10 Tips to Improve Your Sweaters
|Three sweaters from The Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd|
Those of you who read Knitting Daily regularly know that I love a good tip. I've got several books that are filled with tips, but the one that I go to most when knitting sweaters is Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. This book is a study in sweater construction, offering a multitude of sizes, styles, and design ideas. I was using the "Handy Book" while working on my Slanting Gretel Tee (I needed some help with the raglan shaping because I want a tighter fit around the neck), and I noticed how many tips Ann provides throughout the book—it's a real wealth of information for us!
You know I won't keep these great ideas to myself, so here you go!
1. When you're picking up stitches for neck or front edgings, pick up and knit one stitch for each bound-off stitch along horizontal edges, and about two stitches for every three rows, or three stitches for every four rows, along vertical or slanted edges. After working a few rows of the edging, evaluate how it looks. If the edging flares and ripples, you have too many stitches; if the body puckers and bubbles, you have too few stitches. Don't be afraid to rip out edging and try again. Even experienced designers may make two or three attempts before getting the look they want.
2. To compensate for the gauge tightening during isolated stranded colorwork patterns (such as the yoke of a sweater in which the lower body and sleeves are worked in a single color), work the colorwork patterns on needles a size larger than those used to achieve gauge in a solid color.
3. When you're working a texture or color pattern, note the row of the pattern you're on when it's time to shape the armholes on the back. Then you can be sure to make the front match by starting the armhole shaping on the same row of the pattern.
4. If you use novelty or mohair yarn, sew the seams with a smooth yarn of similar weight and color. If you use a heavy or bulky yarn, use just one or two of the plies for seaming.
5. Make a photocopy of the pattern you plan to use and circle or highlight the numbers that apply to your size and gauge before you begin knitting. That way, you will avoid accidentally following the wrong instructions.
6. When you're working the yoke on raglan or yoke sweaters, push the sleeves to the inside of the sweater to keep them from getting tangled with the yarn and to make the knitting more manageable.
7. Use plastic hair-roller pins (the kind that come with old-fashioned brush rollers) to pin pieces of knitting together in preparation for seaming. Roller pins are longer and thicker than straight pins, and much less sharp.
8. Cardigans knitted at a large gauge of 3 stitches/inch may not need buttonholes. Most buttons will fit through the individual stitches without straining them.
9. Sew a couple of yards of extra yarn into the side seams of a sweater to have yarn for darning holes later.
10. Knit with yarn you really like!
I like that last one the best, and I'd expand it to say "Knit with needles that you really like, too!" There's nothing like the feeling of soft yarn sliding through your hands onto smooth needles. My favorite wooden needles are "like buttah," and when I get into my knitting rhythm, they're an extension of my hands.
What's your favorite tip? Leave it for us in the comments, and if The Handy Book of Sweater Patterns isn't on your bookshelf, run out and get it ASAP!