Neck and Neck …

Well, K1’s, as you are probably getting really close to finishing the back or front of your baby sweater, this is probably a good time to go over neck shaping with you. Necks are obviously important with pullovers, but they are especially important when making baby sweaters. As we all know, a baby’s head is disproportionately larger that its body. This is why the neck shaping is so important with a baby’s sweater and is often reinforced with aids (buttons, zippers) to make putting the sweater on easier. Regardless of the size of the sweater, there comes a time when you have to account for where the neck is going to be and start to shape the front/back accordingly. The back neck shaping usually starts higher up than the front as it is not as deep, but it is also usually a little wider. The front is the opposite, in that it starts lower down and is a little narrower. It is not unusual to find them the same width in a baby sweater, although adult patterns are different.

Shaping the neck is accomplished by dividing the work in to two pieces – left and right shoulder – and working a series of decreases on alternating rows at the neck edge to produce a curve. Don’t worry, you’re still going to have just one piece of fabric, it’s just that you’re going to work on one shoulder at a time. Most patterns divide the piece of fabric in thirds, and ask you to cast off the center stitches. As we discussed on Sunday, it is not necessary to cast off these center stitches. as you will be picking them up later to actually knit the  collar. Another option is to work across them and then place them on a stitch holder (using contrast yarn threaded through a darning needle is a good idea here as it gives you flexibility to work with the fabric later) and start working on the right shoulder. For the purposes of this discussion the directions are as we look at the fabric with the right (side to be worn) side facing outward. So as we look at the sweater in progress, the left shoulder is on our right and the right on our left (this is for the front and reversed for the back). Now as you look at the front/back, you’ll realize that once we start the shaping (a series of decreases), the neck will be the side closest to the center stitches on the stitch holder. This is an important concept to grasp and it will make understanding the instructions much easier. Here is what typical instructions look like for working the decreases on a neck edge.

Work across 21 (22, 24, 25)sts and turn work (leaving the remaining sts on your needle to be worked with the right front).
Working these stitches only, dec 1 st at neck edge every RS row 4 times. Break yarn.
This completes the left front.

Join a new ball of yarn and BO the center 14 (16, 18, 20) sts and work across rem sts. Dec 1 st at the neck edge every RS row 4 times then cont knitting in stripe pattern until the front matches the back.

You’ll notice these instructions tell you to bind or cast off the center stitches. You’ll also notice that the decreases on the neck edge are every other row, so you’ll only work the decreases at the start of every right side row (the neck edge). Sometimes the instructions ill work across to the right shoulder first and then come back to the left one, but either way is fine. You might want to find the neck shaping instructions in the pattern you have and just go over them to ensure you understand what they are telling you to do.

Special Note: For anyone interested in dyeing fibers, this is a very good link that explains how to do it with Kool-Aid but a Google search will yield even more results.  Kool-Aid Dyeing.

If you prefer to watch a video, here’s a good one! Kool-Aid Dyeing Video.

Have fun!

Yarn over and out.