We talked about seaming our Rocked the other day, so now it’s time to cover picking up stitches for the sleeves and neckline. The end is near! But if you’re going at a more leisurely pace, then this post will be waiting here for you when you’re ready to tackle this particular section of Rocked.
Here in our office knitalong, we’re in all stages of completion. As we all know, hand knitting is not a fast thing. We all have other things to do in our lives and may not be able to spend as much attention as we’d like on our projects. But that makes us treasure them even more once we finish them. I know I do.
Let’s first talk about determining the rate of picking up stitches off of your piece. And before that, let’s clarify what it means to “pick up stitches” vs “picking up and knitting stitches”. What we are doing here is picking up and knitting stitches. This means we are using our needles to pull our working yarn through our piece of knitting (the seamed Rocked) in order to work edgings. This is different than simply picking up stitches, which would not involve extra yarn. Picking up stitches just means to take your needle and place stitches on it, the stitches from the piece itself with no extra yarn. There are sometimes patterns that call for this technique and it is different than picking up and knitting.
Let’s talk about the neckline first. The pattern tells us to pick up and knit 72 sts along both the front and back neck edges. We want to be sure to pick up these stitches evenly spaced, otherwise the neckline might pucker in a section where too many or too few stitches are picked up in relation to the surrounding areas.
I like to use my very favorite knitting tool, the mighty safety pin. Removable stitch markers work great, too. First, place a safety pin in the dead center of the neckline. Use a measuring tape if you need to, or count pattern repeats to be sure you’re in the center. Then, place a safety pin between the center pin and the shoulder on each side of center – you now have 4 sections of equal length along one side of your neckline. From here, you could start picking up and knitting. You know you need to have 72 stitches total on the one side, so you would pick up and knit 18 stitches in each of the 4 sections (72 / 4). Or, if the sections feel too large and you’re struggling to pick up and knit evenly in them, halve them with more safety pins so you have 8 sections and pick up and knit 9 stitches in each of these smaller sections.
The safety pin method is one I almost always use with a curved edge such as a neckline. But when picking up and knitting stitches from a straight vertical edge, along the side of a piece, I can usually just do a little math and figure out my rate without the need for markers.
For example, let’s take a look at the smallest size sleeve instruction. It says to pick up and knit 72 stitches along the side of the sleeve. If my stockinette stitch and row gauges match the pattern, then I have 5.25 stitches and 7.25 rows per inch. Knowing this is important, because it means I want to be picking up about 5.25 stitches for every 7.25 rows along the side of the sleeve. But that is not helpful, because how in the heck do you pick up 5.25 stitches?! You could throw in the towel and use the safety pin method – I personally will do this for vertical edges sometimes, too. Or, you could do a little math.
Divide the number of rows per inch into the number of stitches per inch, so: 5.25 / 7.25 = .724, or about 72%. If I were to pick up and knit 3 stitches for every 4 rows, this would be 75% which is just a little too much. If I were to pick up and knit 2 stitches for every 3 rows, this would be 66% which would be not quite enough. So my game plan would be to do this: alternate between the two, and pick up and knit 3 stitches, skip a row, pick up and knit 2 stitches, skip a row, and so on.
If your gauge doesn’t quite match the pattern, that’s okay. Simply pop your personal numbers into the equation and you’ll have your answer. You’ll want to note that if your stitch count is different than the pattern, you will be picking up and knitting a different number of stitches from both the sleeve and neckline. To calculate the stitches you need, simply measure the edge and take that number of inches x your stitches per inch.
Here is a short video showing how to pick up and knit from the side of the sleeve.
And here is my Rocked after doing both sleeves and the neck edging.
We’ll be back in a few days to attach the sleeve tabs and buttons. See you then!