This week's show is about seaming and an upcoming event in Fort Wayne, Stitch n' Pitch.
I always hated seaming more than anything. Even purling. But, sometimes you just can't avoid it. Could I have made Gina's Afghan in one piece? Maybe. Hauling around 240 stitches of bulky-weight yarn on #10 circular needles might appeal to some people, but not to me. The final product weighs over four pounds, after all.
My seaming method for this particular project makes a seam that has a little heft to it, but since I'm working in superwash yarn, I really wanted to make sure things were secure.
First of all, wash and block your pieces before you seam them. It just makes everything behave better. You can seam the strips as you go or wait until you are finished with them all and do it all at once. I am ahead of you guys, so I'm doing it all at once.
This will sound preachy, but don't forget to stop and stretch your neck every once in a while. I've ended up with a pretty bad crick in my neck when working on a long seam. At 60 inches long, 3 times over, this qualifies as a long seam. This is a good reason to play music or listen to television while you're seaming. I like to stop and stretch after every song or at every commercial break. Taking short breaks also gives you the chance to rest, lay out the piece, and make sure that you have the two pieces you are seaming lined up. The weight of a large afghan can cause it to stretch out of shape as you're seaming, so you want to check for that.
If you are working in dark yarn like I am, you will definitely need strong light to seam this afghan. I've made a little photo tutorial, which you can get to in the photo gallery on this page or download as a pdf, using two small swatches of light-colored yarn.
This method is worked from the back. So, lay out the pieces to be seamed and make sure they are both facing the way you want them to face when you are finished. I know it seems crazy but it's easy to lose track of which way is "up" on cabled pieces. I also had to be careful to check that I had the correct sides together. I pieced mine so that the first strip is on the far left of the afghan, then 2, 3, and 4 follow it. You can use whatever order you like, but that's the way I think it looks best.
Once you have everything lined up, flip the pieces over and start seaming. I start on one far end, and work until I have either used up all but 6" of the tail I left when I cast off or cast on or until I have used all but 6" of the piece of yarn I'm using for seaming.
I leave 6" tails at either end of the seaming strands I use, so that I don't have to worry about them working themselves out later and leaving holes in my seams. As I work my way across, I weave in those loose ends just as if they were loose ends in my knitting.
I like to work in any extra loose ends I might have as I seam. It's also a good chance to take a close look at the knitting and check it over for holes or other problems.
After I have used my first length of seaming yarn, I move clear to the other end of the strip and start seaming from the other end.
The length of the seaming thread is important. I don't think they're very useful when they are shorter than 18 inches. On the other hand, a thread that is too long tends to get tangled or frayed. So, I usually start with a length that is about the distance between my two hands, if I hold them out, to my left and my right. I think this is about 5 feet.
Now, those of you out there who are perfectly careful and have never, ever slipped a stitch when you should have knit it, or maybe not worked every single row in a 320-row piece with absolute precision may not need the kind of insurance policy I use when I sew up a long seam.
I work from one end, then work from the other, closing up gaps with the long tails I left as I knit, until the entire seam is closed. I do that so I can ease in any differences in length between the two strips at different points along the length of the seam. I might have to take in two stitches here, or three stitches there. This is better, for me, than getting to the end of one strip and finding that its adjoining strip is 5 rows longer.
The actual mechanics of how I sew a seam is very simple. As always, keep it as loose as possible. You could always go back and make the seam tighter, but once it's in, it's very hard to get it looser. If I had to, I would probably just snip the seaming yarn, pull it out, and try again. I will go on the record here and say that I have never made a seam I thought was too loose, but I've made too-tight ones plenty of times.
The edge I used for the afghan strips was designed to leave you with 1 purl on the right side that is also 1 knit on the wrong side. So, looking at the piece from the back, there should be a column of knit stitches, marching along the length of your seam. It won't look perfectly flat or square. These are edge stitches after all, so those little suckers are always a bit wonky, but you should be able to see them clearly enough.
I hold the pieces to be seamed across my lap, so that I have an "upper" edge and a "lower" edge. I then insert my blunt darning needle under the first knit stitch on the lower edge, then under the first knit stitch on the upper edge.
Now, it's just repetition of the same thing, over and over. Insert the needle under the next stitch on whichever side you are, then under the stitch you already went under before on the other side. Repeat, repeat, repeat. For this project, about 1900 times.
Yeah, that's why you should stretch your neck.
If you do find yourself in a part of your seam where one side is clearly a little longer than the other, you can work in that extra fabric by skipping over a stitch when you start your needle moving on that side. I like to distribute these as evenly as possible. So, I might skip one, use one, use one, skip one, use one, until I feel the two sides are even.
From the back, it looks pretty much seamless. From the front, it imitates a column of purl stitches pretty well. In the example I worked for you, I used blue yarn to begin and matching yarn to finish. So, you can see that the seam is pretty well-hidden even in a different color of yarn.
The seam is kind of bulky, so I wouldn't really consider it the best seam for every project. But, it's an afghan, I wanted the seam to be very strong and also look pretty good from both sides of the fabric.
You could work this on a table or other flat surface, but I like to support the section I am seaming on my left hand. This keeps the strip slightly stretched out, and also helps me feel if my darning needle is not going where it should.
This week, my co-crafter, Joyce McCartney, Abby Naas and Brent Harring chat about an upcoming Stitch n' Pitch here in Fort Wayne. The date for that is May 15, 201