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How to Become an "Expert Knitter"   *Buy this book on CD for offline reading!

table of contents Ľ chapter 13 (of 29)

13: Shaping the Neck

The neck is a very important part of a garment, because it is near the face and is a focal point. When someone looks at your face in conversation, or even when you look at yourself in the mirror, the eye also takes in the neck area. A well-shaped and perfectly worked neck wonít actually stop traffic, but a thrown-together neck band or a carelessly finished neckline will spoil the look of a garment.

The way the neck shapings are worked will make a huge difference when picking up stitches for a neck band, or any other method you choose to finish the neck.

The position of the shapings is the key to a good result. When poor shaping makes it hard to decide where to put the stitches on the pick-up row of a neck, then it will be difficult to work the neck so that it will look good and sit well. If you work the neck shaping on the edge stitches there will be no clear line to follow when picking up stitches for the neck band. Holes in the pick up-row, stitches crammed into the wrong positions and neck bands that stand out at the side of the neck or pull in too tightly are usually the result of messy shaping [pic 1,2].

1: (left) The shaping has been worked on the edge stitches, and presents a problem when deciding where to pick up stitches.
2: (right) A V neck worked in the same way shows the same difficulty.

Work any shaping one or two stitches in from the edge (see here). Then, you will have a smooth edge that makes it easy to see where you should pick up the stitches [pic 3,4].

3: (left) The shaping has been worked a couple of stitches in from the edge and presents a clear edge line so that stitches can be picked up easily.
4: (right) A V neck worked in the same way also has a clear line.

It is no more effort and takes no extra time to do the shapings in this way, and the good part is that any finishing is easy and looks great.

Some necks have knitted bands stitched to the edge, and these also will be hard to attach easily if the shaping is all over the place.

When casting off stitches for the neck on the front or back of a sweater, remember to cast off loosely but evenly, because if this row is too tight, when the band is knitted the neck could be too small to fit over the head. Some knitters donít cast off, but instead keep these stitches on a stitch holder, and pick them up when knitting the neck band. This allows extra stretch.

If shaping a V neck, knit the first neck edge stitches as loosely as possible, because being on a diagonal the stitches should be longer to accommodate the angle. If you knit these stitches in the usual way, the edge can become tight. This will mean that there is no stretch, and can cramp the shape of the neck.


A square or slit neck can dip in the centre front or back, and the wider the neck, the more this can happen. To add some stability, cast off the required number of stitches on the horizontal row, rather than placing stitches on a holder.


Armholes on a sleeveless garment are almost the same shape as a round neck. It is important that the shapings should be worked in the same way, because an edge will be added to finish the armhole.