Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Blocking Your Knitting

A few years ago I wrote an article for Knitting Magazine about blocking your knitting and thought I would re-publish it here.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to block your knitting after finishing the knitting but before sewing up the pieces.
  • Checking the size of the finished pieces. Some minor adjustments can be made to the size of the pieces with blocking but depending on the yarn content the adjustments may not be permanent.
  • Getting rid of wavy uneven edges which makes sewing up easier
  • ‘Setting’ the stitches i.e. evening out uneven knitting (depending on the yarn fibre) and relaxing the knitting to give a more professional look to the finished item.

Equipment for blocking your knitting

A blocking mat.  Most methods of blocking require the use of water so whatever you use as a blocking mat should be water resistant or at least not damaged by water. It is not necessary to buy a blocking mat; you can use a pad of towels on top of carpet or a spare bed. You can buy blocking mats e.g. KnitPro Blocking Mats which are 9 squares of dense foam which lock together like a jigsaw puzzle. An alternative to this is to look for the foam play mats sold for children to play on or a camping bed roll which isn’t very wide but is quite long.

You can also make a blocking mat from a sheet of polystyrene covered with plastic to make it waterproof and then covered again with a check fabric. The check fabric provides a grid making it easier to block out your knitting. You could also make a blocking mat from a dress makers cutting board but again you would need to cover it with plastic or cling film to keep it waterproof but it comes with a grid already printed on the board.

Pins When blocking pieces of knitting you will generally need to pin the pieces in place while they dry. I use long glass headed steel pins. If you use long pins they aren’t so easily lost in the knitting. The glass headed pins have coloured heads and as they are glass you can steam your knitting with an iron without worrying if the pin heads are going to melt. You can also use non-rusting steel T-pins.

Tape measure Use an accurate tape measure if you are pinning out pieces to a given size. Don’t use an old worn or stretched tape measure.

Methods of Blocking
There are a number of ways to block your knitting and the method used is largely dependent on the fibre content of the yarn used in the knitted pieces. Some fibres can be washed or steamed and blocked, some can be washed and blocked, and some should be blocked dry and then wetted. It is always advisable to look on the ball band to see what washing instructions have been provided by the manufacturer but here are some general guild lines that you may find helpful.

Wool and mixes with a high wool content
I normally wash the garment pieces using whatever method I will be using to launder the finished garment (generally hand washing but machine washed in net bags if it is machine washable). If hand washed I spin off the excess water and lay the pieces out flat (wrong side up) on the blocking mat. If the garment is knitted in stocking stitch and is the correct size I don’t usually pin out the pieces. If the garment is knitted in lace or another stitch pattern that needs to be stretched open I will pin the pieces to size and leave to dry.



Lace scarf pinned out on blocking mat



Lace swatch washed and blocked out with second sample of the same swatch as it is after knitting and before blocking

Wool can also be steam blocked.


Wool swatch after knitting but before blocking

Pin out the pieces to the size required. Smooth the pieces from the centre outwards and be careful not to over stretch the knitting in any one direction.


Wool swatch pinned in the corners


Wool swatch pinned out flat

If you are going to steam block your piece of knitting you should use glass headed pins to pin out the piece. Using a steam iron set to ‘wool’ and with steam hover the iron over your piece of knitting allowing the steam to penetrate the fabric. If you move the iron away you can pat the steam into the fabric but make sure you don’t scold yourself.


Wool swatch being steamed

You can put the iron on the knitting if you want a very flat surface but remember to steam press NOT iron. Also make sure you steam all the fabric.

You need to remember that wool fibre is elastic. If you have stretched out the knitting in the blocking process once you wash that item you will have to block it out again as it is not possible to ‘fix’ the stretched blocking permanently in wool.

Cotton Again I would wash the garment pieces (in this case machine washed) and lay them out on the blocking mat to dry. The washing helps to relax the knitting and also shows what it will look like once the garment is laundered. The sample of rib and lace knitted in cotton became much flatter and open after washing without being stretched.


Cotton swatch before washing


Cotton swatch after washing

You can pin out your pieces or just leave them smoothed out flat to dry. Cotton can also be steam pressed i.e. you can press the steam iron onto the knitting if you want a flat surface as cotton can withstand quite a lot of heat. However if the knitting is worked in a textured stitch you may prefer to just wash or steam the pieces to retain the texture.

Acrylic Acrylic fibre does not respond well to heat. You can wash the pieces in the way you will launder the finished garment and lay them out flat to dry, or while they are still dry, you can pin out the pieces on the blocking mat and then wet them either with a water spritzer or by placing damp tea towels over the knitting so the moisture penetrates the knitted pieces and then leave them to dry.

DO NOT iron or steam unless you want a limp open fabric.

Bamboo and other new fibres Yarns made from new fibres such as bamboo, Soya, milk protein and corn are becoming more readily available so it is important to know how to block knitting made from these fibres. Although they are all made from natural sources they go through a manufacturing process to be made into fibre so it is generally not a good idea to use steam or an iron on them. The safest way to treat knitted pieces in any of these fibres is to block them out dry and then apply damp tea towels to the knitting. I usually pat down the damp tea towels to help the moisture penetrate the fibre, leave the tea towels for 3 or 4 hours and then remove them and leave the knitting to dry completely before unpinning.

Bamboo yarn in particular stretches quite easily when dry and stretches even more when wet so it is very important to block bamboo from dry not after washing it.

Blocking out a garment
I photographed the stages of pinning out a waistcoat knitted in bamboo yarn. I joined the shoulder seams as part of the knitting as I prefer to have knitted shoulder seams, however this can cause some problems when blocking the pieces as you have to allow for the shoulder slope.

I started by pinning out the back piece. I placed pins in the back neck, either side of the shoulder seam, the underarm points and the bottom edge at the side seam. The bottom width, back width at the underarm point, back shoulder width, back neck width, armhole length and side seam from underarm to bottom where all checked against the measurements on the garment schematic.


Bamboo waistcoat back pinning out the basic shape

I then started to pin the bottom and side seam edges using the grid on the blocking mat as a guide.


Waistcoat back showing the bottom and one side edge pinned



Waistcoat back showing all edges pinned

Once all the back of the waistcoat was pinned out I then started to pin the left front.


Waistcoat left front pinned in place

Once I finished pinning the left front I then pinned the right front overlapping the front bands at the centre front and pinning the shoulders to allow for the shoulder slope.


Waistcoat fronts pinned out.

Having pinned the garment pieces to size I then covered the knitting with tea towels that I wetted and wrung out. I patted down the tea towels to ensure the moisture penetrated the knitted, left them on the knitting for several hours then removed the tea towels and left the knitted pieces until completely dry.



Back of waistcoat covered with a tea towel

I hope you found this information useful.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Things don’t always go right even for professionals

I have been teaching a ‘Knit a Jumper’ course at Liss Wools in Hampshire over the last month or so. The knitters where given a Round Neck Set-in Sleeve jumper pattern in DK weight yarn as the start of the course. 

In the first class we went through taking some basic measurements to help select the most appropriate size for each person and then made some design choices to make the jumper individual to each person e.g. what welt pattern to use, how deep to make the welt, making adjustments to the overall length of the garment, selecting the Front Neck depth for either crew neck, round neck or scoop neck and the sleeve length from short sleeve, ¾ sleeve to long sleeve.

The ladies attending the course all chose to make an asymmetric tunic length garment with a deep garter and rib welt and side slits. One of the ladies also wanted a ‘Henley style’ round neckline with front opening. Another of the ladies wanted to add a pocket to the front of the garment as well.

Having gone through the various options they all started knitting their garments at the end of the first workshop.

At least one of the ladies had attended another of my knitting workshops at Liss Wools and had originally asked if she could make the garment in a chunky yarn. I said that would necessitate calculating a completely new pattern so she agreed to go with the pattern I had already worked out. I thought it would be a good idea to knit a chunky version anyway which I did.





Looking at the jumper you may think it is perfectly OK and basically it is, but what I forgot when calculating the new pattern was that the original pattern was based on a close fitting garment in DK yarn. I knitted and finished the garment at which point I realised that the fit was a ‘bit snug’ at least for my taste in a chunky garment. I had forgotten to compare the ‘finished measurements’ information in my pattern with what I actually wanted.

I have subsequently re-worked the pattern with classic ease (i.e. approx. 2 inches of ease) which I think will suit the garment better, or at least I am more likely to wear the new garment.

This wasn't the only ‘disaster’ relating to this garment. I like to photograph the garments I knit on a mannequin, usually on our decking at the back of the house. I put the garment on the mannequin which was fine and took the first photo but the sun was making the top of the picture very bright so I thought I would move the mannequin over to the corner of the decking out of the direct sun. Unfortunately I hadn't realised when my DH was mending the decking some months ago that he hadn't fixed down one of the planks. Yes you have guess what happened, I stood on the end of the loose plank and unfortunately fell over and sprained my wrist.


I am fine now but who'd have thought photographing knitting could be so dangerous! I must set up a risk assessment sheet before the next photo session!!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Bavarian Twisted Stitches

It's only a few weeks now before the Unravel Exhibition at Farnham Maltings, the 19th to 21st February. As well as having a stand at the exhibition I am also teaching a workshop on Bavarian Twisted Stitches on the Friday morning. The workshop is from 10.00 to 1.00 even though access to the stalls (the official opening time) isn't till 12.00

Quite a few years ago (April 2006) I wrote an article about Bavarian Knitting in Knitting magazine and thought I would republish the article here, so here it is.

Bavarian Twisted Stitch
By Fiona Morris

Bavarian Twisted Stitch is one of the traditional styles of knitting that originated in the Bavarian region of Germany. The patterns look similar to Aran patterns but use motifs with finer detail and stitches which travel across the knitted surface.

Like many types of traditional Folk knitting these patterns were developed mainly in stocking knitting. The patterns were used to create shape as well as interest in the stockings. The patterns use a large variety of twisted and travelling stitches, fine cables and twisted knit stitches often worked on a purl background. The use of twisted stitches tightens the stitch and helps to raise the pattern above the purl background resulting in a more sculptured effect.

Many of the motifs used in the stockings are reminiscent of the fine carved wood work found in this southern part of Germany. These stocking motifs became more and more elaborate and as time passed were also included in waistcoats and jackets for both men and women.

The raised sculptured effect is produced by the use of twisted stitches within the pattern. Looking at the pattern from the right side of the knitting all the knit stitches are worked by ‘knitting through the back of the loop’ to create a twisted stitch which is tighter than a normal knit stitch. Traditionally garments would have been made in the round so it was only necessary to work through the back of the loop on knit stitches, however if the pieces are worked flat on wrong side rows the ‘twisted stitches’ are ‘purled through the back of the stitch’ to give a tighter stitch.
The ‘cables’ in the samples are all 1 over 1 stitch, but can be a ‘knit over a knit stitch’ or a ‘knit over a purl stitch’ either to the right or left.  The ‘cables’ are quite easy to work without a cable needle. If you want to work without a cable needle the stitches can be crossed in a number of ways. I have described two ways of working the cables without a cable needle. The first method works the stitches out of order whereas the second method swaps the position of the stitches before they are worked.
Cable Twist Left
Knit into the back of the 2nd stitch on the left needle taking the right needle behind the first stitch, then knit into the back of the 1st stitch on the left needle before slipping both stitches off the needle.

Cable Twist Right
Knit into the back of the 2nd stitch on the left needle taking the right needle in front of the 1st stitch, then knit into the back of the 1st stitch on the left needle before slipping both stitches off the needle.

Working this method I find the stitches can look uneven, so I prefer to swap the positions of the stitches before knitting them.
Cable Twist Left Knit over Knit (CT2L)
To do this, with the yarn at back slip the next 2 stitches (purlwise) to the right needle, insert the tip of the left needle into the 1st slipped stitch (from left to right) crossing in front of the 2nd stitch, drop both stitches off the right needle and with the tip of the right needle pick up the 2nd stitch and put the tip of the left needle under the front strand of this stitch (from left to right) to work a twisted knit stitch and then knit through the back of the 2nd stitch.

Cable Twist Left Knit over Purl (CT2LP)
With yarn at front slip the next 2 stitches to the right needle, insert the tip of the left needle into the i1st slipped stitch (from left to right) crossing in front of the 2nd stitch, drop both stitches off the right needle and with the tip of the right needle pick up the 2nd stitch. Put the tip of the left needle into the stitch (from left to right) but behind the right needle ready to purl the stitch. Knit the stitch on the left needle through the back of the loop for a twisted stitch.

Cable Twist Right Knit over Knit (CT2R)
To work a right crossed cable, with the yarn at back slip the next 2 stitches to the right needle, insert the tip of the left needle into the 1st slipped stitch crossing behind the 2nd stitch, drop both stitches off the right needle and with the tip of the right needle pick up the 2nd stitch (crossing in front of the 1st stitch) and work a twisted knit stitch. Knit through the back of the 2nd stitch to complete the cable.

Cable Twist Right Knit over Purl (CT2RP)
With the yarn at the back slip the next 2 stitches to the right needle, insert the tip of the left needle into the 1st slipped stitch crossing behind the 2nd stitch, drop both stitches off the right needle and with the tip of the right needle pick up the 2nd stitch (crossing in front of the 1st stitch) and work a twisted knit stitch. Purl the next stitch on the left needle.


Working without a cable needle makes the knitting much quicker than working a traditional cable cross with a cable needle.

Below are examples of a number of Bavarian Twisted Stitch patterns taken from the  'Bäuerliches Sticken' pattern books. These are a set of 3 books of traditional stitch patterns in German giving the 'charts' in there original form. The books are available from Schoolhouse Press and include an explanation for the unusual charts/symbols used throughout the books.





Thursday, 4 December 2014

Understanding pattern instructions FRONT and BACK of the knitted fabric

There are lots of areas within a pattern where confusion can arise when describing how to do something. When knitting a garment you will often have a Front and a Back but the words FRONT and BACK are also used when explaining how to work a particular stitch or technique e.g.
   'With the yarn at the front' or 'take the yarn to the back'

When describing how to move the yarn or to place the needle point, the FRONT is the side of the fabric nearest you regardless of whether it is the Right or Wrong Side facing you at the time, and therefore the BACK is the side away from you. 

For example the instructions for working one method of making a chain selvedge is;
'Knit 1 through the back loop, work to the last stitch, slip the last stitch purl wise with the yarn at front'
The instruction at the beginning of the sentence - knit 1 through the back loop - is fairly easy to understand. You put the point of the right needle through the centre of the stitch from right to left so it passes in front of the back half of the first stitch.


'Slip the last stitch purl wise with the yarn at front' - means you have to think about the position of the working yarn before you slip the last stitch purl wise. If you have been working a row of knit stitches the yarn is at the BACK of the fabric i.e. the side of the knitting away from you so you need to bring it forward between the needles before slipping the last stitch.



If you have been working a row of purl stitches the yarn is already at the FRONT so you just need to slip the last stitch.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Knit 1 Purl 1 Rib Neckband for a V-neckline

I have just uploaded a new demo to my YouTube channel showing you how to knit a mitred v-neckband in knit 1 purl 1 rib using a centre double decrease. In my last post I wrote about picking up stitches for a round neckband so I have not demonstrated the picking up in this video but if you what my 'Finishing a Round Neckline' video you will see how I prefer to pick up stitches.


When I am knitting a V-neckline, if possible I will slip the centre stitch at the bottom of the neckline onto a stitch holder and then I work by decreases 2 stitches in from the edge with paired decreases. When knitting the left hand side of the neckline (where the decrease is at the end of the row) I work to the last 4sts, knit 2 together and knit 2. When knitting the right hand side of the neckline (where the decrease is at the beginning of the row) I knit 2 and then work a left leaning decrease which could be ssk or sl 1, k1, psso, and then work the rest of the row. On wrong side rows I purl 3 over the 2 edge stitches and the decrease to give a column of stocking stitch either side of the neckline even if the rest of the garment is in a stitch pattern.

I also often work the first 2 decreases only, 2 rows apart and then complete the remaining decreases according to the intervals given in the pattern e.g. decrease every 4th or 6th row. The reason for working the first 2 decreases close together is that this will give you a slightly wider shape at the v-point of the neckline. You can find sometimes that the neckband doesn't fit into the space at the v-point very well.

There are a number of ways to finish a v-neckline but one of the most common neckbands is a knit 1, purl 1 ribbed band. This type of band required decreases to be worked at the v-point. When I work this type of neckband I prefer to use a centre double decrease to give a neat mitred finish at the v-point.

In my post on picking up stitches around a round neckline I talked a bit about the rate of pick up i.e. how many stitches to how many rows to get a good finish. Picking up along a v-neckline you are picking up along a diagonal line which is longer than the same number of rows vertically. If I pick up 3 stitches for 4 rows which I would normally do for a straight vertical edge the neckband may look okay but the v-point will probably be pulled up. As the diagonal line is longer it is necessary to pick up more stitches so I usually work on a ratio of 5 stitches to 6 rows. You can pick up 1 stitch for every row but you may find this is too many stitches.

Picking up stitches on a v-neckline I would start at the top of the left front neckline/shoulder and with the Right Side facing me pick up 5 stitches for every 6 rows down the neck edge. When possible I put my centre stitch onto a stitch holder at the start of the neck shaping so I would knit this stitch but keep the stitch marker in the stitch as I need to know where this stitch is when working the neckband. I also take a note of the number of stitches I picked up down this edge. After knitting the centre stitch I pick up the same number of stitches (at the same ratio) up the right hand side of the neckline.

Once you have picked up all the stitches you have a choice. You can knit 1 row to give a garter stitch edge to your neckband which will sit back over your pick up row, or you can go straight into the knit 1, purl 1 rib. If you are going to work in rib it is important to get the rib correctly centred. The marked stitch at the v-point of the neckline must be a knit stitch on the Right Side of the fabric. With the Wrong Side facing you (which will be the first row), find the marked stitch which will be a purl on the Wrong Side. Having found the stitch you can now work back to the beginning of the row counting p1, k1, to work out what stitch you need to start knitting the band correctly.

Work one row of rib over all the stitches (making sure the marked stitch is purled on this Wrong Side row). I work the mitred decrease on Right Side rows only. The next row is a Right Side row. Work in rib to 1 stitch before the marked stitch as shown in the image below.



The centre double decrease is a knit decrease (even if the next stitch is a purl stitch) and is worked over the next 3 stitches as follows, 


Slip the next 2 stitches together to the right needle (as if you were going to work k2tog)


Knit the next stitch.


Using the point of the left needle pass the 2 slipped stitches over together. NB they must be passed over the knit stitch together NOT one at a time.


By passing the 2 stitches over together you keep the centre stitch at the front of the decrease giving a vertical line of knit stitches with the decreased stitch either side disappearing behind this stitch.

After working the decrease continue in the rib pattern already set. On Wrong Side rows you MUST purl the marked stitch. On some Wrong Side rows you will have 3 purl stitches together but on alternate Wrong Side rows you will have knit 1, purl 1, knit 1.

An average neckband is about 8 rows. I usually cast off in rib on a Right Side row so that when I get to 1 stitch before the marked stitch, I work the centre double decrease and then cast off the previous stitch and continue with the rest of the cast off. This helps to keep the v-point neat and tight.

I hope that helps any of you who find it difficult to achieve a neat finish on your v-necklines.



Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Picking up stitches for the Neckband on a Round Neckline

In my last post I explained how I knitted a round neckline to make it as easy as possible to pick up the stitches for the neckband and achieve a neat clean finish. In this post I will show you how I pick up stitches around this neckline for the neckband.


This was the picture of the finished sample neckline from my previous blog. The stitches at the start of the neckline shaping are on a stitch holder and the decreases for the shaped section are worked 2 stitches in from the neck edge on each side. The neckline is finished with a section of straight knitting. It is important to be able to identify these different sections as you need to pick up stitches at different rates in the different sections.

The stitches on a stitch holder need to be slipped back onto a needle. It can be helpful to place a locking stitch marker in the edge opposite the top most decrease to remind you where the shaped section is. When picking up stitches in the straight section at the top I would pick up 3 stitches for every 4 rows. However in the shaped section the diagonal line created by the shaping means you need to pick up more stitches in this section and I usually pick up 1 stitch for every row here.


Start the pick up by holding the neckline in your left hand, starting at the top of the left hand edge of the neckline. When I pick up stitches I work between the edge stitch and the next stitch in, where I am pointing with my needle in the image above.


It is usual to knit the neckband on a smaller needle than is used for the main body of the knitting and this also makes it easier to pick up stitches using a smaller size needle. Holding a knitting needle in my right hand and the neckline in my left hand I push the point of the needle through the knitted fabric between the edge stitch and next stitch in.


I take the knitting yarn around the point of the needle (in this case I am using a contrast yellow yarn) and pull a new loop through to the front of the fabric. I repeat this process in the next 2 rows to pick up 2 more stitches.


Once I have picked up 3 stitches, I miss one row from the neckline (3 stitches to 4 rows) and then pick up another stitch in each of the next 3 rows. The image above shows the first 3stitches and then 2 strands pushed together, the 4th row, before the next stitch is picked up.


Once I have got to the start of the shaped section I pick up 1 stitch for every row. The image above shows the stitches picked up down one side of the neckline. It is important to make a note of how many stitches you picked up down the straight section and then how may stitches you picked up down the shaped section so that when you come to picking up the stitches on the opposite side you have the same number of stitches in each section.

One of the main problems a lot of knitters experience when picking up stitches for a neckband is that a hole appears between the stitches which have been shaped and the stitches on a stitch holder. To avoid this hole appearing I pick up the strand between the stitches forming the neckline and the stitches on a stitch holder as indicated in the image below.


Having picked up this strand onto the left needle point I knit into the back of the loop to make a new stitch and twist it shut to close any hole that might have formed. I have made a stitch, but this extra stitch can be decreased away in the next row if you feel you don't want it.


Having made a stitch to fill the hole I then continue working across the stitches that were on a stitch holder. Some patterns will tell you to cast off the stitches at the bottom of the neckline shaping but with a round neckline, which is often quite close fitting, I prefer to slip the stitches onto a stitch holder to keep the neckline as flexible as possible.

Once I have knitted all the stitches from the stitch holder I pick up the strand between the stitch holder stitches and the shaped neckline and make a new stitch, and then continue to pick up stitches along the shaped section and then the straight section at the same rates as I did on the first side of the neckline.


Once all the stitches have been picked up you should have a smooth, balanced neckline join. It is important when picking up stitches on the second side of the neckline to make sure you are working along the same channel of knitting as you did on the first side. 

You can go straight into the neckband stitch pattern e.g. a knit 2 purl 2 rib after picking up the stitches or you can knit one row before starting the neckband pattern. Working a knit row gives a garter ridge detail that 'sits down' over the picked up row and can hide any minor irregularities and also can allow you to adjust the number of stitches at this point if you feel it is necessary. If you go straight into a rib pattern you need to work out what stitch you need to start with at the beginning of a Wrong Side row in order to have the rib pattern centred over the centre front of the neckband.

I have also made a demo film of how to pick up stitches for a round neckline finish which you can see on the Fiona Morris Designs YouTube channel

In this explanation I have shown you how to judge picking up stitches according to what you have knitted. Some knitters do not feel confident about picking up a different number of stitches to those given in a pattern. If that is the case I would suggest you divide your neckline into equal sections and place locking stitch markers or split pin markers through your knitting to mark of each section. Now divide the number of stitches you have to pick up by the number of sections you have marked. Working 1 stitch in from the edge as previously explained, pick up the number of stitches you have worked out in each section to get an even spread of stitches that are the same number as quoted in the pattern.

I hope this explanation and demo help with achieving perfect neckline finishes in the future.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Knitting a Round Neckline

I've just come back from teaching a weekend course on Finishing Techniques at Farncombe Estate near Broadway and it came to my notice yet again the lack of information provided in commercial patterns when it comes to shaping the neckline. Most commercial patterns will say something like;

'Decrease 1 stitch at the neck edge on the next and every alternate row 8 times'

but they don't generally give any instructions about what method of decrease to use or where to place the decrease i.e. on the edge or a stitch or two in from the edge. They also often tell the knitted to cast off a block of stitches at the bottom of the Front neck shaping rather than putting the stitches on a stitch holder.


The picture above is an example of how many knitters will shape a round neckline when they are given a minimal amount of information in the pattern. The stitches at the centre bottom of the Front neck have been cast off and the decreases have been worked as 'knit 2 together (k2tog)'  on the neck edge on both sides of the neckline. As a result the neckline has very little flexibility and the decreases on the edge of the neckline make it very difficult to pick up stitches neatly for the neckband.


In this second sample the bottom of the neckline has been cast off again but the decreases have been worked 2 stitches in from the edge. This does make the edge much easier to pick up stitches through, but in this sample the same method of decrease has been used on both sides of the neckline shaping i.e. k2tog. Looking at the sample the right hand neckline edge has a 'fully fashioned' finish. The k2tog decrease leans towards the right which is in the same direction as the edge is being decreased. As a result it gives a clear column of stitches leaning to the right - following the shape of the neckline.

The left hand side of the neckline (as you look at it) has been shaped using the same right leaning decrease i.e. k2tog. The decrease is worked 2 stitches in from the edge so the neckline edge is still smooth for picking up stitches for the neckband, but the knitted fabric does not have the same smooth line of stitches following the direction of the neckline shaping. It does not mirror the other side of the neckline. In order to mirror the neckline shaping you need to use a left leaning decrease such as 'slip 1 knit 1 pass slipped stitch over (skpo)'.


This 3rd picture shows how I would work a round neckline. I prefer to put the centre section of stitches onto a stitch holder rather than casting them off as this helps to retain the flexibility in the neckline. If the round neckline is quite open and deep like a scoop neckline it is not so important to keep the stitches from the bottom of the neckline and the back neckline on stitch holders, but if the garment has quite a close fitting neckline, the knitting needs to be able to stretch to fit over the wearer's head.

For the shaped section of the neckline (the decreases,) I have used a k2tog decrease on the right hand side (as the sample faces you) and a skpo on the left hand side. Both decreases are worked 2 stitches in from the edge. As a result the edge of the neckline is smooth making it very much easier to pick up stitches through the edge for the neckband and I personally like the 'fully fashioned' finish that is achieved by working 2 stitches in from the edge of the knitting.

The images below show a close-up of the round neckline on 2 different garments. Both garments are knitted in stocking stitch, one with a k2, p2 rib and the other with a k1, p1 rib, but both with close fitting necklines. Due to the way the neckline has been shaped it was much easier to pick up and knit a very neatly finished neckband.



These two examples show the neckline shaping on a stocking stitch garment. I would still use this method of shaping i.e. the decreases worked at least 1 or 2 stitches in from the edge, even when knitting different stitch patterns as it makes the neckline much easier to finish neatly and I like the detail it adds.


This last picture is a v-neckline but it shows how the fully fashioned decreases have been worked within a stitch pattern. There is a 2 stitch wide column of stitches either side of the neckline just inside the garter stitch neckband.

To work fully fashioned decreases to shape the Left Front neckline (the right had side when looking at the pictures) work to the last 4sts, k2tog, k2.

To work fully fashioned decreases to shape the Right Front neckline (the left hand side looking at the picture) k2, skpo, work to the end of the row.

I would also work fully fashioned shaping at the armhole edges, the sleeve cap of a set-in sleeve garment and the raglan seams on that style of garment.

I hope this 'article' gives some of you the confidence to realise you do not have to follow a pattern word for work. The pattern will tell you how many times you need to work the decreases but you can decide where exactly you are going to work those decreases i.e. 1 or 2 stitches in from the edge of the knitting and what method of decrease you want to use.