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Making Sense of Knitting-Pattern Finishing Instructions

October 8, 2020

Once you complete the fun knitting bits of a project, there are always a few final steps before your knit can be completely finished.

This post is part of our How to Read a Knitting Pattern tutorial. Follow the links below read to the other topics.

Our free Flax sweater pattern includes the following finishing information, which is typical for Tin Can Knits patterns:

Block your sweater and weave in all ends, using yarn tails to sew up the small holes at underarms. Put on your fabulous new sweater and show it off!

Sweater Blocking

Because Flax is a very simple sweater that uses top-down seamless construction, there is very little to be done after the knitting in order to ‘finish’ it for wearing! But many other projects have more finishing steps and techniques.


two blanket squares being seamed together
For the Vivid blanket, we suggest using a simple whip-stitch seam.

Garments and blankets may need to be seamed before they’re ready to use. For example, pieced blankets like Vivid, Polygon, Fly Away, and Dogwood require blocking and seaming to complete them. Some require knitted edgings as well.

Sock toes and those pesky sweater underarms need to be seamed closed using a Kitchener Stitch, and some projects need a few extra little details like icord ties, a regular old pom pom, or a fancy pom pom.

Collars and button bands

Playdate Cardigan Pattern
The Playdate cardigan features a delicate little button band, which looks sharp with lots of small buttons.

Cardigan patterns may include very pithy instructions like ‘make up and work button bands.’ Our patterns generally include more specific details, and you can refer to How to Knit a Button Band for the general techniques.

The pattern may not explicitly say it, but once the button bands are complete, you’ll need to select and sew on the buttons. (Button selection is an important topic all on its own!) If the yarn used for the knit is sufficiently durable – and thin enough to pass through the holes in the button – I usually use that. Otherwise, a durable sock yarn or thread in a matching colour works fine.

Striped Playdate Cardigan blog post
I considered four different button colours(!) for this tiny Playdate cardigan before settling on the olive green ones.

Weaving in ends

Either before or after blocking, I weave in my yarn ends – or most of the time I do. To be honest, sometimes I leave them hanging for years!

Detail of the inside of a colourwork sweater yoke with dozens of hanging yarn ends.

Blocking garments or shawls

Blocking is a woolly item’s first bath. It should not be overlooked because the final nature of the garment or accessory is not revealed until it’s had a first blocking. If you’ve never learned about blocking, start with our Blocking Basics tutorial for a solid overview.

For lace projects, blocking is imperative to reveal the delicate stitch pattern. (See our tutorial on How to Block a Lace Shawl for detailed instructions.) For garments, the final fit is determined by blocking, so take a minute to review How to Block a Hand-Knit Sweater.

How to block a hand-knit sweater
For projects like the Windswept sweater, blocking is really helpful for revealing the intricate beauty of the lace.

Caring for your knits

Last but not least is something that’s never mentioned in patterns but is always worth considering: caring for your knits. You’ve enjoyed countless hours of knitting; you’ve gained skills and overcome obstacles to create a beautiful thing – so you’ll want to keep it looking good for years to come. Of course, we have a tutorial for that, too! Learn how to properly care for your knits here.

Get knitting!

We’ve arrived at the end of our in-depth series, How to Read a Knitting Pattern. Hopefully these posts have been useful and cleared up some of the questions you may have had about the technical language around sizing and materials, abbreviations and charts, and the various and sundry ways that brackets are used.

If you found this tutorial helpful, please take a minute to share it with a friend or a newbie in your knitting group. From your very first scarf to designing your own colourwork yoke sweater, we love creating and sharing tutorials that help you take that next step and knit that next stitch!

~ Emily and Alexa

Gramps Sweater pattern
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