Adorable Ewe – Part 4

Adorable Ewe is available to purchase on Ravelry.

The helpful tips for each section of the sweater featured in the April 2017 KAL are found below. 

We are finally ready to assemble the sweater to welcome a special new baby.  I can hear you grumbling about the seaming process.  Seams are necessary to add structure and flattering lines to a piece.  Imagine if all of the clothes in your closet were seamless – every garment would be a giant tube over your body with no shape or drape.  Taking the time to learn this most essential of all knitting skills will produce garments that flatter and fit.

Shoulder Seams

The finishing begins with the shoulder seams.  Shoulders require a sturdy seam since they must withstand the weight of the garment as it hangs on the body.  A flimsy seam will pull apart and cause the sweater to sag.  In Adorable Ewe, we are joining the front to the back with a three-needle bind off.  This technique creates a firm seam as the stitches are bound off – so slick and simple!  See Three-Needle Bind Off video

The bind off gets its name from the three needles required to work the seam.  We can substitute our two project needles to do the work of three needles for the bind off.  Using the smaller size circular needle,  place the resting 13 Front stitches on one needle and the corresponding 13 Back stitches on the needle at the other end of the circ.  For the third needle, use the larger size needle (circ knitters will use only one end, straights use just one needle).  The photo below shows the work ready to begin the bind off.  (White yarn is my waste yarn holding the center Back stitches.)

As seen above, the three-needle bind off is worked with right sides together.  The needles holding the stitches are parallel and pointing to the right.  The tail remaining from one of the pieces serves as the working yarn for the bind off.  Insert the third needle into the first stitch on each needle and knit the two stitches together.  One stitch is now on the right hand needle. Again, insert the third needle into the first stitch on each needle and knit the two stitches together.  There are now two stitches on the right hand needle.  With one of the left needles, lift the first stitch over the second stitch and off the right hand needle.  Repeat until one stitch remains.  Cut the yarn and draw it through the last stitch.  I prefer to bury the shoulder tails into this seam.

Repeat the same process for the second shoulder, leaving the center 14 Back stitches on a holder.  The photo below shows both shoulders seamed with the center Back stitches resting on waste yarn.


The next step is to set in the sleeves.  Fold the sleeve in half along the bind off edge to locate the center of this edge.  Pin the center of the sleeve to the shoulder seam as seen at the green marker in the photo below.  Pin each end to the outer edges of the piece.  It is a good idea to measure that each end is equidistant from the center.

The sleeve is attached using a modified version of the invisible horizontal seam working from right to left.  With no tail at our disposal, a working yarn must be attached for seaming.  I like to thread a few inches of yarn along the bind off edge of the sleeve working toward the right edge to anchor the yarn.  Using this new yarn, attach the sleeve as seen in my Vertical to Horizontal Seam video.  It explains the process much clearer than I can state in words.  Once complete, the seam is a marvel – see for yourself below.  Repeat for the second sleeve.

Side and Arm Seams

The sides and arms are seamed using the Mattress Stitch. This is the most commonly used seam in finishing because it is nearly invisible and quite easy to work.  See Mattress Stitch  video

The side seam and arm seam may be worked as one continuous seam beginning at either edge.  Place the pieces on a flat surface with right sides facing up.  Pin the edges together matching the ribbing and armhole. Using the tail at either the sleeve or body edge, thread the yarn through a blunt tip tapestry needle.  With the attached long tail, enter under the first cast on stitch on the opposite side of the attached tail to secure the edges together.

The Mattress Stitch is worked one full stitch in from the edge allowing the “wonky” edge stitch to be hidden in the seam. Stretch the work to reveal the horizontal bars that lie between the first and second stitch in each row. These are the bars that will be picked or “scooped” up to sew the seam.

After securing the yarn as described above, work the Mattress Stitch from bottom to top as follows:

  1. Taking the needle to the opposite piece, insert the needle under the single bar found between the first and second stitch of the first row and draw the yarn through to the right side. A single bar is picked up in this step only.
  1. Return the needle to the other side and pick up the first two horizontal bars lying between the first and second column of stitches drawing yarn to the front.
  1. Insert the needle into the same space where it emerged from on the opposite piece and pick up two bars.

Continue working back and forth, picking up two bars on each side. Pause every inch or so to adjust the yarn tension to maintain a smooth seam.

Here is a look at my side seam:

Horizontal Bands – Front Edging

The final step in the finishing process is the addition of horizontal ribbed bands along the fronts and neck of the sweater.  This band is where the buttonholes and buttons are placed.  To knit the band, stitches are picked up and knit at the Right Front and then the Right Neck. Next, knit the held center Back stitches.  Lastly, pick up and knit stitches along the Left Neck and then the Left Front.  If you are new to picking up stitches, I recommend watching my Pick Up and Knit Video.

When picking up and knitting, work from right to left with Right Side facing.  With US #8 32″ needle and Main Color (MC), insert needle tip from front to back between the edge stitch and the second stitch at the lower edge of the Right Front.  (See photo below)

Wrap the yarn around the needle tip as if to knit and draw through a loop to the Right Side – one stitch has been picked up and knit.  Continue working in this manner picking up 28 stitches up to the neck shaping on the Right Front.  Four stitches have been picked up and knit in the photo below.

At the Right Neck, pick up and knit 16 stitches between the edge stitch and decreases stitches.  I illustrate this with contrasting yarn in the photo below.

Knit the held stitches onto the long circular needle and then pick up 16 stitches down the Left Neck and 28 stitches down the Left Front.  102 stitches are on the needle.

With Wrong Side facing, begin the ribbing with Row 1.  Row 2 (RS) is the buttonhole row where a yarn over paired with a decrease makes our simple buttonhole.  Work Rows 3 and 4 in the established rib and bind off in pattern.  See Bind Off in Pattern video

Below is a simple chart illustrating the buttonhole placement over the 28 stitches along the Right Front.  This buttonhole placement is typically considered to be unisex.  However, if you would like to place the buttonholes on the Left Front, rib to the last 28 stitches in Row 2 work this chart over the Left Front.

Row Gauge Considerations

The number of stitches picked up along the bands is based on the stated row gauge. If your row gauge is close to the stated number then you should be able to work the required number of stitches.  Fudging a stitch here or there will be fine.  If your row gauge is dramatically different, then you may need to adjust the number of stitches you pick up.  The standard procedure when picking up stitches along a horizontal edge is to pick up three stitches for every four rows.  In addition to this ratio, the number of stitches picked up and knit must be a multiple of 4 + 2 for the rib.

If you absolutely can not pick up the required number of stitches, pick up along the edge using the 3:4 ratio and rounding to a multiple of 4 + 2.  Work Row 1 as written.  Place pins on the Left Front to mark the location of the buttons.  In Row 2, work a yarn over/decrease pair on the Right Front opposite of the button placement.  I like to work a p2tog when the first stitch in the decrease is a purl and a k2tog when the first stitch in the decrease is a knit.  (You don’t have to be this persnickety!)  It is very common to make adjustments like these in the finishing process.


Sew buttons onto fronts opposite of the buttonholes.  I prefer to use matching thread to secure the buttons firmly.

Adorable Ewe

I hope you enjoyed knitting the sweater along with me.  The pattern will remain a free download until the close of the KAL on May 15th.  Entries for the prize drawing are accepted until midnight on May 15th for a chance to win a set of addi Clicks.  Be sure to enter the drawing – each entry tell Skacel to continue this free education.

I will continue to monitor questions about Adorable Ewe indefinitely.  After May 15th the pattern will available for purchase on Ravelry.

October KAL

I will return with the Progressive Needles Knit Along in October with a fabulous surprise.  The project features a brand new and deliciously soft yarn.  It’s too early to pass along the details as the yarn hasn’t reached the store shelves.  Subscribe to my newsletter to receive all of the breaking news as it arrives.  All I can say about the yarn is WOW!

My Special New Baby

Before I close let me introduce you to the newest Adorable Ewe model, my first grandchild, Georgia.  This little nugget was born April 16th and has a bit of growing until she fits into her sweater properly.  My heart is full of love!

Until next time, happy knitting!