A Quick Way To Finish Knit Projects – Reverse Or Corded Single Crochet

Swatch with reverse single crochet edge in contrast color

My favorite crochet edging is reverse single crochet (rev sc), a decorative and quick option for finishing edges of a knit garment. It consists of working single crochet (sc) stitches in the “wrong direction”, working from left to right rather than right to left.

For those not familiar with single crochet, below are the steps for making an sc edge, followed by rev sc. As with knitting, space the crochet stitches evenly along an edge. Too many stitches will cause the piece to flare and too few will cause it to pull in. When going around corners, work more than one crochet stitch into the corner stitch, so the piece lies flat.

Steps for Single Crochet and Reverse Single Crochet Edging on a Knit Fabric:

Single and reverse crochet edging – Vogue Knitting Handbook

I hope you’ll try reverse single crochet. You’ll find it adds stability, flattens curling edges, and adds a simple, decorative edge to finish your project.

An Attractive Cast On Method – The Tubular Cast On

I’m not terribly adventurous when trying different cast on methods. I use the double or long tail cast on most often, and the cable cast on when I need to add stitches within the body of a piece. 

Tubular cast ons are common in machine knitting, and not used often in hand knitting. A tubular cast on produces an attractive, elastic, and stable edge for a knit one, purl one rib (k1, p1). The cast on edge is rounded like a tube (hence “tubular”), and has the appearance of a double fabric. I like using the tubular cast on for a dress or skirt made with a fine or light weight yarn. The tubular cast on method is not recommended for bulky yarns, as the edge may flare.

There are several versions of a tubular cast on. The following two versions are the most basic of the tubular methods for k1, p1 rib, and both look similar.

Version 1:

  1. With a contrasting waste yarn, cast on half the required number of stitches (plus one extra stitch) using a single cast on. The single cast on is simple but not the neatest method. However, it’s perfect to use with the tubular method. How to make a single cast on: 1. place a slip knot on right needle, leaving a short tail; 2. wrap yarn from ball around left thumb or index finger from front to back and secure it in your palm with your other fingers; 3. insert needle through this strand on your thumb, slipping the loop onto the needle, and pulling the yarn to tighten it; repeat steps 2 and 3 until all stitches are cast on.
  2. Cut contrast yarn. With the main color yarn at the back of work, k1, *with yarn in front, k1; repeat from * to end of row.
  3. *k1, yarn front, slip next stitch purlwise, yarn back, repeat from *; end k1.
  4. yarn front, *slip 1, yarn back, k1, yarn front, repeat from * to last stitch, slip last stitch.
  5. Work last 2 rows once more. Begin working in k1, p1 rib. Work a few rows in rib, then remove waste yarn.

Version 2: (folded method)

This version produces a similar look to Version 1. However, I find the edge to look more even and not as loose as Version 1.

Completed Version 2 Tubular Cast On (for k1, p1 rib)

  1. With contrasting yarn, cast on one half the number of stitches required using the single cast on described above. Cut yarn.
  2. With main color, purl 1 row, knit 1 row. Repeat these 2 rows once more.
  3. *p 1, insert the tip of the left needle into the first main color loop – the loop sitting between the first 2 contrasting loops. Slip this loop onto left needle and with yarn back, knit it through back loop. Repeat from * to last stitch.
  4. Purl last stitch, pick up the 1/2 loop of the main color at the very edge, and knit it through the back loop.
  5. Remove the waste yarn.

Version 2 – Tubular cast on how-to

Give the tubular cast on a try, and I think you will like the end result.

A Simple Edging Instead of the Usual Rib Border

My favorite mercerized cotton summer top with simple armhole edging.

Close up of edging along armhole edge.

I don’t know of a simpler applied edging than the one I’m sharing with you in this post. This edging is a great alternative to a ribbed border. It neatly finishes off an armhole or neckline edge. I like adding this edging to a vest or tank armhole.

Steps to making this edging:

  • Seam both shoulders.
  • Choose a smaller needle, 1/2 to 1mm smaller than the one used for the body of the garment.
  • Pick up stitches evenly along the front and back armhole edge. For an armhole edge you want to pick up the same number of stitches for both sides of the armhole, the front and back. The shoulder seam is the dividing line. For a neckline edge, the shaped sides of front neck should each have the same number of stitches. Tip: Picking up stitches is simply using a knitting needle to add yarn by “knitting on” new stitches to the knit fabric, forming the foundation row for a collar, button band, or edging. With the right side of the knitting facing you, insert needle into the space between two stitches of a row, one stitch in from the edge for a straight side edge or selvedge. Wrap the yarn knitwise around the needle and draw the yarn loop through as if to knit, forming a new stitch on the needle. For curved edges of knitting, insert needle inside the shaped edge, through the stitch below the shaping to avoid large gaps and to hide the jagged selvedge. Pull the yarn loop to form new stitch.

Picking up stitches – selvedge and shaped edge – Vogue Knitting

  • Simply bind off all stitches loosely for first row.

What could be simpler; pick up stitches, then bind them off. The edge rolls in on itself – you have neatly finished an edge.

How much yarn do I need for my project?

Calculating Yarn Requirements (tank used in example)

From my experience, this is one of the most common knitting questions. The amount required depends on the weight of the yarn, needle size, and the stitch pattern(s). As you gain experience, answering this question becomes easier.

At the beginning, we rely on the quantities provided in pattern instructions. But instructions give quantities for the brand used by the designer of the project. Being able to purchase the brand used in the instructions is simple and makes life easy. Sometimes it’s not possible to find the yarn asked for in a pattern, so a substitute is necessary. Substituting yarn is not simply a matter of replacing one ball for another (refer to my e-book “It’s All About The Yarn” for further steps in purchasing a substitute yarn).

Calculating Yarn Requirements For A Substitute

The amount of yarn in meters/yards, not grams/ounces is key to choosing the substitute. Vintage patterns from the 1930s to the 1960s noted how many grams/ounces of yarn were needed to complete a project. This is not an accurate way to determine the amount to purchase. In those days, this made sense since there wasn’t the variety in yarn that we have today. To calculate the substitute amount, say a size small sweater requires 15, 50 gram balls (100 meters each) of double knitting (DK) yarn. DK is a common weight of yarn; there are lots of DK brands available. It’s a simple math calculation: multiply 15 balls by 100 meters (the amount in one ball) which equals 1500 meters, the total amount required. The DK you are interested in has 110 meters per ball; divide 1500 by 110 which equals 13.6. Round up to 14; purchase 14 balls of the substitute. You may want to purchase an extra ball or two so you don’t run out.

Calculating Yarn Requirements If Designing Your Project

Fear of running out of yarn is a big deal when designing your own projects. Estimating generously is a designer’s best friend. Deciding on the amount of yarn is still a best guess, but can be an educated guess.

There are a few ways of calculating yarn requirements. I’ve seen charts that provide quantity estimates for garments at different sizes and gauges, but most are based on classic garment shapes and basic stitch patterns, like stockinette stitch. These amounts do not apply to complex stitch patterns that require more yarn or the different garment shapes.

Another approach is to use the amount specified for a similar pattern that is structured of the same type of yarn and stitch pattern. This may prove difficult trying to find a similar design, and is not precise.

If you can’t find the same type of pattern, although very generous, the following calculation is a better estimate. As a basis for comparison, I have done the calculation for a tank top for which I know the amount used. The calculations below are more accurate for garments without much shaping; you will be buying more yarn than is necessary. My tank has a deep V-neck in the front and back, so the tank from the armhole to the shoulder requires little yarn. I used 5 balls for the tank pictured above.

Steps:

  • Note the number of yards(meters) that are in the full ball of the yarn you want to use. There are professional yarn counters to help if this information is not available. Knit your test swatch from the full ball, then count number of yards (I’m calculating using imperial measurements) remaining, using a tape measure or yarn counter. Subtract the number of yards remaining from the total ball amount to obtain the amount used for the swatch. Full ball for tank equals 104 yds. For my swatch the amount remaining was 50 yds, so 104 – 50 = 54 yds to make the test swatch. The swatch was in stockinette stitch and 5mm needles; not much yarn needed to knit swatch.
  • Calculate the area of the swatch. The test swatch measures 6.75 inches wide by 4.25 inches long. Area is 6.75 x 4.25 = 28.7 square inches.
  • Calculate the area of the project. Use the schematic as a reference; multiply the widest part of each piece by the total length, equaling the number of square inches per  piece. Err on the side of caution; pretend each piece is a rectangle defined by its largest width and length dimensions. Area of tank is 16.5in (widest part) x 21in (length) = 346.5 sqin per piece(x 2) = 693 sqin (total area of tank). The front and back are about the same size. If you have many pieces, like in a sweater, repeat the above process for each piece, then add together the area of each piece for the total area.
  • Now you need the number swatches required for the project. Tank’s area 693 sqin (area of project) divided by 28.7 (area of swatch) = 24.1 swatches.
  • The number of yards for total number of swatches; 24.1 (number of swatches required) x 54 yards (amount used for test swatch = 1301.4 or 1301 yards.
  • Calculate the number of balls needed for the project. 1301 (yardage required for the tank) divided by 104 (the amount in a full ball) = 12.5 rounded to 13. You can purchase 13 balls, or do a further calculation by adjusting for any shaping. Deduct 10% from the total yardage taking into account the V-neck shaping in the tank; 1301 – 10% = 1171 yds. 1171 divided by 104 = 11 balls. This amount is still overly generous at 11, since I actually used 5 balls for the tank. This is the best estimate to calculate the amount of yarn required, without the fear of running out.

After knitting many garments, you will be better able to figure out yarn requirements. This is the best guideline for calculating amounts, and is on the generous side. Better safe than sorry!

Winding Yarn Into Balls By Hand

Because of the popularity of hand dyeing, much yarn is produced in a hank format. A hank is a loosely wound coil of yarn tied in at least one place to keep it from tangling. Before using a hank it must be wound into a ball. A ball winder and swift make this a fast process. If you don’t have these tools, yarn can be wound into a center-pull ball by hand or by using a simple hand-tool called a nostepinne. The following shows you how to make a center-pull ball by hand.

Untie the hank and drape the coil over the back of a chair, a person can stretch the hank between their hands, or you can use a swift, like I did.

Find one of the ends of the hank, and pull some of the yarn carefully so it doesn’t tangle. Yarn can simply be wound into a ball by continually wrapping the yarn over and around, however these will roll around on you. 

Better yet is making a center-pull ball by hand. To make a center-pull ball, open your hand so it faces you. Lay the yarn across your palm, leaving a long tail hanging free.

Lay yarn across palm of hand.

Wind yarn in a figure 8 around your thumb and index finger about 15 times. Remove the figure 8 from your hand and fold in half, holding the long tail that now hangs from the center.

Wind all the yarn into a ball while holding your thumb over the center tail.

Wrapping yarn to form ball

Now you have a center-pull ball which is easy to work with.

It’s Okay To Be Neurotic About Caring For Your Hand Knits

Call me weird, but I’m neurotic about taking care of my wardrobe, especially my hand knits. Why not when you spend many hours making something beautiful. One of my favorite business sites is The Laundress, a company based in New York City who have taken fabric care to a whole new level. The Laundress specializes in eco-friendly detergent, fabric care, and home cleaning products. I’m particularly fond of their “Wool and Cashmere Shampoo”.

The Laundress Blog has compiled a great chart “Can I Be Washed” on how to care for the many different fabrics consumers typically encounter. If you’re a laundry freak this site’s for you.

Under the Knitting Unplugged “Articles” page, I’ve updated “Taking Care of Your Hand Knits“. Please read how to hand and machine wash knits. You’ll not only save money on dry cleaning bills, but your clothes and the environment will thank you.

Knitting The Slanted Or Diagonal Inset Pocket

Pocket lining in progress for slanted inset pocket

Pocket lining in progress for slanted inset pocket of right pant leg

Slanted inset pocket style showing inside cast on edge

Slanted inset pocket style showing inside cast on edge of pocket lining

Right side of slanted inset pocket showing even edge of cast on stitches

Right side of slanted inset pocket showing even edge of cast on stitches

Pockets are a detail that can enhance the most simple hand knit garment. Pocket types include the patch, horizontal inset, vertical inset, and slanted inset pockets. Inset pockets are very common, and the slanted pocket style is popular in pants, the topic of this post.

Firstly, if designing your own pocket, decide on the depth, width, and angle of the pocket. My pocket sample is knit in the right front pant leg. If you are following pattern instructions that incorporate a slanted inset pocket, you may want to try the way I cast on the lining stitches to alleviate some sewing.

The lining for inset pockets are usually knit first, but with the slanted inset the pocket is knit first. Work to where the pocket opening begins, and place the remaining stitches on a holder (to be worked later as the pocket lining). Work the slanted section, in this case the right front side, by decreasing at the pocket opening edge according to the pattern instructions or according to your design. When designing this style of pocket, plan the decreases to form an even slope. I also work my decreases 1 stitch in from the side edge, so the edge is not jagged. Knit the desired length of the pocket, then place these stitches on another holder.

For the pocket lining, pattern instructions typically ask you to cast on stitches with a second ball of yarn equal to the total number of stitches for the pocket width, then work across the stitches you placed on the first holder. Then knit pocket lining the same depth as the pocket. What I did differently was to pick up stitches (the purl bumps of stockinette stitch on the wrong side of the work) on the back side of pocket along the same row as the start of slant pocket; then work across the stitches from the first holder (slip these stitches to a needle first) for pocket lining. Note: It is a good idea to mark this row ahead of time with contrast yarn to make picking up stitches easier. Continue to work the same depth as the slant pocket, ending with a wrong side row. Rejoin both sections by working across all stitches and knitting together the inside pocket lining stitches with the pocket stitches (knitting 2 stitches together off of 2 needles to get back to the correct number of stitches for the waist). Picking up stitches instead of casting on eliminates having to sew the bottom of pocket lining to the wrong side. A border can be added if desired. Work the left pocket the same, reversing all shaping and the direction of the slant.

I love the effect of picking up stitches vs casting on stitches for the pocket lining. This technique creates an even edge with no visible stitches from sewing. Give it a whirl and I think you will be pleased with the results.