A gray handknit sweater, showing a repair made to the hem, rests on a table in the foreground, with a black notebook in the background.

Mending a Sweater Hem

As spring arrives, some of my most-loved winter knits have seen some wear and tear. I’ve accumulated a small mending pile, including one of my favorite sweaters – the Poet sweater by Sari Nordlund (see it on Ravelry), knit in local Jacob wool yarn from Avillion Farm.

The hem of the sweater had unraveled a bit, so I thought I’d share how I mended it. Here is a before photo. As you can see, the bind off had come undone, and a bit of unraveling had occurred.

Before the repair

For the repair, I used locking stitch markers, a small-diameter crochet hook, and a circular needle approximately the size the sweater was knit with.

The first thing I did was to catch the live stitches – locking stitch markers are handy for that. I then used the crochet hook to ladder up the stitches that had run – you can do it from either the knit or purl side, but I often find it easier to work from the knit side.

I managed to get a bit of video of this process. You’ll notice that I use a second crochet hook to grab the stitches I’ve already fixed, and then I transfer them onto a second locking stitch marker. ((Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera set up quite right and all the work is going on in one corner, but you can still watch how I ladder up the stiches and place them on the stitch marker.)

Laddering up and catching the stitches

Once all the stitches were secure, I attached new yarn (fortunately I had a bit of the same yarn left over) and bound off the stitches once more. Now all that’s left is to weave in the ends! As you can see in the photo at the top, my sweater looks good as new.

Sweater hem after repair

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Wear Your Handknits: The Composure Cardigan

A friend recently suggested I do a post on how I style my knits. Since I talk a lot about designing and making projects that really fit into your wardrobe, I thought such a post was was long overdue!

We’ve had a lot of back and forth this spring between warm and cool weather, and open cardigans like the Composure Cardigan are a go-to layer for me when it turns chilly again. It’s perfect as a casual layer with jeans and a tee or buttondown:

I also like to wear it over a dress, for a bit more elegance. I throw on a cowl if it’s particularly chilly or windy in the morning, which I can easily remove as the day warms up.

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I’m already planning another post on styling warmer-weather knits. What patterns would you like to see me wear?


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Choosing a Sweater Size Part 2 – An Example

A few months ago I wrote in this post about choosing your sweater size based on your upper chest measurement, and I thought I’d give an example of how I used this method to select my size in another designer’s pattern.

The sweater I’m wearing in this photo is the Gingerbread Sweater from Espace Tricot. It’s a boxy raglan pullover with a suggested ease of 10 inches/ 25.5 cm. My upper chest is around 34 inches; as of this writing my full bust measures 39 inches, a 5-inch difference. The first size listed is a finished chest of 43 inches, which would give me about 9 inches of ease in the upper chest, and 4 inches of ease in the full bust. The next size up is 46.75 inches, which would give me 12.75 inches of ease. Since the first size is closer to the recommended ease, I chose that size. This is also the chest circumference of a favorite boxy top of mine, so I knew I would be happy with that amount of ease. I also compared my upper arm measurement and armhole depth to the schematic to make sure my chosen size would fit in those areas.

The only modification I made, other than adding a bit of length to the body, was to cast on the number of neck stitches for the next size up, and eliminate one increase round for the raglan. I would have been fine with the neck cast on for my size, but I prefer a slightly wider neckline, and I’m very happy with the neckline on the finished sweater.

As you can see in the photo, the sweater fits me perfectly. You’ll notice that it fits similarly to the sweater in the pattern photos. If I had chosen the size that had 10 inches of positive ease in the full bust, I think the sweater would not have fit correctly in the shoulder and neck area, and I know I wouldn’t have been happy with the oversized fit.


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Sweater Knitting: Seamless vs. Seamed

Recently in my Instagram stories, I posted a poll on knitting sweaters in pieces vs. one piece. Not surprisingly, there are some strong opinions on seamless vs. seamed sweater knitting. A lot of knitters prefer seamless sweaters. Now, I love a good seamless yoke as much as the next person, but I generally prefer to knit sweaters in pieces.

Here are a few reasons to knit sweaters in pieces:

  1. The project is more portable. It’s easier to carry around a piece of a sweater that you’re working on than a whole sweater. Personally, I think sleeves especially are an underrated on-the-go project. And you don’t have as much sweater in your hands and lap as you knit, which is a) less weight for your wrists to deal with, and b) less hot in the summer.
  2. You can use the sleeve as a gauge swatch! Of course I’m going to be a stickler and tell you to knit a proper gauge swatch, but there are times when my knitting changes between knitting a swatch and knitting an actual garment. Maybe I didn’t knit a big enough swatch, or maybe I’m simply more or less relaxed when knitting the swatch vs. the actual garment, but starting with a sleeve is a great way to double-check my gauge. The downside, of course, to using the sleeve as a swatch, is you may have a bigger chunk of knitting to rip out if your gauge is off or you don’t like the fabric you’re getting. And yes, you do need to stop and block the sleeve before measuring the gauge.
  3. Seams help add structure and may prevent bias in the fabric. This is especially true for fibers that have a lot of drape, or for plant fibers which will tend to bias (twist) when worn. Have you ever had a cotton top you knit twist around your body when you wear it?
  4. This is more particular to top-down seamless sweaters, but in my experience trying on as you go works better in theory than in reality. I know lots of folks will argue with me on this point, but hear me out. First, you usually won’t have blocked the sweater if you’re trying on as you knit, so if your gauge is going to change with blocking, you won’t get an accurate sense of the fit. Better to knit an accurate swatch (see above) and do a bit of math. Second, I’ve found that it’s easy to overestimate the length of a piece that’s on the needles – I think maybe there’s some wishful thinking at play when I want to get the piece done!

Reasons to Knit Seamless Sweaters

On the flip side, seamless sweaters do have some advantages. The most obvious one is that once the knitting is done, there is less finishing standing between me and wearing my new garment! And one time I do appreciate a top-down seamless sweater is when I’m playing yarn chicken. If the sweater is knit top-down, or if the sleeves are picked up and knit down from the completed garment, I can make adjustments to the body or sleeve length (or both) according to how much yarn I have. If I don’t have enough, I can maybe live with a slightly shorter hem or a 3/4 sleeve.

What is your favorite way to knit a sweater? Are there any advantages or disadvantages I haven’t covered here?


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