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  • June 24, 2024 3 min read 2 Comments

    At this summer’s retreat I'll be teaching a special class called "Handcrafted, Not Homemade." I had the pleasure of teaching this class at Rowan Connect last year, and I'm super excited to bring it live to the retreat.

    As someone who has cooked for my family nearly every single night, I firmly believe homemade is best. Homemade cookies, homemade bread, homemade meals—everyone loves homemade. The medical community tells us that processed food is the source of all evil in our diets, so homemade is the way to go, right?

    But no one wants a homemade wedding cake. 

    A wedding cake should look polished and professional, a centerpiece of perfection. It's the same with a sweater. A sweater knit with, as Duffy calls it, loving hands at home  is not a sweater that gets worn. To me, the best compliment I can get is for someone who knows to see me in one of my creations and say, “You didn’t knit that one, did you?” I want it to look so good that it couldn’t possibly be hand knit.  

    The truth is that we put too much time, effort, and money into our knitting to have it look sloppy. 

    It’s not about being a professional, it’s about knowing their secrets. And once you know those secrets, you will see the quality of your knitting improve exponentially.  Because it’s really the little things.  

    As professional bakers know to give their cakes a crumb coat, sweater pros know how and where to put their shaping, how to make a clean and invisible seam, and more .

    Personally, I’m pretty easy going about my knitting, and I’ve been known to fudge many a thing, but I'm fanatical about finishing because good finishing is the difference between, "Wow, what a beautiful sweater!" and "Ahhh, I see you've taken up knitting..." , 

    I’m teaching this class at the retreat, but I want to share with you a few things that will help you level up your finishing even if you’re just a beginner. 

    Four pro tips for better finishing and better looking garments

    1. Use a tidy cast on - If you’ve only ever learned the e-wrap (thumb) cast on, take the time to learn long tail cast on, or the cable cast on. Having a neat and tidy cast helps your fabric look better right out of the gate. 
    2. Never put your decreases in the first and last stitches of the row.  I know the pattern says, “decrease one stitch at beginning and end of row,” but they don’t mean the actual beginning and end.  Move decreases at least one stitch away from the edge.  You’ll thank me later
    3. Use the right selvedge - yes, stockinette selvedges are messy.  They look awful, and it’s not just you.  Mine look awful too.  But if you’re going to seam those edges, work them in stockinette anyway.  Don’t be tempted to smooth a selvedge you will seam with a slipped stitch.  It will make your seam look sloppy.  
    4. Work your ribbing on a needle at least two sizes smaller– Ribbing stitches are physically larger than stockinette stitches.  They have that extra slack from moving the yarn back and forth between the knits and purls.  Using a needle two, or even three, sizes smaller will tidy up your ribbing without increasing the amount the fabric pulls in.  Don’t believe me? Try it and see.

    Want to learn more?

    If you're interested in giving your garments professional polish, you will love Club Crazy for Ewe. I  have a proven system and framework for teaching you how to knit sweaters that fit perfectly and look great!  

    We're opening Club Crazy for Ewe to new members in July, so sign up here  to be the first to know when it opens.

    2 Responses


    June 25, 2024

    Hi Cindy – I don’t think it is always an insult when someone comments on our handknit piece. I think it is mostly when someone knows that we knit and sees us wearing something lovely. I get that comment all the time in the shop all the time. I’m sure your sweater was beautiful and amazing, and the person who said that was simply acknowledging the excellence of your work. Hugs, Ellen

    Cindy Vance
    Cindy Vance

    June 25, 2024

    I recently wore a sweater I made and someone said in conversation “and you made your sweater” as a statement not a question. I immediately thought of you and what you say about a sweater looking homemade. I know this person who doesn’t knit was likely saying it in admiration of my knitting but I still wondered what gave it away.

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