Finishing Techniques

After you complete the knitting stage of a project, it is time to move on to finishing. Finishing consists of weaving in the loose ends that hang off your knitting, blocking your knit pieces to the correct measurements, and putting the pieces together by sewing seams. Although most knitters prefer knitting to finishing, mastering the finishing techniques in this chapter will ensure that you are happy with your completed projects.

Weave in Ends 144

Block Your Knitting 146

Sew Seams 148

Graft Seams 156

Assemble a Sweater 158

Weave in Ends

Weaving in ends, either horizontally across the work or vertically up the side, is what you do to get rid of all of the loose yarns that are dangling from your knitting. To make managing yarn ends easier, be sure to leave at least a 6-inch tail when casting on, binding off, joining new yarn, or cutting an end. You need at least that length to properly weave in an end. If you leave your ends too short, they can work their way loose, and your knitting can unravel.

WEAVE IN ENDS UP THE SIDE

Thread a tail of yarn through a tapestry needle that is appropriate for the thickness of your yarn.

With the wrong side facing, bring the tapestry needle in and out from back to front, up the side of the knitting.

After you have woven in the end a few inches, cut it close to the work, taking great care not to cut your knitting.

Yarn Ends Too Short?

If you find your yarn ends are too short to weave in with a tapestry needle, you can use a crochet hook to pull the end of the yarn through the backs of as many stitches as possible.

WEAVE IN ENDS ACROSS THE BACK

1 Thread the tail of yarn through the tapestry needle.

2 With the wrong side facing, weave the tapestry needle in and out of the backs of the stitches in a straight, diagonal line for 2-3 inches.

3 Weave the tapestry needle in and out of the backs of the stitches in the opposite direction, right next to the first diagonal line, for about 1 inch.

4 Cut the yarn end close to the work, taking great care not to cut your knitting.

Note: You can lightly stretch your knitting to pull the yarn end further into the work to conceal it.

Weaving in Ends on Two-Sided Knitting

You can weave in ends invisibly into stitch patterns that are reversible, like garter stitch, seed stitch, and certain ribbings. One option is to work the end in duplicate stitch (see p. 204) on either side. Another way is to weave the end over and under, imitating and following the lines of the stitches.

Block Your Knitting

Steam blocking and wet blocking are wonderful fixers of imperfections. Blocking consists of moistening knitted pieces, shaping them with pins, and allowing them to dry so that they hold the proper shape in the correct measurements.

Always use rustproof pins and check your yarn's care instructions to ensure that applying moisture, heat, or steam is safe.

STEAM BLOCKING

1 Lay a knitted piece flat on a padded surface. Pin only at enough points to hold the piece straight for the time being.

2 Measure the knitted piece to ensure that it has the same dimensions that the pattern specifies. Adjust the pins, as needed, to match the measurements and make the piece even.

Note: Do not stretch and pin ribbing at cuffs and hems unless the pattern indicates to do so. After ribbing is stretched and blocked, it is no longer elastic.

3 When the measurements are correct, pin the piece all around.

4 Cover the piece with a light cloth. (You can dampen the cloth with a spray bottle, if desired.) Slowly and gently, run the iron over the entire piece, excluding ribbing, and be sure not to press or distort the knitting.

5 Allow the piece to dry before removing the pins.

6 Repeat steps 1-5 for all pieces of your project. Be sure that all of the pieces are completely dry before sewing the seams.

WET BLOCKING

1 Lay a knitted piece flat on a padded surface. Pin only at enough points to hold the piece straight for the time being.

2 Measure the knitted piece to ensure that it has the same dimensions that the pattern specifies. Adjust the pins as needed, to match the measurements and make the piece even.

Note: Do not stretch and pin ribbing at cuffs and hems unless the pattern indicates to do so. After ribbing is stretched and blocked, it is no longer elastic.

3 When the measurements are correct, pin the piece all around.

4 Wet the piece thoroughly with a spray bottle.

5 Allow the piece to dry before removing the pins.

6 Repeat steps 1-5 for all pieces of your project. Be sure that all of the pieces are completely dry before sewing the seams.

Do Not Put the Iron Away Yet

If you used a steamer or steam iron to do your blocking, don't put it away just yet. After you have sewn your seams, knit on button bands and collars, and sewn on pockets, you will want to neaten everything up with a quick steam. Run the iron, steam on, very lightly over your newly sewn seams to tidy them and reduce bulk. Do the same for collars, button bands, and pockets.

Sew Seams

There are numerous ways to sew seams. The invisible horizontal seam is an excellent choice for bound-off shoulder seams and other horizontal edges, while the invisible vertical seam works well for sweater sides and other vertical edges. The backstitch seam is a good catchall method but is bulkier than the other seams covered here. You can also crochet a seam together by using the same yarn that you used to knit your project, or yarn that is slightly thinner for less bulk.

INVISIBLE VERTICAL SEAM

1 Thread a tapestry needle with a long enough strand of yarn to sew the seam and leave a 6-inch tail.

2 To join the pieces: With the right sides up, line up the vertical edges exactly. Sew 1 stitch at the base of the seam, and insert the needle from back to front through the space between the first and second stitches on the lower-right corner of the left piece. Pull the yarn through until only about 6 inches remain. Insert the needle from front to back between the first and second stitches in the lower-left corner of the right piece; bring the needle back through the same spot on the left piece again. Pull the yarn through snugly.

Now you are ready to work the invisible vertical seam.

3 Find the horizontal bar of yarn between the first and second stitches. Insert the needle under the horizontal bar, between the first and second stitches, 1 stitch up from the joining stitch, on the right piece. Pull the yarn through.

4 Insert the needle under the horizontal bar between the first and second stitches, 1 stitch up from the joining stitch, on the left piece. Pull the yarn through.

5 Insert the needle under the next horizontal bar up on the right side and then under the corresponding bar on the left side. Continue in this manner, alternating from side to side, to the end of the seam. Pull the yarn ends to close the seam.

6 Weave in the loose ends.

Note: A contrast color yarn was used here to sew the seam for illustrative purposes. Be sure to sew your seams with the yarn that you used to knit the pieces for your seams.

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Invisible Seams for 1 x 1 Ribbing

You can make your ribbing seams look invisible. For this to work with 1 x 1 ribbing, you need an odd number of stitches. Begin and end each right-side row of the pieces to be joined with a knit stitch. Then, when it is time to sew the seams, use the invisible vertical method, but pick up the bars a half stitch in from the edge. The join will look like 1 knit stitch.

Sew Seams

(continued)

INVISIBLE VERTICAL SEAM FOR GARTER STITCH AND REVERSE STOCKINETTE STITCH

1 Thread a tapestry needle with a long enough strand of yarn to sew the seam and leave a 6-inch tail.

2 To join the pieces: With the right sides up, line up the vertical edges exactly. Sew 1 stitch at the base of the seam and insert the needle from back to front through the space between the first and second stitches on the lower-left corner of the right piece. Pull the yarn through until about 6 inches of yarn remain. Insert the needle from front to back between the first and second stitches in the lower-right corner of the left piece; bring the needle back through the same spot on the right piece again. Pull the yarn through snugly.

3 Insert the tapestry needle up into the bottom loop (it looks like a smile) of the first stitch on the right piece and pull the yarn through, but not too tightly.

4 Insert the tapestry needle up into the top loop (it looks like a frown) of the corresponding stitch on the left piece, and pull the yarn through.

5 Continue in this manner, alternating from side to side, pulling yarn snugly every few stitches to tighten it, until the seam is sewn.

INVISIBLE HORIZONTAL SEAM

1 Thread a tapestry needle with a long enough strand of yarn to sew the seam and leave a 6-inch tail.

2 With right sides up, line up the bound-off edges exactly. Insert the needle from back to front through the middle of the first stitch of the lower piece, leaving a 6-inch tail.

3 Use the needle to pick up the two loops (the V) of the corresponding stitch on the upper piece. Pull the yarn through.

4 Bring the needle across the seam to the next stitch on the lower piece, and use it to pick up the loops (the upside-down V), threading it through all the way.

5 Repeat steps 3-4 across the seam, pulling the yarn tightly—but not too tightly, or it will pucker—every couple of stitches to neaten it.

6 Weave in the loose ends. Note: A contrast color yarn was used here to sew the seam for illustrative purposes. Be sure to sew your seams with the yarn that you used to knit the pieces for your seams.

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Neater Edges Make Neater Seams

Sometimes side edges, or vertical edges, can be loose and messy. When you join these edges, the messy look can carry over to the seam. You can avoid sloppy edges by slipping the first stitch of every row. The result will be nice, neat edges that are easy to join.

Sew Seams

(continued)

INVISIBLE VERTICAL-TO-HORIZONTAL SEAM

1 Thread a tapestry needle with a long enough strand of yarn to sew the seam and leave a 6-inch tail.

2 With the right sides up, line up the bound-off edge and the side edge, with the bound-off edge as the lower piece and the side edge as the upper piece, as shown.

3 Insert the needle from back to front through the V of the first stitch on the right edge of the lower piece, just below the bound-off edge. Pull the yarn through until about 6 inches remain.

4 Insert the needle on the other side of the join-directly across from the same point on the lower piece-under one of the bars between the first and second stitches on the upper piece. Pull the yarn through.

Note: Because you are matching rows to stitches in this join and there are usually more rows per inch than stitches, you need to pick up two of the bars on the horizontal piece every other stitch or so to keep the seam even.

Bring the yarn across the join and pick up the loops that make the point of the upside-down V of the next stitch on the lower piece, just below the bound-off edge. Pull the yarn through, trying to imitate the size of each stitch in the knitted piece.

Knitting Horizontal Seaming RibbingJoining Side Invisible Seams Crochet

Quick Tip: Even Seams

Joining long seams can be tricky: You are sewing away, and suddenly you reach the end and the edges don't line up. You can avoid uneven or puckered seams by tacking the base of the seam with a quick stitch, and then tacking the endpoint of the seam together. That way, you ensure that you are working the seam evenly from start to finish.

Sew Seams

(continued)

BACKSTITCH SEAM

1 Thread a tapestry needle with a long enough strand of yarn to sew the seam and leave a 6-inch tail.

2 Place the pieces together, with the right sides facing each other and the seam edge lined up. Secure the edge stitches by bringing the needle through both thicknesses from back to front at the right edge, 1 stitch down from the bound-off stitches, or 1 stitch in from the edge stitches. Do this twice and pull the yarn through.

3 Insert the needle through both thicknesses, from back to front, about 2 stitches to the left, and bring the yarn through.

4 Insert the needle from front to back, about 1 stitch in to the right, and pull the yarn through.

5 Now bring the needle ahead 2 stitches to the left and insert it from back to front.

6 Repeat steps 4-5 across the seam until you reach the end, taking care to insert the needle at the same depth each time.

7 Weave in the loose ends.

Note: A contrast color yarn was used here to sew the seam for illustrative purposes. Be sure to sew your seams with the yarn that you used to knit the pieces for your seams.

CROCHETED SEAM

1 Choose a crochet hook that is the same size as the needles used to knit your project, and the same yarn, or yarn that is slightly thinner and matches your yarn.

2 Place the pieces together, with the right sides facing each other and the seam edge lined up.

3 Insert the hook through both thicknesses from front to back at the right edge, 1 stitch down from the bound-off stitches, or 1 stitch in from the edge stitches.

4 Wrap yarn over the hook and draw a loop through both thicknesses from back to front.

5 Insert the hook through both thicknesses again, about 1 stitch to the left; wrap yarn over the hook and draw a loop through both thicknesses from back to front, bringing this second loop through the first loop on the hook.

You should now have 1 loop on the hook.

6 Repeat step 5 across the seam; do not work too tightly or the seam will have no elasticity.

Seaming with Bulky Yarns and Novelty Yarns

When seaming knits made from highly textured novelty yarns, use a smooth yarn that matches your novelty yarn, and that requires similar care. If you knit your project using a bulky or super-bulky yarn, you may find that sewing seams with the same yarn adds too much bulk. Try sewing seams with a thinner, though similar, matching yarn.

P Graft Seams

Grafting—which is a good choice for unshaped shoulders, toes of socks, and mitten tips— involves joining an open row of stitches to another open row of stitches or to another edge. The stitches are joined while they're still on the knitting needle, and the final result looks like a row of stockinette stitch. You can graft seams using the three-needle bind-off, already covered in Chapter 4, on p. 42; or you can graft using the Kitchener stitch.

KITCHENER STITCH

1 Have the two sets of stitches that are to be joined, each on a knitting needle as shown.

2 Using yarn that matches your knitting, thread a tapestry needle with a strand that is roughly twice the length of the seam.

3 Lay both pieces of knitting on a table, with the wrong sides down and the needles running parallel to each other, with the tips facing to the right.

4 Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the lower needle as if to purl; pull the yarn through until only about 6 inches remain. Leave the stitch on the needle.

5 Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the upper needle as if to knit, and pull the yarn through snugly, leaving the stitch on the needle.

6 Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the lower needle again, this time as if to knit; then slip this stitch off the needle.

7 Insert the tapestry needle into the next stitch on the lower needle as if to purl. Leave the stitch on the needle.

8 Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the upper needle again, this time as if to purl; then slip this stitch off the needle.

9 Insert the tapestry needle into the next stitch on the upper needle as if to knit. Leave the stitch on the needle.

0 Repeat steps 6-9 until all of the stitches have been completed. Remember: On the lower needle, the first insertion is as if to purl, the second insertion is as if to knit, and then the stitch comes off; on the upper needle, the first insertion is as if to knit, the second insertion is as if to purl, and then the stitch comes off.

Note: A contrast color yarn was used here to graft the seam for illustrative purposes. Be sure to graft your seams with the yarn that you used to knit the pieces for your seams.

Decorative Three-Needle Bind-Off

You can use the three-needle bind-off (see p. 42) to graft seams if the Kitchener stitch is too complicated to follow. In general, you work the three-needle bindoff with the right sides facing each other, so that the seam is on the wrong side. Three-needle bind-off is such a tidy seam that you can use it with the wrong sides facing, so that the seam is on the right side, as a decorative accent. The result is a raised ridge along the seam.

Assemble a Sweater

You can use one or more of the seam techniques on the previous pages to sew a sweater together. However, before you start joining the pieces, take a few minutes to read about the order of assembly and what seaming technique is best for each part.

ORDER OF ASSEMBLY

Generally, sweaters that are knit flat in pieces are joined first at the shoulders. Then the sleeves are attached. Finally, the side and underarm seams are sewn. You use long straight pins to pin pieces together before seaming. Neaten up the seams by lightly steaming them with an iron after sewing them.

WHICH SEAM FOR WHICH PART?

Sometimes knitting instructions specify the best seaming technique for a given join. If no specific technique is indicated, you can always safely use the backstitch seam for the shoulders, whether they are shaped or not. If the shoulders are not shaped, you can try using the invisible horizontal seam or the three-needle bind-off. Use the table below to make the right choice.

Type of Seam Use It to Join Examples

Invisible horizontal seam

Two horizontal edges

Bound-off shoulder seams

Backstitch seam

All edges

Shaped shoulders, side seams, add-on collars

Invisible vertical seam

Two vertical edges

Sweater sides and underarm seams

Invisible vertical-to-horizontal seam

A bound-off edge to a side edge

Joining a sleeve cap to an armhole

Grafted seam

Two horizontal edges

Unshaped shoulders, toes of socks, mitten tips

Sleeve

Back

Right front

Left front

Sleeve

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ATTACHING SLEEVES

There are many different ways to shape armholes and sleeve caps. The type of armhole shaping always determines the sleeve cap shaping. After blocking all pieces, working the edging on the neck, and joining and pressing shoulder seams, you can attach the sleeves. How you prepare to attach your sleeve depends on which seam you use. For a perfect seam, the invisible vertical-to-horizontal method is best. If that does not work with your shaping or stitch pattern, you can use the backstitch seam. For either approach, you need to find the center of the sleeve cap by folding the sleeve in half lengthwise. Then mark the center with a safety pin. If you are working the invisible seam, follow the instructions on p. 148. If you are using the backstitch seam, then you need to do some more pinning: After pinning the center of the sleeve cap to the shoulder seam, with the right sides facing each other, pin the rest of the sleeve cap to the armhole, lining up the sleeve cap shaping with the corresponding armhole shaping. Sew the sleeve in place using the backstitch seam, starting at the shoulder seam and working down to one armhole edge. Repeat for the other half.

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Responses

  • jonas
    How to do invisible vertical to horizontal seam on garter?
    8 years ago
  • david
    Do you weave knitted ends on the straight or diagonal?
    8 years ago
  • Kaelyn
    How to weave in ends after joining knit sides?
    8 years ago
  • Finn
    How do i bind off if i cut the yarn too short?
    8 years ago
  • haben biniam
    How to knit in ends invisibly?
    8 years ago

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