Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Harriet's Jacket KAL Day 7: Shawl Collar Details

So, now it's time to do what I consider the most fun part of knitting this design--the front borders and collar. For an overview of the process, click here. In this post, I'm going to go over some of the finer points. You'll kick off the fun by getting all the necessary stitches onto a 32" circular.

The instructions are very precise about where to pick those stitches up and how. This should make the process fairly straightforward. When told to knit up one stitch per ridge, this is what you'll be doing.

Above, you see the tip of my RH needle going into the bump at the top of the ridge, preparatory to knitting through it. At the corners of the back neck slope, the instructions say to M1R and M1L, with the added stitches leaning toward the centre back. This will help to close up any gaps.
Next, the instructions guide you in placing markers for buttonholes. Here are a couple of things to consider. First, if you intend to use smaller or larger buttons than those suggested in the "Notions" section, you may wish to explore other types of buttonholes. I happen to like this one because it is so simple and effective. Second, for the larger sizes, you may wish to add a fourth buttonhole. If so, simply re-space the markers, keeping the top one three stitches from the top and the bottom one four stitches from the bottom; for this type of buttonhole, the markers get placed BETWEEN the stitches.
Here is one of my newly-completed buttonholes.

Next, it's time to cast off (I learnt to say "cast off" instead of "bind off, and every now and then I can't resist reverting to it) the front border stitches. Be careful! As you approach the first marker you will reach a point where you have one stitch left on your RH needle with the marker at the top of the LH needle. You will need to get rid of that one stitch by removing the marker, knitting the first stitch on the far side of it, then pulling the last front border stitch over it. Similarly, when you get to the second marker, at the top of the right front border, you will see this.

Here, you will need to remove the marker, then k2 before pulling the first stitch over the second. When you're done the casting/binding off, do a stitch count and be sure to check it against the total in the pattern.
Now only the collar stitches remain. Let the short row fun begin! I'm using the Lucy Neatby/Meg Swansen method. Slip, wrap, and replace, or SWR for short. Sometimes you see instructions telling you to do the wrap loosely. Don't pay attention to them; strangle that wrap!

It now occurs to me that I ought to have prefaced this post with a bit of extra info for anyone using a colour-changing yarn like this Sonoma. For the entire front border/collar, I am NOT switching back and forth between two skeins. I'm doing this first, because I want the collar to be reversible and second, because almost every row is a different length, thus reducing worries about colour pooling.
The critical thing about deeper shawl collars (unlike the shallow one in Buttonbox), is that there must be an increase row across the back of the neck about halfway through the process. I did this at the point when I had ten garter stitch ridges facing me on the right side (I'm making size 3). Place a couple of markers at either side of the back neck.

Count the number of stitches between the markers and you'll know how far apart to space the kfb's. I ended up making them every two stitches twelve times. Here they are in close up.

Finally, comes the big bind off. It MUST be done quite loosely, so be sure to use a needle in your right hand that is two times larger than the one you used for the collar itself. I like to use a dpn in my right hand for better manoeuverability. You'll know you've got it right if your collar sits flat around your neck. If not, then rip back and do it over; you'll not regret it.
No photos of the finished collar yet. Next time.


  1. I so want to knit this sweater. I can get stitches per inch gauge, but not rows. Normally, that is not a problem.

    I am short of row gauge by about 2 rows. How much will that affect this lovely, lovely sweater?

    1. Well, my first question is, what stitch are you using for measuring purposes? Garter stitch? Stocking stitch? My second question is, what yarn are you using? If you answer those questions, I might be able to offer up some suggestions. The quick answer is that row gauge does matter here, because the bust size is dependent on it. Hope to hear back from you; I'm sure we can solve this.

  2. Liz,

    I love this sweater! I know that row gauge is important to this pattern.

    I'm measuring with stockinette stitch. Yarn is Berroco Cuzco, 50% Superfine Alpaca and 50% Peruvian Wool.

    The yarn band indicates 21 rows and 15 stitches with a U.S. 10 needle. I get 16 stitches with #10 needle.

    Thank you! Jackie

  3. More comments: I could try 10-1/2 inch needle -- size 11 was a disaster. I also think I will hand-wash the swatch and see how it reacts.

  4. I've knitted Cuzco at 4 sts per inch in St st so it can be done, but before you do anything, work your gauge in garter stitch. The body of the jacket is done in garter stitch and the width is based on your gauge in that stitch. If you're off a bit in St st, only the sleeve length will be affected and you can always make your increases a little closer together. Try you garter gauge with the size 10 needle. Dunk your swatch in some water, squeeze it a bit, and lay it flat to dry. Sounds boring, but really, it's important. Make sure you make it big enough. Alternatively, try my suggestion in the instructions and make the cuff your gauge swatch. Let me know what happens.

  5. Liz,

    Ah, good points. I will try garter stitch, well sleeve in the round. I want to hammer out the gauge even though I can't start this sweater right away. I'm copying your great blog instructions each day to a Word document.

    I don't know why I typed 10-1/2 "inch" needle -- well, I do know why; I was doing about 3 things at once.

    I will keep you posted.

    Thank you for your help and speedy replies.


  6. Liz,

    I've been slow to respond as we've had company. This morning I hand washed the swatches. The swatches are not completely dry, but I'm sure they will be the same size when they dry as they are now.

    The stockinette stitch on size 10 needles is quite good, maybe even an extra row now that it's wet. Twenty-one rows, size 10 needles, in garter stitch measures 3-1/2 inches.

    Your sweater is lovely! I love the design.

    Thanks for helping.

  7. Jackie,
    I'm still concerned about your garter stitch gauge. You need to get 16 RIDGES to 4 inches--that means 32 rows, since it takes two rows to make a ridge. The garter stitch gauge is the most important since the body width is based on that. You may be one of those knitters that needs to use a different sized needle for each stitch. Based on what you've laid out, I think you need to go down at least one needle size in garter stitch to get closer to 16 ridges/32 rows per 4 inches.

  8. I will give that a try. I'm going to use all my yarn on swatches!! Fortunately, I have two colors of this yarn.

    It doesn't feel like I'm that tight of a knitter.

    Thank you for responding.

  9. Yah, size 9 needles, 32 rows garter stitch = 4 inches.

  10. I usually leave my yarn attached to the ball when I swatch. I give the swatch a dunk in a bowl of water, but keep the ball dry. That way, I don't waste yarn; the swatch yarn is still available if I need it. If it's crinkly from having been blocked, after I undo the swatch, I make a little skein, wet it again and hang it to dry, ready to go.

  11. I normally make a swatch, and if I don't think that particular swatch needs a bath, rip it out and start knitting the project with it. This yarn, especially being part alpaca, requires a wet blocking.

    Thank you for your help. I very much appreciate it.