Using needles that are one or two sizes smaller than the needles used for the garment give a neat appearance. For button bands, knit the band that holds the buttons first; mark the placement of the buttons on the band with stitch markers, and then, when you knit the buttonhole band, work the buttonholes to correlate with your markings.

PLACKETS

Plackets are button bands that can be placed vertically at the neck in either the front or back of a sweater, or they can be worked horizontally in place of a shoulder seam. Pullovers for babies and toddlers frequently use the latter version. You should work the plackets in the same manner as the button bands above.

Neckband

Button band

SEWN-ON COLLARS

One easy way to make a collar is to knit it as a separate piece and then sew it on. To determine how long to make the collar, you measure your sweater's neck circumference. When you have finished knitting it, you sew it on with the right side facing if it will fold down, so that you don't see the seam along the neck edge.

TURTLENECK AND MOCK TURTLENECK COLLARS

For a mock turtleneck like the one shown, you pick up stitches from the right side and knit in the desired pattern to the desired length. You can make it a crewneck by working fewer rows, or a long turtleneck that folds over by working more rows. You can knit the collar back and forth in rows by working it when only one shoulder seam has been sewn, and then sewing the collar's side seam later. You can also work this type of collar in the round after both shoulder seams have been sewn.

KNIT-ON COLLARS

You can pick up stitches along the neck to create a collar. When knitting a split-front collar directly onto a sweater, you need to be sure to pick up stitches from the wrong side if the collar is going to fold down.

Make

Buttonholes

Different projects and styles of sweaters call for different types of buttonholes. The size and type of button that you're using also influences your choice of buttonhole. However, the eyelet buttonhole, the 1-row horizontal buttonhole, and the 2-row horizontal buttonhole should get you through most situations.

HOW TO MAKE A 1-STITCH EYELET BUTTONHOLE

1 To make this easy buttonhole, work to the point where you want the buttonhole to be, and then knit 2 together and yarn over. Continue the row as established.

2 On the next row, work the yarn over as you would a regular stitch.

You have now made a 1-stitch eyelet buttonhole.

Note: You place buttons on the left band for women and on the right band for men.

Buttonholes and Bulky Yarns

Stitches that are worked in bulky yarns are larger than those that are worked in fine yarns, and the same goes for buttonholes. Sometimes even the smallest buttonhole, the 1 -stitch eyelet, comes out too big for your button in bulky yarn. Consider omitting buttonholes altogether with bulky yarns; you can probably fit your button through one of the big stitches. See p. 176 on reinforcing buttonholes, if you have already worked them and they are too big.

Make Buttonholes

(continued)

HOW TO MAKE A 1-ROW

HORIZONTAL

BUTTONHOLE

1 On the right side, work to the point where you want the buttonhole to begin. Bring the yarn to the front, slip the next stitch from the left needle as if to purl, and bring the yarn to the back. *Slip the next stitch from the left needle to the right, and pass the first slipped stitch over it and off the needle. Repeat from * three times, keeping the yarn at the back the whole time.

You have now bound off 4 stitches. Note: For a wider buttonhole, bind off more stitches; for a narrower buttonhole, bind off fewer stitches.

2 Slip the last bound-off stitch back to the left needle.

3 Turn your work so that the wrong side is facing, and bring the yarn to the back.

4 Insert the right needle between the first and second stitches on the left needle, and wrap the yarn around the right needle as if to knit.

7 Bring the yarn to the back and slip the first stitch from the left needle to the right needle; pass the additional cast-on stitch over the slipped stitch to close the buttonhole. Work to the end of the row as usual.

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Centering Buttonholes on a Button Band

If you work the buttonhole right at the center of the buttonhole band, and sew the button right at the center of the button band, you will find that, when buttoned, you can see a strip of button band peeking out from under the buttonhole band. To ensure that the bands are properly lined up, and the buttons look centered, try working your eyelet or horizontal buttonhole 1 or 2 rows before you get to the center of the band. (How many rows you will work depends on your row gauge.)

Make Buttonholes

(continued)

HOW TO MAKE A 2-ROW

HORIZONTAL

BUTTONHOLE

1 On the right side, work to the point where you want the buttonhole to be placed, and then knit 2.

2 Insert the left needle from front to back into the first stitch of the pair that you just knit; then pull it over the second stitch and off the right needle (to bind off).

4 Repeat step 3, two more times.

You have now bound off 4 stitches for the buttonhole.

Note: For a wider buttonhole, bind off more stitches; for a narrower buttonhole, bind off fewer stitches.

5 Work to the end of the row as usual.

6 On the wrong side, work until you get to the bound-off stitches.

7 Make a loop with the working yarn as shown; insert the right needle into the loop and pull to tighten.

You have now used the simple cast-on method to cast on 1 stitch.

8 Repeat step 7, three more times. You have now cast on 4 stitches.

9 Work to the end of the row as usual.

You have now completed a 2-row horizontal buttonhole.

Reinforce Buttonholes

Some buttonholes need to be reinforced so that they don't stretch out and become distorted. Reinforcing a buttonhole also gives it a tidy appearance. The two methods covered here—overcasting and buttonhole stitch—should suit any instance.

HOW TO REINFORCE BUTTONHOLES BY OVERCASTING

1 Thread a tapestry needle with matching or contrast color yarn.

2 Bring the tapestry needle through from back to front, leaving a 6-inch tail at the back, and loop the yarn from front to back around the perimeter of the buttonhole, as shown.

3 End your stitching on the wrong side.

4 Weave in the loose ends.

HOW TO REINFORCE BUTTONHOLES WITH BUTTONHOLE STITCH

1 Thread a tapestry needle with matching or contrast color yarn.

2 Bring the tapestry needle through from back to front, leaving a 6-inch tail at the back.

3 Working from right to left, insert the tapestry needle from front to back, with the tip of the needle pointing toward the buttonhole, looping the yarn under the needle.

4 End your stitching on the wrong side. Cut the yarn, leaving a 6-inch tail.

5 Secure the ends at the back, and weave in.

Buttonholes Too Big, or Too Loose?

Buttonhole stitch and overcasting can also work wonders on buttonholes that are too big. If your buttonholes are too big for your buttons, or will be after only a few unbuttonings, try reinforcing them using one of the methods on this page. If the buttonhole is much too big, or too loose, another option is to stitch it closed on each end to close it up slightly.

Put in a Zipper

You can sew a zipper into the front of a cardigan instead of using buttons. Zippers are good for baby and toddler sweaters, as well as casual weekend cardigans and coats for adults. The following instructions are for sewing a zipper into a sweater, but you can use the same technique to attach a zipper to a knitted bag. Be sure that the edge that the zipper is sewn to is the same length as the zipper, or your garment will be distorted.

With the zipper closed and the right side of your garment facing, pin the zipper along and under the front edges so that the edges are almost touching each other, and so that they cover the teeth of the zipper.

Still working on the right side, use a contrast color thread to baste the zipper to the sweater edges to temporarily hold it in place. Make sure that your stitches are close to the zipper teeth for a firm hold.

Working on the wrong side, use thread in a matching color to neatly and evenly whipstitch the outside edges of the zipper to the fronts of the sweater.

4 Turn back to the right side and neatly sew the edges of the sweater to the zipper, right next to the teeth, but not so close as to interfere with the zipper's functioning.

5 You can make a mini tassel, like the one shown here, or a tiny pompom to attach to the zipper pull, if desired.

More Zipper Tips

A straight, firm edge is best for zippers, and so if you are attaching to a ribbed or textured stitch band, similar to a button band, bind off knitwise instead of in pattern; this will leave a straighter, firmer edge. If you are attaching your zipper to side edges—edges that have not had the addition of a knitted band—consider using selvages (see p. 76) or working a row of single crochet along those edges to make them firmer and neater.

Make Pockets

You can add a pocket to almost anything you knit—a sweater, a coat, a vest, or even a scarf. Patch pockets are the easiest to make. You just knit a square or rectangle to the size you want and sew it onto your knitting. You can also pick up the stitches from your knitting and knit the patch pocket directly on. Inset pockets, which have a less noticeable appearance than patch pockets, are a little more challenging, but if you know how to bind off, you can make those, too.

HOW TO ATTACH A PATCH POCKET

1 Pin the pocket in place exactly where you want it to be. Thread a tapestry needle as you would to sew your knitting together, leaving a 6-inch tail coming out one side of the eye.

2 Insert the tapestry needle from back to front, through both the knitting and the upper-right corner of the pocket. Loop the yarn around from front to back to front once more to reinforce the corner.

3 Sew on the pocket, using the overcast stitch that you used to reinforce buttonholes on p. 176, as shown, ending at the upper-left corner. Reinforce the corner as in step 2, ending with the needle on the wrong side.

4 Weave in the loose ends.

Using the yarn that you intend to knit the pocket with and the working knitting needle, purl across the picked-up stitches. (This first row is a wrong-side row.)

Beginning with a knit row, work from here in stockinette stitch (that is, knit across on the right side, and purl across on the wrong side) until the pocket is the length that you want it to be.

Bind off loosely.

Pin the pocket sides to the knitting. (See the photo of the pinned patch pocket on the previous page.)

Stitch the pocket sides in place, using the overcast stitch that you used to reinforce buttonholes on p. 176.

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Make Pockets (continued)

HOW TO MAKE AN INSET POCKET

1 Knit the pocket lining or linings to the size indicated in your pattern's instructions. Instead of binding off the stitches, put them on a stitch holder. Steam the lining to block it. (See p. 146.)

Note: Pocket linings are usually knit in stockinette stitch so that they lie flat. You can knit a pocket lining in the same color as the overall piece, or, if you prefer, you can knit the lining in an accent color.

2 On the piece of the garment that will hold the pocket (usually a cardigan front), work across the row on the right side to where the pocket will be placed. Bind off the same number of stitches as used to knit your pocket lining and work to the end of the row.

3 On the following row (wrong side), work across to the bound-off stitches. Hold your pocket lining so that the wrong side is facing you. (The right side of the lining should face the wrong side of the main garment piece.) Work across the lining stitches from the holder; then work across the remaining stitches of the main garment.

4 On the next row (right side), work across as usual.

5 Continue working this piece of the garment as established.

© At the finishing stage of your garment, pin the bottom and sides of the pocket lining in place and stitch to attach them, using the overcast stitch that you used to reinforce buttonholes on p. 176.

7 Steam the sewn-in lining to flatten it, taking care not to press it, which would bring the outline of the lining to the front of your work.

Note: You can also make an inset pocket by putting the stitches where the pocket is to be placed onto a holder after working across them on the right side. Then you continue across the row to the end and place the lining as shown here. At the finishing stage, you can then work from the held stitches to create an edging, such as ribbing, seed stitch, or garter stitch.

Turned Hems

A turned hem creates a tidy, crisp alternative to ribbing at a hemline, a neck, on a cuff, or along the button band of a cardigan. A turning row, or turning ridge, is worked at the fold line to make a neat edge that turns under easily. How the turning row is worked determines the look of the hemline.

HEM WITH PURLED TURNING ROW

To knit a hem with a purled turning row, knit the facing in stockinette stitch to the desired length, using smaller needles than required for the project. Then, purl the turning row on the right side. Work the garment from there using the needle recommended for the project. Finish the garment by folding over the hem at the purled row; pin and stitch it in place.

HEM WITH PICOT TURNING ROW

This pretty hem, which looks like a row of tiny scallops, works well on dresses and baby clothes. You work a picot hem similarly to a hem with a purled turning row, except that you work the picot turning row on an even number of stitches on the right side by working a knit 2 together, yarn-over eyelet pattern across, and ending with a single knit stitch. Finish the garment by folding the hem along the eyelet row, and pin and stitch it in place.

PICOT TURNED BUTTON BAND

When working a button band with a picot hem, you work the buttonholes symmetrically on either side of the turning row. Finish the band in the same manner as you would a hem, except that you reinforce the buttonholes (see p. 176) through the two thicknesses.

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Responses

  • naomi
    How to knit picked up patch pocket?
    7 years ago
  • Elvio
    How many stitches to pick up for a V neck button band?
    7 years ago
  • tom
    How to sew on a knitted patch pocket worked in moss stitch?
    7 years ago
  • BENIGNA
    How to pick up edging stitches vertically?
    5 months ago

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