How to Knit a Tidy Neckline (Bottom-Up Garments)

Every neckline should be as tidy as the one on the right. Unfortunately, most are written like the one on the left. Since I can't travel to every corner of the world to teach this in my European Finishing class, I'm posting instructions for the Proper Cocoknits Neckline for every knitter to use and enjoy

If you are leaving your neckline raw, these techniques are a must. Even if you are picking up stitches to finish the neckline, look how much easier picking up stitches will be around the neckline of the sample to the right. I have worked this sample in Stockinette stitch but the technique works just as well when working in stitch patterns.

Initial neckline bind-off

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Step 1

When your pattern tells you to BO center sts for a neckline, place markers on either side of the sts to be bound off. Believe me, this eliminates any confusion as to how many sts have been BO! Depending on your pattern this could be any number, I am using 7 sts for this example.

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Step 2

On the RS work as established to 1 st before the first marker. For the example, I have used Stockinette Stitch so I knit to 1 st before the marker. Kf&b into this st. If you are working in a different stitch pattern, work in pattern to that last st, then k1f&b.

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Step 3

Remove marker and knit the first st of your BO. Even if you are working in a stitch pattern, you will BO in KNIT, not in pattern.  This is the horizontal equivalent to a vertical selvage stitch.

Now pull the extra st (the one you made by knitting through the back of the previous st) OVER this st (in other words, BO using the new, extra stitch). You can’t count this as a BO because you added a st, then got rid of it – this is why I have you place markers to denote the sts you want to BO. It’s easy to get distracted here.

Now continue to BO normally (knit, pull over, knit, pull over, etc.) until you get to the second marker.

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Step 4

Now you have one st on your Right needle and the marker is the next thing on your left needle. Remove the marker and BO one more st. This will guarantee that you have bound off the correct number of stitches.

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Step 5

Work as established to the end of your row. You can see that the beginning of the BO is nice and neat, no gap where you began the BO.

If you are continuing with neckline decreases, be sure to continue with Bias BO.

Finishing with a bias bind-off

After the initial BO for the center neck sts, you will finish the Right Front first and will probably have multiple BO’s at the neckline edge. For these you want to use Bias BO to avoid the stair-step effect of a regular BO. (See the original Bias Bind-off tutorial.) It begins on the first WS row after you have BO the center neck sts:

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Step 1

WS: Work as established to 1 st before your neckline. Slip the last st purl-wise, turn.

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Step 2

RS: slip the first 2 sts purl-wise.

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Step 3

Pull the 2nd st over the 1st; This counts as 1 st bound off.

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Step 4

If you have further BO, they are normal (knit, pull 2nd st over first).

Let’s take for example the instructions: “on neck edge BO 3 sts once, 2 sts once, 1 st 3 times,” you would work the first of the initial 3 BO’s using Bias BO:

WS: work to last st, slip the last st p-wise, turn.

RS: slip the first 2 sts p-wise, pull the 2nd st over 1st. You would need to BO 2 more sts normally (knit, pull 2nd st over first, repeat once) to get to a total of 3 sts bound off on the first row, then work remaining sts as established to end of row.

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Step 5

Continue as established for subsequent BO’s.

To continue with the example:

Next WS row you would again work to the last st and slip it p-wise, turn.

RS: slip the first 2 sts p-wise, pull the 2nd st over 1st (1 st bound off), then BO one more normally (2 sts bound off), k to end of row.

Next WS row, work to the last st, slip it p-wise, turn.

RS: slip the first 2 sts p-wise, pull the 2nd st over 1st. This is your 1 BO, work sts as established to the end of row.

You would work these two rows 2 more times so that you have bound off 1 st 3 times.

Once you have finished all BO’s for neckline edge, finish the Right Front per your instructions. That leaves the Left Front to be finished as follows:

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Step 6

WS of Left Front: Join your yarn and work one WS row with no slipping or BO’s. In the example pictured the WS is a purl row; purl every st leaving at least a 6” tail at the neckline edge.

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Step 7

RS: Work sts as established (example is knit) to last st, slip last st p-wise, turn.

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Step 8

WS: slip the first 2 sts purl-wise, pull 2nd st over first. BO additional sts normally (in example, BO 2 more sts; purl 1, pull 2nd st over first, repeat).

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Step 9

You will finish the Left Front exactly as the Right Front, working Bias BO on WS. Once you are finished you can tighten up the tail you left and use it to neaten that change in direction if necessary.

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