A delightful knitter who is working on my Wild Rose Vest wrote to me this morning wondering exactly how I like to pick up stitches on steeked garments, such as Wild Rose. Whether you’re working on one of my vest designs, or most any other garment with a simple (i.e., not covered) steek, you might find my response, below, to be helpful:
So nice to hear from you! Yep, thankfully, I’m doing fine; hope you are, too. I’m very happy to hear you’re enjoying the Wild Rose Vest. Yes, there are quite a few ways folks might pick up stitches on a steeked piece.
Some like to pick up stitches using a crochet hook. That’s perfectly fine, but I always use my knitting needle(s).
Some people swear by picking up their stitches before cutting. Not me! If I’m using Shetland wool (per usual) it’s sticky enough, and I’ve knit in enough of a buffer with my steek stitches, that I don’t have to worry about things unravelling, so I cut away fearlessly. If I’m using a smooth, slippery or delicate yarn, and/or only have a very narrow steek, I do a little machine reinforcement first. Either way, I always cut everything open and join the shoulders before I pick up stitches. Wild Rose was cut first, then dragged around mercilessly in a grocery bag for a week or two before everything was finally picked up – no harm done. BTW, there’s nothing wrong with picking up first; I just find it’s unnecessarily awkward.
As for just where I pick things up, my needle is always going into the “ditch” between the outermost steek stitch and the first body stitch. Some people prefer to pick up from the center of the first body stitch. That will get the job done, too, but I prefer the look of the clean line I get by picking up between the stitch columns. As long as I do my decreases so that they always slant toward the steek, so that there’s minimal disruption to the motifs, I’m okay with having the full, decreased stitch showing along the picked-up edge.
Speaking of clean lines, some folks like to work their first round after the pick-up as a purl round, giving the picked-up edge a little accent. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that; in fact, in some cases, I think it’s a nice way to highlight the edging. But, with all that we have going on with both a colorwork body and corrugated ribbing, I think it’s best to keep things smooth and simple and put the purl round away for another day. You’ll notice I recommend picking up stitches in alternating colors, i.e., in this case, “* pick up 2 sts in E, pick up 2 sts in A, rep from *. Because the pick up round is really a “pick up and knit” round, giving us a round of K stitches on the needle(s) once we’re done picking up, before the ribbing really gets under way, we avoid the wrong-color purl bumps you sometimes see at the base of corrugated ribbing.
Now, some people might like what I consider a “wrong-color” purl bump. If you do, too, do the pick-up entirely in E (the color used for the K sts in the ribbing) and you’ll get that effect. OTOH, if you do the pick up just in A, the color for your purl stitches in the ribbing, your purl stitches will all be one continuous-colored column and you’ll have a stripe at the base…which you might want to make into a purl ridge, before diving into the ribbing. I wouldn’t, in this case, but as with all of these other options, there’s really nothing wrong, per se, with any of them – they’re all just a matter of personal preference.
So there’s some food for thought for you. Whatever you decide to do, I’ll be looking forward to seeing your result. Every stitch you knit is always so lovely; I’m honored that my design is on your needles.
Oh, and yes, I do have another ladies’ vest in the works.
Thanks for the interesting question!