Finishing Tip: Mattress Stitch Tutorial

Do you have some Spring projects hiding in your closet that are ABS: "all but seamed"? I bet you do. Seaming up projects is something many knitters express outright hatred for–they love the knitting part, but when it comes to the seaming, even a beloved project can go right into the back of the closet to languish in pieces. But the way I see it is: If you finish up those Spring projects, then you'll be guilt-free about starting some pretty summer tops!

I think a lot of knitters dislike seaming because they fear "ruining" the project with a bad bit of finishing. But if you know how to stitch a seam properly, the seaming is a breeze–plus, you get to actually wear your pretty handknit sweaters!

Today, I'm going to show you the basics of mattress stitch.
And it's really, really not hard! (I promise. Would I lie to you?) The two things you need to know to work mattress stitch are: Bars and Legs. Yep, Bars and Legs, my friends.

Bars: If you take a close look at a piece of stockinette knitting, you will notice that there are "bars" connecting every column of stitches. Stretch the knitting a bit, you'll see a column of stitches, and then a column of bars, then a column of stitches. When stitching a vertical seam, like a side seam, you catch a bar of one side with your needle, then a bar from the other side, then a bar from the first side again. A full photo tutorial for a vertical seam is here.

Legs: If you look at the bottom of a piece of stockinette, you'll see the two "legs" of each bottom stitch sitting at the base of each column of stitches. When stitching a horizontal seam, such as a shoulder seam, you catch both "legs" of a stitch at the end of a column with your needle on one side of the seam, then catch the legs of an end stitch on the other side, and so on. A full photo tutorial for a horizontal seam is here.

What if seaming isn't the reason you haven't finished your sweaters? What if you've dropped some stitches, or there's a mistake several rows back? We're all human, we all make mistakes; the secret to being a great knitter is knowing how to fix your mistakes. Interweave's book Knit Fix: Problem Solving for Knitters is a wonderful resource for all kinds of knitting problems–it has clear illustrations and step-by-step instructions to help you get out of all kinds of tangles! Look for Knit Fix at your local yarn shop, or order it here.

Now go finish up a few projects! After all, you want to wear them, don't you?






Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? There are two new little people arriving in my family this summer, and I'm working out what to make for them. One little person is going to get the Sólás Caomh, a delicious cabled blankie from Interweave Crochet Spring 2009; the other little person's gift hasn't been chosen yet.


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