Here I am with a how-to for those who are entering the home stretch of their Stopover pullover in our Bang Out a Sweater knitalong.
Here’s the situation: you’ve successfully navigated the Three Tube Situation. You’ve knit the yoke, ribbed the ribbing or rolled the roll at the neck, and bound off. It’s time to weave in ends, block and wear your sweater, right?
Nope. There’s still one little job you have to do.
Before joining up the sleeves and body, you placed a few stitches from the inside top edge of each sleeve and an equal number of stitches on either side of the body onto holders or strings, forming the two underarm regions of your sweater.
You must join these stitches together to form small hinges, so that you can move your arms about freely and securely when wearing the sweater. It’s a beautiful piece of three-dimensional engineering.
For each underarm, there are an equal number of stitches on the inside of the sleeve and on the corresponding part of the body of the sweater. I knit the size small, so I had 9 stitches on the sleeve and 9 stitches on the body.
(It’s only 9 stitches on each side, but it’s a huge hole. Most untidy. The green yarn is the strings holding the stitches.)
The Stopover pattern instructs, as most lopapeysa patterns do, to graft those two sets of 9 stitches together, making an invisible join.
I don’t want to graft. I don’t love doing Kitchener stitch. I also think there’s a way that’s functionally better. If you know me at all, you know that that way is: the three-needle bind off.
Sandy Koufax had the four-seam fastball; I have the three-needle bindoff.
Here we go–clip & save: how to join underarm stitches with a three-needle bindoff.
Step 1: Turn the sweater inside out, with the wrong side facing. Transfer the stitches from the holders/strings to knitting needles. Count to make sure you got them all before you pull out the strings.
(At this point I always feel much better already.)
Step 2: Scoot all the stitches to the working end of the needles. Take a third needle and insert it into the first stitch on both needles. Wrap the yarn around the new needle and knit the two stitches together.
(Use matching yarn. I’m using red here for visibility.)
Step 3: Knit 2 stitches in this manner, then bind off one stitch by lifting the first stitch over the second stitch.
Continue knitting 2 stitches (one from each needle) together and binding off one stitch until you’ve bound off every stitch, leaving the last loop live.
(It’s like a zipper.)
Step 4: To bind off the last stitch, cut the yarn, leaving a 4 inch tail. Thread a tapestry needle with the tail. Take the needle across the hole at the end of the bindoff, go through a stitch on the sweater, and then back through the last stitch of the bindoff. Pull it closed (not too tightly, just enough to close the hole). As you weave in the tail, use it to close up the hole entirely.
Step 5: Weave in the tail at the beginning of the bindoff in a similar manner to close up the hole at that end of the underarm.
When you’ve done it in matching yarn, this is how it looks on the inside.
And this is how it looks on the outside.
It’s a strong, flexible join. It’s just as comfortable as a graft, and nearly as invisible from the outside. (Only visible at all when you raise your arms fully.) If Kitchener is your jam, then graft, by all means. But as for me and my house, we do the 3NBO.
OK, this has been fun, but I have to get back to watching the #BangOutASweater and #bangfinisher hashtags on Instagram.
PS Winners Circle!
A big congrats to a pair of Seattle knitters who are winners of our two most recent contests:
Yvonne M. won the Blue Sky Alpacas Two Harbors Poncho kit.
Megan M. won the Elemental Affects Heirloom Chevron Blanket kit.
Thanks for reading!