Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thoughts on Finishing

Speaking of finishing, I had almost finished blogging the photo of this yarn on Flickr when my browser aborted. Goes to show me that the glitches of the past couple of weeks are NOT over just because I feel a bit better emotionally.

So, to reconstruct my brilliant earlier thoughts...look at that yarn. Isn't it pretty? The colorway is called "Playing with Matches," and I just love the twists in it. Reminds me of the way people ply their hand-spun yarn and get that great effect of two colors changing at different times. This is one of the lovely things I got at the last Loopy Ewe sneak up. I also got two colors of Yarn Love with bamboo in it: Romance and Violets (I love violets almost as much as pansies). And to top it off I got two colors of ShibuiKnits Sock, which is incredibly soft merino. They are dusty greens and a very bright colorway with red, orange, turquoise and avocado colors.

I really want to knit with the Urban GypZ stuff, but it will have to wait its turn while I get to the shiny blue sock and holiday gift socks that must get done. Maybe when I finish Mr. Greenjeans I will do two socks at once.


In the past week or two I have noticed multiple knitters bemoaning the fact that their knitted items were good until they did the finishing, which is when something went wrong. They are so disappointed that all their hard work led to a less-than-satisfactory product. I must admit that this has also happened to me, especially before I learned some finishing tricks.

Finishing is often neglected in knitting classes. This is inevitable in some ways, because usually the students finish projects after the actual class is over, so the teacher no longer has the student's undivided attention. That's why in an ideal world, I think, LYS owners would schedule finishing classes at least once a month, so that students would have ample opportunity to learn skills such as mattress stitch, three-needle bind-off, stretchy bind off options, grafting, skillfully sewing in sleeves, weaving in ends, and things like that.

Of course, if I designed such a class, I'd have a section on "ways to avoid icky finishing techniques." During this time I would extol the virtues of top-down knitting, circular knitting and this topic...

How to Avoid Grafting

As a grafting-challenged person (say it with me, awwwwww), I tend to do things that let me avoid that skill. That's one reason to favor toe-up socks, though a skillful three-needle bind-off can do fine for cuff-down socks unless someone has very sensitive toes.

I also would be incredibly pleased if designers, especially designers of long lace shawls, would change from having you knit two halves then graft them in the center to using a provisional cast-on and knitting from the center outward in each direction. That is so much easier and less likely to end up with some ruined lace. True, some directional patterns would need to be re-done to go the other way and other just wouldn't work starting from the center and going down, but lots of shawls would be fine done the way I describe. I know I have converted more than one item, myself!


There is one more important finishing technique that sometimes gets neglected, and that is blocking. I know some people never block knitting. I guess if you are a polyester lover you rarely have to! Of course you need to block lace, but cotton, wool and other natural fabrics of all types can benefit from blocking. That is why I NEED to block the surplice top I "finished" a few weeks ago. It really won't be "finished" until I take the time to block it a bit, especially around the collar edge and lace section. It will lie down better and have the "swing" it should have, once I block it.

Now I feel very guilty for watching a Weird Al Yankovitz (perhaps this is misspelled?) movie last night instead of blocking that top! Well, maybe over the weekend...that will be my next free period block of time!

Moral to this? Blocking is important. Do it. Finishing techniques matter! Learn them!


The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancy Wiseman: Very thorough reference with good illustrations.

Finishing Techniques for Hand Knitters: Give Your Knitting that Professional Look by Sharon Brant: Even more thorough, but more advanced, so there is a lot of stuff to plow through.

The Knitting Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You'll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You'll Ever Ask by Margaret Radcliffe: This is the one I use most, because it is compact and has very clear illustrations and examples.

Knit Fix: Problem Solving for Knitters by Lisa Kartus: This is about fixing mistakes, but it also covers finishing mistakes. You should own this if you are not a total and complete expert. If you want to see little movies and stuff so you can learn that way, this one is great. Many people are extremely devoted to this site.

1 comment:

Suna says thanks for commenting--I love comments!