Thursday, March 1, 2012

Finishing for Knitters

Finishing a knitted garment is a stumbling block for most new knitters and for many experienced knitters as well. Knitting patterns may give instructions on how to finish a garment such as "seam the shoulders together with a back stitch" but the knitter needs to know how to do a back stitch. More often patterns will simply state sew the seams together. This is not a fault of the designer. Publishers of magazines have limited space. Detailed descriptions of how to assemble and seam a sweater would take too much space. Thus it is assumed that the knitter knows how to do this or can seek help from another knitter, a yarn shop or a book. This is true and now we have the ultimate guide to finishing our knits.

I have long been a fan of Deborah Newton for her book Designing Knitwear. She has a gift for writing clear and easy to understand instructions. This gift is very apparent in her latest book Finishing School, a master class for knitters.

Everything about finishing knitting is covered in this book. The tips and techniques on finishing start before the sweater is even begun. Many finishing problems can be prevented if the knitter considers how the sweater will be finished before starting. Of course swatching is included in this. So sorry, but it is true. I know we want to jump right into a pattern essentially without a life jacket but swatching can make or break a project. Try telling yourself "swatching is fun, swatching is fun". You get to play with the yarn and stitch patterns and any trims or details and learn most of what you need to know before you start. There will not be any or as much ripping, tinking, re-doing later on -a plus, right?!

Like most knitters I dreaded finishing. I thought I would ruin all of my knitting trying to put all the sweater pieces together. Now I know I have ruined more things by not swatching or adding selvedge, i.e. seam, stitches when I started. I discovered much of this before Deborah Newton's book (probably from her first book and a few others) but I am thrilled to have some of what I have done validated by her book and to learn even more tips and techniques. Thank you, thank you to Deborah Newton. For all knitters of sweaters - any garment, really - get this book. I am reading it cover to cover.

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