The Frayed Steek Edges are TOAST
I keep thinking I'm going to get bored with the Farmer's Market Cardigan, but every time I sit down to work on it, I enter some sort of strange space/time warp. You know the one I mean, the one where there's only you, the needles, and the yarn, all happy in a little space/time continuum of your very own. Back in the real world, dishes languish unwashed in the sink, cats re-decorate entire shelves ("Oh, I'll pick that stuff up after I finish this row" as the cats bat small statues of sheep and geese about the room), and the lasagna does not come out of the freezer in time for anyone's dinner anytime soon.
Ah, yes. That space/time warp. I know you know the one I mean. I think I've seen you there, in fact…
A morning of work on the Farmer's Market Cardigan
This morning I sat down to stitch up a bit of the knitted steek facing I'd done for my red cardi, thinking I could take a few minutes to sew up an inch or two just for the purposes of taking blog photos. A half-hour at most, and then I'd be ready to get started on writing the actual post.
That was five hours ago. I started tinkering with the knitting at, oh, 9:30 AM. It's 2:35 PM, the dog needs to be walked, I haven't had lunch yet, and the dining table is a disgrace of stray balls of yarn, snips of embroidery thread, two unfinished knitted sleeves, one tin of stitch markers, an empty coffee cup, an assortment of knitting needles, camera widgets, and, of course, The Sweater. (A cat was part of the fray earlier, as you can see in the photo. That's Dusty, and he felt the need to closely supervise every stitch. I'm sure he's thinking that there was no need to bother with sleeves since this lovely soft red thing is clearly a blankie for him and what do I need another sweater for?)
Ahem. Let's get down to business, shall we?
I was going to happily ignore the frayed edges you can see in the photo (right) from last week's entry, because the blue knitted facing was going to cover them, effectively locking them away from any chance to come undone. But a few commenters called me on my flagrant disrespect for Murphy's Law, wanting to know how to prevent fraying No Matter What.
I gave it some thought, and decided to go the extra mile in this sweater. After all, I want it to last for years, and I want to be proud of the end result. I decided to whipstitch the fraying edges, tacking them down to the wrong side of the facing as I stitched. This would not only take care of the fraying; it would also flatten the selvedge and ensure a crisp turning edge for the entire front opening.
Gory Details (you know you want them): I threaded a sharp point needle with three strands of embroidery floss. For the purposes of photography, I chose a light (but still coordinating) colour; however, if I weren't taking photos for all you nice folks, I would have chosen a darker floss colour that matched the main yarn colour.
I smoothed the frayed edge down against the knitted facing, then whipstitched the two together, catching as many of those loose ends of yarn in the loops of my stitches as I could. To help things along, I used my finger to fold down the frays as I sewed. I also stitched over some places a few times to ensure that things were sewn down to my satisfaction.
Truth be told, the neatness of the actual stitching did not matter to me so much, as the stitches would be forever hidden underneath the facing. My main concerns were that the frays stayed put, and that the whipstitches not show on the outside of the facing–thus I turned it over frequently to check.
Sewing The Facing to the Sweater
Once the entire raw edge of the steeked opening had been whipstitched to the facing, the sweater and I had a short session with the steam iron, steaming the facings flat and reminding those selvedge edges who their momma was.
When the edges cooled, it was Stitch-Down Time.
Since these stitches might show on the outside of the cardigan, I absolutely had to have a matching thread. The yarn itself, being worsted weight, was far too bulky. I could have used a matching embroidery floss, but I chose to experiment. My main yarn, Dream in Colour Classy, is a four-ply yarn. I pulled the plies apart, so that I had two 2-ply strands in my hands, and called that good. (I considered using the singles, but a gentle tug on one resulted in the singles pulling completely apart. The 2-ply was much stronger.) You can see the two plies of yarn I used in the photo at right.
Starting in the middle of the front edge, I carefully folded over the facing so that the purl "turning ridge" was exactly at the "hinge" of the fold. Why start in the middle? For a long edge, especially one with a curve, the shorter the working distance, the better "fit" you will get for the facing. If you start at the middle and work outwards towards each end, you don't end up "running short" or having "leftovers" as you might when working from one end all the way to the other. (Think of it as less chance of any errors accumulating over distance.)
I caught one of the purl bumps from the sweater body in my needle, then one of the edge loops of the facing (see photo). I constantly checked that my fold had the purl ridge exactly down the middle, re-adjusting every few stitches to ensure flatness and smoothness.
Where does this leave me now in terms of overall sweater-finishing status?
– I've picked up stitches for the facing on the left front, so have to knit that, whipstitch raw edges down, and sew the facing to the sweater.
– I've knitted several inches on both sleeves (I'm doing them two-at-a-time on a circular needle).
– I've started one of the pockets.
So I have sleeves, pockets, one facing, and the entire shawl collar and pocket edging to do. My goal is to wear this sweater to a weekend getaway with some knitting friends the last week in February. Do you think I'll make it? Let me know if you have any tips to speed my progress along! Leave a comment, you know I read each and every one.
May you find your heart wrapped in some completely gorgeous yarn this Valentine's Day!
Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. You can find her blogging here on Knitting Daily every Thursday. Want more? Visit Sandi's personal blog, wiseheart knits. Or, if you're on Twitter, follow her tweets: alpacasandi.
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