Alcea - neckline shaping

I've finished the Alcea body -- done the neckline shaping.

Here it is! (Have I told you how much I love this pattern? I'm really enjoying this - usually after I've finished one repeat, well, my attention starts to wander to the next fair isle!)

With the front and back neckline steeks, it's a funny looking thing, but all will become clear when the steeks are cut and the shoulder seams are bound off -- yes, I'm going to 3 needle bind off the shoulder seams -- that's the shoulder stitches and the "edge" stitch from the armhole and neckline steeks -- I keep the edge stitch live and bind them off together to make the line of "edge" stitches complete up and over the top of the shoulder.

For those of you who are following along, making a 7 repeat Alcea into a cardigan, here's my math so far.......

I'm talking here actual sweater stitches, I don't include steek stitches in my counts. My steeks are always 10 stitches, an edge st (always done in the background shade), 8 sts alternating the 2 colours used in the row) and a last edge st = 10. So you have to add to the following however you set up your steeks ok?

Motif is 48 stitches and 48 rows
7 x 48 sts = 336 + 1 = 337 sts for the body
that's 84 sts on each front, and 169 sts on the back
I chose to make my rib full size -- because I want this to look more like a jacket -- no pulling in at the waist -- so 2x2 corrugated rib -- that needs to be a multiple of 4 + 2 (*K2P2, repeat from * to end, K2) -- so I did 334 sts for my rib on the 3.25 mm needles
on the first row of the body, I added 3 sts to bring it up to 337 sts for the body

OK, so I did two full 48 row repeats, plus rows 1 & 2 to the underarm point, put 8 sts at each underarm on a piece of yarn (4 from each front and 8 from the back), cast on my steek sts, and finished the round -- now I have 80 sts on each front, and 161 sts on the back.

Underarm shaping: dec one st on either side of the armhole steek on the next row, and one the following 3 alternate rows -- (4 decreases on either side of the armhole steek) -- so now you have 76 sts on each front, and 153 sts on the back

Continue as set with no further shaping -- completing a full repeat of the motif, and row 1.

Neckline shaping starts here -- I basically used the shaping from the Alcea pattern -- with a few minor adjustments.

On Row 2, I cast off the steek sts at the beginning of the round, finished knitting the round and cast off the last 5 sts of the round which are the other 5 steek sts (remember -- the round starts and ends in the middle of the front steek).

Break the yarns - place 21 stitches on either side of the fronts on a spare piece of yarn (holder).

Using the yarns as required for row 3 - cast on 5 steek sts (4 alternating and 1 edge st), K2 tog at front neckline edge, knit the round to the last 2 sts, K2 tog thru back loop, cast on 5 steek sts (1 edge st and 4 alternating).

Decrease l st on either side of neckline on Rows 4, 5 and 6 and on alternating rows 7 x (rows 8, 10, 12 , 14, 16, 18 and 20)

You should have 44 sts on the fronts now.

Knit row 21 as set.

Row 22 - set up back neck steek -- knit across front sts; on the back knit 47 sts, put next 59 on a spare piece of yarn, with working yarns cast on 10 steek sts (2 edge sts and 8 alternating) and knit last 47 sts of back, knit across front to finish round.

On Rows 23, 24 and 25, decrease one stitch on either side of back neckline steek.

On Row 26 -- knit this round with no shaping. As you knit this round, cast off the centre alternating stitches of the front neckline, armhole and back neckline steek -- leave the "edge" st on the steek live.

You should now have 44 sts on both the front and back shoulder pieces (plus 2 edge sts).

Using another 3.25 mm needle -- put the front sts on this needle and leave the back sts on the original needle.

Using yet another 3.25 mm needle, 3 needle bind off each shoulder -- the edge sts and the shoulder sts -- I like to start from the armhole and work up to the neckline -- on both shoulders -- it seems to me to help keep the shoulder shape.

This looks awfully funny now doesn't it -- but when you cut open the neckline steeks -- voila -- it now looks like a sweater!

Because this is a pattern that is offset on each repeat -- see the front shoulder has the large motif on it? On the back, this matches up perfectly with a small motif. This is something that I worried about right front the beginning -- how would I like the shoulder seam area -- this is one of those aggravating little niggly points that for me can ruin the whole experience (don't get like this about your knitting).

So I'm very pleased, and am now ready to do my neckline rib, and front button band ribs -- I like to do the ribbing at this stage because when they're done, you can be looking for buttons -- and then there are just a couple of sleeves left to go!

Happy Knitting!


  1. Hi Anne- Oddly enough, the biggest challenge can sometimes be finding the right button.
    Many sewing shops have closed, so mail order is the only option.
    It's coming along nicely, you should be pleased.

  2. It's really beautiful Anne, and thanks for the "tutorial"! I'm still unsure what I'm going to do, I may be coming back to your instructions if I end up doing a cardi. Or do I do the pullover...?!

  3. Beautiful! Thanks for the explanation, also.

  4. Your ALCEA is coming along very nicely indeed! Thanks for posting the instructions, too...I'm overwhelmed reading them but I'm sure that when I break them down step by step they will make more sense.

  5. lovely! the shoulders are great!

  6. OMG, Tis a beautiful thing indeed even in its unfinised state!

    You have inspired me to knit fair ilse this coming year.


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