A little healthy dread might make sewing the sweater together go a little easier

At a gathering I recently attended, a knitter mentioned how much she dreads sewing together garments she has knit. She asked if I had any helpful hints to make the process easier. There wasn’t time on that occasion to answer her question, so I thought I’d address it here.

First, let me offer the advice my mother always gave when I was faced with a task that sent me shrieking in the opposite direction. A job well -dreaded is half-done, she said.

But a job well-dreaded also can make you throw your knitting to the cat to sleep on, or toss it to the dog for a chew toy.

I certainly am no expert on putting together the stuff I knit, but I have my ways and I’m willing to share my process, with the caution that even though it works for me, it might not work for you. Stay open to what does work for you and don’t be afraid to experiment.

The first thing I do after I finish knitting a sweater is fold it neatly and put it aside for at least two weeks, because I’m sick of it, I don’t want to look at it anymore, and I certainly am in no mood to start sewing it together. Call that my “dreading it well” phase.

Then, when I have a few things to iron (yes, I still iron — it’s one of my favorite tasks), I retrieve the sweater parts. With the iron set for steam, I smoothe each piece, using a pressing cloth (a piece of white muslin). This is not blocking, which requires more dampness, pinning the pieces into shape and allowing them to dry, a task I’ve read about, but never done.

If the sweater is knit in stockinette stitch, the edges will roll inward no matter what you do, so just go with that, but get the pieces as flat as possible. Go easy with iron. If you are working with a synthetic yarn, you risk melting it. If you are working with a natural fiber, you risk scorching it — something else to dread! You can’t get away from it, so you might as well dread away.

After the pieces are pressed, with the right sides facing, pin the front and back shoulder seams together. Place the pins at right angles to the seam. Use a large, blunt needle with a long eye, made especially for sewing sweaters together. I prefer metal to plastic, though I have several handmade wooden ones I like. Sew the seam using a mattress stitch. Go to youtube.com/watch?v=NvAS-HCWk9I for a demonstration or consult the knitting books on your shelf for an explanation. It’s an easy stitch to learn. When tedium sets in, put the project aside, eat some chocolate or make a pot of tea to reward yourself for what you’ve accomplished so far.

The next step is to pin the sleeves in place, with right sides facing (let that be your mantra). Use lots of pins in order to work in the fullness of the sleeve. Sew those seams together.

The last step is to pin the side seams and sew those. Make sure both sides of the armhole seams match up before you start stitching.

Keep the length of the yarn used for sewing at a reasonable length, no more 20 inches, and use a single strand. When the seam is finished, weave the end of the yarn back through the seam.
Weave any dangling ends into the nearest seam for at least 3 inches.

And there you pretty much have it.

And remember, when you put the sweater on for the first time, a job well-dreaded is half-done.


Members of the Etsy Maine Team will host an online cash mob event on Thursday, Oct. 25, said organizer Faith Pineo of Hudson. Etsy is an online venue where retailers show and sell their handmade and vintage items. Cash mobbers will find more than 700 shops and nearly 11,000 items to choose from on the Maine Team. A cash mob is a group of people who gather to shop at a locally owned business, giving that place a quick infusion of cash to show support for community small business owners. To participate, go to etsy.com and type in the word maineteam.

Go to crochetdynamite.com to access a tutorial on how to make a Day of the Dead skull necklace. Just in time for Halloween fun!

To mark National Make a Difference Day, a Crafting for a Cause session will be held 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Sandy Point Community Club, Route 1, in Sandy Point. Sponsor of the event is Hands to Work, Hearts to God Prayer Shawl Ministry of the Sandy Point Congregational Church. Knitters, crocheters, quilter and spinners are invited to stop in and start creating hats, mittens, scarves, blankets, socks, shawls or other items. Bring everything you need for your project. When the project is completed, donate it to a charity of your choice. Spend the day or stay an hour. Bring a canned good or other nonperishable food to be donated to the food pantry in Searsport. Also, bring a lunch or order one at the event. For information, call Joyce O’Rourke at 567-3091.

The Save Our Sanity winter group meets after 8 a.m. Wednesdays at Betty Hauger’s, 429 Stream Road in Winterport. The group is open to anyone who knits, weaves, crochets, spins or does other kinds of needlework. For information, call Hauger at 944-7099.

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153 or email ahamlin@bangordailynews.com. Don’t forget to visit her blog at byhand.bangordailynews.com.