Have you ever gotten to the end of a knitting project and felt the relief of binding off those last few stitches, only to remind yourself that, in fact, you're not quite done yet? For many different kinds of knitting projects, executing the knitting part only gets the job most of the way done. There are likely some "finishing" steps involved that are necessary to fully complete the project; these could be as simple as weaving in a few ends, and as complex as seaming together several pieces of a single garment.
The amount of finishing involved in a knitting project will depend on the kind of project it is. A small scarf might have only a few ends to weave in, but an adult woman's sweater could involve seaming together several pieces, blocking the final garment, and sewing on buttons?and also weaving in ends. These are also usually techniques which you will need to learn or look up on your own, since most knitting patterns will not typically include finishing techniques in the instructions, unless it is a unique method relating to the pattern. But have no fear, knitters have spent the last decade contributing an incredible amount of helpful information on the web for many different techniques, so even if you don't own a reference book, you can still find your way. Read on for a few tips on finishing techniques for different kinds of projects!
Weaving in ends is a typical step for most projects, especially larger ones that will depend on more than one skein of yarn. When you need to change from one skein of yarn to another (like in the photo to the right), you will have "ends" of yarn to deal with. Read up on this post from TECHknitting which explains some methods of weaving in ends "as you go" - Russian join, anyone?
If you knit cardigans, you will need to work buttonholes at some point. There are many different kinds of buttonhole techniques out there (horizontal or vertical, for example), and usually the pattern will specify what kind is involved. However, you might also decide that you have a "preferred" buttonhole method, and could choose to modify patterns accordingly to suit your preference. Check the Craftsy Knitter's Handbook for a few different button-hole tutorials!
Otherwise known as a vertical seam that joins two pieces of stockinette fabric, this technique is invaluable for sweater knitters! This is the technique you will need to follow to sew up side seams (as in the picture below), sleeve seams, and is often helpful for inserting sleeve caps into armholes. Check out this Mochimochi Land tutorial with helpful photographic tutorial steps, and this classic Knitty post on vertical seams for both stockinette and garter stitch.
unblocked and blocked knit swatches
Blocking your knitting is a helpful step for finished objects, and also for pre-assembled pieces like parts of a sweater that will later be seamed. This involves hand-washing or dampening your knitting and then laying and pinning it out to the desired finished size. For an excellent guide on how blocking works, have a look at this tutorial, and for even more excellent (and very detailed!) instruction on blocking, be sure to check out Blocking Handknits with instructor Kate Atherley.
Many folks resist finishing and seek projects that will help them to avoid it (seamless sweaters are popular for that reason!), while others come to enjoy the fine detailed work that good finishing provides. You might also be somewhere in the middle, enjoying it sometimes but not when you're in a rush to get the project done!
What finishing techniques have you been most pleased to learn?