I’ll share with you my favorite method for sewing on buttons to a sweater & some tips for making it perfect!
1. After all of the knitting is completed, block the garment, weave in ends, lay it on a flat surface and place split ring markers where you want each button to go. Start by laying the button hole band on top and marking each hole on the band underneath. Then flop the button hole band out of the way and use a tape measure to measure the distance between the center of each button. Make adjustments here so they are evenly spaced.
2. Measure out a piece of yarn (the same that used for the buttonband usually works fine) about 2 times the length of the buttonband.
TIP 1 Shank buttons are a knitter’s best friend. Shank buttons with a metal or plastic loop sticking out of the back of the button, can be pushed in between stitches so it protrudes out on the WS, making it super easy to catch.
3. With WS facing, use a thin tapestry needle and weave in the end over the first inch or so into the band seam so the end is flush with the seam. [photo 1]
TIP 2 If you’re using thick yarn and you have small buttonholes, you will need to:
* Use the thinnest tapestry needle you can find, or
* Use a sewing needle and split the yarn so you are only using 2 plies, or
* Change buttons to a shank button which will accommodate a larger needle
4. Weave yarn from the side seam towards the middle of the band to the spot for the first button.
5. *Insert tapestry needle through a stitch, then through the shank or button holes and through another stitch on the other side and pull yarn through loosely, just enough to hold the button in place without it slipping away. Don’t tighten it up yet. Rep from * but this time tug yarn firmly to secure button to fabric. [photo 2].
6. Weave yarn across band to the seam, spiral weave it up the seam until you reach the height for the next button then weave into the spot where you want your button.
TIP 3 Make sure the spiral weave has some give to it so it doesn’t change the lay of the band. You don’t want a tight piece of yarn running the length of the garment. It should mimic the flexibility of the fabric. Since you’re only using the seam as place to carry the yarn, you don’t need to go into every stitch. Just spiral it around stitches so that there are no long pieces and it looks tidy.
7. Continue working this way until all buttons are sewn on. After the last button is finished, weave back to the seam, weave in the last of the yarn tail and cut excess yarn. [photo 3].
I hope you like this method. It definitely save time cutting and weaving in ends, it's sturdier and takes less loops than using thread, and the back looks tidy and almost invisible.
I'd love to hear what you think or if you have a different favorite method!
Join me on You Tube for a few quick tricks to make sure your next mosaic or slip stitch knitting project turns out smooth and even.
If you've knit a sweater with saddles, there are times when the saddle is worked separately or as an extension of a sleeve and needs to be sewn to the back and front of the sweater. Since this is a very visible area, and since the saddle is an interesting design element, the eye gravitates to the line between the saddle and rest of the sweater. Yes, that line is the seam. To have your seam look its best, it is important that your calculations for seaming are even, consistent and correct so that the saddle lies flat.
Before seaming, place the pieces with the saddle on top and the front or back below it. Stretch the saddle just slightly so it fits well without bunching up.
1. Count the number of rows in the saddle. In the photo below there are 23 rows.
2. Count the number of stitches that fall within the saddle (the area that is to be seamed). In this case there are 17 sts.
3. The difference is 6 rows. This means that when you are seaming, you will need to seam one stitch to 2 rows (or go under 2 bars when using Mattress stitch ) 6 times. To find a good ratio, divide the number of stitches by the difference. In this case it is 2.83. So for every 2.8 sts you'll want to seam 2 rows or about 2 rows every 2 or 3 stitches. Just bounce back between 2 and 3 to find a middle meeting ground. If you had an even number, like 3, you would seam one stitch to one row twice, then on the third stitch you would go under 2 bars. For our 2.8 example, here is one example of a working sequence:
1 st = 1 bar
1 st = 1 bar
1 st = 2 bars
1 st = 1 bar
1 st = 2 bar
5 sts = 7 bars or 7 rows. Continuing to repeat this sequence gives you
10 sts = 14 bars
15 sts = 21 bars. then work the top two again for a grand total of:
17 sts = 23 bars
If you play around with your sequence you can increase or decreases the numbers. For example if we use:
1 st = 1 bar
1 st = 2 bars
1 st = 1 bar
1 st = 1 bar
1 st = 2 bar
5 sts = 7 bars or 7 rows. Continuing to repeat this sequence gives you
10 sts = 14 bars
15 sts = 21 bars. then work the top two again for a grand total of:
17 sts = 24 bars
As a general rule, MOST of the time, you can use a ratio of 5:6 or 5:7, Meaning 5 stitches for every 6 bars or 5 stitches for every 7 bars. For a 5:6 ratio, use 1 stitch to 1 bar 4 times then on the 5th stitch, go under 2 bars.
You could simply use your stitch gauge per inch and your row gauge per inch for seaming larger areas. But for a saddle, it's easy enough to count the exact number of stitches and rows being used for a more exact sequence.
So now that you know how many bars to go under for each stitch, here's how you do it:
1. Bottom piece: Insert tapestry needle down into the center of the first stitch, and come up through the center of the V of the second stitch.
2. Top piece: Insert tapestry needle under the first bar.
3. Return to bottom piece: Insert tapestry needle down in the center of the second stitch through the exact same place you came out of on step 1, and come up through the center of the V of the next stitch.
4. Top piece: Insert tapestry needle into the exact space that you came out of, go under two bars and pull yarn through. Continue to toggle between top and bottom pieces, following your sequence.
The stitch that you're going into on the bottom piece, is the center of the first V below the bind off edge. So the entire bind off stitch remains inside the seam. The bar that you're picking up on the top piece, is the bar that runs between the first and second stitch, so that the entire column of first stitches remains inside the seam. This ensures that the seam will hold and will not gap open.
Once finished, you will have maintained an even sequence across the seam. The saddle will lie flat and the front/back will lie flat. There will be no pulling or bunching of either piece and the seam will look nice and uniform. It's a seam that will make you proud!
Buss, Katharina. Big Book of Knitting. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Co., 2001.
Holladay, Arenda. “Seams – Part 3” Cast On Feb-Apr 2009: pp. 64-66.
When you need a flexible cast on that stretches and moves with your fabric and still looks tidy, the Picot Chain Cast On is a great one to know! When you're working with lace or decreases that are aligned, the fabric pulls in, tapering to a smaller size. As it does this, it causes the cast on to flare out in order to adjust for the center row of decreases which will push downwards as the sides angle inwards. You'll find this when working Herringbone stitch too, or any stitch pattern where decreases are stacked.
This cast on is also good for top down sweaters that need to stretch over your head, yet bounce back into place for a good fit.
Here's how to do it:
Repeat last 2 steps until the number of loops along one side equals the number of stitches to be CO.
These steps form a loop on one side, then you turn and they form a loop on the other side. Once you have the correct number of stitches to be cast on on one side, stop. Don’t make the corresponding loop on the other side. The last remaining stitch left on the needle will become your first CO stitch.
Your cast on is almost done! Now you just need to place the stitches properly on your needle so you can begin to knit.
You can see how this cast on just flows around the edge without tightness. Yet it's not too "loud". It's a neat stretchy cast on with so many pretty uses.
If you love knitting with circular needles, you'll soon find that you have your own collection of needles that can become unruly. Circular needles can be substituted for straight needles with the added advantage of being able to move stitches off either end. They are so versatile that I've (almost) retired my straight needles.
If you open them from their store package, and drape them into a needle holder, like Della Q's Hanging Circular Needle Organizer (pictured below), you'll be able to see the needle size easily. The organizers hold needles in 21 individual pockets, labeled in US and Metric sizes, ranging from US 000 - 17 / 1.5mm - 12mm. There is a bottom zippered section which I love to tuck in my metal Susan Bates Knit Check so I can measure the size of the needles that fall out, which they sometimes do if you have more than one needle in a slot. I have several size 6 needles in varying lengths and it always seems to be that 12" needle that falls to the floor when I'm pulling out my longer ones. Plus, if you're tired and just before heading to bed you put up your needles of the project you stayed up to finish, you might (just might) slip it in the wrong pocket so having a knit check handy is important. In order for this system to work, you need to have a visible, handy place to hang your organizer. And just know that it will not look as nice as this picture once it's full of needles. These organizers allow you to hang different length needles in the same pocket, but do not have a way of listing or labeling the lengths (aside from what's printed on the side of the needle...which wears off in time).
There are advantages to storing them in the original packaging (pictured below). They are easy to store and you can stand them up in a box, bin, or hanging file in a drawer. The size is clearly marked on the packaging along with the length! Sometimes it is difficult to guess the length of a needle and you may not always have a tape measure handy. If you want to be able to quickly, and exactly know the length of a needle, keeping it in the original packaging is the way to go. And most brands make the packets easy to open and close. One problem with this system, is that the needles are usually curled twice to fit into the small packet. So when you open them, they stay curled. This can make knitting cumbersome and fiddly, especially if the ends keep flopping about, or the unused portion of the cable decides to twist on itself. To straighten the needles, fill a sink with hot water and hold the needles at each join, where the metal or wooden tip meets the plastic cord. Keep your fingers over the join so water doesn't reach the wood or metal, and immerse the plastic cord in the water. Keep a bit of tension on the needles so that they are straight. The water will soften the cord a bit, removing memory from the curled packaging. (This works better with some brands than others.)
Lastly, you can store them in a Ziploc freezer bag (which is a little firmer than the regular plastic bags so it stands up nicely). This is a good system if you've lost your original packaging, or you want a larger bag to use instead of the small original packaging. This allows the needles to curl less and gives them more room. And you can store more than one needle inside each bag to combine varying lengths if you don't mind the lengths not being labeled. All of the bags can be placed in a box, plastic or cloth bin, tray or hole punched and stored in a three ring binder.
I hope this has given you some ideas for storing and taming unruly circulars. If you have a storage or taming idea please leave it in the comments - I'd love to hear it! Happy Knitting!
This is a beautiful little cast on with a LONG list of attributes: it's durable, flexible, expandable and attractive. Either side can be used as the right side and the knots look great if you're working in Reversed Stockinette. It's not an "exact" cast on either since if you cast on too many stitches, you can just drop any extra stitches at the end of the first row. Like all cast ons, there are trade offs, so you need to be mindful that this cast on can widen and tension can be hard to maintain. It's not good for ribbing, it's slow going, and you'll need to space between knots carefully. But your efforts will be rewarded with a neat little row of "knots" that create a nice edge.
Use the Guernsey Cast On for sweaters and the bottom edges of garments worked in Stockinette. You can substitute this for most any cast on (except tubular or provisional) and you'll cast on the same number of stitches as you normally would with a basic long tail cast on.
So here's how you do it!
Either side may be used as the right side. After casting on, if you work the first row normally, the stitches will be twisted, providing a firmer edge. If you knit or purl through the back loop they will be oriented properly. With the knots along the cast on edge, a firm edge is obtained whether your stitches are twisted on that first row or not.
I hope you enjoy this one and give your next project an artistic detail that holds up well.
The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) has appointed Heather Storta as Vice President of Education and Donna Estin as Vice President of Public Relations to the board of directors.
District of Columbia, Feb 19, 2020 (Issuewire.com) - The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) has appointed Heather Storta as Vice President of Education and Donna Estin as Vice President of Public Relations to the board of directors.
“We are excited to welcome Heather Storta and Donna Estin to our board of directors, allowing us to expand our reach and to support serious knitters worldwide in their quest to elevate their knitting skills,” said Arenda Holladay, Executive Director.
Heather Storta of Concord, North Carolina, earned her certification as a Master Hand Knitter in 2014. She has served on the Master Hand Knitting Committee since 2014 and is currently a Co-Chair. Her background in teaching as well as engineering has served her well in her new career as a Knitting Instructor. She teaches at yarn shops, retreats, conferences, guilds and fiber festivals nationally. She is a TKGA Certified Knitting Instructor, Certified Technical Editor and is the editor of TKGA’s monthly newsletter K2TOG. As Vice President of Education, Heather brings to the board a passion for knitting and education, and the skills needed to guide the educational component of TKGA’s mission into the next phase. To read more about Heather Storta, visit: https://heatherstorta.com/about-me/
Donna Estin of Vienna, Virginia, earned her certification as a Master Hand Knitter in 2017. She has served on the Master Hand Knitting Committee since 2017 and has been running the social media marketing platforms for TKGA since 2018. Her background in sales and marketing and as a successful business entrepreneur in the Washington DC area helped pave the way for her launch in 2015 of Donna Estin Designs, LLC. She currently works as a Knitwear Designer and her designs can be seen in knitting magazine and books worldwide. Her expertise in sales and marketing will help to raise the visibility of TKGA in the knitting industry. As Vice President of Public Relations, Donna will expand the current marketing efforts to increase exposure and reach more knitters. To read more about Donna Estin, visit: https://www.donnaestindesigns.com/about.html
About The Knitting Guild Association
The Knitting Guild Association is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to providing education and resources to knitters to advance their mastery of the craft of knitting. They support serious knitters in their efforts to perpetuate traditional techniques and keep the artisan aspects and high-quality standards of the craft alive. For more information, visit https://tkga.org/about-us/board-and-committee/
Linen is one of the strongest fibers for knitting. It does not break down like wool does over time and as a result, lasts for centuries. It is cool, breathable, wicks away excess moisture, dries faster than cotton and is perfect for warm-weather sweaters, tops and dresses. It has a slight sheen and drape that makes garments elegant and creates a fabric that improves with age. It softens each time you wear and wash it. Linen yarns made of long-staple flax do not pill. If you have sensitive skin, the smoothness of the yarn and moisture absorbing qualities make this an excellent fiber to wear against the skin. A garment knitted in linen will not wrinkle the way a woven linen garment will. It is not susceptible to insect damage when stored.
Knowing the qualities of linen will help you make good project choices. But how does all this translate into knitting with linen? You will need to knit a little differently, so read on! Learning a few tips about knitting with linen will make the knitting process so much more enjoyable.
First of all, about that strong fiber that I mentioned in the first sentence; the flip side to this is that it can feel rough when you’re knitting it. Yes, it will get softer with each wash, but you have to knit it first. So if you want to soften it up a bit before you ever cast on, take the labels off the hank but leave it tied. Soak it in a sink of tepid water, add some fabric softener. For a natural fabric softener, use one part baking soda with two parts white vinegar in a sink of water. Let it soak. Press out extra water in a towel, and hang it up to dry. Then wind it and start knitting.
The wound cake of yarn will be messy so it is best if it stays put. When you pull yarn from a wound cake, let it unravel from the outside. If the ball doesn’t move around the house, and stays in place, you can almost wind 95% of the yarn out, leaving a mesh structure with just a few wraps of yarn left. It will sit there like a sculpture, if not tasseled about. So it’s probably not the best project for traveling or moving around from room to room. Once the yarn cake does collapse, the yarn can tangle easily and be difficult to form back into a ball. If you like to pull from the center, here’s another example of how knitting with linen will push you out of your comfort zone. Unwrap it from the outside and be mindful that the less movement the better.
Part of the strength comes from linen’s lack of elasticity. It feels like a waxed, smooth jute. It is not going to cling to the knitting needles the way wool does. If you try and knit with it like you normally would, your hands will get a real work out. When you knit a stitch, it may stand up and not hug the needles at all. In order to see the knit stitches wrap around the needle and lie uniform, you’ll be tempted to knit tightly. And this takes a toll on your hands and arms. My best advice whenever you start tightening up, is to stop. Think “KNIT LOOSELY”.
You want to knit with a loose tension. Let let the yarn flow and don’t worry about snugging up the stitches after forming them. You’ll want to go down two or three needle sizes than you normally would use for another yarn in the same weight. By using a much smaller needle, you are able to achieve the gauge by knitting loosely. The process of knitting will be more enjoyable.
Of course, practice on your swatch and change the needle size to one that allows you to get gauge. But if you’re not getting gauge on the smaller needle, before you go up to a larger needle, try knitting a little looser and see if that helps. The looser the better – your hands will thank you for it later! Our tension changes all of the time. We tend to knit tighter when stressed, anxious, short on time, upset, or during a cliffhanger of a movie. Some people knit tighter at night, some tighter in the morning. You may tend to knit tighter or looser, but know that your tension does indeed change. So you can purposely change it. Focus on knitting looser. And if a pattern has increases or decreases, by keeping it loose you’ll also be able to work those more easily.
Just relax your hands, relax your tension and don’t worry about forming perfectly uniform stitches. Some stitches will be larger than others. Linen isn’t perfectly formed and most linen yarns are thick and thin in places. A finished garment in Stockinette will not look like a uniform piece of Stockinette done in wool. It will have a more rustic look but it is supposed to.
While we’re talking about the look of the stitches, you might also want to use wooden needles. I use metal needles 90% of the time, except when I knit in linen. And bamboo works best for me with linen. The wood isn’t as slick as metal and helps keep the stitches a little more uniform, so the needles are doing the work instead of me. Everyone is different. We knit differently, hold our needles differently and tension our yarn differently. Just know that by changing things up with linen, you may find better, more pleasing results.
Remember that beautiful drape I mentioned? Linen will grow lengthwise slightly over time. A blocked Stockinette swatch usually does not change much from an unblocked swatch, measurement-wise (it will be softer and stitches will start to even up a bit), but wash after wash, you’ll find lengths may get a little bit longer. This is a plus when you’re knitting a summer top or tee, as it just becomes more comfortable with time. When I designed the Heartwood Cardigan [click here to see pattern details on Ravelry], I designed notches in the cuffs and hem to accommodate any lengthening and still allow for a pleasant fit.
While you can toss your linen garment into the washer and dryer, it will be difficult to have lace look as nice. While a pure Stockinette or textured garment can be laundered this way, if you have lace you’ll want to wet block it and use pins to stretch and open up the lace to really show it off. If you have wet blocked your garment, you may find that it is stiff when you remove the pins. Just crunch it up in your hands and voila! It will feel great. You can also put it in the dryer on air fluff for a minute to shake out any stiffness.
When weaving in yarn ends, weave in a bit more of yarn tail than you normally would. If you normally weave in 1” over duplicate stitch or 2” into a seam, add ½” or so, just to keep it snug. Remember it's not going to cling to other strands so make sure you're weaving in a long enough tail to stay put.
Linen is fabulous! It’s strong, gets softer with each wash, lasts forever, and is an enjoyable break from tight knitting if you tend to be a tight knitter. A garment knit in linen will last, stay in better condition for longer, and become softer in time. These will be your true heirloom pieces to be passed down to the next generation. If you haven't knit with linen, or it's been awhile, try it! You may just fall in love with linen. Knitting and wearing!
Hiatt, June Hemmons. The Principles of Knitting. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1988.
Editors of Vogue Knitting. Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book. New York, NY: SOHO Publishing, LLC/Sixth & Spring Books, 2018.
Paden, Shirley. Knitwear Design Workshop. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 2009.
Heartwood Cardigan, published in Interweave Knits Spring 2020 magazine, was knitted with Fibra Natura FLAX, by Universal Yarns in shade # 12, Tarragon.
I'm so addicted to slip stitch knitting! It’s fast, complex looking, incredibly vast, and simple to do.
Slip Stitch is defined as a stitch passed from one needle to the other without being worked.
Slip Stitch knitting uses slip stitches to create designs or texture, or both.
Note - Mosaic knitting and Brioche knitting are subsets of slip stitch knitting, but they are not covered in this article.
A slip stitch is probably the easiest technique in all of knitting, and certainly one of the fastest and most useful. It can be used to create a dense fabric, as an alternate way to work stranded colorwork, to create a decorative design on a fabric or as part of a structural role.
Stitches can be slipped knitwise or purlwise. When slipping stitches, always slip them purlwise unless instructed otherwise by the pattern. When you move a stitch from the left needle to the right needle purlwise, you do not change the orientation of the stitch. This means that a “normal” stitch has two legs, and the right leg rests to the front of the needle and the left leg rests to the back of the needle. The needle goes through the middle of the two legs. When you slip a stitch purlwise, it ends up on the right hand needle with the right leg still resting to the front of the needle. To do this, insert your right hand needle into the first stitch on your left hand needle from right to left, as if you were going to purl the stitch. Don’t purl it. Just move it from one needle to the next. (If the pattern says to slip knitwise, you will insert needle from right to left as if to knit and you will form a twisted stitch.)
In addition to slipping knitwise or purlwise, you can slip more than one stitch at a time, you can slip the same stitch again on the next row which stretches it, creating a visible vertical strand and compressing the fabric, you can slip a stitch so it draws diagonally or horizontally.
There are two very different applications for slip stitch knitting:
First, in a single color, slip stitches are used to either create dense, thicker fabrics which are durable and wonderful for coats, hats, mittens, placemats, outerwear sweaters, or just highly texturized sweaters. The purpose of slipping the stitch is to create a visibly decorative pattern.
Yarn can be held in the back, (wyib) as you slip the stitch to let only the slipped stitch show. When working with a single color, it is used when you want an elongated vertical stitch slipped over more than one row. Yarn can also held in the front (wyif) as you slip the stitch which carries a horizontal strand across the bottom of the stitch being slipped. This provides a woven look and takes on a very interesting look when worked in more than color. (See Plectics above).
When you use more than one color, you can create all types of designs by slipping a stitch from one color to a future row. The West Village Cardigan for children for example (below), uses three types of slipped stitches, one in a single color on the body and multi color slip stitch motifs on the hem and cuffs.
In either single or multi color slip stitch, when you slip a stitch up more than one row, you will compress the fabric, making it denser with more rows to an inch than you would get without slipping the stitches. These type of slip stitch patterns are designed to manipulate the stitches to create a highly textured fabric.
The second application, involves keeping the row gauge the same, and does not pull a stitch up to another row. It is used as an easy way to work Fair Isle. When working Fair Isle, the stich is slipped with yarn in back. You can work any Fair Isle pattern as written by working with only one color at a time. You work each round twice: first you work it in the first color of the first square on the chart, knitting only those colored stitches and slipping the stitches on the chart that are in the second color. Then you drop the first color, pick up the second color and work that round again, slipping the stitches that you just worked on the previous go around. If you are working flat, back and forth in rows, work on circular needles so you can slide the work back to the beginning to begin knitting the same row again in the second color.
One word of caution however, you will not be able to catch long floats with this technique, so look over the charts before you begin to make sure the colors change frequently. If you have sections of only one color that are 1" or more, you want to avoid this way.
You will also still need to spread your stitches out to keep the floats on the back from pulling tightly. This method is fun to do, but doesn't solve all of the tension and disappearing stitch problems of traditional Fair Isle knitting. It can make your Fair Isle a little more uniform and yarn more manageable. It's a great way to work your first Fair Isle piece.
Overall, slip stitch knitting is easy enough for beginners to do, and when I was designing Plectics, I almost classified this Easy. It’s definitely a good sweater for a confident beginner. It uses single color slip stitch at the cuffs and hem, and multi color slip stitch at the yoke. It's a fun and fast pullover!
Traveler's Sweater (below) uses one color throughout and you can see the amazing texture that this particular slip stitch pattern creates. This fabric is denser, with more rows per inch than Stockinette stitch.
To try this fun way of knitting, look for patterns specifically designed with slip stitch patterns, or try any Fair Isle pattern and work it using only one color at a time (remember to work each round twice; once in each color).
It is a wonderful knitting option for knitters who suffer from tendinitis or arm pain from knitting since you keep everything light. You don't want to pull stitches tightly when you are knitting or purling them after a slipped stitch, because you want that strand that runs behind (or in front of) the slipped stitch to lie flat. For this reason, it's helpful to keep your tension a little on the loose side, especially if you tend to be a tight knitter.
It is also a great way to create a sweater you can be proud of if you struggle with even tension. The slipped stitches tend to mask any guttering or rowing out that can be visible in stockinette stitch. Of course striving for even tension is the best solution in your knitting. But try slip stitch and you may be pleasantly surprised at how good your knitting looks when you're finished. Just another reason why slip stitch knitting is good for beginner-intermediate knitters.
Gonzalez, Leslie. “Slip Stitch Knitting Redux.” Cast On Aug – Oct 2014: pp. 10-12.
Hiatt, June Hemmons. The Principles of Knitting. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1988.
Stanley, Montse. The Handknitter’s Handbook. Newton Abbot, Devon: David & Charles Publishers, Inc., 1986. Distributed in US (New York, NY) by Sterling Publishing Co, Inc.
Walker, Barbara. A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1968.
Have you ever worked a neckline in Garter or Seed stitch and it flops over like a collar instead of lying flat? This blog post will tell you why this happens and how to prevent it next time.
There are two reasons this could occur. The most common reason is that the tension of the picked up stitches is tighter than the body. This will be especially noticeable if you are working on a garment with lace, openwork or lots of drape. When you pick up stitches, the act of drawing yarn through the bound off stitches leaves a loop on the needle which is the first “round” of your neckband. When this is done firmly, you are reducing the amount of space between the loop, or your future neckband, and the garment. This pulls the two together. Since we pick up stitches from the right side, you are pulling the neckband against the outside of the garment.
To a degree this happens in ribbing as well, but as you work the ribbing for an inch or so, the ribbing draws together and lies flat. Although if you look closely you might see a slight bulge at the base of your ribbing where the pick-up drew in the stitches too tightly. Where it is most noticeable is in Garter Stitch, Seed Stitch or with a simple pickup then bind off neckband.
To prevent this from happening, first try picking up the stitches loosely. Let your needle glide in and out of the pick-ups and resist the urge to snug up the yarn after each stitch is draw through. Keep it loose. This first round may look slightly enlarged, but you can compensate for that by purling the first round in Garter stitch. Think about the two sections of fabric. You want to be able to take the neckband in your fingers and move it forward and backwards at the join. This allows the neckband to lie flat. After picking up your stitches, on the next round work at your normal tension. If you want to work tighter that's fine. The rest of the neckband can be worked snugly and it won't interfere with the pick up round.
Once your neckband is finished, wet block it and press it into place with your fingers. You should not need to pin Garter stitch in place, but if you are pinning it, insert the pins in between stitches, and be careful not to split a stitch of either the neckband or of the garment.
If this didn’t completely work, try picking up only half of a stitch. This is most useful when using thick or rigid yarns like cotton. Instead of going through the entire bound off stitch, only go through the half of the stitch that faces the right side of the garment. When you reach shoulder seams, be careful to only pick up half of one stitch. This is an area where it’s easy to push your needle through both pieces that are seamed and you end up drawing your loop through a thick piece of fabric. If you’ve placed the center front and back stitches on a holder instead of binding them off, knit them as usual, but knit them a little looser than you normally would. As you are picking up the stitches, remember to keep it loose all the way around. A full disclosure note…when picking up only half of the stitch, and picking it up loosely, you will see the other half of the stitch at the base of the pick ups. This may blend it with an openwork garment, but with other stitch patterns it may be distracting. Pick up a few stitches this way and step back and take a look. If you don’t like the look of it, pick up the whole stitch as you normally would, but just do it loosely.
The second reason is that you’ve picked up too many stitches for the neckline. This causes the neckband to create a wavy effect, which sometimes flops over. If your gauge is off even slightly, this could be the cause. To double check the number of stitches to be picked up, place the garment flat on a table with the neckline opened, lie a tape measure on its side and run it around the neckline to get your circumference. Take this measurement and multiply it by your stitch gauge per inch of Garter stitch or whatever stitch you're using for the neckband. This will tell you how many stitches to pick up.
The good news is that if your neckband is going to flop over, it will do so right away. After your first round or two, you’ll notice it. Continuing to knit won’t fix the problem. You can aggressively block the neckband, pin it in place, and minimize the issue, but it’s much better at this point to just rip back and re-pick up the stitches. Plus you’ll have piece of mind that the neckband is behaving as it should and you won’t worry as you wear it that it will start to turn outwards.
Hello! I'm Donna. I knit every day and enjoy designing knitwear that is artistic, intricate and comfortable. I specialize in women's sweaters with a contemporary silhouette.