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Sweater neck openings a la EZ vary in percentage according to the age of the person wearing the sweater. Adult sweaters require 40-45%...children's sweaters 50% and infant sweaters sometime 60%! These are all percentages of the "K" number, which is usually (but not always) figured in stockinette stitch gauge. (My aran needed many more sts than 100 to accommodate the tighter gauge of cabling, so I really can't use that "K" number to plan a neck.)
Our baby sweater was figured for 20" around, and at a gauge of 5 sts = 1" (which is what my yarn would have yielded in ss), my K number was 100 (20 x 5). 50% of that is 50 sts. I like that number, so I will shoot for that and add a few if I need to. I will build stretch into the design by making the collar in 2 overlapping bands, and will bind off with a needle MUCH bigger than I work the ribbing, or the body, on, and I will stretch the neck to see that it easily stretches to 17", which is plenty of room for a newborn head (well, most newborn heads!), before I cut the yarn after binding off.
So, I have 64 sts on my needle and want to get down to 50. (You can have any number on your needle and it will still work). I also have a plan for the neck, which will require the collar ribbing to be done flat, and will incorporate some short rows to build a triangle of fabric at both sides of each collar edge.
So, remove all markers from your needle; find your smaller 16" needle (I will use a #4), put on some music and here we go.
Mark each side of the neck, halfway between the shoulder sts. Break your yarn. Slip sts around the needle they are already on until you come to the marker of the right shoulder (as baby wears it). Join your yarn to the base of this stitch. You will work on the front half first. Count the sts across the front, stopping at the marker on the left shoulder (as baby wears it). See how many more you have than 25 and plan to decrease that many evenly on the first row. (I ended up with 27 and felt good about it for some reason)
Row 1: With smaller 16" needle, knit on the inside (which will make a purl ridge on the right side) decreasing the sts you need to. SRW a loop of yarn inside the base of the stitch past the last stitch of the front, thereby curving the row to the inside of the back neck stitches. (Note: you will continue to "extend" the front neck of the sweater "inside" the back neck, creating an overlapping edge). Turn.
Row 2: *K1, p1* repeating across ending k1. SRW (short row wrap) a loop of yarn inside the base of the stitch past the last stitch of the front, thereby curving the row to the inside of the back neck stitches. Turn.
Rows 3-5: Rib across (knit the knits and purl the purls) ending in pattern. SRW a loop of yarn inside the base of the stitch past the last stitch wrapped of the front, thereby curving the row to the inside of the back neck stitches. Turn.
Row 6: Bind off in pattern with needle 4 times larger than you worked with. Cut yarn leaving 18" extra as you end the last stitch. Do not sew this end in just yet.
Work as for front neck except, all SRW loops will be picked up on the outside of the stitches along the base of the finished front crew neck edges.
Once both necks are bound off, stretch the opening and use a tape measure to see how far you can open it. 16-17" will work for a newborn...add an inch for every 3 months after that until you get to 22" for a 2 year old. If you have to rip out your neck bind off and try again, do it. (I ended up using a needle 6 times larger than I started with and had to do it twice).
Darn in your ends and graft the underarms st together.
GRAFTING or Kitchener Stitch or Weaving
Put all your underarm live stitches on two double pointed needles. Thread tapestry (darning) needle with an 18" piece of new yarn. Work from right to left. With the first stitch, leave an 8" tail to be worked in later.
On front needle:
1. Pass tapestry needle through as if to knit, drop st off needle.
2. Pass tapestry needle through as if to purl, leave st on needle.
On back needle:
1. Pass tapestry needle through as if to purl, drop st off needle.
2. Pass tapestry needle through as if to knit, leave st on needle.
That's it. Just remember to keep the tension loose.
I ended up using 300 yards of Lamb's Pride Superwash worsted in Creme. (I wish I had made a red one.) The sweater is all done and on its way to the knitting competition at the Columbia County Fair. I made a stupid mistake in one of the cables right at the beginning of the back that I just caught yesterday (let's see if the judges find it). The final picture is here: http:members.tripod.com/countrywool.weearan.htm
If any of you have any trouble with this pattern, please know I am pleased to help by clarifying the directions. Just holler!
Claudia at Countrywool