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Working With Sweater Knits

Even if you're not a hand-knitter, you can join in the revival of interest in sweater knits that's sweeping cold weather fashions. Bold and chunky or wispy and delicate, working with these fabrics doesn't have to be daunting if you use the following tips.

Consider the stretch: Some sweater knits will stretch more than others. For a first project, stick with a stable knit. It will be easier to handle than one that's combined with a stretch fiber. Also, look at the wrong side of the fabric. Remember,it will be visible if your pattern has a hood or fold-back cuffs.

Select a pattern with simple lines: Pullovers, tunics, styles with hood or cowls are all good candidates for chunky knits. Leave fancy collars and tiny details for another project. Keep the shape simple for chunky knits; save close-fitting silhouettes for stretch fibers. Check the line art on the envelope back and the text description if you're unsure of the style lines of the project.

Walking foot: Use this foot if you have one for even feeding of layers.

Finish seams: Sweater knits are perfect candidates for finishing with the serger. Although many single and jersey knits don't ravel, sweater knits benefit from the overedge finish a serger makes. A 4 or even 5 thread stitch will flatten and neaten sweater knits raw edges, and the differential adds control, so no wavy edges! Gauzy or delicate knit edges can be finished using a 3 thread baby serger stitch.

Press with steam: Use a damp press cloth (silk organza is nice) and a wool setting on the steam iron to relax seams. The entire garment can be steamed, again using the press cloth, holding the iron 1/2" above the fabric.

Keep closures simple:strong> Chunky knits look great with large, artisinal buttons, furrier's hooks and eyes, toggles, or sweater pins. Loosley woven knits combine well with wide ribbon ties, cords, or simple finished edges worn open.

Treat your sweater knit project with care. Wash by hand or in a lingerie bag with gentle soap such as Eucalan. Never ring or twist; roll the garment in a towel to remove moisture and lay flat to air dry.