Finishing line

It’s been stockinette sweater central around here at Knitting To Stay Sane. In my zeal to knit up more than one sample each of the stockinette cardigan & pullover pattern I’ve been finishing up (just a straight-up ‘this is my kind of basic sweater’ kind of deal), I’ve been churning through the knitted pieces themselves pretty quickly and am now finally going back for some finishing. I tend to follow the process of washing & blocking the knitted pieces first, and then I do the sewing up and button-bands and what have you. I started knitting sweater #4 before even doing the blocking on #2 or #3, and now the sweater finishing factory has started in the evenings.

With my house in a bit of disarray it was firstly a challenge to find both the materials for blocking (the foam mats and blocking pins were in a room that got packed up to facilitate the repairs), and secondly to find a section of the house with intact floor space big enough to lay out the blocking mats on. Thankfully this is finally improving, and progress is being made (both in the knitting and the floors, I’m glad to say).

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I’ve done finishing on quite a few sweaters in the near-decade I’ve been knitting, and I’m pleased to say it has gotten quicker and easier over time. I was remembering one of the sweaters I sewed up many years ago when I first learned how to do a vertical seam properly (like for the sides of sweaters, sleeve seams, etc), and that was AMAZING. I don’t know what kind of mess I’d been making before, but I do remember it being a pretty transformative thing. Man, properly executing a finishing technique in knitting is a levelling-up moment like nothing else. And then when you see all your side decreases line up in neat little pairs, it’s so satisfying.

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Every knitting project has some kind of finishing involved, even if it’s just a hat or sock knitted in the round that needs a few ends sewn in. Because I tend to prefer sweaters constructed in pieces from the bottom up (I like the portability and compartmentalization of progress that comes from working in pieces), there is always more finishing to do on sweaters. It somehow manages to take me by surprise a bit every time (oh right, i still have to sew it up) while still remaining comfortably familiar.

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My perspective on sweater finishing is that it isn’t so much difficult as it is multi-staged. There are vertical seams for sleeves and sides, horizontal seams for shoulders and under-arms, picking up stitches for button-bands and collars (which I also have a photo tutorial for on the blog, bee-tee-dubs), and oh so many ways to do button-holes. We get better at everything with practice, thankfully.

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There is also very rarely only one way to do anything in terms of finishing techniques for knitting, so even if you’ve found a vertical seam method that you really love forever, you might just as well find yourself next to someone at knit night who does it totally differently and that’s fine too. Thankfully there are about a zillion reference books for knitters out there, which is a good thing. Finishing techniques are often something that knitting patterns won’t stop and pull you aside to explain, so it never hurts to be prepared.

Long story short: back I go to the seaming mines. Hopefully with 2 more completed-for-real sweaters some time this weekend!

Happy Thursday knitter friends, may the seaming odds be ever in your favour.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Finishing line

  1. I have some old sweaters with sad awkward seams. It was like magic when I finally *got it.*

  2. It felt like magic when it finally clicked what mattress stitch really meant, before that all my school sewing lesson insecurities had made sewing up knitting horrible! My advice to myself, were I starting out again would be to practice sewing up some swatches and then start with a made in pieces baby cardigan so that if the sewing up goes wrong it’s less to undo and less knitting time and cash is invested in it. Oh, that and look up a tutorial for mattress stitch.

    Just started the Locke St cardigan, enjoying it so far (bit of sleeve)

  3. I do the same thing – wash and block sweater pieces before sewing up! I find it helps make everything easier to see.
    I’m looking forward to the release of this basic pattern. You can’t have too many of those!

  4. Pingback: Finishing line | Knitting For Baby

  5. Go you! Nothing like a little duress to help you power through to a goal.

  6. Pia

    Ahh yes seaming, I like it. It makes me feel so accomplished when every thing lines up neatly. I’m glad you’re getting your floors and everything else back soon.

  7. The first sweater I had to seam was Burrard. I was intimidated at first, but once I got into the rhythm of it I found I quite enjoyed it.

  8. twistedsticks

    There is nothing more rewarding then finishing up and having a great sweater!! I need to get started on one with some Brown Sheep wool I got at a LYS that was going out of business. It is a beautiful deep olive green. Now to pick a pattern! Do I go simple or intricate?

  9. Linda A

    You are “driven” Ms. Glenna! Take care of those hands of yours! Or you’ll end up in a physical therapy class in “help for over-achievers!”
    Interesting comments about being able to see your work easier when done in pieces. I suppose that’s true. As for which method ends in a better result, I’m still trying to decide about seams or no seams.

  10. Finishing is one of my favorite tasks in the knitting process. My goal is always to have my projects looking professional. Finishing is often overlooked and can be the difference between looking “homemade” or “handmade”. I agree, there are many books on finishing, and one of my favorites is “Vogue Knitting, the Ultimate Knitting Book” by the editors of Vogue Knitting Magazine.

  11. I love to learn things here.