Sunday, May 23, 2010

Whistler Finished: Part 1 of 2

It took a long time to finish up the Whistler even after the main knitting was done. I'm not sure I've ever made something with so much to do after the pieces were done.

After the cutting, I had to sew the back to the front at the shoulder seam. The pattern had you purl a row before casting off, but gave no direction for what to do with it.

First I tried sewing the shoulders together through the "outside" purl bump (which would put the whole stitch inside the seam) but it was too bulky inside and didn't lie flat. So then I tried sewing through the "inside" purl stitch which left half a stitch on the outside of each of the front and back. After the seam is done, it looks like there is one purl row between the front and back. It looks pretty good and lies pretty flat. (And even flatter after a steaming...more on that in a minute.)
Two half purl bumps come together and look like a purl row.
(Between the arrows.)

Once the shoulder seams were done, I had to pick up the stitches for the collar around the neck and knit that. Compared to the whole body, it should have seemed like just a little bit of knitting, but 109 stitches per row is still no small feat!

Once that was done, I picked up and knit the facings along the front opening. Like the collar, you knit out on the "right" side, do a purl row as a fold line and then knit the same length for the "wrong" side. Then I sewed the facings down which covered the cut edges at the front. Then I sewed the collar facing down, making sure to keep it stretchy. (Not that this collar really has to stretch to get over my head, but it's still a good practice.)

When the collar and facings were done, I couldn't resist adding the clasps. The biggest challenge was to keep the clasps lined up evenly from the edge, and to space them equally. I was relieved that the final result looked pretty even to me! Each clasp is sewn down at three points so there will be no wiggling or shifting out of place.

Next up is sewing on the sleeves. I pinned them into place with safety pins (there's no way straight pins would stay in). My go-to seaming stitch is the mattress stitch which is done from the right side. It's a little different in this case because I was matching the end of rows with the side of the row (think of "with the grain" and "against the grain" in wood) unlike side seams where you match two "with the grain" edges and shoulder seams where you match two "against the grain" edges.

On the body of the sweater I picked up yarn between the rows:
This turned out to be more secure than picking up one of the legs of a stitch since you could pick up both the main colour and contrast colour strands. And it made it possible to pick up either from one row or two rows as needed to match the sleeve.

On the sleeve, I picked up the purl bumps like on the shoulder. This time I picked up the "outside" bump so that no purl bumps were visible from the outside.
The sleeves, by the way, were ended with five or six rows of reverse stocking stitch which becomes a facing.

Here is the seam from the inside after the sewing was complete:
The sleeve is on top with the black facing showing; on bottom is the body of the sweater with the cut edge showing. Next step is to sew the facing down over the cut edge.
Flip the facing over to cover the cut seam, and then sew it down:
keeping the sewing very...relaxed. I don't want to say loose because the facing has to actually stay down. But you don't want it to be tight and show through to the front side either!

After it's all done, you have one incredibly neat (if somewhat bulky) sleeve seam:

At some point along the way, I also tacked down the facing on the bottom hem. Here I used a stitch I had read about once; I'm not sure what it's called.

This stitch gives some stretch because the general direction you're sewing is opposite of the direction of your stitch. Coming up at 1, go down at 2 and across to 3. Then down at 4, and up at 5, etc., making sure you grab only the inside loops of the stitches on the garment body. You don't want them to show through on the front side. On the hem, it doesn't matter, as long as you don't go right through to the garment body. I prefer to stitch along the cast on (or off) edge.

The bottom hem came out pretty nice, but you can see it still  has some puckers, especially on the left side here:

After steaming, it looks much better:
I normally use a wet block to flatten out my knitting, but I had recently read a post by a woman that strongly believes in steam blocking. She had some convincing arguments (one of them being: "It's what the professionals do.") so I thought I'd try it. I certainly was not interested in repeating a complete wet blocking just to smooth out the seams I'd just sewn and the collar.

I don't have a steamer (yet) so I just used my iron. Fill it up with distilled water, turn it on high with the steam on, and hoover it over the work. Do not touch the iron to the surface, and certainly do not press down on it. Just let the steam do the work of heating and dampening the wool. Move the iron away and as soon as you can touch it, pat and smooth out the fabric to how you want it. Repeat if necessary. Worked like a charm. I also used it to flatten the shoulder and sleeve seams.

Whew...well, that was probably more than you ever wanted to know about finishing the Whistler. (Unless, of course, you're making your own and looking for tips.)

What a learning process for me with lots of techniques which may get incorporated into future projects.


  1. Gosh, Christina, that is the most helpfully detailed post I've ever read! You answer all my unspoken queries about how to survive steeking, how to knit and deal with facings, the lot!

    Thanks. Now I just need to get my nerve steady and the scissors sharpened...

  2. Thanks, Jo. If you're really nervous about cutting your completed sweater, knit a swatch. Reinforce and cut the swatch. Pull it, push it, abuse it, sew a seam, whatever you need to do to test it and see if you're happy with the reinforcement method you've used. Maybe you'll want to add an extra row of stitching. Maybe you'll find you stitched it too much and now it's too stiff. Way better to find out on a swatch than on your sweater! (Take time to save time!)

  3. I know exactly what you mean about having a lot to do to finish the sweater after the knitting is completed. I made a cardigan and the buttonhole bands, reinforcing the buttonholes, sewing ribbon to the bands to stabilize them to sew on the buttons etc. etc.--I found it very tiresome. Next project will be a pullover.

  4. Yes, it does take a lot of extra work after the knitting's done. Isn't it great that we can just chose to do something else and aren't stuck doing the same thing all the time!


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