Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fold Over Hem

Here, I'll show you the end of the story first, so you won't be waiting in suspense:
I finished the knitting and seamed up my silk stripes sweater. It is now blocking and I am waiting for it to dry.

I haven't written too much about this sweater, as I see the last time I mentioned it, it was just getting restarted on a road trip...in September. I have been working on it regularly despite interruptions like Socktoberfest and some Christmas knitting.

Last week I finished the second sleeve and had to make a final decision about the hem. I had left the stitches live on the bottom of the sweater while I worked on the sleeves so I could sew the one seam (I got rid of the other seam by knitting the front and back in one) and knit the hem in the round. I also wasn't ready to make the decision of whether to knit the hem as a garter band (as designed) or to change it to a foldover hem. The garter makes more of a statement: "This is the end," but it's bulkier--not something I like at my hips. It also would match the garter bands I was doing on the bottom of the sleeves and around the neck. On the other hand, the fold over hem would be smoother, but provides no "oomph" at the end of the piece. I don't think I'm explaining this well. But some pieces need to end with a ! and others don't. But if they need it, but don't get it, it's like ending your sentence without a period   Not right.

Anyway, all that is to say, I debated it while knitting the sleeves and decided on a fold over hem. This is a nice silk shirt and I wanted a nice smooth finish.

I knit a stocking stitch stripe in the teal at the bottom of the piece approximately as wide as the pattern said to do the garter band. Then I knit a reverse stocking stitch row (the "purl ridge" you seen in the picture),
then I knit the same number of rows with the teal and the elastic strand it came with on a smaller needle. I figured the elastic and smaller needle would pull in the lining part of the hem and make it lie better. (Elizabeth Zimmermann's rule of thumb is to decrease the stitches by 10 percent for the lining, and I figured this would about do the same thing.)

Once that was knit, you turn the work so you're facing the wrong side:
 With the left needle, pick up the purl bump from the first row of the hem:
 Slide that picked up stitch toward the live stitches on the needle:
Then knit it together with the first live stitch:
and pass the stitch on the right needle over the new stitch to bind off. You work your way across the entire hem this way--picking up the previously knit stitches, knitting them with the live stitches and binding off. It took a while. But not as long as my usual method which is to kitchener the live stitches to the previously knit stitches.

With this method, in the end you get this:
Wrong side. You can see the chain of sideways Vs
of the bound off stitches.
and this on the right side:
With blocking, the tight line where the stitches were picked up is a little less. Because of how the stripes work in this pattern, some of the hem was picked up between teal rows (as shown above) and the other half was picked up right where the colour change happened. I expected the hem to be more obvious where it touched the gold, but in fact it was less obvious. I guess because your eye is focused on the colour change, it doesn't notice the hem line. In any case, it came out well and I am pleased. It's a little bulkier than the kitchener method but still a good method to use.

Now I am eagerly waiting for it to dry so I can wear it. I had it upstairs on a spare bed (my usual blocking "station") but the room was too cold and it was just as wet 12 hours later! I have moved it to the living room and it is getting there... (But not soon enough!)

P.S. I was so wrapped up in what kind of hem to do I forgot to sew that seam, which meant I knit the hem flat and seamed it later. Oh well, it works...

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