Sweater Finishing 101

If you want a good-looking sweater, one that looks “hand-crafted” rather than “homemade,” you have to make your finishing decisions before you ever pick up the needles. YES! Read that again: SWEATER FINISHING BEGINS EVEN BEFORE YOU PICK UP THE NEEDLES AND CAST ON.

How do I know this? I mean, I’ve made a lot of sweaters in my life, but not enough to make such a bold pronouncement. However, I’ve been helping knitters for over 50 years and I spent 10 of those as the trusty Tuesday Troubleshooter at my beloved local yarn shop, Dinah’s Yarn Shop in Port Hadlock WA. That’s over 500 Tuesdays when people brought me their problems, at least 2 or 3 a day, sometimes 8 or 12.

Ninety-seven to 98% of all the problems that came through the door had to do with only two subjects: 1) what do I have to do to get this sweater to fit right 2) how can I sew it together so that it looks good?

To help people solve problem #1, how to make sweaters that fit, I wrote Sweater 101: How to Plan Sweaters That Fit and Organize Your Knitting Life at the Same Time that was first published in 1991.

In the summer of 1992 we [a professional video crew and I] shot this video to help you solve problem #2, how to put garments together so that they look good: Finishing 101: Easy Finishing for Pullover Sweaters. The original master has gone missing, but I kept trying different technical tricks to pull a decent version for YouTube. I’m happy with the results.

I hadn’t seen this video for close to 18 years until I begged a copy and looked at it about six months ago. I thought that with all the information already on the internet that it would be unnecessary and out-dated. But it isn’t. It’s still great information and, I have to say, I’m proud of this work I did all those years ago. It tickles me to say that, and I celebrate the technical magic that allows me to share it with you.


p.s. Even though YouTube has upgraded my account to let me put up videos longer than 15 minutes, I broke the program into 5 smaller pieces. I suggest you view them in order to learn the skills in context and get “the big picture.” And yes, that rose at the very end is from my garden.



SWEATER FINISHING 101-PART 3 This is the part in which you learn short-row shoulder shaping, right and left leaning increases, and how to knit a sleeve cap that you’ll be able to sew into an armhole with some degree of grace.

SWEATER FINISHING 101-PART 4 This part of the class is devoted entirely to sewing a set-in sleeve cap into an armhole. You need to use 3 different kinds of seams. It’s not hard. You just need to see how its done.

SWEATER FINISHING 101-PART 5 Learn a lot about blocking and turn down your volume when you see me pull out the mammoth wooden spoon that was my Aunt Mary’s. Think “tailors’ clappers.” (Does anyone know what tailors’ clappers are any more?)

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Frances Edwards June 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm

I purchased your book today (downloaded) and got my daughter to measure me and of course I am having some trouble understanding your instructions on page 42 I think. I can’t read it and type at the same time but as I recall it said to take bust measurement
for “A” and on the chart “A” is the bottom ribbing. please help.

Cheryl July 1, 2012 at 12:01 am

Hi Frances, If you look closely at the diagram you’ll see that the ‘A’ is actually the width of the front body. I suggest that you subtract 10% of those stitches for the lower rib. Hope this helps. Cheryl

Pamela Stuehler August 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I would like to purchase when it’s available the DVD for Meet your bond set.
When it is available please email me to let me know where and when I can buy the DVD set.
Thank you
Pamela Stuehler

CherylB August 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Great Pamela!

I’ll let you know when they’re available.


Amanda April 24, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I found your via one of your YouTube videos. I want to thank you for a very clear tutorial on finishing a sweater. I have had sweater parts laying around in bin for months because I have been nervous about finishing them, but now I am looking forward to using the method in your video. Thank you so much. I will refer to you next time I need sweater help.

Cheryl May 4, 2013 at 7:06 pm

You are most welcome Amanda and I’m glad they are helping you.

Dusty July 10, 2013 at 3:41 pm

I just received your book. I’ve read it from cover to cover. Have I missed where it addresses fitting waist and hips. I’m pear shaped with a tummy. Would you use the same formula to address this issue? What if you are wider in the waist than hip area? Or you have very narrow shoulders / bust. Protruding tummy wide hips. Any help would be appreciated

Cheryl July 11, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Hi Dusty,
The book was an early primer for making basic sweaters without shaping. However, the More-or-Less-Right formula lets you create different shapes. You can measure your shoulders and your hips, add the ease you want, and draw a shape that is a trapezoid rather than a rectangle, narrow at the top and wider at the bottom. Then once you get the gauge you can calculate where to make your decrease rows to create the shape.

One way to approach it would be to try on sweaters until you find one that you feel great in. With luck you already own one, but if you have to try on new ones at a store buy a great one if you can. If you can’t, take measurements of it right in the store. Sketch out the basic shape of the front/back and the sleeves with inch measurements on them. Armed with drawings with dimensions, a properly measured gauge swatch and the information in Sweater 101, you should be able to knit any shape piece of fabric in any size.

I think the biggest challenge for most of us is figuring out what looks good on us. We get so taken in by what’s gorgeous on a model. The only way I know what I feel great in is trying things on until I FEEL great. Then I can duplicate that in a new garment.

I hope this helps.

Linda September 7, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Cheryl, I just finished my very first World Vision Charity sweater…OMG. How I had wished I had seen these fabulous, awesome, incredible, intuitive videos first. I learned so much. I first found you while surfing on how to make a knitting gauge – I love your approach, and can’t wait to try it out. Watching videos is so much better for me – my very best way to learn. I am very grateful for the knowledge you have shared with us. Thank you kindly.

Cheryl September 11, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Thank you for this very kind comment Linda, and I’m delighted that the videos are helping you. They actually are a very good teaching vehicle because they are both auditory and visual and knitting is a visual skill.

Jacqueline November 15, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Hi Cheryl,
Thank you for being so generous and sharing your knowledge. I would like to order your book, but apparently the purchase link doesn’t recognize Canadian postal codes. I keep getting an error. I would like the hard copy not the pdf.
Jacqueline, Vancouver BC

Deb Drake January 6, 2014 at 9:00 am

I completed the child’s sweater in your free workshop. Nice hints and techniques, like picking up stitches (more or less rule) and gauge. Now I want to use a purchased pattern for a larger size child. It calls for sport weight yarn on US5 needles, double strand. I want to use worsted weight on US8 needles. Will your Sweater 101 book help me transform that pattern so I can get the right size but on yarns/needles/gauge I like? I’m hesitant to buy the book without understanding this.

admin January 20, 2014 at 9:22 pm

The short answer is yes Deb. (and apologize once again for the long delay in answering).

admin January 21, 2014 at 8:01 am

I think we finally connected on this. I do ship to Canada but on an individual basis.

Elizabeth May 5, 2014 at 10:25 am

Hello there,
I remember going to one of your classes many years ago in the 80’s
I was reading one of your books and on one I missed it where it was explaining how to shape, if you could help me with that it would be ever so kind
Best wishes
kind Regards

P.S. your you tube video’s are a success and my daughter now 43 is learning more and more from them. I can’t work the computer nowadays but its good to see you have adapted through onto the internet despite your grey hair

Joan May 5, 2014 at 10:30 am

Hello there.
I’m having some trouble on the internet finding your video’s on knitting a sweater,
I can find some although some are missing and then when I work on a different thing they crop up again, I was wondering if you know how to get them into all one place. one after another so I can relate to it step by step .
Many thanks Cheryl

admin May 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Hi Joan,
Try this playlist on YouTube. I have them linked sequentially in one list. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QY8Pd_qq4w&list=PLNNpR4lw08r2O2uND5D9-hhNbe5adAz4p
Sorry for the trouble.

admin May 6, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Hi Elizabeth,
Can you be more specific about shaping what? Also . . . there are 3 people who commented here from your IP address and one of the comments, from a “Peter Summers,” was offensive. Can you shed any light on that? I found only 2 Pete Summers in Manchester. Do you know one?


Janet August 16, 2014 at 5:04 am

watched the you tube, adding the button hole band to a sweater. I was hoping you showed what the next row looks like after the button holes are placed. I am having a hard time figuring out which stitch to knit whether its P or K.

do you have a video that shows this. Thanks, knitting for years and still picked up different things

admin August 21, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Hi Janet. I thought I did show that but it’s been so long since I made that program that I’ll have to go back and watch. You keep in K1 P1 pattern so just count from the stitches on the row you’re continuing.

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