All the pieces are knit...it's time to put it together.
Finishing isn't something I really mind doing. It wasn't always that way, but now, I'm really OK with it. I've taken oodles of classes over the years, and even did a couple levels of the master knitters course when that title meant more to me than it does now. But most of this stuff I've learned from the proverbial school of hard knocks...all those mistakes I've made over the years are really the very best teachers!! So, a couple of lessons I've learned along the way. I bet you know them already, but I thought I'd share some of them, anyway....
LESSON #1: "Finishing" really starts before you cast on your first stitch.
:: are you making a scarf where both ends are going to be hanging next to each other??? Then you will want your cast on and bind off to 'match', right? If you usually use a long-tail cast on, you'll want to remember to use a sewn bind-off (wasn't Elizabeth Zimmerman the smartest woman EVER????); if you do a traditional bind-off, then you might want to start with a crocheted cast on. It's all in the details.
:: if you are substituting yarn in a pattern, you want to remember that not all worsted..dk..fingering..whatever...are created equal. Just because you 'get gauge' doesn't mean you will 'get drape'.
:: think ahead for possible short-cuts: just because a pattern doesn't tell you to knit-in ends as you go, doesn't mean you can't (OH!! the time and headache you can save here!!); just because a pattern calls for sewing a turned hem, doesn't mean you can't pick up and knit it in as you go. (there are a gazillion short-cuts...just think a few steps ahead!)
LESSON #2: GAUGE
My friends call me the gauge Nazi, (but I'm really not). I always check my gauge, but I rarely make a gauge swatch. I'm one of those goofy people who have no problem with ripping out large amounts of knitting, and (for me) I've learned that I can only get a good idea of my gauge over a really large piece of knitting. A sleeve is always a good indicator. You also get a good idea of how the 'fabric' you are making is going to drape or show up cables or color-pool. I learn so much from a sleeve--or half a back of a sweater!!! (I doubt if many of you will adopt this lesson of mine, but it works pretty well for me most of the time!--sometimes, though, I get the entire sweater knit and put together before I decide that the color-pooling-thing is something I just can't live with. sigh. I hate when that happens. )
Your ruler/tape measure is NOT your friend. It's actually out to mess up your finishing most of the time. Sure, it's OK to measure where to start the armholes on the back of the sweater....but don't trust it on the front....count those rows!!! (same goes for getting the sleeve holes the same size!!!) A side seam sews much better if you are matching the same number of rows, instead of approximately the 'same' number of inches.
When the pattern says 'pick up x-number of stitches' for the neck, button band, whatever---use that number as a guide, not the gospel. The pattern really doesn't know what YOUR row gauge is, so pick up the number YOU need to make it happen. Chances are you won't be off by many stitches. (If you are, there might be another problem going on!!) And....it's totally OK to not get that beautiful, smooth button band (or sleeve, or neckband) on the first try...or even the second try. (One instructor I had for a finishing class once said.....oh, heck--sometimes it takes me 5-6 tries to get it the way I want it. I found that mighty liberating!) (yes, I'm sort of a perfectionist, and I want it right on the first try! I don't usually get what I want!)
Do you have any "tried and true" finishing lessons????
Please share!!! Finishing can be fun!!! (Yeah, I know. I just went too far with that one!!! Hello! Today my name is Pollyanna!!....)