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Archive for October 26th, 2011


Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover KAL: Working the Collar

October 26th, 2011

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Welcome back to the Wisteria Pullover Knit-Along! My sweater pieces are knit and blocked, and I’m ready to get this pullover finished! In getting started to put mine together, however, I realized there are quite a few different finishing techniques involved and quite a large collar to knit, so I’m going to break the finishing work down into two posts, this week and next. Let’s get started on the shoulder seams and collar!

The first step is to seam the shoulders in order to create the back neck opening for the collar. To do so, I recommend a type of seam called the mattress stitch. There are three different types of mattress stitch: horizontal to horizontal stitches (side seams), vertical to vertical stitches (shoulder seams), and vertical to horizontal (the collar and part of the sleeve cap). As you can see, we’ll be employing all three along the way to finishing our sweater! Starting at the outside edge of your shoulder seam, pin your front and back pieces together and begin seaming, working your darning needle under both legs of the V on one piece and then under both legs of the V opposite on the other piece, as shown in the following image. I’ve used a golden yarn so that you can see the stitches, but keep in mind that these will be visible, so you should use the same yarn as for the main body. For more information on seaming click here.

Seaming

I like to keep the tension of this seam similar to my knit stitches, instead of pulling it tight so that the seam looks like another row of stitches, but it’s entirely up to you. Here’s why mine looked like after seaming:

Shoulder Seam

Repeat with the other side and voila! Starting to look a bit more like a sweater? Now you can start to picture where this collar is going to fit in. So now it’s time to pick up stitches to start knitting the shawl collar. The way the collar is constructed is this: you pick up and knit a certain number of stitches along the back of the neck and begin working in 2×2 rib; gradually more stitches are cast on at the beginning of both rows to elongate the collar but give it a nicely-shaped curve, then it is knit until it is wide enough to fill the gap we created in the front.

To plan mine, I counted how many bind-off stitches I had along the back of the neck opening and found I had 32 – 2 short of the 34 I needed to pick up. I accounted for this by picking up my first and last stitch from the shoulder join, then used the 32 stitches I bound off before ato get my 34 stitches to start the collar. Working from right to left, pick up and knit each stitch until you have the number required. By planning ahead, you can evenly space these stitches instead of getting to the end and having to stretch across or cram in a bunch of stitches. For more information about picking up stitches, click here. Here’s what the process of picking up and knitting looks like (again, I’ve used contrast yarn, but you’ll be using your main body yarn):

Picking up stitches

To add the stitches at the beginning of the row, one simple method is the backwards loop cast on. Click here for more information on how to do this cast on. Just as a word of advice: once you have your added stitches, the pattern says to work in K2, P2 rib as established – be aware that on your right side rows, you will need to start with 2 purls, or you will throw off the rib pattern.

If you made your neck opening deeper or more shallow, now is the time to adjust your collar length to fit your opening, keeping in mind the collar is sewn in with the ribbing slightly stretched. I worked the pattern as written, and my collar fit well. Although the opening looked very deep, it worked out very nicely. Keep working in 2×2 ribbing until the side edges of the collar are the same height as the bound-off opening in the neck, which for me was just over 4 inches. Remember the back section of the collar will be wider than this, which creates the shawl collar.

Now it’s time to sew it into place. We’ll be using a different version of the mattress stitch for this: the vertical-horizontal type. This method combines the technique of the other two versions: you work under the V of the vertical piece, then under the bar one stitch in from the edge of the horizontal piece, back and forth, then pull them together to make the seam disappear. Again check out the page we have about seaming by clicking here, where you can see what I mean between the different horizontal and vertical stitches (disregard the garter stitch seams since we have stockinette and ribbing.)

I chose to secure the bottom of the collar first, then attach it down each side so I could fit it in smoothly. I joined the left side of the collar (your left, the sweater’s right side) first, using a simple whip stitch between the side of the collar and the bound-off stitches of the neck opening, since this part of the seam will be covered up by the overlap. Next I attached the other side of the collar on top, carefully working my vertical-horizontal mattress stitch to make the join as invisible as possible, resulting in this:

Seam

I applied the same type of seam to the sides of the collar, pinning the collar in place first: one in the middle, then two on either side of that, to ensure that I could make the collar lay flat and even. It takes some patience to make it look right, but it’s worth it! Here’s a picture of my finished collar and I couldn’t be happier!

Collar

As I mentioned last week, once I finished knitting the sleeves it was time to get those blocked and ready for seaming. As with the front and back of the sweater, it’s very important to have your pattern schematic and a measuring tape handy when blocking so you can shape and size the sleeves to the exact measurements you want in the finished piece and it makes seaming much easier. My sleeves are all pinned out and drying, ready for next week!

So enjoy your week and completing the collar of your sweater, and next week we’ll set in the sleeves and seam up the sides, then enjoy our finished pullovers!
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