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Ask the Knitting Experts: Our Favorite Finishing Techniques


We’ve heard many knitters say that finishing is the most important (though for some, the least favorite) part of knitting a garment. This month, we turned to our panel of knitting experts to give you their favorite tips on finishing techniques. Here are their thoughts on the best way to make your hand knitted garments look polished and professional.

SALLY MELVILLE, author of Knitting Pattern Essentials and Warm Knits, Cool Gifts:
“There’s a Buddhist law: Pay attention. Finishing is probably what others notice first about our garments, so no amount of attention is too much. Take a class, and be picky! I am not a fan of knitting-in-the-round because I think garments need seams for structure.

I also have a fool-proof method for picking-up-and-knitting around a round neck (shown in my book The Purl Stitch), which is both simple and intuitive! (It seems to be one area in sweaters that is a big mystery, and I don’t think it needs to be.)”

LILY CHIN, author of Lily Chin’s Knitting Tips and Tricks and Lily Chin’s Crochet Tips and Tricks:
“Steam! I block with a professional steamer and have been espousing the benefits of this for ages. Just read the sections in my tips books. I can’t say enough about it.”

LORNA MISER, author of The Knitter’s Guide to Hand-Dyed and Variegated Yarn:
“I’m old school in that I don’t mind seams. They give a garment some structure and help hold it in shape with stability. Sewing nice seams means planning ahead with a plain seam stitch while you are knitting, working shaping one stitch in from the edge, and so on.”

WENDY JOHNSON, author of Wendy Knits Lace and Socks from the Toe Up:
“This is not particularly a secret, but proper, careful finishing is essential. Block your pieces to size and be meticulous in your seaming and other finishing techniques (picking up stitches for a neckband or button band, for example). Sloppy finishing can make the most beautifully knit piece look amateurish.”

JIL EATON, author of Jil Eaton’s Knitting School:
“I always say finish in the morning, in good light, working over a table. It’s always so tempting to put a project together right away, but waiting a day for clear morning thinking makes a tremendous difference. ”

CLARA PARKES, author of The Knitter’s Book of Wool and The Knitter’s Book of Socks:
“Block, block, block—and if possible, invest in a set of blocking pins and wires. Assuming (ahem, ahem) you knit gauge swatches and washed them, you already know how the fabric will behave in the wash, so there’s no need to be afraid. Give your finished garment a good soak, blot it dry in a towel, and then lay it out to dry. It’s not enough to unfurl it on a towel and prod things into shape, because fibers tend to change as they dry. If you use blocking wires to secure the edges of your project, and pin everything to shape, you’ll end up with a truly finished and professional-looking garment.”



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