Briar Rose Vintage KAL: Two ways to knit the collar

Of course while Blogger was having problems was exactly when I wanted to post my next knit-along post!

Anyway, we’ve reached the collar. There are two ways to approach it, and it’s up to you which method you choose.

Knitting the collar

1) You can knit the collar as written (or with slight size modifications for those of you who resized your pattern) and sew it to the neckline.

2) You can pick up stitches along the neckline and knit the collar that way.

If you knit the collar on its own and sew it to the neckline (the first option), you’ll knit a series of decrease rows with a plain knit row between each decrease row. If you pick up and knit the collar from the neckline (the second option), you’ll work a series of increases instead, basically working the collar backwards.

I’m a fan of omitting as many seams as I can when it makes sense, so I personally went with option 2 and picked up stitches for my collar along the neckline. I’ll walk you through both methods so you can decide which you’d like to use. Both are pretty easy. Incidentally, if you find your garter stitch tends to be looser than your stockinette (this is the case for me), knit your collar with a size smaller needle.

Knitting the collar as written (knit the collar and sew it to the neckline)

The collar portion of our pattern is pretty straightforward and really easy to modify slightly if you knit a larger size sweater/neckline.

You’ll want to finish the body of the sweater and sew your shoulders together before starting in on the collar. It should look something like this.

Here it is up close so you can see the entire neckline with the shoulder seams.

Our pattern as written:

Cast on 120 sts.
1st row – K 10, k3tog, k to last 13 sts, k3tog, k 10.
2nd and every alternate rows – K all.
3rd row – K 9, k3tog, k to last 12 sts, k3tog, k 9.
5th row – K 8, k3tog, k to last 11 sts, k3tog, k 8.
7th row – K 7, k3tog, k to last 10 sts, k3tog, k 7.
Continue in this way, working 1 sts less each end of every other row until decreased to 84 sts. K 2 rows. Cast off.

Note: That last section is a bit confusing. All it means is continue working as set, alternating decrease rows and knit all rows until you get to 84 sts.

The concept here is that you’re starting on the outside edge of the collar and decreasing every other row until you get it down so the inside edge is the size that will fit around your neckline. In the case of the pattern as written, that’s 84 sts.

There’s an easy, though slightly tedious, way to determine how many stitches you’ll need for your collar if you resized the pattern.

Once your shoulders are sewn up, take a look at your sweater body. You’re going to count the number of stitches around the neckline. Don’t count the button band stitches, however, because if you look carefully at the pattern picture, you’ll see that the collar is attached kind of like a polo shirt. The collar doesn’t overlap the bands.

How do you count the stitches? Count them just like you were going to pick up stitches along the neckline.

Whatever number you end up with, add the difference to the number of collar stitches the pattern ends up with once the decreases are done (which is 84). For example if you counted 92 sts, that’s a difference of 8 stitches: 92 – 84 = 8.

Simply add that number of stitches (8) to the total you cast on. So instead of casting on 120, you’d cast on 128. Then you’d just follow the collar section of the pattern as written, except that you’d work until you had 92 sts left on the needle before casting off (instead of 84).

That’s all there is to it!

Knitting the collar from the neckline (pick up stitches and knit your way to the outer edge)

This method isn’t any more complicated, it just approaches things from the opposite direction. I came up with this method as an alternate way to work the collar. What you’re going to do is pick up stitches along the neckline, again not including the button bands. Pick up 1 stitch for 1 stitch, i.e. pick up a stitch through every stitch you encounter.

However: do not pick up stitches with the right side of the work facing you. This is how you’d normally pick up stitches for a neckband, right?

Don’t do that. When you pick up stitches, it always leaves a ridge on the other side. If you pick up stitches like normal, with the ride side of the work facing you, then you run the risk of that ridge being visible at the roll line of your collar.

Instead, pick up stitches from the inside, and the ridge will be hidden safely under the collar.

If you find this difficult to maneuver since it’s harder to see where to poke the needle through, just turn the work in your left hand slightly towards you between each stitch and you’ll be able to see exactly where your needle should go.

If you run into a point where it’s particularly hard to pick up a stitch (this can be the case as you approach the shoulder seam), feel free to use a crochet hook to pull a stitch through. Then just place the stitch on the needle.

After picking up stitches, you’re going to basically work the collar portion of the pattern backwards, increasing instead of decreasing. You actually don’t need to count the number of stitches on your needle. You’ll see in the photo below that I placed stitch markers at the shoulder seams. This was just temporary so I could make sure I picked up the same number of stitches on both the left and right front. I removed the markers in the first knit row.

The last thing the pattern has you do before casting off is to knit 2 rows. So now that you’ve picked up stitches, you’ll knit 2 rows. Actually, you’ll knit 3 rows, because you want your increase rows to fall on the right side rows, and the first row you knit after picking up stitches is a wrong side row. Though technically because the collar is garter stitch, this really doesn’t matter. It looks pretty much the same either side.

While you knitting the 3rd row, you’re going to place 4 stitch markers as follows: k2, place a stitch marker, k1, place a stitch marker, knit across all the rest of the stitches until there’s only 3 stitches left, place stitch marker, k1, place stitch marker, k2.

Now what you’re going to do is work increases like you were knitting a raglan sweater, but you’re going to work them on a collar, instead. The should be on a right side row. And remember since the collar rolls over, that the right side will be when you’re looking at the inside of your sweater body (this photo shows the collar after I’ve knit several rows)…

All RS rows – Knit to the first stitch marker, M1, slip marker, k1, slip marker, M1, knit across neck to next marker, M1, slip marker, k1, slip marker, M1, k to end of row.
All WS rows – Knit.

Looks lengthy written out, but all you’re doing is increasing on the outside of each of the stitch marker pairs. To increase a stitch (M1), I personally used the backwards loop method (an Elizabeth Zimmerman trick, the first one shown here). Don’t worry about mirroring them because you just can’t tell in garter stitch.

It should look something like this after you’ve increased one stitch on the outside of each of those stitch markers (sorry this is a little blurry)…

On the next row (wrong side row), knit across the entire row. Continue these two rows, increasing every other row with a plain knit row in-between. Can you see how this is working the collar backwards from the original pattern? Instead of decreasing 2 sts with a k3tog on either side of the collar every other row, you’re increasing 2 sts with M1 pairs on either side of the collar every other row.

Here’s what it will look like as you’re knitting the collar…

Once you have 10 sts between the beginning of the row and your first stitch marker, or you reach the desired length you want for your collar, cast off. (I ended up knitting to 11 sts before the first marker since my rows tend to be rather short height-wise.)

Whether you cast off on a right side or wrong side row is up to you. I personally found I liked the look of the cast off edge best if I cast off on the wrong side, so I knit my last increase row, then cast off on the following row. When you cast off, I recommend going up a needle size and casting off loosely, because you want the collar to be flexible along the outside edge and not too firm.

And here is the finished collar, knit down from the neckline with no seaming…

The cast off edge is a little wiggly since it hasn’t been blocked. When I block it, I’ll also pull those points down a bit and stretch the collar slightly to shape it. Blocking makes everything look so much better. I originally knit about 4 more rows on my collar and then cast off, but once I tried it on I thought it was too much, so I ripped back to this length.

There’s not much left to cover in the knit-along. Can you believe it? If you haven’t knit your sleeves yet, you’re in the same boat as me. 🙂 The next thing I’ll probably cover will be blocking, and then seaming. We have a couple of weeks left before the official (new) cast off date of June 1st. Yay!

As always, let me know if you have any questions!

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