Closing Up Necklines in Knitting

I started knitting this jumper in February, put it down, picked it up again and finished it at the end of August! The pattern is the Astragal Sweater from PomPom Mag Issue 30, and the yarn is retired Sirdar Flirt which I bought secondhand on eBay. I only managed to buy 400g so the sleeves are a little shorter than I would have liked but that’s totally fine as its a bamboo/wool blend and was supposed to be a Spring/Summer jumper (thus why I cast on in February, doh!). Anyway, in those months between casting on and finishing, I had noticed quite a few popping up on Instagram with neckline issues.

The before pic…

My lovely friend Lisa of @MabeltheMannequin was knitting one at the same time as I (but finished hers in a much more timely fashion!) and she had posted lots of pictures of the massively stretched out neckline and warned me of this issue. Trying to combat this, I blocked my finished sweater with the neckline as small as physically possible in the hope that the magic of blocking could somehow circumvent this happening to me. Blocking is magic but not THAT magic unfortunately, and even though I’ve only worn this a couple of times since finishing it, the neckline has stretched to a wide boatneck. Lovely if that’s what you are going for, but not my preferred neckline and not the neckline I was expecting from the pattern picture.

Lovely high neckline I was hoping for in the pattern.

I put it in the naughty corner why I decided what to do about it, I’ve lost some weight since I cast on so could probably do with making the size down anyway but the thought of pulling it out and starting again fills me with despair. I don’t want to leave it as it is though, as I don’t like the feeling it’s going to fall off my shoulders – but can you really alter knitwear? I put my thinking cap on…

How I will style my new jumper…

Lisa had advised me that she crocheted a chain stitch around the neckline of her Astragal to close up the neckline – a great idea but I have no idea how to crochet and no inclination to learn (sorry crocheters but I already have more sewing and knitting plans than I know what to do with, I don’t need another obsession!). Fortunately, I looked up a chain stitch and thought it looked an awful lot like a knitting bind-off so I had an idea…

Joining the scrap yarn that I had leftover (fortunately I don’t throw yarn scraps away!) at the back of the neck, I picked up the first neckline stitch and knit it, I then picked up the second stitch and knit it, then pulled the first stitch over the other in a traditional cast off method. I carried on doing this all the way around the neck keeping my stitches extremely tight. It took me about half an hour and it worked a treat! I don’t think you can tell I’ve amended this in any way but my sweater looks a lot more like the pattern photo now.

I think this experience will make me a bit more courageous in attempting other alterations to my knitting in future and I am so excited to get lots more wear out of this now! I am by no means an expert knitter (I’ve only been knitting for two years) and I feel very proud I figured out a way to alter this without it looking too ‘novice’.

If this technique doesn’t work for you, (for example if you’ve not got any yarn left) then my lovely friend Patsy from Patsy Poo Makes suggested sewing some Grosgrain ribbon to the inside to prevent the stretching, much like we sewists would use Grosgrain for a waist stay. Another great tip!

I would like to finish by saying that I do not know if there is actually a problem with the pattern as I obviously didn’t knit with the suggested yarn. This bamboo/wool blend is weighty and is probably pulling down the neckline way more than the yarn you are instructed to use. However, I love knitting with secondhand yarn from a sustainability perspective as well as from a budgetary one, (I think I paid £8 plus £3 postage for the yarn for this sweater) so I won’t let this stop me again!

I hope this was helpful/interesting, I dislike making things that aren’t going to be worn and I strive to alter things to make them true workhorses in my wardrobe. I also think it’s helpful to be honest when things don’t turn out how I’d hoped! Sewing content will resume next week…

2 thoughts on “Closing Up Necklines in Knitting

    1. Hi so sorry I am only just replying to your comment now, I did make it myself – I am wearing a dress underneath my jumper (although it could easily be hacked into a skirt) the pattern is the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated.

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