Today I have a big tutorial for you. It is a very detailed step-by-step instruction how to finish the neckline in sweaters impeccably. Finishing is not the most fun part of the process, but this is the reality – good finishing can save a sweater hiding all the imperfections and bad finishing can ruin the most perfectly made sweater.
I learned this technique several years ago and I use it almost every single time for any kind of trim – neckline, cardigan bands, armholes. You can see it in my Gallery sweater, Mineral Heather sweater, La Flor sweater, Ocean and Violet Gift dresses. It saved many of my far from perfect bind off and side edges. What I also love about it is that you can use it as a decorative element too.
So, let’s suppose you are done with knitting your sweater, seamed the shoulders and ready to trim it. Here is my mini “sweater”.
As you can see the neckline is not perfectly smooth, though I used sloped bind off to avoid steps in the neckline. The place where you join new ball of yarn is visible. But I assure you all these imperfections will be hidden after the trim.
You will need the following:
- Your sweater/dress/top with seamed shoulders.
- The same yarn that you used for the main body.
- The contrasting yarn – this is optional. You can use only one yarn, the one that you used for the main body. I am using contrasting yarn for the demonstration purposes and to show you how you can add a contrasting color element to your sweater using this technique.
- Crochet hook in size recommended for the yarn you are using (check the label, usually this information is listed there).
- Circular needle one-two sizes smaller than the one you used for the main body.
Don’t be afraid of the crochet hook. Even if you’ve never made a single stitch with the crochet hook, you can still use it successfully following this step by step photo guide.
Before we get to the actual trimming, let’s look at the places from where we are going to pick up the stitches. This is very crucial for a smooth neckline trim. There are three different places from where we will pick up stitches – the straight horizontal bind off edge, the straight vertical edge (the place where you were knitting straight without binding off stitches) and the sloped edge. Let’s see from where we are supposed to pick up stitches.
The straight vertical edge. The arrow shows the place from where we will pick up our stitches – right between the selvage stitch and the next stitch.
The bind off edges (both straight and sloped). The arrow shows the stitch right UNDER the bind off. Some tutorials tell you to pick up stitches inserting needle/crochet hook under the bind off edge, but in my opinion it is not the perfect way, as it can create little holes. I always insert the needle/crochet hook IN the stitch that is right below the bind off edge (see the red arrow) and pick up a stitch from there.
Now we are ready to start. If you want to see a bigger picture, open it in the new tab.
Take a crochet hook and yarn in contrasting or the same color.
Here how it will look like when you are done with this section.
In the next section you will work along the straight bind off edge and then get to the other side of the neckline and again work along the straight section.
We are done with the front and will do the same thing on the back.
Now we need to “close” the slip stitch chain.
We are done with the most challenging part of the process. Now everything is going to be very easy.
Now you will continue working as usual – in the stitch that your pattern instructions indicate. There is one more step that I do before getting to the recommended stitch pattern for the band. You can also do it if you want to add a little bit more texture to the band, but it is entirely up to you. After I picked up all the stitches, I purl the first row and only then start the recommended stitch pattern.
Here how the band looks like from the back.
And here is the front.
You can compare it with “before” picture and see how all imperfections are hidden. There are no holes, no bulk in the neckline area and there is a beautiful contrasting chain running smoothly along the edge.
I hope you will use this technique in your projects. Please, let me know if you still have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them in the comments.