There are so many great reasons to block your crocheting or knitting. However, a picture is worth a thousand words, so let me show you why you should consider blocking!
Here I did a swatch of simple chevron lace in Blue Bonnet Baby Wool. As you can see, there were quite a few problems with the swatch. First, the swatch was rolling, despite my best efforts to flatten it; this is because the lace pattern is based in stockinette stitch, which tends to roll. Second, the yarnovers for my lace are barely visible. Third, my stitches are a bit uneven; you can see that the ssks on the right side of the lace pattern are tighter than my k2togs on the left. Finally, I knew that this swatch wouldn’t give me an accurate gauge. Even if I didn’t block the garment I was swatching for, it will be worn and washed, which will change its gauge.
This is the same swatch after wet blocking. As you can see, the swatch is now flat with even, visible stitches. My gauge also changed considerably, going from five stitches per inch before blocking to four stitches per inch after blocking.
Want to learn more about blocking? Click here for more information on how to block.
In the 15 years I have taught knitting, probably the #1 fear (and reason students come for help) is what this week is all about: finishing. In fact, it is the most unloved part of a project for many knitters and a reason there are many UFOs (unfinished objects) in closets. I actually love to get to this part (although I didn’t years ago) because it is the part that makes the garment look so great when the time is taken to do it right.
After I finished the back, fronts, sleeves and hood last week, all I needed to do was the ribbing that goes around the fronts and hood, the pockets and button loops. I am working the second size of the Saturday Morning Hoodie, and the pattern calls for me to pick up 200 stitches for the front band that starts at the lower right front, goes up all the way around the hood and back down the left side. So, how do I evenly pick up 200 stitches? I’m going to do this the same way I picked up for the hood last week. I placed a marker at the middle of the hood and at each lower edge of the fronts. Now, I need 100 stitches on each side, so I folded each front and marked that spot with a detachable marker. Each of these quarters were folded and marked and once more to create 8 sections on each front and back. (As always, you can click on the photos to enlarge them.)
So, the way I figured it, I will need to pick up alternately 13 stitches and 12 stitches all the way around. Working from marker to marker makes picking up stitches a lot less daunting! Starting at the bottom edge of the right front (with the right side facing), I picked up my stitches and ended up with the 200 required.
The pattern calls for a 29″ circular needle to work all of these stitches, and there are a lot of stitches on the needles. One thing I do to make sure I work these stitches back and forth (rather than connecting them in the round) is to place a marker on my needle that will remind me to turn my work around when I get to end of the row and go back.
It would be so easy for me to make this mistake and especially as I wanted to do this ribbing while watching the Academy Awards. After many “thank you” speeches at the Oscars, I finished all 3″ of the ribbing! I also made sure to bind-off in ribbing, for a nice, flat, edge and not to bind off tightly. (Binding off in ribbing is the same as normal binding-off, but knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches while working your bind-off.)
What makes this “hoodie” so different is the amount of ribbing that actually becomes a part of the sweater. Half of the fronts of the pockets are ribbing, and since I needed to pick up 26 stitches for each pocket ribbing, I just divided each edge into 2 parts and picked up 13 stitches.
The 3″ of ribbing for the pockets and the front bands really adds so much to this hoodie!
After the pocket bands were finished, I neatly sewed the top and bottoms of the band to the fronts.
Many times, I use yarn ends for finishing and I found some of the ends left on the pockets in perfect places to sew them down. After the fronts of the pockets looked good, I turned the hoodie to the inside and lightly sewed the pocket backs the front, making sure that my sewing would not show through to the other side. (I do this many times by only going into half the yarn, and just be careful while working it.)
All that is left now is the button loops! The instructions in the pattern have the buttons on the right front which is for a man’s garment, but nobody has been admiring this hoodie more than yours truly. Having tried it on, I think I will be wearing this often – so I am going to have the buttons on the left front and the button loops on the right front. I marked the placement for my buttons and button bands with markers (again!).
The button loops are made as a crochet chain that is folded in half and sewn on top of a rib (it almost looks like a rib itself). I found that the 43 chains called for in the pattern for some reason made too long a chain, so I made each chain 8″ long leaving ends to sew them in place at the beginning and the end of the chain. The loop is supposed to extend 1″ past the edge. So, I just used each end and sewed it with a running stitch on top of the marked ribs.
I really love these button loops! I found some “toggle” buttons perfect for this hoodie and then showed it to my knitting students. And (drum roll…) here it is:
I will definitely be wearing this tonight as single-digit temperatures are coming again. It has been wonderful hosting this Knit-Along and seeing all of your hoodies “grow.” Thank you all for being a part of our winter KAL! Be sure to share your photos with us in our Ravelry group, our Flickr group, or on the LionBrand.com Customer Gallery!
A couple weeks ago, I posted about self-striping yarns. Another fun way to play with colors is using “multis”, where each strand contains multiple colors. Whereas self-striping yarns change gradually, multis have either short bursts of color change or different colors plied together. You can see how the Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton in Wildflowers (left) has short color changes that won’t create stripes when worked up. Hometown USA multis (shown in Mardi Gras, right) have contrasting colors spun together; it’s as if you were holding a strand of each color and working them at once.
Here’s a project in each of these yarns so you can see how these fun colorways work up (click on the image for the pattern):
What’s your favorite project to spruce up with a multi-colored yarn?