How many times can you re-knit a neckline?

Question: How many times can you re-knit a neckline?

Knitter: Is that a rhetorical question?

I had been chugging along on my Hatcher pullover when I hit some neckline issues.  Here is the pattern photo:

hatcher pattern photo

© Julie Hoover

You can see that, in order to get the best visual appeal to the cable pattern, you need to bind off for the neckline at the proper point, preferably halfway through the diamond motif that occurs where the cables cross.

The sweater is knit from the bottom up in the round, and then stitches are bound off for the armholes and the back and front are finished separately, knitting back and forth.  I completed the back and was working on the front.  For my size, I was supposed to bind off for the neckline 5.5 inches above the armhole bind-off row.  That would mean that there was sufficient slope for the front of the neck.

Unfortunately, when I reach 5.5 inches, I had only made the first cross of the pattern.  In other  words, the pattern going up the middle looked like columns of ribbing at that point, with the centre two columns just barely crossing.  Nonetheless, I bound off there, and continued up the sides of the neck, and let me tell you, it looked stupid! (Unfortunately, no photographic evidence remains of this attempt.)  It was clear to me that I had two approaches I could take.

  1. Rip out both back and front down to before the separation at the armhole, knit another 6-8 rows so that I can be at the right point in the pattern when it is time to bind off the neck line.  (Smart knitters will note that this approach would have been facilitated by doing the appropriate measuring before I separated the front and back.)  This would also make the sweater longer, and it is already fairly long.
  2. Rip out the few rows on the front down to just before the bind-off for the neck, and then knit a few more rows in pattern.  This will mean significantly less ripping, but will also mean that the neckline will be raised by however many rows I need to add.  I was worried about the front neckline being raised far too high.  I also didn’t want to then compensate by raising the back, as that would make the armscythe too deep.

I went for the second method (surprise, surprise!) and knitted more rows of the pattern, enough so that there was another set of crossed cables, but the outside cable columns had still not crossed.  I took a photo this time:


You can see that it still looks too early.  If I had put the neckline ribbing in there, the pattern wouldn’t look finished: it would lose the strong architecture and symmetry that makes this pullover so striking.  So, I ripped it out and put in four more rows, enough so that the outside set of cables had crossed.


I think that this is a pretty good position for the cable pattern at the neckline. However, it now means that the neckline is considerably higher, which means that I had to re-think all of the shapings at the side of the neck, because the slope of that curve is now significantly shorter.  I will not tell you how many rows I ended up pulling out and re-knitting in order to get something that looks as if it might work.  (Hint: it was a lot.) Here is where it stands now:


It still looks to me as if there is not enough depth to the front neckline (especially once the ribbing gets added).  I won’t truly know if it will look right until I get it blocked and put the neckline ribbing in and try it on.

Yesterday I whipped out a sleeve:


I knitted this sleeve while watching Groundhog Day on TV for the umpteenth time.  This film seems to have taken on new meaning since the pandemic and self-isolation.  I regret that I have not learned to play jazz piano in this interim (nor made myself into a nicer person, although hopefully I had a head start on Phil).

Keep safe everyone, in this topsy-turvy world.

13 thoughts on “How many times can you re-knit a neckline?

  1. Hi I also knitted “Hatcher“. I do love it, but I also had difficulty with the neck. I also pulled it out several times! But I love it now.

    • I did re-knit it many times; however, all of these bits I was re-knitting were very narrow, so it sounds like a bigger effort than it was! I really want it to be right and am willing to fiddle until it is.

  2. It is looking gorgeous! Would it be possible to do a different kind of neck opening treatment? Maybe knit a few more pattern rows, then instead of doing the ribbing, do an i-cord edging, or a folded hem and a sort of boatneck shaping?

  3. Wasn’t this something for the designer to sort? Very good Kate Davies blog on this recently which I expect you read. It’s no good if the pattern only works on the small size!

    • Hi Deborah. I did read that post, and loved it! Kate is absolutely brilliant at things like that. However, I must say that I think Julie Hoover did a good job with the pattern. I think the main problem is that my row gauge is a little off. If I had changed the pattern from a 42-row repeat to a 40-row repeat (taking the 2 rows out of the long columns between cable crossings), then I think the pattern would have worked out fine without any fiddling around. Live and learn!

  4. I do find it ironic that you were watching Groundhog Day while knitting on a project you had to re-knit. Question. How many times does one have to knit the increases on a toe up sock before 1. giving up and reverting to top down, or 2. giving up and reverting to a bottle of wine.

  5. Pingback: Hatcher | Knitigating Circumstances

  6. I have been having a similar problem with the neckline of a simple chunky jumper with one large cable up the front (own design), and also with a DK one with a cabled panel (used different yarn and gauge). If only the gauge fairy could ensure our cable crosses fell at the right place! For this design, I would probably rip out the front and redo it with two fewer rows in each cable repeat, only to find that that didn’t work either. I am glad to see you made it work and it looks lovely modeled in your later post.

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