Peak sweater season

Friends, this right now is 100% my favourite time of year for knitting. It’s just after Christmas, which means holiday knitting has passed, and selfish knitting time is fully welcomed. If you live in the chillier parts of the Northern Hemisphere, as I do, this is also the perfect time for sweater knitting. If you started some sweater knitting in the fall, now is when you may be casting off those sweaters, or are perhaps wearing them already.

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Also – and this is the best part – winter still has enough time on the clock that you could still conceivably cast on new sweaters RIGHT NOW and wear them in the current season, if you play your cards right. I am about to inhabit all three of these states of being at the same time. I have a sweater on the needles that I started on Christmas Day (Smoky Lake, whirring along nicely with very little effort), and am now just a few seams and a button-shopping excursion away from wearing the Exeter cardigan I started in November.

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Last weekend I blocked all of the sweater pieces and lined them up for seaming. I don’t love seaming, admittedly, but I do enjoy the process of seeing all the pieces come together to make a complete garment. When you knit sweaters in pieces it’s very easy to focus on one piece at a time (dividing it out into manageable chunks, sub-goals, etc), but then you put it together and it’s sort of glorious. OH RIGHT, these pieces make a sweater.

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This sweater uses a lot of reverse-stockinette as background, which means most of the seaming is done on reverse-stockinette. (There are some nifty tutorials from Twist Collective here, and Knitting Help here.) It’s a bit of a learning curve when you’re used to doing mattress stitch on the knit side of stockinette, but I’ve sort of come to enjoy it now. It keeps me on my toes in a good way.

I am, however, still not ready to say the same thing about kitchener stitch. I keep doing kitchener stitch when needed, my friends, I really really do. Admittedly I am still sewing up my toes on socks by binding off all stitches and then sewing a horizontal seam later, rather than do kitchener stitch. But in all other instances where a pattern calls for kitchener stitch to finish it off, I cross-my-heart promise I am making myself do it. I will not live in hiding from a technique just because I don’t like it. Yeah. GRRR, come at me kitchener stitch, I’m ready.

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Except this time i was not ready. On this pattern you are directed to join the two collar pieces at the back of the neck using kitchener stitch. I did so. Then the next morning I took one look at it, saw the wonky places where it was not at all going to lie flat and pretty like a collar should, and started trying to pull it out. The pulling it out did not go well (no photographic evidence of this has been retained). I ended up resorting to snipping it, re-knitting the last couple of rows of each of the collar fronts to re-set for the ends, and then re-did the kitchener stitch.

The second time went much better than the first, I’m pleased to say, and now all that’s left are a couple of sleeve seams and a bit of button shopping. Here’s looking forward to wearing this sucker within the next week! And then the next sweater cast-on adventure lies ahead.

Happy Friday, and happy knitting this weekend! May your knits have no finishing disasters in them whatsoever.

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Project: Exeter cardigan, by Michelle Wang for Wool People
Yarn: Briggs & Little Heritage, colour ‘sheeps grey’

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16 comments

  1. What a fab sweater this is!

  2. Yeah, I don’t mind Kitchener .. until I have to rip back. That sucks.

  3. Since you always seem up to a challenge, Glenna, how about walking us through
    how and why a kitchener stitch can become “wonky.” I don’t understand why a lot of people
    seem afraid of this stitch but then, I haven’t used it much. I do know I have to pay close
    attention as I’m doing it (I have a little cheat sheet that helps). And, I do have one item I did on a bias that came out terrible (I have to go back and rip it out). I don’t really know what created the problem but suspect it’s because of the bias.
    So, are you up to the challenge? You know, “to teach is to learn” so you’ll be able to tackle your aversion at the same time and we’ll all come out better on the other side!

    That sweater collar is particularly attractive so glad you had the perseverance to tackle the wonkiness!

  4. Kelley Petkun · ·

    January is usually when I start a lace shawl. It is the perfect knitting month!

  5. Linda A, I think that the main problem with kitchener stitch is matching the tension of the knitting in the garment. I usually do this by doing a dozen or so stitches very loosely, then going back and tightening them from the beginning, trying to match the row heights/ tension, then kitchener the next section and repeat until done.

    Glenna, that Exeter cardigan is absolutely lovely!

  6. How patient you are.

  7. I agree with Robin H. I do it loosely then tighten it from the beginning.
    I think you are very patient undoing it and then knitting the last two rows again. It was certainly worth it as the collar looks great.

  8. I’m with you, I do it if I have to, but I avoid it and try anything else. I just had to do it to close up some mittens I am making Sigh. It is one of the main reasons I am a whizz at toe up socks. No Kitchener!

  9. Kitchener stitch is like playing at Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice!

  10. Pat Preston · ·

    I found a huge improvement in the quality of my Kitchener stitch using the method demonstrated by Lorilee Beltman in her 2009 YouTube video “Memorize the Kitchener Stitch”. Turns out perfectly every time. I used to have tension issues till I viewed this video & tried it. The difference was astounding! Your sweater is just beautiful (far beyond my limited knitting skills).

  11. This will be beautiful, Glenna. Question: I knit the back and sleeves of Exeter a few years ago, and then consigned the piece to the bottom of the knitting basket (so to speak) because I just couldn’t face knitting the fronts. I think it was the prospect of continuing knitting the ribbing up the sides in a different size needle and then seaming up – pyschologically this defeated me. (And, I kept messing up the finish on the edge stitches.) Having just finished it, what would you think about knitting the entire front edging separately and then seaming it in place? I am considering pulling this out of deep storage, but having just struggled with seaming on reverse stockinette stitch for my Tinder Cardigan, I am not sure whether I am ready to tackle it again so soon. I even like to seam! Any advice or words of encouragement would be welcomed!

  12. This is a beautiful sweater to be, Glenna! Kitchener stitch? I mostly avoid it. I can do it, but I have to look it up. So I sub 3 needle bind off in most places, and run my needle through all the leftover toe stiches and cinch them up. They fit fine. I’m stubborn.

  13. I do a much better job with Kitchener when I use knitting needles. There is a tutorial on Tech knitter that always guides me through and somehow it makes all the difference to me.

  14. GeniaKnitz · ·

    Agreed, Pat Preston! I used to have to relearn Kitchener with every new pair of socks until I found
    the “Memorize the Kitchener Stitch” video! I haven’t had one minutes worth of trouble since the first time I tried it. And I find it great fun now – actually love doing it.

  15. I keep putting off doing a sweater for hubby. It is time i give in

  16. anastasia · ·

    We all have those techniques we don’t love. Personally I love seaming & Kitchener stitch. What I don’t like? Weaving in ends. I have finished shawls waiting for blocking for months because I hadn’t want to weave in the ends.

    Oddly enough, as much as I love seaming, I tend to pick sweaters without seams….

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