Neck and Shoulder Shaping.

March 10, 2008 at 12:34 pm Leave a comment

Dear SweaterBabe,

Love your site – well I’m knitting my first summer top (I’m tired of making hats, scarfs and blankets) and have a question regarding the back. 

I find the “knitting language” to be challenging and I feel that I am doubting and questioning everything about this pattern  – can you help me with this? 

“For the Back – work as given for front except neck.  When work measures 17 3/4″ bind off the 20 center sts.  Then bind off at neck edge on every alt row 3 sts once and 2 sts. once.  When work measures 18 1/8″ bind off for shoulder shaping 7 sts on every alt row twice.”   The begining of the instructions I understand – “work as given for front except neck”  – can you help me with rest?  Thanks again.

— Confused Knitter

Dear Confused Knitter,

Yes – encountering knitting lingo for the first time can be rather challenging!  Let me break it down and translate it as best as I can for you:

“For the Back – work as given for front except neck.”
You’re good with this part, great!  Just follow the exact instructions for the back, but don’t do the same neck shaping. 

“When work measures 17 3/4″ bind off the 20 center sts.”
When your knitting measures 17 3/4″ from the beginning, you will need to bind off the center 20 sts to begin the front neck shaping.

So, work until your piece measures 17 3/4″.  End with a WS row (so your next row is a RS row).

The RS Row: Knit to the center 20 sts, bind off 20 sts, knit to end.  You will now have a left and right shoulder to finish.  You can choose to do them at the same time, or put one set of sts on a holder to continue after the first shoulder is done.  I recommend just doing one shoulder at a time.

“Then bind off at neck edge on every alt row 3 sts once and 2 sts. once.”
Let’s say you bound off those center 20 sts on Row 100, a RS row.  Now, you will need to bind off sts at the neck edge to continue shaping the neck.

Now, for this next row, you have the WS facing you.  So, you will be working the right shoulder sts (continuing with the same ball of yarn) and you can now slip the remaining sts (for the left shoulder) on a st holder, or leave them on your needle and ignore them until you are finished with the right shoulder.

Now, remember that you can only do the bind off of 3 sts at the beginning of a row.  So, on this next row, you can’t do it for the RIGHT shoulder because the neck edge is at the end of the row.  So, you just work the row even (no shaping). 
Row 101 (WS): Work even to end.

And here is the “every alternating row” part – it just means “every other row”:
Row 102 (RS): Bind off 3 sts at beginning, work even to end.  [This is your “3 sts once”]
Row 103: Work even to end.
Row 104: Bind off 2 sts at beginning, work even to end. [This is your “2 sts once”]

Now the neck shaping for the right shoulder is done.  Your next instruction is:
“When work measures 18 1/8″ bind off for shoulder shaping 7 sts on every alt row twice.”
So, on the remaining right shoulder sts [and now I can see that there should be 14 sts left since your shoulder shaping is to bind off 7 sts twice and 7 x 2 = 14 sts], keep working even until your right shoulder is 18 1/8″ from the beginning of your knitting.  Then, on your next WS row, you can begin the shaping [be sure to note the Row number so your left shoulder can match]:
Next WS Row: Bind off 7 sts at beginning, work even to end.
Next Row: Work even to end.
Next WS Row: Bind off 7 sts.  The right shoulder should be done.

OK – so now back to the left shoulder.

Join the yarn to continue with the left shoulder stitches from the row right after you bound off those center 20 sts.  This next row is the WS Row 101 and you are now back to: “Then bind off at neck edge on every alt row 3 sts once and 2 sts. once.”
Because of the “every alt row” part, I wouldn’t do the bind off 3 sts on this next row, but on Row 103 (remember, you can’t do it on Row 102 because the neck edge is at the end of that row).
Row 101 (WS): Work even to end.
Row 102: Work even to end.
Row 103: Bind off 3 sts at the beginning and work even to end.
Row 104: Work even to end.
Row 105: Bind off 2 sts at the beginning and work even to end.

Now, you are left with “When work measures 18 1/8″ bind off for shoulder shaping 7 sts on every alt row twice.” 
So, for whatever row on the right shoulder you begain shoulder shaping, begin shoulder shaping for the left shoulder on the next row (since you can only bind off 7 at the shoulder when the shoulder is at the beginning of your row).

Whew!  I know it may still confuse, but if you follow along once with your knitting in front of you, it will make sense and future encounters with this type of standard instruction should be far less confusing!

— SweaterBabe

If you have a knitting or crochet question for SweaterBabe, please email it to advice@sweaterbabe.com.  Please do NOT post it as a comment here.  Not all questions can be answered due to the large volume of questions, but many are selected and answered each month here on the Blog and in the SweaterBabe.com newsletters.  Thanks!

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Entry filed under: Ask SweaterBabe, Knitting Questions and How to.

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