Sunday, August 4, 2013

Finishing School with Knits All Done!

Being in this industry, I have been fortunate to meet so many talented individuals. One person in particular (who has become one of my closest friends) is Keith Leonard of Knits All Done. As a hand knitter, I am very lucky to have a friend that is a professional finisher! Not only is he always there to answer all my questions but he has taught me so many wonderful techniques and I would love to share them with you! 

Keith helping me finish my sweater using mattress stitch

Here are some of the question I had for Keith. 

Why do you love finishing when so many of us hate it? 

"Simple! I love watching all the pieces come together!" 

When did you start Knits All Done and Why? 

"I started Knits All Done in April of this year. I have preformed finishing locally for some time, and felt there would be a need for this type of service in the hand-knitting world. I wasn't sure if anything would come of it, but so far I have been honored to preform finishing for customers both locally and across the country. In this short time, I have almost completed finishing across the 50 States. (Any Hawaii knitters?)

Do you prefer to block or finish first? 
"I usually seam before blocking unless the project is knit at an extremely tight gauge."

Who is Knits All Done For?
"If its curling, to tight of a gauge or if one piece is drastically longer then another."

Can you let us know a little bit about the process/ what materials you use?
"Sure! For seaming, I use Dale of Norway Baby Ull. It's fingering weight, super wash merino and comes in MANY colors across the spectrum, (This makes it easier to match the finishing yarn to the color of that yarn that the project was knit in.) On occasion, if I feel the yarn is strong enough, I will use the yarn the project was knit in. However, by using the Baby Ull, I can assure that I get strong seams with less bulk."

As for materials, there isn't much! Most of my tools are in my head! (and I have a friend Shaina to thank for that). For example, when I am seaming a drop shoulder, I repeat (in my head) "V, bar, V, bar, V 2 bars, V bar" Some may know what I am taking about, and others might think it's gibberish, but all in all my head is filled with hundreds of finishing techniques.

As for physical items my best friend is my darning needle. The gold Clover Bent Tip Chibi is my favorite, and I use it for all yarn weights

For blocking I use The EZ-Sew blocking board- I have two side by side for larger projects. 

Other materials include

Queen Bee Fiber Wool wash of course

Garment Steamer

Nickle plated T pins because they don't rust

Spray bottle

Blocking Wires for lace projects

Measuring Tape

Are there different types of blocking?
"Yes there is wet blocking, steam blocking and spray blocking. All hold a different purpose depending of what type of project you are blocking." 

What type of stitches do you use when your finishing? 
"99% of the time I use mattress stitch. I like that you can work on the right side of your work the seam is completely invisible. Mattress stitch is all about reading your stitches and knowing how the stitches form. If you take a close look at store bought (machine knit sweater), you can see some of the same finishing techniques that are used in hand-knitting"

In a sweater where do you start the finishing?
Just like most patterns tell you, I first join my shoulder seams, then I set in my sleeves and lastly I proceed with side and sleeve seams. However, it is important to understand that there is a certain technique used for each process, and that technique can change from project to project depending on what stitch patterns are used, and the direction on the actual knitting.

How do you hide your ends? 
"If possible when knitting a sweater, always try to attach a new ball of yarn at the edge of your work. This will ensure that your tails will be woven into the seams and they will be completely invisible. Always remember- No knots ever!"

*The whole no knots completely freaked me out but after Keith showed me I think I can do it. Maybe. Also sometimes I weave my ends in and then needle felt them at the end to give them a little extra security. 

What is the hardest project you ever finished?  

I can't think of any certain project that was indeed "hard" to finish. However, in my opinion, the hardest skill used pertaining to knitwear finishing would have to be joining two pieces using kitchener stitch IN PATTERN!

Do You have any tips you would like to share with fellow knitters?
Of course! I'm full of em!

I always like to share with fellow knitters my "take" on picking up stitches. It is important to understand that when the majority of knitters measure their gauge for a specific project, they do so by measuring across. This being said, the amount of rows in a four inch square can vary from knitter to knitter.
        In terms of picking up stitches, I always remind knitters that although it is important to achieve the number of stitches a specific pattern wants you to pick up, there are different ways to do so. Never skip large spaces or try to squeeze in extra stitches. This will cause that particular area to pucker or look stretched out.  If you are picking up stitchs along a neckline, always pick up 3 stitches for every 4 rows, and 1 stitch for each bind off. Then, on your first round (or row) you can evenly increase or decrease to the specified number of stitches called for in the pattern.

Layla helping us with our finishing

Steam blocking

Before and after! 

My sweater before

My sweater after! 

Hat before

Hat After! 
This is my own designed pattern which will be for sale in the next few weeks! 

If your like me and love to knit but hate to finish Knits All Done is there for all of you finishing and blocking needs! 

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