Friday, January 7, 2011

Open-collar surgery

I promised that I would show you the process for the surgery I performed on my recently-completed cardigan.  The reason for the surgery was that I found the original neckline to be much too small and tight around my neck.  It was comical, actually.  

The challenge is this: the cardigan was knit from the top-down.  It's easy enough to rip out knitting, if you start at the end and backtrack, but it's impossible to go the other way.  Meaning, you can't rip out from the beginning {go ahead, we'll wait here for you as you grab an old swatch and try it for yourself...oh good, you're back - I was right, wasn't I?}.  And the beginning of this sweater is the collar.  So ripping back to the right place for a nicer collar was impossible.

That meant that I had to cut the knitting to the spot at which I wanted to start the collar.  With scissors.

Then, I had to pick up the live stitches and start the collar.

In a nutshell (ha, that's laughable...when has a nutshell ever managed to contain me?), here is the step-by-step:

 The unsatisfactory collar.  The little stitch holders indicate where the buttons will go.
 A close-up of the front neckline.  You can see that the collar dips down in the front, like all crew-neck necklines.  That stitch holder represents where I wanted the new neckline to sit.  We (Tora, Chris and I) had established that I would be ok with a boatneck neckline, meaning that it would not dip down in the front.  That meant that shaping would not be required - I would be working with a simple straight line of stitches.  Thank heaven.  I was not going into shaping territory.
 I used a super skinny circular needle with a super long cable (this makes it much easier to manipulate the stitches) and started picking up stitches in a straight line around the yoke of the sweater, in line with that stitch holder.
I found it more helpful to flip the sweater to the wrong side - it was easier to see the rows clearly enough to stay in a straight line.
 I kept going until I got all the way around, making a few mistakes here and there - no big deal.
Once I had threaded all the stitches onto the needle, out came the scissors.  I very carefully snipped one stitch, just above my circular needle.
 This process of unwinding the yarn took a bit of time, but that circular gave me the confidence that things weren't going to get out of hand - it essentially acted as a stitch holder.
I ran into a few spots where, for some inexplicable reason, there was a snag.  The old collar was getting discarded anyway, so I just cut the offending yarn until it came free.
When all was said and done, I ended up with a wider neckline, all nicely placed on a circular needle and ready to be knit back onto my regular circular with new yarn.  A few of the stitches were out of line - I had picked up a few wrong stitches, but I just corrected all of that when I knit the first row back onto my regular circular.

Now, this is what the collar looks like:

Questions?  You ready to take on open-knit surgery?

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