A little Pick-Me-Up

Literally. The picking up, I mean.

Last week I showed you how to shape a neckline, this week let’s finish up with picking up the stitches around said neckline.

When I do that, I usually take a knitting needle 0.5 mm (or a size in US measurements) smaller than what I used to knit before. I find it makes for a tidy edging. I start picking up at the right shoulder seam (which is just habit, there is no reason why you shouldn’t start on the left shoulder seam), go around the back neckline and then pick up the stitches on the front.

I like to do some math if necessary, especially if the pattern does not specify exactly how many stitches to pick up or the ratio for the stitches to row parts. The only thing you have to know to figure this out is your gauge – stitch and row. Once you know how many stitches and rows you have per inch you know exactly how many stitches to pick up to not make the fabric pucker or stretch.

Example: the stitch gauge is 20 sts per 4″, the row gauge is 28 rows per 4″. Now divide both numbers by 4 to get the amount for 1″. The result is 5 sts per inch and 7 rows per inch. There. You would have to pick up 5 sts per 7 rows to get a smooth fabric.

Most necklines feature bound off stitches and parts where you decreased by k2tog or ssk. If you place the k2tog and ssk one or even two stitches away from the edge, the picking up after is much easier. Some patterns instruct you to bind off 1 stitch instead of decreasing it. Since the bind off is placed on the edge, any pick up of stitches can be tricky and unnecessarily difficult. I try to avoid that – however, there are exceptions, for example a summer garment that is knit up on an extremely loose gauge. This is one example where I have done bind offs instead of k2tog/ssk because I judged I would like the look better.

My rules (well, if you want to call ’em that) are as follows:

– pick up 1 sts for each bound off stitch

– on a diagonal, meaning any decreases like k2tog and ssk, pick up every row (with the reasoning that the diagonal is the longer way, so the regular ratio of stitch and row gauge is off)

– for straight edges know your stitch and row gauge per inch and pick up accordingly

– on straight edges always pick up between the edge stitch and the second stitch, meaning just as with seaming you take in one whole stitch

– always pick up into the last stitch under the bind of edge, not into the bind off edge to get a continuous look

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My gauge worked out to 2 sts per 3 rows. The next row I am going to skip.

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For the decrease section (k2tog here) I pick 1 st for every row.

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Whenever a large hole offers itself to have a stitch picked up – ignore it! Skip it and pick up into the next stitch instead.

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Pick up the stitches into the last stitch under the bind off edge – thus you achieve a continuous look.

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When all is said and done, you begin to knit the edging – usually rib, yet not always.

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Here you see how it is going to look once you start knitting. On the left half I have added a purl ridge before starting to knit the 2×2 rib, on the right I started to knit the rib right away. Choose whatever pleases you best!

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

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