Monday, March 24, 2008

Twist and Shout

And do a little dance!

Hurray! Twist is all sewn up and blocked. The buttons in the photo are only there for effect; I will sew them on once the sweater is dry.

I actually finished knitting Twist on Saturday but just couldn't bring myself to seam it yesterday. I knew I had to be in the right frame of mind and yesterday had too much of a holiday atmosphere. But I was determined to finish it today, no excuses.

Like many people, I love to knit but am not so crazy about the finishing process. We all know that the finishing can make the difference between something that looks "homemade" and "handmade" and as I've become a more accomplished knitter I have also become more particular about how my finished pieces are put together. I am now quite confident with picking up stitches along an edge and sewing basic seams but there is one task that I always dread, and that is attaching the sleeve to the armhole. I've experimented with various methods but I am never completely satisfied with the results.

I was pleased to see that the most recent issue of Interweave Knits features an article on finishing by Veronik Avery, one of my favourite knitwear designers. One of the things I admire most about her is her attention to detail so I was not at all surprised to find that she adopts a very methodical approach to assembling a garment. As I scanned the article I was particularly interested in her method of sewing a set-in sleeve into an armhole. While I was in the habit of sewing both side and sleeve seam first, then setting the finished sleeve into the circle of the armhole (a method I learned from dressmaking), she suggests sewing the flat sleeve into the flat armhole before seaming the sides and sleeves. Even more intriguing was her practice of using different seaming techniques for the various parts of the armhole: grafting the bound-off stitches of the underarm, switching to mattress stitch for the main part of the armhole, then grafting the bound off edges of the sleeve cap to the shoulder area of the sweater. This multi-stitch approach seems so obvious and logical but I have never come across it in any knitting handbook I have read, let alone considered it myself.

Armed with this new knowledge I quickly and easily attached the sleeves to my sweater and was absolutely thrilled with the results. Hands down, it is the best method I have ever used and I am tempted to go back and resew the sleeves into all of my old sweaters! (Okay, maybe not all of them but there are a couple I am seriously considering.)

I do not expect to ever love finishing as much as I love knitting but the more I learn about it and the more practiced at it I become, the less I dislike it. And now, more importantly, thanks to Veronik's advice I will no longer dread it.

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