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Week 22: 1 – 7 June

Real sense of achievement this week, with the shoulders joined. The last few rows always seem to go very quickly – you’ve already divided front and back, so you’re only knitting half the number of stitches you used to when knitting in the round. Then, by subdividing the left and right shoulders and doing each of them in turn (and leaving just under a third
of the stitches on a holder for the neck) you’re through in no time.

The shoulders are, once more, the good old traditional “ridge and furrow” pattern – three ridges and furrows (each consisting of 2 purl rows and 2 knit rows) per shoulder per side. This is the pattern I know best, and always makes for a nice effect. And it’s probably the easiest, which may have something to do with why I like using it so much!

9how22bTo join a shoulder, put the 75 shoulder stitches from the front on a straight needle, and do the same for the back. (Both front and back should be identical – the same number of stitches, and the last row on each side should be the last knit row from the last ridge and furrow, so you’re putting two knit rows next to each other.) Position the two
needles side by side, with the stitches on each more or less equally paired off.

9how22cThen, using a third needle, knit the first 2 stitches together, one from each of your holding needles, ending up with a single new stitch on your third needle for the two old stitches you’ve just knit off. (You can start from either the neck or the far edge of the shoulder, it doesn’t matter.) Do exactly the same for the next 2 stitches, so you now have 2 stitches on your third needle. Then cast off the first of these 2 stitches by passing it over the second, so that you once again only have one stitch on your third needle. Repeat this process, working along the shoulder, knitting the stitches on your holding needles together and casting them off as you go, until they’re all gone. At the very end, thread the yarn through the last stitch and pull it tight, cut the yarn to leave a loose end to be darned in later, and that’s one shoulder finished.

I still find it amazing that this process creates a seventh ridge along the centre line of the shoulder, to the casual observer identical to the 6 other ridges, effectively making the join disappear. Magic.

Yes, it gets a bit fiddly towards the end, when you’ve only got a few stitches on each needle and they keep slipping out of reach down to the other end like naughty children avoiding a vaccination shot. But compared with the ghastly prospect of, say, picking up stitches or having to knit a swatch, it’s a piece of cake. Sponge cake, for preference, maybe with lemon icing. And a nice cup of Earl Grey to wash it down. Speaking of which…

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