Tag Archives: FallKAL

Fall in Love with Sweater Knitting KAL: Seaming

Most of Hannah Fettig’s patterns are knit in one piece and require little to no seaming. However, there are a few that do require seaming and I’d like to cover it so that you don’t feel unprepared to knit other sweaters in the future!

Many knitters I know really dislike seaming. I honestly don’t mind it too much and I think it’s because I learned how to seam early on in my knitting and just went for it. One of my very first sweaters was seamed and while I prefer to knit sweaters in one piece so that I can try them on, I don’t dismiss a pattern just because it requires seaming.

I’m certainly no expert in the seaming department, but I’ll share what’s worked for me as well as some great resources.

Some Useful Tools for Seaming:

Darning Needles – we carry the Chibi’s at Stash

Marking Pins to hold your knitted pieces together – Also available at Stash

If you’re knitting a sweater that requires seaming you really need to block your sweater pieces before seaming. I know, I know. At this point you are sooooo close to having a finished sweater that you can wear and the last thing you want to do is wet your pieces and wait for them to dry before moving onto the next step. TRUST ME. Just do it. It’s really important that you block your finished pieces to the correct dimensions before you try and sew them up. It will be much easier to match them up if they’re all the correct size. Not to mention that blocking will help to uncurl those pesky edges.

Should you use the yarn you knit the sweater with to seam? In most cases, yes. However, if you’ve used a yarn that breaks apart easily (do a little tug test on a strand from your ball of yarn, does it break fairly easily?) or a single ply yarn, you’ll want to find something else to seam with. In this case, I’d suggest finding some sock yarn in a color that closely matches your sweater. This is a good time to dig through your leftovers bin! If you’re knitting a sweater in bulky yarn, you may want to think about using something a bit thinner to seam with so that your seams aren’t too bulky. Try seaming your swatch to test out whether you’d like to use something thinner before seaming your sweater.

Unlike with traditional sewing, you want to seam with the right sides facing you and the wrong sides together. The way you’ll sew them together will create a seam on the inside of the garment.

Using the mattress stitch, seam the shoulders first. Seaming the shoulders first will allow you to attach the sleeves with more accuracy. Knitty has a great article with pictures on seaming using the mattress stitch. Sometimes the pattern will have you do a Three-Needle Bind-Off for the shoulders instead of traditional seaming.

After you seam the shoulders, pin the top of your sleeve  to the body of your sweater using marking pins (or you can use split ring stitch markers or coil-less safety pins). I like to start at the top center (where your shoulder seam is) and pin the center and then each side. It’s also a good idea to use the same method when seaming. Again, use the mattress stitch. Typically, I cut a length of yarn, put it through my needle, stick the needle through the top center and pull half the length of yarn through before beginning seaming. That way you have yarn to use for seaming on both the front and back of the shoulder/top of sleeve. Start seaming the front and when you reach the underarm, stop and go back to the top and seam the back of the shoulder/sleeve.

Once you’re done seaming the top of the arm, use the mattress stitch to continue seaming down the side of your sweater. You’ll want to pin this as well before sewing. After the seaming the side, seam the sleeve also using the same pinning and mattress stitch process. 

Repeat for the other side of the sweater!

What if it doesn’t look as neat as you’d like? Well, you have a couple of options…the first, of course, being to rip out all of the seaming and try again. The second is that you can block your sweater or steam it and see if that helps even out the spots you aren’t happy with. It’s hard to believe that steaming or blocking could really make that much of a difference, but check out this post by Anne Hanson.

If you aren’t completely happy with it, rip and redo it. I know it sounds like a lot of work and it’s a bit demoralizing when you have a finished sweater and then you undo the seaming, but you won’t regret redoing it.

Some other great resources regarding seaming: Stitch ‘n’ Bitch: A Knitter’s Handbook by Debbie Stoller, The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt, and The Knitter’s Companion by Vicki Square. There are also countless videos on youtube and forum postings on Ravelry.

The last blog post in the series will be up on Friday: Blocking!

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Fall in Love with Sweater Knitting KAL: Choosing a Pattern and Yarn

If you’re going to invest the time and money in knitting yourself a sweater, you want to love the finished product and love how it looks on you, right? Something I’ve learned over the course of knitting ~20 sweaters is which styles look flattering on me and the styles I’m most likely to actually wear. Some of that has been good ol’ trial and error and the rest has been little tid bits I’ve picked up from other knitters via Ravelry,  blogs, and knitting books.

Before choosing a sweater for the KAL, take a look in your closet. Pull out your favorite store bought (or handknit if you’ve knit sweaters before!) sweaters and tops. Is there a style of top that you gravitate towards? A particular cut that makes you feel like a million bucks?

The Calligraphy Cardigan has the potential to be flattering on almost any body type. It would be simple to adapt the pattern to tailor it to your specific body (we’ll talk about that in another post in the blog series!). *Photo from the Ravelry pattern page

If you aren’t sure which styles flatter you the most, Amy Herzog has put together a fantastic series of blog posts called Fit to Flatter (scroll down to the bottom and start with Installment 1). There’s also a Fit to Flatter Ravelry Group to answer any additional questions and see her tutorials in action. She covers everything from determining your body shape to how to choose and adapt knitting patterns to flatter your shape. It’s well worth a read-through even if you’re a seasoned sweater knitter.

If trying to nail down a pattern choice weren’t enough, you’ll also need to find a yarn that will work well with the pattern. Lucky for you, we’ve taken a good hard look at Hannah’s patterns and made a handy dandy spread sheet pairing up patterns and yarn available at the shop! We’ll have a copy of this as the shop as well, so we Stash Enhancers can help you choose the perfect yarn! Hannah Fettig has a number of other designs that aren’t on the spreadsheet, mostly from old issues of Interweave and KnitScene magazines. Of course, we’d be happy to use our special yarn choosing powers to help you pick a great yarn for those patterns, too!

I’ll be knitting the Schoodic Cardigan in some yummy Fibre Co. Acadia (the recommended yarn)! *Photo from the Ravelry pattern page

Of course, these blog posts are supposed to help you with future sweater knitting, too! One of the first things I do when I’m trying to decide which yarn to use for a sweater pattern is to head over to the pattern page on Ravelry.

Once I’ve found the pattern page, I click on the “projects” tab and browse through the finished projects and take note of the yarn substitutions that other knitters have used and how the sweaters look in various yarns.

Ravelry is a fantastic resource to use when trying to substitute yarns for any type of project. You can also look up the yarn in the Ravelry database and take a look through the different types of projects made with that specific yarn.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re working on pairing a sweater pattern and yarn:

1. What are the details of the yarn used in the pattern? Fiber content? Yardage? Gauge? Single ply or multiple plies?

2. Take a look at the stitch pattern in the sweater. Will you want a crisp yarn with good stitch definition? Is the sweater structured or drapey?

3. Will you be wearing something underneath your sweater? Or does the yarn need to be “next-to-skin” soft?

4. Be realistic about the durability of the yarn. Does the yarn look like it will resist pilling?

5. If there are cables, lace, or some other kind of textured pattern consider your color choices carefully. You don’t want to lose the beautiful details of the sweater by knitting in a color that will hide the reason you picked that pattern in the first place!

If you’d like to delve further into this subject, The Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes is a wonderful resource. Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague also has a small section devoted to choosing yarns for sweater knitting.

We have some fantastic yarn for sweater knitting here at Stash. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Top Row (L–>R): Imperial Columbia, Knitted Wit DK

Bottom Row (L–>R): Baah! Sonoma, The Fibre Co. Road to China Worsted

On Wednesday, we’ll talk about swatching for your sweater! I know, I know…every knitter’s least favorite thing. But I’ll tell you why I think it’s incredibly important in the sweater knitting process. Stay Tuned, Knitters!

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