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The Sweater is Finished!

Well, it seemed to take forever, especially at the end, but I’ve finished the sweater for my Goddaughter. And, just in time to give it to her this weekend! We’ll be seeing her and her parents for a special breakfast at Disney World so I can see if it fits her as well if she likes it. Surely, after all this effort she has got to like it!

Here it is in all it’s finished glory.

The front (forgive the adult size hanger, no small ones on hand):

A detail view of the front:

For the closures, I found some decorative coat hooks and loops at Joann’s while I was looking for grosgrain ribbon to finish the inside band. There is a hidden coat hook at the top neck to keep it looking tidy. The flowers are all attached individually – there are 18 of them – in clusters of three. The embroidery is simple chain stitch with the darker shade of wool that I split down to two ply.

A bit of explanation about that ribbon facing inside. Normally, the cut edges would have been fine the way they were. But, because I had used a thread color that stands out so it would show in the photographs and changed the band treatment from what I had planned, they were unattractive and really needed to be covered. While the ribbon isn’t my favorite thing to have in a sweater, it doesn’t give like knit fabric after all, it is better than the edge that was there and still suits the more coat-like nature of this sweater.

The back:

The little decorative belt is just single crochet with coordinating buttons sewn at either end.

Overall, I am pleased with how it turned out. The color scheme is as I had planned, feminine but not babyish and it has a nice overall decorative effect. Maybe, if I hadn’t already worked on the finishing for so long, I might have done a different type of embroidery on the fronts or, perhaps, more of that same theme. But, she is only two and will outgrow it if I don’t finish it!

Now, the knitting bug is backing off a bit . Embroidery has been calling my name lately! I’ve already started an old fashioned table runner using the very grannyish, but still attractive, Aunt Martha’s transfers and am checking out the Sublime Stitching patterns as well.

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In Progress: STILL Working on the Sweater

Yes, I am still working on this sweater. It seems, to me anyway, that I am the slowest needle worker in the world. But, some of that is just because I am working on way too many projects at one time. In addition to this sweater, there are two other sweaters on needles plus a multitude of other types of projects.

Not that I’m blaming the weather, no this dawdling is all my own, but it is hard to concentrate on warm sweaters when the temperature is in the eighties. This looks like one of those years we won’t have a winter. I hope my goddaughter gets to wear this sweater at least a little bit this year!

Now, to show off my progress on the front bands, neck and sleeves. Last time, the fronts of the sweater were just cut open and all wobbly and scary looking. I had planned a crochet band, but that just didn’t work out. So, falling back on good old garter stitch, I was able to work a nice continuous band on the fronts and around the bottom in the contrasting color.

As you can see, the neck edge is now finished in a lacy crochet collar to match the bands. It is a very simple crochet pattern of mostly chain and single crochet that I made up by trial and error. It is quite full so it ruffles nicely. The same crochet lace is on the sleeves as well, only there are not as many rows.

Another view of the sleeve showing the stitches a bit better:

There’s not a lot left now: a closure for the front, the belt on the back, and the flowers and embroidery. What am I thinking? There I go again with that crazy talk about finishing it quickly!

These last details and some inside finishing work should be posted here soon!

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Thoughts on Finishing Knitting and Crochet

OK, so I am a complete lunatic thinking that I could finish the pink flower/lace/pirate sweater by this evening. What was I thinking? Chalk it up to baseless optimism.

After working on the sleeve edging and front borders for a couple of hours last night, it’s clear that it won’t be done today. Everything I tried did NOT work so that means re-thinking most of the details that I had in mind. Fortunately, we are having unseasonably warm weather here in Central Florida right now so she won’t need the sweater for a bit.

In my mind, just about all of this work falls under the category of finishing the sweater. You know how that looks in patterns – there’s a caption that says “Finishing” and it has short snappy little instructions like “Pick up and work single crochet along front edge,” or “Sew side, underarm and sleeve seams,” or, one of my old-school favorites, “Finish in the usual way.”

The problem with this is that “Finishing” really does make the difference in how well the project turns out, whether it’s a full blown sweater or just a simple purse. However, it is a set of skills rather than just some instructions and the knitting and crochet patterns really aren’t the place to spell that out.

The good news is that because finishing is a set of skills, it can be learned. The way to go about that is to start with reference material and then practice. Here are some sources to get you started:

The “I Hate to Finish Sweaters” Guide
This book is only about finishing. The author has a blog you might want to check out as well.

The Knitters Book of Finishing Techniques

Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book
This is an old standby with a lot of useful information.
An online forum for all types of craft and handwork. The place to ask specific questions.

Well, that should be a good start for getting information on finishing projects. Be sure to practice a new technique and ask questions when in doubt.

The most useful, though not necessarily pleasant, tip I can give on getting a professional finish is this: Just suck it up and re-do it if it doesn’t come out right. Repeat until correct.

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In Progress: CUTTING the Sweater!!

Finally, back to my goddaughter’s sweater. Since we missed them at Christmas, I have another chance to finish this up as a gift. We have plans to see her and her parents on Saturday, so I am trying, again, to complete this sweater. Nothing like making another deadline for yourself!

Even though all the knitting is done, there is still quite a bit of work to do to finish it up. Today, I cut it open to make a cardigan. As promised, the process is shown here in pictures.

First, the before picture. The underarms have been woven closed and the ends are worked in. It is a perfectly good, though plain, sweater. Well, except that the neck is way too small to go over a child’s head as a pullover. Kids and babies have heads that are much larger in proportion to their bodies than adults. Note that the back neck is higher than the front neck. This helps keep the back hem from creeping up and makes for a much more comfortable garment.

First, using the decreases at the neck edge as a starting point, find the center stitch and mark it with contrasting yarn basted down the length of the stitch. This is the cutting line, so be accurate!

Next, using a sewing machine set to a wide width and medium length zig zag stitch, sew the stitches on either side of the center stitch. I used red thread because it was what was in my machine and it would show up in the photos. Ultimately, it won’t show in the finished sweater, but using matching thread is a good idea.

Here is a closer view of the stitching showing how the two side stitches are enclosed by the zig zag stitch. Some people like to sew each stitch twice for security. I’ve never had a problem with just one row of stitching and the extra stitching adds bulk to the edge that I really don’t like.

Time to cut! Using regular scissors, cut carefully along the center of the marked stitch. Be sure to only cut the top layer of the sweater or you will really have a mess.

That’s it! Now you have an uneven, wobbly and slightly stretched out edge, just what we wanted.

Don’t worry, the unevenness and lenghtwise stretch will be taken care of when the borders are worked. The sewing thread and that ragged front will also be hidden by the stitches worked over the edge. The fronts will be finished with crochet bands of some sort.

Now, it’s time to work out the details for the crochet front borders, hem bands and sleeve cuffs. Also, I need to start giving some serious thought to the buttons and other finishing details- like the flowers that I promised her. Thinking about it, I’m not sure if this will be done by Saturday, but let’s see what happens.