March 29th, 2012
Hi, everyone. Today I’m going to be talking about the final stages of making your sweater, and how you can keep on adding design elements even after all the knitting is complete! Once you’ve picked up the bands and sewn the sleeve seams and woven in all those ends, there’s still things you can do to change the look of your sweater.
One of my favorite ways to add some interest to a plain stockinette sweater is embroidery. I enjoy doing a method called duplicate stitch, with which you can put pictures on your garment, similar in look to intarsia, but much less fiddly! If you find an intarsia chart you like the look of, you can actually use this method to embroider it on to your sweater. It’s also a great way to use up random scraps of yarn!
With duplicate stitch, you are actually mimicking the look of stockinette stitch. You use a darning needle threaded with yarn in a different color to your base fabric, drawing over the chosen stitches so that they are covered with the different colored strand of yarn. This is a very easy method to add little motifs to your work. Be wary of covering large areas of fabric with this method, however, as it does make the fabric doubly thick in the covered areas.
Another way to embellish your sweater is to use appliqué to add a 3D design. Consider knitting or crocheting a flower to sew onto the front of your cardi. [Click here to explore the Lion Brand StitchFinder's flower motifs.] Your imagination is the only limit!
You could also add a practical design feature, such as a pocket. The easiest ways to do this would be to knit a rectangle the size you would like your pocket to be, then sew it into place on your sweater.
Blocking Your Sweater
Once you are satisfied with the look of your cardi, and you’ve added all the embellishments you’d like, it’s now time to block your sweater. Blocking can really improve the look of your sweater. It evens out your stitches, and you can also make your cardi a bit longer or wider (this may depend on the kind of fiber you’re working with). To block my sweater, I soaked it in lukewarm water then gently squeezed out the excess water and laid it out on my blocking boards. I then pinned it out to the correct measurements, using the schematic on the pattern as a guide. If your sweater is a little snug you can stretch it out gently, and using blocking pins, pin it to the width you’d like it to be. You can also add length to your garment in the same way. Here’s a look at my sweater on my blocking boards.
Depending on what fiber you’re using, you may not want to soak your sweater completely, as some fibers (like alpaca or 100% cotton) have more of a tendency to stretch out of shape than others. There are other ways of blocking that don’t involve soaking your sweater. You could pin out your garment and use a spray bottle to gently spritz it. If you’re not quite sure which method to use, try blocking your gauge swatch first to see how it behaves. Then you can leave your sweater to dry, and once it’s completely dry, you can wear your new sweater with pride! Here’s a look at my finished customized cardigan.
My total modifications were to add waist shaping, lengthen the body and sleeves, add cables to the fronts and back, and add buttons. It sounds like a lot, but it’s been so easy!
It’s been so much fun sharing this journey with you all, and it’s very inspiring to see all the different directions people went with their designs. I’ve even picked up some ideas for my next sweater! I hope that in the future you can see a pattern as just a starting point for your own design, and that you’ll feel confident enough to shape the sweater for your own unique body shape.
Be sure to keep sharing your comments, photos, and stories with us–we want to know how your sweater is coming along!
- Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along, Week 5: Working the Front Bands
- Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along, Week 4:All About Sleeves
- Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along, Week 3: Adjusting Body Length and Adding Waist Shaping
- Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along, Week 2: Knitting the Yoke
- Welcome to the Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along!
- Simple Raglan Cardi Pattern
- Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along Group on Ravelry