Mattress Stitch Tips to Help You Finish!

Working the mattress stitch

I was visiting a friend a couple weeks ago and she sheepishly said that she had something knitting-related to show me. Susan took me into her den, opened up a cupboard and took out three huge Ziploc bags full of knitting.

It wasn't quite clear what exactly was in those bags, but it looked suspicious.

Turned out that what was in the bags were three sweaters, all of the pieces knit, none of the pieces seamed.

Lots of knitters dislike the finishing process, and seaming in particular, but Susan's feeling bordered on phobia.

She went so far as to offer to pay me to finish them for her. (I should never have mentioned that I enjoy seaming; I get sort of mesmerized by the mindlessness task of it). I declined the offer, and counter-offered a finishing course to her, free of charge of course, in our favorite non-threatening coffee shop.

In preparation for our "class," I knit up a few small swatches from a cream-colored yarn and put them in a baggie with a ball of contrasting-colored blue yarn of the same weight. I also packed up my laptop loaded up with Eunny Jang's Knitting Daily Workshop Getting Started: Basics and Beyond (now available as a download!). Eunny does a great seaming tutorial in this workshop, and I thought that would be a good way to start. (And I sent my friend home with the DVD, too!)

I also printed out the following graphics and directions on a 4 X 6 index card that Susan could keep in her knitting bag.

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3
With RS of knitting facing, use threaded needle to pick up one bar between first two stitches on one piece (Figure 1), then corresponding bar plus the bar above it on other piece (Figure 2). *Pick up next two bars on first piece, then next two bars on other (Figure 3). Repeat from * to end of seam, finishing by picking up last bar (or pair of bars) at the top of first piece.

I'm an over-prepared teacher, I know, but I always strive to give my students the support they need to be successful!

We settled down at a table and I started out by showing Susan Eunny's video. Then I demonstrated the process on the swatches I made—working the seam with the contrasting color makes the process really easy to see.

I had Susan practice on the swatches until she had the process down. She couldn't believe how easy it was!

Then we started in on one of her sweaters. We began with the side seams, which I think are the easiest because they're worked from vertical seam to vertical seam. And I have to day, Susan took to it like a fish to water. (We haven't had our set-in sleeve lesson yet, that's a little more involved, yes?)

Are you a beginning finisher? Do you dislike seaming? Well, Here's Eunny's seaming tutorial for you—I think it'll change your mind!

Here's to finishing! After knitting all of those pieces with care, finishing with care will make your sweater look professional—not store-bought, it's a beautiful handmade piece, after all, but smooth and well-fitting. Just like you pictured it while you were knitting it!

And be sure and download Getting Started: Basics and Beyond with Eunny Jang; you'll find these wonderful finishing tips and so much more!


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