Need stretchy stitch for knit collar

I've been knitting a couple of kids' sweaters - nothing fancy, just a striped yoke pullover in a basic stockinette stitch with knitted cuffs and bottom band. The pattern calls for sewing one shoulder seam together and then picking up stitches around the neck to knit the collar. On my first try the collar was too small to fit over the child's head. On the second try, I picked up stitches using a needle twice the size (size 13 while the body of the sweater was on size 10 needles) and even added a couple of stitches. I knit the collar on size 10 and then did a traditional bind off on the size 13 needles. Still wouldn't fit over the head. Third try - picked up stitches on size 13 with the added stitches, worked on size 11 and then did a Russian cast off on size 13. The cast off was knit two together, transfer back to left hand needle, repeating until I was down to one final stitch. And it just barely fits over the child's head. The stitches are really loose. I have another sweater to finish off but wanted to know if there's a bind off stitch that's any stretchier than what I've already tried. The collar is just knit stitch, no ribbing to match the cuff and bottom band. Can anyone recommend a stitch?

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

I would try a rib stitch for the collar. Is the neck opening large enough? I'm guessing if it is then you would need a rib stitch.

Or maybe you aren't picking up enough stitches?

I just looked through Nicky Epstiens book on edgings. Some of them are way out there. But she does really interesting matching collars and cuffs that are great. But I don't think great for a little boy. LOL

Hi Elsie - Yep, I did check out the neck opening after unraveling the first collar and it was plenty big enough. Since the bottom band and the cuffs had already been knitted, I didn't want to unravel the entire sweater (both of them) to start all over again. I thought for sure that adding a few extra pick up stitches would help as well as using a needle twice the size (diameter-wise) to bind off. Is the Russian bind off the same as the English bind off? Have two different names for the stitch I used. The only other elastic method that I found (but didn't use) was the invisible bind off for a single rib pattern, using a tapestry needle. I haven't had good luck with picking up stitches for edgings or collars on my beginners projects.

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

Cindy, I'm sorry but I have no more info to add. It has been years since I did a neckline. I would still pick up the stitches and do a ribbed neckline. But I know what you mean about picking up stitches.
If someone doesn't come along with a better answer try here http://www.knittersreview.com/forum/

It is a great site and if you join you an ask a question. You can just go there and look around if you want too. Good luck

Thanks for that link, Elsie. I've been searching on the net for a different stitch to use and I've tried just about all of the recommendations so it must be something that I'm doing incorrectly. Although most every one of them refers to using ribbing for more elasticity. Since I'm still in the beginner category, I didn't question the Lion brand pattern's use of the garter stitch for cuffs and collar. On future projects, if I wanted to substitute ribbing (k1, p1 or k2, p2) for the garter stitch, is it the same number of stitches or do I need to increase the number of stitches?
I appreciate your recommendations.

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

Cindy, do you have a link to the pattern? That may help.

Usually when you start at the cuff you use a smaller needle on ribbing, then change to a larger needle for the garter stitching. I would use the ribbing since regular stitching will stretch and not bounce back into shape.

Sorry I don't know the Russian or English bind off.

Elsie - You'd have to log on to Lion Brand website to access the pattern but I can send you the link if you can do that.
As for the bind off - I didn't know it either until earlier this week. :) It's supposed to be a little more elastic than the traditional bind off.

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

You can either send me the link or tell me the name of the pattern. I have a login for Lion Brand.

You're so sweet to check out the pattern for me. It's Child's Striped Yoke Pullover, pattern #30145. It was easy enough to knit but that collar is a challenge.
Thanks again.

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

How many stitches are you picking up at the neck?

Are you doing garter or stockinette for the collar?

I knitted up two sweaters - a size 4 and a size 5/6. Working first on the size 4 and I added 2 stitches when I picked up to knit the collar (3rd try) on size 13 needles for the first row (I had read that using needles twice the size for the first row helps). Then I knitted the collar on size 11 (one size larger) in garter stitch (knit 4 rows). Then switched back to the size 13 for the final row and bind off. It's a more loosely knit collar than the rest of the sweater but had no idea how else to create more elasticity with a garter stitch. I used the stockinette stitch for the main body of the sweater. The cuffs and bottom band are in the garter stitch which seems to be okay since the sweater is loose and casual.

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

I don't know if I figured out what went wrong. The neck is knitted in stockinette - so it is probably meant to roll. From the pattern you would be picking up 42 stitches on one and 43 stitches on the other. If your gauge is correct 42 stitches should be around 14 inches. How large does the neck have to be?

Go back and figure out what your gauge is in stockinette and figure out how many stitches you need to make the neckline large enough. If the neckline right now is large enough just make sure when you pick up stitches it doesn't make it smaller. Don't change the needle size. When you cast off - do it really loosely or use a larger needle then.

I would even start a little sample with the number of stitches you need, work the stockinette for the 5 rows and see how long it is. If you keep fussing with the neck it is going to get messy. Don't forget to include the seam when figuring out the size.

Does this make any sense? I hope it works.

Elsie - It makes perfect sense. It didn't occur to me to measure around the head and then calculate the number of stitches to pick up. Usually, I'm not a tight knitter but binding off tends to be tight. From now on, it's only ribbed collars for me.
Thanks for all of your advice.

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

Cindy, you should try it with the stockinett and see how it turns out - it should curl and maybe that effects the fit.

When you are done will you post pictures?

So instead of knitting the collar (after picking up the stitches), use the stockinette stitch instead of the garter stitch?
Sure, I can post a picture as long as you promise not to laugh. :) Have only one more side seam to sew and I'm done with the first one.

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

If I read the pattern correctly the collar was knit in stockinette and that would make it curl. Don't worry I will not laugh.

Elsie - Oh my gosh! How could I have misread that! Thank you so much for pointing that out to me. I must have assumed that the collar would match the cuffs, etc. I finished sewing the first sweater together last night. At least I know that one will fit. The second sweater is for a long-distance granddaughter. I'll have her mom measure her head though before I pick up those stitches to see if I need to adjust the number of stitches. I'll try to post pic of sweater #1 later today.

(Barb) Manchester, NH(Zone 5a)

Don't you just LOVE it when 1) something finally comes together and 2) it was a DGer who was able to help!!!!

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

Cindy, when I saw the photo of the sweater it looked like the collar was curled. I thought it was odd to have different edgings also.

Elsie - Here's the photo of sweater #1. I had found Yarn Bee Cameo on sale but didn't buy quite enough the first time around so I used more of the accent color than the original pattern called for. I think doing that ended up making it a little more fun. The collar does look a bit on the loose side (and with the wrong stitch) but I think it'll be okay, especially for a little girl who doesn't like snug things around her neck.

Thumbnail by CindyMzone5
(Barb) Manchester, NH(Zone 5a)

That looks so cute and you did a great job. I like the stripes in the yoke!!!

Thanks Quilter. The last time I knitted a garment was in 4-H, many, many years ago so I had to start back at the beginner level. It was easy enough to knit until I came to the collar. My GD likes the softness of the yarn - very important to a 4 yo.

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

Cindy, I think you did a great job. Love the colors. I'm sure your GD will love it. Can't wait to see the next one.

I like a soft yarn too. I like to use Caron's Simply Soft. It's not the cheapest but not all that expensive either and it's acrylic. They have some very interesting colors.

I had a very bad experience with acrylic yarn years ago. Being frugal out of necessity, I purchased a beautiful sea foam green acrylic yarn and knitted a large afghan with a shell pattern. Sadly, it stuck to itself so badly that it was impossible to use. Tried fabric softeners to no avail. I haven't purchased acrylic yarn since, afraid that the same thing would happen.

Elsie - Just letting you know that I did finish the second sweater. I did the math on the pattern's recommended number of picked up stitches compared to the neck opening. I did end up adding about 10 stitches which seems like a lot. The collar is much looser but I think it'll be okay for this style of sweater.
Thanks again for all of your help on this!

Thumbnail by CindyMzone5
Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

Cindy, that came out really nicely. I love the color.

In the future, is there a "rule of thumb" for substituting a ribbed stitch for stockinette or other stitch on cuffs, collars, etc? Is the ratio 1 to 1? This was such an easy sweater pattern (except for the collar) that I could maybe use it in the future by modifying or deleting the stripes altogether and doing something a little more "girly" for my granddaughters.

Lafayette, NJ(Zone 6a)

Cindy, I don't know of any rule like that. I think you are best off by making a swatch and seeing how it looks and stretches to see what you like.

I know you're right about making swatches. I'll just have to develop a little more knitting patience. Starting an afghan project using squares. I think I'll be half of the winter on this one if I don't start more sweater projects.

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