Special Collars for Special Sweaters
By Deborah Newton
Adding a decorative collar to your sweater is not much harder than making a ribbed edging. Here are some techniques to help you learn more about adding this special detail to any sweater. Whether your sweater is a simple pullover, a polo, a button-front cardigan or a flowing lace garment, a collar can add extra visual interest. There are many kinds of collars: from simple rectangles to those with interesting shapes and patterning. A collar follows the neckline the way a knitted edging does, but it separates into points. Collar edges can meet, overlap or even separate widely! Many collars are deep enough to fold, but they can also be planned to lie flat. Here are some guidelines for planning your collar’s appearance, shape and fit.
Consider FabricClassic structured collars work best when they are knitted from a firm non-curling fabric, like ribbing or flat slipped stitch or knit/purl patterns. In contrast, a collar can also be knit from a drapey loose-textured fabric, like an open lace pattern. A looser collar might emerge from a wider neckline, and might have extra depth to lie across the shoulders, so that the body – not the fabric – provides structure. Thick fabrics with deep texture, like cables or colorwork, need to be a little deeper, and maybe a little wider at the outer edge, as opposed to collars knitted in flat patterns. A yarn that has body will hold the shape of a collar that folds over, and create crisp points. A softer yarn will be enhanced by a firmer pattern stitch.
Neckline PreparationCollars can be attached to close-fitting or wide/deep necklines. Take these tips into account when planning a collar:
- A collar edge must measure the same as the neckline edge, including any trim. Use a tape measure, standing on its side, around the neckline of your sweater for accurate measurement.
- A collar, like any neckline trim, should not look strained or skimpy. A generous number of stitches will give necessary width and depth to fold well.
- If your collar is to be the same as the fabric or ribbing of your sweater, drape the sweater piece on your neckline, to help envision how wide and deep the collar needs to be.
- To decide collar shape, I often cut a test shape out of thick machine knit fabric. Then I plan my handknit version according to my gauge.
- If your collar stitch pattern is not the same as the sweater, knit a gauge swatch so you can calculate how many stitches are needed.