Monday, June 1, 2009

Knitting Short Rows at the Back of a Collar

I was working on a pattern from Webs for a simple zippered jacket sweater out of their Rainbow yarn, but wanted to make the following changes:

- Collar - I wanted to make sure that the collar would be long enough in back to fold over; sometimes, if you just pick up stitches around the neck and knit a simple rectangular-shaped collar with pointy ends, the entire height of the back of the collar is taken up in filling in the natural curve at the back of the sweater, so there isn't any length left to fold over.

- Fit - the pieces were basic rectangles and I wanted my sweater to be more form-fitting, so I decided to add 2 x 2 ribbing at the sides, gradually decreasing the amount of ribs as I approached the armholes.

- Zipper - well, I didn't have any issues with the zipper, but I thought it might be handy to describe how to sew one in by hand.

First of all, let's look at how to fix the collar issue:

The answer? Short rows. Short rows enable you to insert extra fabric in between two straight edges of knitting, kind of like creating ease where none would have existed before...

To do short rows, you basically cast on all of the collar stitches as you normally would, but then just knit to about 1" past the center, and turn. Elsebeth Lavold has nice instructions in her books for how to "wrap" the yarn around the stitch just before you turn, and then "catch" that loop wrapped around the base of the stitch the next time you knit past it. With every row, you add in a few more stitches at each side before you turn (I added 2), and so every row gets longer, until you decide to knit all the way across. This makes a curved shape that "fills in" that space at the back of the neck, so that your nice rectangular collar will lie flat and be the same "length" after the fold in back as it is in the front.

I've added a picture of the short rows at the back of my collar above - note the semi-circle knitted in between the top edge of the back, and the straight bottom of the collar edge. And it worked!

The wondrous has a beautiful explanation of how to do this, as well as really clear photographs of the actual process:

Next Post: We'll take a look at those side ribs! (I'm working really hard on losing 25 pounds this summer- come next winter when it is cold enough to wear this, I want the slimming effect of the ribs to show off my long-lost waist!)