Saturday, October 31, 2009

On Finishing/Scary Things for Hallowe'en/Thinking about Christmas

With help from me and Ann Budd, Mum is knitting a sweater for T, out of Briggs and Little yarn. A simple stocking stitch sweater with set-in sleeves and a crew-neck.

It's coming along brilliantly - and quickly, being a chunky weight - and Mum's been using it as a palate cleanser between two more complex projects. (A strategy I use myself - having something complicated on the go for when you've got the time, brainpower and strong light, and then something easy for when you just need some therapy knitting, or for when you actually want to pay attention to something else, or you're in the car and don't want to make yourself car-sick.)

She's ready to put it together and work the neckline. So we had the talk about sewing up.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: proper seaming techniques seem to be a rare and wondrous - nay, magical - art. I love teaching the Finishing class, just for the looks of amazement at the beauty and ease of a mattress stitch seam. It's incredibly gratifying, sure, but I know that by teaching proper finishing, I'm opening up a whole new world of knitting projects - things that HAVE ... cue scary music.... more than one piece!!!

There are lots of knitters out there who dislike finishing, and will do anything to avoid sewing up. (Even, god forbid, knitting one-piece sweaters. Stop with the one-piece sweaters, people. They're not *that* much easier, they can be difficult to fit properly, and because they have no seams they are often saggy and stretchy and baggy.)

I have said it many times: proper finishing is neither difficult nor scary. And it's SO worth it. A well-sewn seam is a thing of beauty, and makes a garment looks so much better.

How did I learn to properly finish? The bible, of course.

If you're serious about knitting, if you want your garments to look their best, if you want to be proud of your work, if you want to be able to wear the sweaters you make for events other than walking the dog, if you want to be able to work projects that come in more than one piece - if you want to be a better knitter - BUY THIS BOOK.

Put it on your Christmas/Chanukah/New Year/Birthday/Diwali/Kwaanza wish list. Damn it, register for it as a wedding gift. I don't care. Just get a copy.

I've had my copy since the mid 1990s, and it's well-loved and looking pretty tired. I paid $60 for it at the time - which was totally appalling, but good knitting books were very hard to find back in the dark ages at the end of the last century. The dust jacket is long gone, it's dog-eared, stained with coffee - and I use it every day.

(And yes, yes, I know there are lots of great references and resources online. But you still need this book. Not only does it show you how to do anything you might ever want to know - a million different methods for casting on, casting off, increasing, decreasing, seaming, you name it - but it also explains why and where you might need to use a particular technique. Online videos are terrific for seeing a technique illustrated in three dimensions; the bible provides the background you need to know where to use a technique.)


V said...

I love, love, love that book. It is the single best recommendation (book-wise) you've given me. It has expanded my horizons to no end.

TracyKM said...

I totally agree about good finishing. Although I did read instructions in a fairly popular finishing book for a grafted seam and it SHOWED! The rest of the book was good. Since I've learned about the importance of seams when sewing, I realize that they have their place in knitting too.
I used Maggie Righetti's "Knitting in Plain English" to learn the mattress stitch, late on Christmas Eve, 1995. LOL. I also got the Vogue book out from my library many times and used it to learn even more. Except for the SSK instructions which had me totally messed up while doing lace because I was slipping stitch, slipping a stitch, then knitting the next one. I swear, the abbreviations page said to "slip, slip, knit". LOL.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that recommendation. I found a Vogue sewing book at a flea market a few years back--haven't sewn in years--and now I suspect it'll be a very good instructional book just based on what you've said about the knitting one. Which I also now intend to obtain. Been wanting something with all the info in one place.