We all know how easy it is to get off track at the finishing point in almost any project. If boredom, new projects, or other frustrations haven’t gotten the best of us by this point, things can really get stalled at finishing. The end is so near, but can seem further away than ever.
Finishing: The Most Important Part
How many times have you heard that finishing is the most important part of any project. Fair enough. No argument from me, but then I wonder why patterns usually have two or maybe three sentences as the entire finishing instruction. Why? If it is so important are so few words given to part of the project?
- Working in ends
- Additional Blocking
- Closures (and openings)
So yes, finishing is important. Let’s take a further look.
That you know . . .
- How and what kind of blocking is best for this project.
- How to work in ends for this yarn, stitch pattern, construction.
- How to seam, generally.
- What kind of seam is appropriate for each area to be seamed.
- The best order in which to seam.
- How and where to pick up stitches for various trim applications.
- How to sew on buttons or snaps.
- How large your bands should be in relation to your buttons.
- What will happen to the size when you seam.
- What type of blocking is needed for seams and/or trims.
Finishing: Customizing and Making It Work
I try to figure out every little thing that needs to be done to finish a project and tell you what I’ve done. To investigate I opened a pattern I did about five years ago and these are the finishing instructions:
Note: See Techniques on page 9 for putting elastic in casing.
Whip stitch Right Front Extensions to inside of Right Front and whip stitch Left Front Extension to bottom of Right Front Extension.
Sew hooks and eyes to underside of Right Front Extension and to corresponding places on Left Front Extension.
Put elastic in casing.
This pattern had the body blocked (steam or wet blocked) before doing the shoulder joins, which is explained just before the finishing. There was no trim to add and there were no other seams.
Another pattern I opened was Meath Pullover which I recently added the Meath Mitts to. For the Pullover the finishing is 1.5 pages long. Without repeating everything here, it looks something like this:
Steam or wet block Sleeves and Body.
Using size 2(2.25mm) 16″ circular ndls or dpns, beg at the Left Shoulder, PU98 (104) (110) (116) (122) sts around the neck.
PM. [text for neck trim]
PU Row 1 (RS): Using size 2(2.25mm) ndls, PU7 (8) (9) (10) (11) sts along CO of Thumb Opening, [text for thumb trim]
Seam Right Sleeve to Right Armhole and Left Sleeve to Left Armhole.
Work in ends.
Steam or wet block seams and Neck and Thumb Trims.
Cable Pocket 1
[text for cable pocket 1]
Eccentrically Crossed Cable Pocket 2
[text for cable pocket 2]
Rep Rows 1 through 12 until pocket measures 5″ or desired depth, ending with Row 3, 7 or 11.
Work Rolled Top Edge as for Cable Pocket 1.
Steam or wet block Pockets.
Repeat for second pocket.
[text for grafting pockets to front]
After completing the grafting, work up both sides in a 1-stitch mattress stitch, ending the seaming above the purl ridges of the top trim.
Anchor the corner of the rolled edge if desired.
Repeat on second pocket.
The finishing instructions for the Mitts look like this:
Thumb Trim (optional)
[text for thumb trim]
Use yarn tails to seam Thumb Trim to sides of opening.
Steam or wet block.
Although I tell you how many stitches to pick up, the needle size to use, and how to work the trims in all scenarios, you have to make decisions about whether or not you are getting a result that appeals to you. I made each of my choices based on what worked, but I am not there to see if you are getting the same result–you have to decide.
Finishing: How to Do It Well
I can only say practice. It is the only thing that makes a difference. I use my swatch to practice my trims and other things that I am adding to my project. Getting good at finishing is completely worth the time it takes, but it can be time-consuming and frustrating in the process.
I usually make a swatch with a neckline shaped into it so I can practice picking up for my trims. If there is special seaming, I practice it on my swatch. Then, I follow these rules:
Allow time to do your finishing
Do your finishing when you are fresh.
Sit at a table or other flat surface instead of balancing your knitting in your lap when doing pick ups, sewing buttons on, seaming.
If it doesn’t look good, take it out and try again.
Fudge if needed. For instance:
- You need a different number of stitches than what is called for, can you use the next logical number (that will work with your stitch pattern) and still get a suitable pick up? Or a multiple of the number of inches you added in?
- Did you do a perfect pick up (looks beautiful) but you’ve got an extra stitch or two? Just decrease them out.
- Did you do a perfect pick up (looks beautiful) but you’re a stitch or two short? Try picking up an extra stitch where there is a slight gap. Use a pin to pull up the pick up yarn and add it in when you get to it on the first row.
- When I start to get distracted or feel like I just want to get it over with, put the finishing down and do something else. Come back to it when you can focus again.
Finishing: Make a Plan
Because there are so many steps to finishing, and because it often needs to be done in order, I like to make a list of each incremental step. I then can see if the order I’ve planned works (I’ve done that for you if you are working from one of my patterns!). I usually estimate the time needed for each step because that is a good way for me to plan my time. If I need 8 hours to finish something, it is probably going to have to be done over days because who wants to do 8 hours of finishing in one sitting? Plus then I have things to mark off so I can see my progress!
If you use my planning worksheets I give you space to do that finishing planning.