Stopping the Stretch

Now the socks are done, my next choice of Wimbledon knitting (still avoiding the British summer, Marji!) was Rose’s i heart rainbows sweater. The tedium of the stocking stitch body was perfect if I needed to suddenly stop knitting mid-stitch when a vital point was about to be scored.

I worked my way through the body and both sleeves over the end of last week and it’s pretty much finished now. However, when trying it on Rose for a length check, it was apparent that the neckline was overly-stretchy. So I turned to Google for advice, and came across this very simple technique on the Yarn Harlot’s blog, which just involves adding a line of crochet stitches to the inside of the sweater at the neckline to stabilise it.

Curing the stretch

It turns out that, as the sweater is knitted from the top down with the collar incorporated into the knitting, there’s nothing stopping it growing, as there would be if the collar was picked up from the cast-on edge and knitted upwards. I don’t think it has ever been spelled out explicitly in any pattern I’ve knitted that casting off the neck stitches before picking them up for the collar has a purpose other than to give me more work and to annoy me. I’ll have to check my Montse Stanley book, but I’m not sure if she mentions it either. But this is important! I’d noticed on some sweaters where I’ve not cast-off the neckline before knitting – because I thought I was being clever – that the collar had grown width-wise, but thought it was just one of those things. And just goes to show that you never stop learning. :-P

I do think that if I hadn’t cast on the rainbow sweater with a long tail cast on, but used something more substantial like a cable cast-on, the stretchiness might have been mainly avoided. But adding the crochet to the sweater was simple, if a bit fiddly. And the result is amazing: the neckline can’t stretch. For the smaller sizes of the pattern I don’t suppose it would be such a big issue anyway, but there’s a lot more weight hanging down in the biggest size, and after all my efforts, I don’t want to end up with something that looks like the very reason that the uninitiated think that handknits suck. :-P

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