Hooking because I have to

I apologize right up front. If you are a non-knitter, then this is one of those tech things that is just going to leave you weeping with boredom. (If you already know how to reinforce knitting with crochet, then this entry will have a similar effect, although I swear to you that I have attempted to discuss this matter in as gripping a fashion as possible.) Still, If you’re bored now, or if you start getting bored, you have my sincerest apologies. Read Rick’s rant this week instead.


Here is a nice piece of knitting. Small, but nice. Knitting is, essentially a stretchy thing. It’s the reason that knitting is the fabric that we choose for clothing that we would like to be stretchy, like pantyhose, tee-shirts… socks, underwear, the list goes on and on and on. Virtually every person on the earth who owns commercial clothes owns (machine) knitted things, and mostly, this is a huge advantage of knitting. The stretchiness and give of knitting is something knitters love about it.


Here’s the same piece exhibiting that stretch, but A-HA! See the cast-off edge? See how it’s not stretching? That’s because it’s essentially a locked chain across the top of the fabric. This locked chain is less elastic than the rest of the knitting. This chain is the reason that we are often told to “cast-off loosely”, to avoid a part of the knitting that doesn’t stretch as much as the rest of the thing, or as much as it needs to. You don’t want that stable chain holding back the stretch.

This very stable chain is also the reason that designers put cast-offs in places that seem really stupid to the knitter…until you learn it the hard way. Ever see a pattern for a sweater where the designer has you cast-off the neck stitches, then in the next breath has you pick them back up again? Ever think “Well that’s dumbass. I’m smarter than that. I’ll just put the stitches on a stitch holder and keep them live. Then they’ll be sitting right there for me. HA HA! I am so much smarter than the designer.” Yeah. Did you notice what happened next? Without the stability of that chain across the back of the neck, that neck stretched out. When the neck stretched out the shoulders slid ….and, well. The whole thing got sloppy and ill-fitting. Same thing with when you first learn Kitchener stitch (Grafting). You look at the shoulder seam and think “Dude. This would be so seamless and beautiful if I just grafted these two sets of shoulder stitches together” and you do, and it is seamless and beautiful, until you put that bad-boy on, and the whole weight of the sweater is hanging on a stretchy fabric. You can imagine how that ends. Yet…. there is hope. See this?


Crochet. Crochet produces a very stable fabric. It is nowhere near as stretchy as knitting, and that stability is what makes it good (or better) for things that benefit from stability, like tablecloths or bags, where (most) knitting would succumb to it’s essential stretchiness and fall out of shape. Knitters who say they don’t care for the fabric that crochet makes are usually reacting to this stability. Crocheters who say they don’t care for the fabric that knitting makes are usually reacting to the lack of stability. We’ve all got our preferences for a textile. Knitters sometimes use the wrong word to describe this quality and say that crochet has no “drape”. Crochet can have tons of drape. (Conversely, knitting can lack drape. I just had a sock worked at the wrong gauge hit the frogpond this weekend. Its lack of drape was so profound it almost stood up by itself.) What knitters usually mean is that crochet has less give than they are used to, and this strikes them as being too stable for their taste- which it is, and denser than knitting…which it is. Even crochet in the hands of a master is always going to be those two things, more stable, and more dense, and if you don’t like these qualities, you’re not going to like crochet. Crochet has this stability because it is essentially, when we look at it’s construction, a series of chains stacked on top of each other.


One with each row. Always. That same stability we knitters get with a traditional cast off, crocheters get with each row they work. What this means is that you can use this “make a stable chain on each row” structure of crochet to stabilise knitting anywhere you want to. Shoulder seam stretching out of shape? Crochet across the seam. Got too smart for your own good and took out a bind-off where it turns out that you needed one? Crochet one in place. (This is really, really good for across the backs of hoods. You know how on some sweaters the back goes right up into the hood and it gets really sloppy and stretched out across the back of the neck? Hello, Central Park Hoodie? I’m looking right at you.) Whack a crochet chain in there and restore order. Conversely, while you can be rescued by crochet as a knitter, you can get shafted too. It’s important to remember that a crochet edging put on a knitted object needs to be done with great care and thought. The knitted object will have a different rate of stretch than a crocheted one and you don’t want a blankie that ends up looking like a jellyfish because the edges won’t stretch and the middle did. Swatch, swatch, swatch.

How to take advantage? Get a hook and some matching yarn. (I’ve used not matching yarn so you can see what I’m doing.) On the wrong side of your work, and going in through the purl bump on the back of a stitch, pull a loop through.


Poke the crochet hook through the next purl bump over (working right to left, just like knitting) and pull through another loop of the working yarn…


This time though, pull it through the purl bump, and then keep right on going, pulling it through the loop of working yarn sitting on the hook too. One chain made.


From here on, just repeat that last movement. Pull a loop through a stitch of fabric, then through the loop on the hook. Over and over.


When you’re done, you’ve put a crochet chain across your work and that line now has all the stability of a cast off edge chain, but it doesn’t have to be at an edge. (Hint. This does not need to be a straight line, nor does it need to be done on the wrong side of your work. Think decorative.)


Here’s the right side. As you can see, there’s very little disruption to the fabric, which makes it idea for a place like the back neck between the body and hood of a sweater. You can have a beautiful continuous fabric that has stability, without compromising the look by casting off and picking back up again.


If you look really, really closely you can see little peeks of the pink yarn, but if you worked the chain in the same colour it would be imperceptible. You can do this to join pieces of knitting together, you can do this to restore shape to knitted seams that have lost their mojo over the years. You can even do this to create a shir or ruffle, since there is no law that dictates you must pull a loop through every knit stitch. You could grab every third one and really contract a piece of knitting where the chain was.

In short, even if you don’t enjoy it (and nobody says you have to) being a hooker is a good way to solve some of your problems quickly and easily, especially if you happen to be loose.

(I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.)

267 thoughts on “Hooking because I have to

  1. I love it! And the “hooker….loose” sentence is equally inspired!
    As am I to be the First Commenter!
    Thanks for this highly useful lesson.

  2. (I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.)
    Neither can we, but we’re really, really glad you did.

  3. How could we be bored with an ending like that? Since I’m completely self-taught, little tutorials like this are what keep me moving forward. Thanks!

  4. Thank you Stephanie! I’m the friend (‘victim’) of Nancy’s from Madrona with the brown saggy CPH! I’m going right now to go grab my crochet hook! Loved meeting you at Madrona – hope to catch you on the book tour or at next years Madrona! (p.s. was I supposed to remind you to buy your Knit Visualizer upgrade?)

  5. Thanks for showing me this! I do both knit and crochet, bicraftual, you know. I’d never thought to use crochet in this manner. Love the hooker/loose sentence. Glad you left that in. :O) It made me laugh.

  6. Completely brilliant. Crochet has saved my knitting in the past (button band “issues”) and I can see using this trick as a garment-saver in my future.
    Thanks for sharing!

  7. As a long-time crocheter and new-ish knitter it was nice to hear you have some respect for crochet. I am totally enamored of knitting right now but like me a good crochet project too. We can live in peace! As someone whose blog address is “hookingbookie” I totally appreciate your final sentence.

  8. Thank you! I will be printing out this handy tutorial for future reference. Who knows, some day I may be a hooker too!
    BTW–What is the pink yarn? I am usually not fond of pink, but I really like what you were using there.

  9. Love the technie stuff. thanks for a good tip! I shall endeavor to be hooker, since I tend to be loose πŸ™‚

  10. “In short, even if you don’t enjoy it (and nobody says you have to) being a hooker is a good way to solve some of your problems quickly and easily, especially if you happen to be loose.”
    That might just be my favorite sentence ever. Brilliant.

  11. Wow, thank you so very much stephanie for learning this to me. It’s amazing and I thank you for explaining this also with photo’s.

  12. Love the tutorial. I am both a knitter and crocheter, and had never thought of that technique. It’s great and it makes so much sense. And your last sentence was the icing on the cake!

  13. This is a brilliant and hilarious post (so is Rick’s but for other reasons), and will surely save many a knitted neckline or hood from drooping for many knitted projects to come.
    PS that pink looks so delicious it makes me miss the new skein of Sea Wool that I bought a week ago and is sitting stuffed in a bag at home.

  14. I’m clicking “educational” right now. This would be a great post for certain grumpy people (who shall remain nameless) to see.
    Also, I can’t stop giggling. Thanks. πŸ™‚

  15. Very briefly skimmed the posting. Reads well though, and I like your comments on the differences between crochet and knitting. (Will read the posting once I’m home from work.)

  16. Really? I would have guessed you were dying to finish with all the crochet stuff so you could toss that “hooker…loose” line in.

  17. So do you prefer to crochet chain-stitch things together for seaming, too? Just wondering.
    And BTW, I never knew you could do this kind of thing to a neckline. Very cool.

  18. I love that ending! I can SO believe you typed that sentence.
    It takes only a tad more effort to believe that you let it stay there.
    And while we’re performing miracles with crochet hooks…. I know there’s a magic method of installing a zipper that involves a crochet chain that one then seams to the sweater… but I can’t find it. Do YOU know?

  19. I’ve been hooking since I was 8 (just trying to join in with the spirit of that last sentance πŸ™‚ )
    but I never thougth of using it as a stabilizer for knitting. Good to know!

  20. I am glad you aren’t as “sour grapes” toward crochet as you used to be. see, we crocheters do know a thing or two. and as crochet produces such a steady fabric, when I want a plain jane scarf, just solid rows back and forth, i knit it–softer, looser and the edges are nicer. although a good double crochet scarf in bulky weight yarn is hard to beat!

  21. Just finished reading your post during my lunch hour here at work.
    I laughed so loud at the last line that my co-worker had to come read it too. My co-worker and I thank you for the laugh to make our Monday that much brighter!
    Thanks for the tip! I just may have to try that with a couple sweaters sitting at home that my mom made for me.

  22. Careful, us hookers are sneaky. Keep your guard up, or we’ll have you doing front triple post stitches in no time…
    Oh yeah, and I followed your link and read Rick’s rant. I live in the US, and all I have to say is “Welcome to our world”.

  23. What a fantastic post, and a really clever idea…
    I both knit and crochet, but it had never occurred to me to combine the 2 or to use crochet to reinforce knitting where it was stretching too much!

  24. You are a brave woman–I know how Google interprets some of MY phrases on my blog. You’re going to get some VERY interesting traffic with that last sentence.
    Fabulous advice, though–thank you for sharing!!!!!

  25. This was so timely! I am doing a “hoodie” sweater for my son’s birthday and this will be a big help. Your hooker comment applies to rugby too!

  26. wonderful tutorial… I am a fairly new hooker πŸ™‚
    I’m off to fix a sweater and hoodie right now. I admit I have found the cast off/pick back up stupid and skipped them a time or two, now I have a “fix” for the resulting malformations.

  27. I am a recovering addict (quite a few years), as is my friend with whom I often meet to knit (me, usually) and crochet (her, usually). We refer to our meetings as Hookers’ Needle Exchange.
    (Neither one of us peddled our behinds or used intravenous drugs. Pardon the pun, but that’s not the point.)

  28. I can’t believe the Google searches that last sentence is going to net you.
    Thanks for the refresher course. I think I’m going to need it on the American Safari Hoodie I’m making…

  29. Thanks so much for the tutorial and the laugh.
    I’m doing the Mystery Jacket kal on Ravelry that essentially is knitted sampler pieces with a “frame” of single crochet around each piece. I’m learning how some crochet skills can be useful for a knitter and this tutorial reinforced that belief.

  30. Oh lord. Is it really that easy? I’ve been seriously pondering how to do it since you mentioned the technique a few posts ago. And I do crochet fairly well. Ah well, I claim The Flu and we’ll leave it at that. *grin*
    Thanks for the tutorial. It was VERY helpful and something I forsee using in the near future. πŸ™‚

  31. You can SO believe you just typed that last sentence. You were just WAITING for the right time to get it in there, weren’t you! πŸ™‚
    I’ve been trying for ages to explain to some of my friends who either knit OR crochet (but never both) why one might find both useful, but in different situations. You’ve done a lovely job, and I’m forwarding this post on to them. Up ’til now, the best I’ve been able to explain it is by using cooking terms: sometimes you want to roast, sometimes you want to fry…LOL

  32. This is a statement to remember….always!:-)
    “In short, even if you don’t enjoy it (and nobody says you have to) being a hooker is a good way to solve some of your problems quickly and easily, especially if you happen to be loose. ”
    I LOVE it, and by the way, some great info! Thanks for the smile today, Wendy

  33. Very happy to read this, as I am putting the finishing touches on a jacket whose shoulders I already grafted together instead of seaming. Thanks!

  34. I don’t know what impresses me more – the hooker/loose sentence, or your mad MSPaint skillz. (Whatever MS Paint is on a Mac, I don’t know)

  35. This technique also works great for stabilizing the shoulders of a side-to-side knit sweater. I’ve been wearing one for years with no sagging yet. Thanks Stephanie, for a wonderfully done tutorial.

  36. Stephanie, you are brilliant, thank you so much for this lesson. I just finished a toddler sweater
    by Margaret Hubert, free pattern on line, it seamed to be a little to plain, I wanted to embroider the front of it and could only come up with the chain stitch, because it is rough with all garter stitch, the other stitches vanished in the fabric. I will make another one and will use the crochet technique. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Rita

  37. That is very cool! Your lesson comes at a great time, too, since my husband’s sweater is creeping down his shoulders. The neck needs a little support or he’s going to be wearing that sexy off-the-shoulder look.

  38. And this is why you’re the Yarn Harlot! Thanks for the clever tutorial — I never would have thought to do this.

  39. It’s a great alternative to seaming too. I used it on my koigu sweater and it’s decorative and stable.
    And it’s a solution I hadn’t considered for a little worn sweater that has a stretchy neckline. Thanks for the reminder.

  40. Thanks for the tutorial! This crochet chain trick looks so easy that I’m tempted to ignore the next “cast off / pick back up” instruction I run across just so I can use it.
    What made my jaw drop in disbelief is not the last sentence but the fact that you crocheted not just a chain but a whole swatch for the blog. It looks good!

  41. Let’s see:
    Grafted shoulder seams on a heavy wool sweater – Check!
    Taken out the back neck cast off for a better look I thought — check!
    Amazed at the single crochet that will be immediately applied to most recently finished sweater — Double check!

  42. I just made the back of a cardigan and left the stitches live so I could pick up for the collar (if there is a collar – I haven’t decided yet.) I can now see where I’ll have to do that chain thingy to stabilize the neck. I also once made a sweater with grafted shoulders and now I know why it went out of shape. But I love that I could still do that and have a seamless shoulder and STILL have it keep it’s shape – you are brilliant!!!

  43. Thanks ever so much for the How-to. I learned to crochet before I learned to knit (and I enjoy both.) I knew I must have the technical skills to accomplish this when I saw your neckline repair the other day, but I couldn’t quite figure it out. Now I’ve got both the tools and the know-how. By the way, the cardi looks great.

  44. It is sentences like the last one that make me look forward to your next book! Thanks for the tutorial.

  45. I always wondered why designers seemed so intent on making us cast off and then pick up stitches. Now I know. I also can’t believe that a lady known in some circles as a harlot just recommended I become a hooker to solve my problems quickly and easily. It makes it sound so seductive….

  46. A-HA! You just taught me something today, and I’ve been knitting and hooking my whole life. Thanks!

  47. I’ve never been a crocheter (mainly ’cause I can never understand the instructions) but now I see how useful it can be. Thanks for the lesson.

  48. You are of course aware that I am bisticksual, a crocheter as well as a knitter, and that I can and do sing the praises of each craft’s unique virtues. And yet I did not know this. Nor did I know how right I was to call you She Who Will Do Anything with Yarn.
    I just finished a sweater (yes, you read that right) that’s worked from the neck down, and one later picks up stitches around the cast-on edge and knits a collar. On the next one, I thought, I’ll just do a provisional cast-on. Good thing I read this first.

  49. I’m amazed that you would assume that we would assume we’re smarter than designers (until the neck falls down around our waists!). Luckily we have Internet friends like you who help us out. BTW – I also liked the rant, especially the previous one about Super Tuesday and our US elections!

  50. Add “natural teacher” to your long list of talents. You not only show step-by-step how to do this skill but explain the reasoning behind it. Excellent tutorial and (as always) so entertaining.

  51. I crocheted for years and years before I finally learned how to knit. And was then amazed to find out that crochet was looked down on by knitters. I guess I can come out of the closet now. But this is a totally new use for me. Yay!

  52. ROFL! That last sentence was exactly what I needed to end an otherwise very Monday day. Thanks.
    And who else but a Harlot could wax so eloquently about hookers and looseness?

  53. Thank you — I have bookmarked this page. It’s going to be very helpful when I knit that CPH this summer . . .
    My day has been endless question after endless question, all pointless, and I think my brain is so fried that all I can say right now is huh?

  54. Oh Lord Harlot, you are too, too funny! There is probably another way to put it, but no way would it be as funny or as you! How is it that you can take such a mundane lesson on stabilizing knitting and make not only interesting, but also so darn funny. Only you Harlot!

  55. Thanks! It was a great read. I’m both crocheting and knitting, and sometimes combining(buttonbands, edgings), and I actually crocheted a row on the right side- for effect- on a vest I knitted not long ago! I needed to point out the waist, but hadn’t made an i-cord as planned, so crocheting it was:-)

  56. It is lessons like these that really really really show off a writer’s skills. You made that explanation so clear we might even have been able to do it without the pictures – maybe. I love all your posts but I learn the most from the instructional ones. Thank you.

  57. Very cool! Thank you for sharing. That was one of the best knitting verses crochet comparisions I’ve read.
    It resonates with how I feel about the interaction of weaving and knitting. Some things work best in one medium (hello knitted socks) and some things work better in the other (woven pants, take a bow.)

  58. Thanks for a great lesson. I admit I have left stitches live instead of casting off and picking up and have run into the looseness problem. Now I know how to fix it and I am sure I will use this technique.

  59. Thank you for a great tutorial. I especially appreciated the reference to the Central Park Hoodie as I recently downloaded the pattern. Forewarned is forearmed. I laughed out loud at your last sentence! Brilliant!

  60. So glad that I finished my Central Park hoodie and followed the directions to bind off the three body pieces and then pick up from the neck for the hood. I’ve been sewing and crocheting a lot longer than knitting (knitting output however may soon surpass them) and you’d think that I’d understand structure of garments a little better. A lot better. Seems I don’t, but thanks to this post, I’ll think through a designer’s instructions before I say, “Well, that’s stupid, I’ll just…”
    At least I hope I will.

  61. Wow, what a great knitting lesson! But now I have more questions. I just finished my first ‘real’ garment, a baby sweater, and I was very proud of myself for having learned the Kitchener stitch during this project. Should I go back and do the shoulder seams as described, or does it matter since this is for a 3 month old who will have outgrown it by the next time cooler weather sets in?

  62. Yeah…but I happen to be a colorslut who enjoys hooking…It’s wonderful to be able to do business and pleasure together:-)
    (Excellent workshop, Steph– I actually got it, and we all know, I’m not that bright:-)

  63. Oh goodness, that sentence got me into a giggle fest of epic proportions. πŸ˜€
    And I never thought of doing crochet as an invisible seam on a wrong-side fabric. Thanks for the tip.

  64. “I can’t believe I typed that last sentence”
    Well.. speaking as someone who has convinced a gang of 70yo+ to wear Pink tshirts with “you’re never too old to be a hooker” across the back..
    i think.. Cooooooooooooooooool πŸ™‚

  65. Now you’ve got me panicked over a sweater I knit where I grafted the shoulder seams and put a collar on live stitches…and gave it to someone else. Yipes.

  66. “Ever think “Well that’s dumbass. I’m smarter than that. I’ll just put the stitches on a stitch holder and keep them live. Then they’ll be sitting right there for me. HA HA! I am so much smarter than the designer.” Yeah. Did you notice what happened next? Without the stability of that chain across the back of the neck, that neck stretched out. When the neck stretched out the shoulders slid ….and, well. The whole thing got sloppy and ill-fitting. Same thing with when you first learn Kitchener stitch (Grafting). You look at the shoulder seam and think “Dude. This would be so seamless and beautiful if I just grafted these two sets of shoulder stitches together” and you do, and it is seamless and beautiful, until you put that bad-boy on, and the whole weight of the sweater is hanging on a stretchy fabric.”
    Crap. I’m not a genius.

  67. Stephanie,
    That was a very well described tutorial! Whoever said you didn’t know a thing or two about crochet?
    Hey, another good thing about a crochet hook and your knitting (since we are on the topic) is to hold a crochet hook instead of a knitting needle in your right hand when you bind off.
    Start the bind off as normal…knit two stitches like you would when you normally bind off. This will give you two loops on your hook. Then, (just like you did the chain stitch)…pull the loop closest to the hook through the loop on the back of the hook (exactly like making the back loop jump over the front but different terminology).
    This usually allows the knitter to have better control of the tension of the bind off AND if you have to bind off a LOT of stitches it goes REALLY fast! Just a suggestion.
    Thanks for your hooker support!
    Marly aka Yarn Thing
    P.S. I will see you in April at the Tattered Cover…hope you will say hello to me πŸ™‚

  68. Reading that last sentence, I can see clearly that Rabbitch is having an effect on you.
    Which is why we love her so.

  69. PS re: Rick’s rant – I forgot to mention how disturbing it is when countries dis their scientists. USA doesn’t even have a cabinet level science position anymore. I hope that will change in the next administration. Global warming should take precedence over politics. But, now my rant will begin so I’ll stop.

  70. Thanks so much! I am a knitter and crocheter and didn’t know how to stabilize necklines, hoods, etc. This is so helpful. Not boring at all :).

  71. Thanks for another great addition to the toolkit!
    I cant help wondering how far you got with the sock before frogging πŸ™‚

  72. Oh, and about Rick’s rant? You should warn us when photos like that are about to pop up on our screens in livid (yes, I meant livid – in a frighteningly undead sort of way) colour. I think I screamed just a little.

  73. this comment: We refer to our meetings as Hookers’ Needle Exchange
    caused me to spit almonds. ewwwwww! i totally love it.

  74. My blue sweater collar is in dire need of a bit of reinforcement. Thanks so much for another fabulous tutorial on a topic that’s eluded me for quite some time.

  75. Darn it…I am wiping a good swig Kemun Select cuppa off the monitor and my chin after reading your last sentence. For shame for shame LOL LOL
    Great tutorial though. I used to crochet but seldom pick up a hook any more except to pick up dropped stitches or to add a bit of picot on an edge. Terrific idea and one I can really use.

  76. As a crocheter and knitter and technical writer, I say “Brava!” Your directions and explanation are crystal clear. But then a harlot would be expected to know all about hooking.

  77. Thank you so much Stephanie for taking the time to detail all that – makes perfect sense now!
    What is North America coming to? Hopefully we can turn things around here in the US next year, but in the meantime, we’ve lost nearly a decade with a government pretending that climate change is just some sort of conspiracy against the Right. Gah, don’t get me started…..

  78. Good last line!
    More important, thanks to your suggestion, I now know about Robertson’s Screwdrivers. It’s good to know that you provide information about software and hardware.

  79. You know, there’s this weird diversion between Knitters and Crocheters; I’m not sure why, but this is absolutely WISE! Also – out of all the little tools and toys and doodads in my Rolling Knitty Yarnie Thingie, my crochet hook is absolutely one o’ the best. (Actually I have a small one AND a black walnut Brittany beautiful larger crochet hook.) This makes SO much sense, thank you. Are you sure you didn’t have that tag line around for ages and just now found a post you could work it into? (evil grin).

  80. Thanks so much! This is very helpful. I just did that “Why should I bind-off if I just have to pick up the stitches again – I’ll use a stitch holder instead” mistake.

  81. Very informative post! I always love learning something new. I’m going to have to give this a shot with some designs I’ve got on the needles (and in my brain).
    Loose Hookers. Ha. Hahahahaha.

  82. Oh boy you’re going to get hits from some weird places for a while after that sentence.
    Thanks for the link to the rant, wish we could vote for Rick.

  83. Oh Stephanie, thank your for this post. I’m saving it for when I finish the Central Park Hoodie. I had seen you mention this before and it was my intention to try it but now seeing it done it will be easy. I wish I could post my almost finished hoodie but can’t. The person for whom it is intended reads my blog, darn it all. It’s looking so gorgeous too…ciao

  84. I’d love to see the search hits on your stats after this post.
    This kind of shoulder stabilization is one of the foundations of tailoring and couture clothing, too. So since I know that, why don’t I do it more often, especially as I do know how to crochet and have a full range of hooks?
    I WILL remember to do it on the cotton UFO done in seed stitch where I did 3-needle bind-off shoulders that match up beautifully but are liable to stretch to China and back.

  85. Well, aren’t you clever? I always do a 3-needle bind-off on my shoulders because I will do anything to avoid sewing a seam, but the neck…ah, yes, the neck. Yeah, they always seem to get bigger over time. So that’s the trick. Alrighty then. Excellent!

  86. OK, I need help. I hope you can help me. I knit socks and shawls. I know, people think I’m nuts! I only knit rectangular shawls and I wear them draped over my left shoulder EVERY day; rain or shine, winter or spring. I’m known for my exoctic shawls and I am a business woman (by day…but at night I am………a knitter!) I have a severe longing to knit a shawl in – hold on to your hat – in silk. All my knitting buddies think it won’t work….too stiff, not enough “drape”, too much drape. Will it work? Can I sub silk for wool? I want a summer shawl. One that will knock peoples socks off! One that will knock MY socks off! Do you have any experience in PURE wool knitting? If I make it a “tight” pattern? Please….EVERYONE ignores me! What is your experience? I don’t mind blocking…love it in fact…what can I do? I want to WOW myself, but I also want to prove that silk RULES! I need SOMEONE’S help. Will you rescue me?

  87. Thanks for the tutorial on exactly how to do it (through the purl bumps on the back).
    A 3-needle bind-off _is_ crochet, though in cotton a second row probably won’t hurt.

  88. Thank you for the helpful lesson! I wonder, though, why didn’t you bind of at the back of the neck on your last cardigan? Is the back of the neck stretching a “sometimes” thing, or did you just follow the pattern? In other words, why not always bind off at the back of the neck?

  89. Thanks for that post Steph! I learned more from this post than I have from some instrutional knitting books. Also, thanks for the hoodie tip, I’ve been wanting to make one for a while. Did you know that you’re an excellent teacher?

  90. Thanks for this tutorial. I was wondering how this was done when you talked about stabilizing the neckband of your cardigan. So many little tricks to learn…

  91. I’m sorry to be so dense but IS the Kitchener graft a “stretchy” graft? I’ve only used it to graft small sections of sock toes.
    I haven’t crocheted since I was traumatized on fifth grade by trying to make my mother a scarf that ended up looking something akin to Harry Potter’s scar. My mother has kept it for 30 + years and this is a woman who didn’t even keep her own wedding dress. In fact, I put it on a blog post a while back… oh, here: http://sothethingisblog.blogspot.com/2007/11/oh-look-dignity-um-not.html Apparently even when hooking, I am not loose. You can understand the trauma which forestalled any further attempts at crochet.

  92. Really good analogy for the differences between knitting and crochet. Your explanation of the chain stitch method and pictures make a wonderful tutorial (as everyone has commented). The last line is a GEM. Thanks for all of it.

  93. Excellent tutorial; thank-you. I have been wondering if there might be a possibility of putting your tutorial posts in a side-bar? I remember you did a really great one a while ago on fixing miss-crossed cables, but I have no idea when. There was also the one on washing wool locks (for the gansey), which was great. If there was any way you could list them in the side-bar it would be really nice. Then we could find them without wading through the archives going “Was it posted in the spring? Maybe summer?” Thanks for thinking about it, anyway!

  94. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    A very clear answer to a question long pondering. Excellent teaching as it explains both the skill, why the stitch can be useful and extended the thinking to other applications. Great pictures too. [Maybe you should consider a very serious special technique book….?]
    Back to the orange sweater….

  95. Oh. My. Gosh. Can you warn me so I do not spray my wine all over the computer?????
    LOL excellent teaching method… I am quite certain I shall not forget this lesson!

  96. Honey-I was a hooker for over ten years, but that never made me more stable. Quite the opposite, actually. But now that my athletic career is over, I can use your technique to once again make my mother cringe when I proclaim, “Yeah, I’m a hooker…”

  97. Your last sentence is yet another reason that I just LOVE reading your blog!!! You are awesome!
    Thank you so much! You just made my day πŸ™‚
    Thank you also for the information in the post. I will definitely remember that.. You have a special way of making people remeber things.

  98. hehehe – I too fell into the “I’m-smarter-than-that brigade”. So thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m going to try this crochet lark out on my unstabilized cardigan neck this evening.

  99. Great idea. And I have discovered that if you keep your eyes on the prize while you’re hooking, eventually you learn to enjoy it. Or at least fake it.

  100. I’m glad it’s late and I’m the only one in my office because I almost snorted when I read that last line. Brilliant tutorial, also. =)

  101. the above would also work
    store bought garments?
    the neck line can become
    larger with time
    i am a good girl i is
    and i am not loose
    we were not rich
    growing up-but we were proud
    grand ma would not let me
    use a hook said knitting
    needles would protect me from
    all harm i is a really good girl

  102. I did exactly that thing – hated a neckline and didn’t bind off but continued the cables up instead…and now it does seem to sag a bit. Hmmm, thanks! Very clear and creative explanation. I’ll give it a try when I get home to the matching yarn and crochet hooks. And that last sentence is sure to turn up as some crochet group’s motto on Ravelry. Happy Hookers, anyone? Priceless, Stephanie. We are not worthy.

  103. I just understood why adding ribbing to the top part of my v-neck cardigan didn’t make it sit right on my shoulders! That thing has sat untouched, unloved and leaving me unable to understand how to fix it for a year. Thank you!
    Also, I agree with the rest above: awesome last sentence!

  104. WOW! That was so incredibly educational and thought-provoking- you should offer that as a class! Thank you so much, for the creative inspiration especially!!

  105. Stephanie, thanks a million for the FREE tutorial. This very helpful and useful information will make me a better knitting instructor; especially the differences you pointed out between crochet and knitting.
    Carolyn in NC

  106. Hi Stephanie,
    Just adding my voice to the chorus of “thank yous!”. I also want to thank you for explaining the Why instead of just the How.

  107. Thank you so much! Guess what I’ll have bookmarked for my yarn girls sweatshirt?

  108. I’ve sort of ignored the fact that I didn’t know how to do that technique but feel empowered now. Its great how yarn and a blog can do that…
    I too love the last sentence πŸ™‚

  109. As a hooker who reads your blog faithfully I have to say thank you. Far too many of us that love yarn feel the need to tear each other down. The crochet vs. knit war is ridiculous and this post pinpoints just one of the reasons – the two arts compliment and assist each other gorgeously. Thanks for being a force for yarny goodness from one of the “loose” ones!

  110. This is great info. I certainly would never have thought of this on my own. And I read Rick’s Rant, too.

  111. Um, Stephanie–this isn’t a ‘chain’ stitch….its a “slip” stitch. Its a great stability stitch though–I use it a lot in crocheting too to stabilize the edges of afghans and objects that I don’t want to stretch.
    And yes, crochet CAN stretch as well (depends on the hook & yarn used). Basically the more YOs in your stitch the stretchier it is.
    a.k.a Maggie the Crochet-a-Holic

  112. Hmm, I did think that bind off on the back of the neck was pretty stupid. Who knew? Good thing I haven’t actually finished a sweater yet.
    So if the children read that last sentence, will there be repercussions?

  113. Sorry to post this comment after your tutorial but I couldn’t contain my excitement! The Knitting group I belong to (Guilty Knitters – 10 miles south of London) are absolutely delighted that we are going to see you here in September. This has so brightened up our week. Can’t wait. Thank you!!

  114. I can see the reasoning behind not grafting adult cardigan sweaters – and boy am I glad you said something before I went and did just that – but do you think that grafting the shoulders together on a baby cardigan would have the same problem? My instinct says no, but I have been wrong before. Don’t tell my mother.

  115. Dude, you are just so right on. Rockin right on, and typing away with that good natured comedy thing I envy. And your class was awesome at Madrona, even if I had to learn that although I sew and understand stabilizing knits, that I am a Big Giant Idiot and have much to learn.
    Rock on… see you in April at 3rd place
    Tracy->who will always remind you that you like me πŸ™‚

  116. English, Canadian, American – 3 countries divided by a similar language. Especially when it comes to crochet terminology. A UK single crochet is an American chain stitch (also in embroidery) is some people’s slip stitch. Thank goodness for pictures.

  117. I di the same thing you described on my last jacket – kept the centre back stitches on a stitch holder. And yes, you got it, I had to unpick (sorry,frog) it and cast off then pick up like it said to knit the collar.Now it is not stretchy.

  118. I did the same thing you described on my last jacket – kept the centre back stitches on a stitch holder. And yes, you got it, I had to unpick (sorry,frog) it and cast off then pick up like it said to knit the collar.Now it is not stretchy.

  119. This advice came just in time to save my sweater! (I did think I was so smart putting my neck sts on a holder!).

  120. “In short, even if you don’t enjoy it (and nobody says you have to) being a hooker is a good way to solve some of your problems quickly and easily, especially if you happen to be loose.”
    I guess this means that S.E.X isn’t just for stashes any more. Sigh…hookers far all the fun!

  121. Great tutorial! Hey dear Stephanie, I would be ever so grateful if you’d make/post a 5 minute video(YOUTUBE?) of doing Irish Cottage knitting with great lighting like this tutorial. Maybe when you are home for more than 3 days? Thanks. I knew you’d say ‘yes’. πŸ™‚

  122. I have recently discovered your blog…and I just love your sense of humor! And what a wonderful hint for those of us who never understood just why we were binding off!

  123. Excellent post – thank you!
    I’m *so* fired up now wondering if I can use this technique to tighten up the front edges of my Tangled Yoke cardigan which sag and droop horribly when worn unbuttoned… I was thinking about buying some ribbon to sew on, but crocheting sounds well worth a try, and a precise colour match too!

  124. I would like to add this to Marly’s post about the crochet bind-off: I call it my ‘lazy’ bind-off – it’s quicker and easier, and gives the same results as a simple knit bind-off.
    To keep it loose, use a crochet hook that is larger than the knitting needles used on the project, or use a similar size hook and make a chain stitch after each bind-off stitch. (Except for the last one, of course.) Pull the last loop through, cut yarn, and weave in ends.

  125. You are a genious! I’ve been crocheting for many, many years and have never seen crochet applied to knitting in this way. Not only are you my knitting hero, but now you’re my crochet hero too!

  126. Huzzah, new way to pull my love of knitting and crocheting together (and thanks to the other bicraftuals/bistickuals who gave me a name for what I am; it feels good to be out of the craft closet).
    Curious though. Given the weight of fabric that shoulders support, would one row of this be sufficent, or would 2 side by be better? Or would that be total overkill/make the shoulders look stiff and funny?
    Last line was classic, btw.

  127. Thanks for the info; particularly the bind off neck edge–never knew that!!
    Also, you gotta love Rick Mercer; he is the best! He can crack me up like no one else and then zap you with a real “aha” moment. Tuesday nights are for Rick and knitting, and then on Friday we do the same thing because a repeat of RMR is never dull or boring!!
    Allison in very snowy Ottawa…Spring where are you.

  128. What a wonderful and practical tip. See, knitters and crocheters can get along and benefit from each other’s skills. Thanks, as always, for sharing your knowledge.
    The last line had me in stitches (get it, stitches?). Haha!

  129. Question: (not sure if this is the format) Do we need tickets for the Toronto book launch April 1st at the Isabel Bader Theater? If so, where do we buy them?
    I wondered why I always bind off then pick up stitches for the ribbing – now I know!

  130. I’m a big fan of controlling how loose I can be…and how much shows!
    Great info. Thank you.

  131. ooooh, Stephanie! Another cool thing that I can use that I would never have thought of. I am all excited about using the afterthought heel on the next pair of socks that I do (but first I have to finish the ones I’ve got on needles now AND at least 3 other projects that are in progress) and now this crocheting a chain for stability thing! I HATE picking up stitches, so I would SO do those things you mention at necklines thinking I was so clever to avoid casting off and picking up. I don’t really crochet, but I can manage that chain stitch thingie.
    Thanks again! πŸ™‚

  132. Wow, thank you so much for the great instruction. I knit Sonnet (from Knitty) in Lamb’s Pride Worsted, and I loved it for about the first 3 wearings. Now it has kind of stretched itself out of shape, it hangs awkwardly from my shoulder/neck area, and I love it, look at it wistfully, but won’t wear it because I find it to be unflattering. It’s a shame, because it’s my first “real” knitted garment (I don’t count the sleeveless alpaca sweater, but I should). I think if I give Sonnet a wash (it is probably that time) and a block, and then employ some stabilizing chain stitching, I might feel the love again. My question, though — Sonnet is knit sideways…I’ll be okay doing the chain across the garter stitch, sideways, won’t I? I foresee a swatch and a practice session coming up.
    Thanks again for the tutorial! I can’t wait to try this out!!

  133. Oooo, Argyle just got easier, if slightly 3-D. *That* sweater problem is now solved (assuming I get the hang of switching the colors for the main diamonds one of these years)…! Thanks much for the very clear, concise instructions.

  134. I know when I say this that it is going to come out wrong, but let me explain. As I read this entry, I kept thinking that you were stating the obvious. So often when I read your explanations I think, “Well, that makes sense! Why couldn’t I figure that out?” I mean, I know this, but I can’t put it into words, I can’t define it. I love to knit and crochet, but never cared for crocheted sweaters. As a knitting instructor, people will ask me why I don’t crochet. Well, it’s just that I don’t like the sweaters…but I couldn’t put it into words WHY. Now I have a clear, sensible answer, and, besides sounding smarter (thank you!) it’s something that will be understood. I also appreciate the explanation regarding casting off at shoulders and neck vs. using ‘live stitches’. I always tell my students to ‘trust the pattern’, that sometimes, while it doesn’t make sense when they are reading the pattern, it will make sense later – but this will also help me to explain why designers use these techniques. I love how knitting can be so simple, yet so complex. Thank you again for more enlightenment!

  135. That last sentence kills me! But now that I’ve stopped laughing — thank you for this tutorial. Because I’m gonna run off tonight and use it on the alpaca sweater I just knit — that shows signs of stretching along the neck.

  136. I hate casting off and picking up because it’s too stiff and bulky. This is better to plan to do from the beginning, not to fix a blunder but because it’s less bulky more flexible yet still strong. I shall laugh from now on whenever I see that “cast off and pick up” instruction and keep on going, with just a marker to show where my chain needs to go!
    Thank you!

  137. Much as I hate crocheting I can think of a couple of recent projects where this would come in pretty useful. Dammit, I’ll have to rootle my lone crochet hook out from my box of knitting paraphenalia!

  138. Thank you for posting about this, what a great trick to have in your pocket. I’ve never even caught a slight mention of this in the 4 years I’ve been knitting, and I can really see how this would come in handy.
    (Yes, I’m thinking of the sweater that I got smart with and grafted the shoulder seams instead of binding off.)
    Seriously, thank you.

  139. Thank you so much. I often wondered why “the cast off” and thought maybe “stability” but often went for convenience with “alive” stitches. I have learned a good lesson today.
    Can you tell me? When knitting a sweater from the neck down (I have never done this yet but am contemplating the same for my hubby who is next in line for a knit – well apart from a baby item for another granddaughter due in June) will it also lack stability at the neck line and perhaps shoulder line? The sweater will be mostly st.st. with saddle type shoulder and small V neck, which I may have to design myself to his specs. Will I also encounter lack of shape where the side seam should be? If you don’t have time to respond to these queries, I understand.
    Janet MF up North

  140. Thank you for the explanation. I am just now learning how to crochet and I am especially excited about being able to use it to with my knitting.

  141. Thank you! Thankyouthankyouthankyou. I’m a crocheter but newish knitter working on the Central Park Hoodie….and I noticed the INSTABILITY where the hood is attached to the body. Now I know I can finish my CPHoodie and not worry about the hood that keeps growing. Gosh – you knit AND crochet. you are my hero.

  142. I just started working on the Central Park Hoodie, and your comments are so helpful! I’ll be sure to add in a little extra support on the hood. Thanks!

  143. Genius, I can’t tell you how helpful this has been. I have certain cardi with an unbelievable stretchy neck that I will have to call into reckoning now.
    Hee, hee, love the loose hooker line.

  144. Thanks for putting this up! I’ve got two sweaters I have to fix, and both are having this problem. Putting that bit of crochet will help them a lot. Now if fixing moth holes was only this easy.

  145. Thank you for the tutorial. I hate picking up stitches to continue, so not binding off is my first choice. Now I know why it should be done and what to do to avoid binding off only to have to pick up stitches.
    I do most fiber crafts. I haven’t gotten into spinning, tatting, or bobbin lace yet.

  146. This is too cool isn’t it? I am working on the must have cardi right now but will be mindful of all those ‘short cuts’ I take that aren’t really. . . I wish there was an index to some of your blog posting, Steph. I want to return and I don’t always book mark them.
    See you at WEBS in April. I have convinced hubby to drive me the 1 1/2 hrs and attend too! Can’t wait. Saw you in Madison last summer and am now a true fan.

  147. That wasn’t boring – that was freakin’ amazing! The Mercer rant was pretty interesting too. Just think, there are days when I am planning my defection to Canada (the cold always thwarts my plans) and you guys are dealing with some of the same lunacy we are dealing with here in the states. Besides that was just plain rude of the cabinet – didn’t their mothers teach them any better than that? Good grief!

  148. Thank you. Something was niggling me as I put the rest of the back stitches on a holder. Now I know what it was. I shall use my crochet hook to remedy any looseness–as we all know that hookers are great for looseness.

  149. Hmmm… the harlot’s not so much a happy hooker. πŸ™‚ I’m really enjoying your blog; thanks for sharing with all of us!

  150. Thanks for excellent tutorial! Am just starting the Central Park Hoodie, so will absolutely heed your advice/warning.

  151. Thank you for taking the time to provide that information. I know it will keep me from doing something stupid.
    And, thank you for the link to learn about Robertson’s screwdrivers. Now I know what they’re called and why they use them.

  152. Yes, I can see that being a loose hooker would solve some of my problems. Might create a few others, though. Thanks for the tutorial.

  153. Although you’ve already received more than 200 “Thanks for that idea/info”, I thought I really needed to add my thanks too…never would have thought of this on my own. Brilliant idea and thanks for sharing.

  154. Very clear, concise tutorial! Good job! You might think that you were a writer or something! hee hee

  155. Thanks! I’m just about the embark on the Central Park Hoodie. . .I’ll keep that in mind!

  156. Wow. Who replaced our regular Yarn Harlot with Folger’s crystals?
    …Seriously, thrilled to see it, and I’m sure the information will come in very handy when I start working on my first knitted garments.

  157. So, is it quicker or easier (or both to do the neck this way? You know, as opposed to stopping to bind off the neck stitches, then taking the extra time pick them up? I always have to try at least twice to get the stitches picked up evenly, and would love an excuse to skip that where I could find a way around it.

  158. I continue to be amazed at your following and direct my paltry readers here almost daily for a dose of you! You’re hilarious and well, just a fun read every day.

  159. What a handy technique!! As long as I’ve been knitting, I’ve never heard of this. Thanks for the tutorial! I’m getting ready to make teh Central Park Hoodie if my blasted yarn ever comes in.

  160. Also if your into hooking it’s a good way to earn extra money. Just ask me how I know? Dare ya.

  161. This was a fantastic tutorial, and now I finally understand what Grumperina was talking about when she “hemmed” her lining down with crochet on her hat.

  162. Steph, I am starting to think that you took more away from our Saturday afternoon class than those of us who were there. I totally look forward to slapping the neck of my (poorly and hurriedly edited) Central Park Hoodie into line.

  163. ‘Fess up, the entire point of this admittedly brilliant and beautifully illustrated tutorial (which opened my eyes, may I say) —
    was to get to use that last sentence.
    I knew it.

  164. thank you, thank you, thank you. i really appreciate you sharing these useful bits with us, this one goes in the “central park hoodie here i come” file.

  165. I am NOT a fan of crochet, but have been known to resort to a crocheted decorative edge (and I have hives over it for days!)
    However, this little hint of yours: so quick, so easy, so PERFECT; has definitely changed my mind about hooking.
    Thanks so much for a really useful item!!

  166. LIGHTBULB MOMENT! When I read the last post where you showed the chain stitch at the back of the neck, I understood the concept – but I read today’s entry anyway ;). Then you go and mention the hood thing, and BING! I have a Mariah that seems to grow exponentially every time I take it off the shelf – and what do you know? Raglan sleeves and hood right from the body = no seams anywhere. Well, there’s one now – if this works I’ll only have the pilling to curse!

  167. oh dear.
    I just drowned my keyboard when I got to that last sentence. Thanks for such a wonderful tutorial πŸ™‚ All I use crochet for these days is to make little amigurumi and the occasional edging πŸ˜€ Now I can use it to fix my knitting! Hooray!

  168. I just did my first multi-media project last week (I’d never combined knitting and crocheting before, always kept them separate, not sure why)! I just did it on a whim; I wanted a better edge on a scarf/shawl I’d made for a friend, and remembered a single crochet edge being used the same way on Knitty Gritty. And now I run across THIS post, that takes me even further into the process.
    Awesome advice. My hat’s off to you, Steph. πŸ™‚

  169. I have a question: I made a really pretty hand-painted yarn scarf in all stockinette (not too smart, I see now) and the edges roll up, even after blocking. I was thinking about adding a crochet chain along the side to see if that would help flatten it out — add structure as you point out. Do you think that would help, or is it really impossible to get rid of that roll?

  170. Found that this idea is the best solution to stabilize the edges of steeks before and after you cut them. Kudos on your great way to envision the difference between knitting and crochet.

  171. Didn’t you say in print that you hated crochet? I swear I saw that in one of your books. Hmmmm. πŸ™‚

  172. Brilliant! I’d never seen this before, and I can already think of a few places I could use it. Might just save a couple of early (very droopy) sweaters. Thank you!

  173. Hi … just discovered your site πŸ™‚
    I’ve been knitting, crocheting and spinning my own yarns for 50 years and recently bought over 400 pounds of chenille yarns in varying colors and weights for a very , very good price.
    After stashing the yarn throughout the house ( I have to remove a few cones from the dryer before using it ) , I decided to knit one million items πŸ™‚ Of course , I started with a sweater and found to my dismay that the chenille didn’t knit worth a crap !
    Crocheting with it produces a soft drapy fabric… knitter friends who have always sneered at crocheting were amazed πŸ™‚
    So … I think that the yarn determines whether or not a knitted or crocheted item has stability, drapiness ( is that a word ? )or is destined to visit the humble frog pond.
    It’s fun and creative to experiment knitting or crocheting with the same type of yarns. You’d be surprised at the result !
    Marty in Texas

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