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The neck and collar

The most common type of collar in the past seems to have been a simple tube, knit in the same knit 2/purl 2 ribbing that we saw in the welt, to a height of a couple of inches. This what I do, though because I don’t like scratchy wool gripping me around the throat I tend to make my collars only an inch or so high. (You can see from many of the old photographs that the traditional collars have a tendency to sag and lose their shape over time, but that’s not a major problem as far as I’m concerned. In fact, I rather like the look.)

When you come to knit the collar, you will have some stitches on holders already – the back third from when you divided for the shoulder straps, and probably a smaller number on the front if you shaped your neckline.

I start with the back, and knit along the stitches on my holder (which I’ve transferred to a double-pointed needle). Then I work down the left side of the neck, picking up stitches as I go. (See the section on picking up stitches for the sleeves to show the technique I use – it’s exactly the same.)

You must remember to measure how many inches you have to pick up stitches for, and multiply it by the number of stitches per inch you knit, so you can ensure you’re picking up the right amount of stitches. (It’s usually 6 or 7 inches for a shaped neckline.) Be careful to end up with a number of stitches that is divisible by 4 so you can get a whole number of k2/p2 ribs around the collar.

Then knit your front neck stitches from their holder, and carry on up the right side, picking up the same number of stitches as you did on the left, to complete the row.

Now all you have to do is knit a simple rib of knit 2/purl 2 for the desired length, 1.5 to 2 inches. When you get to the top, cast off in pattern, i.e., cast off knit stitches on the knit stitches, and purl stitches on the purl stitches, so the ribbing stays nicely pleated at the top.

Some of the books suggest topping off the collar with a couple of rows of purl stitches before you cast off, but I’ve tried this and I don’t think it works – it makes the collar mushroom out at the top rather too much for my taste. I prefer the way the ribbing draws in without it, but maybe if I knit the longer collars that were traditional it would work better.

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