Mod Squad

Is a sweater ever truly finished? If you’re like me, the answer is no! I’ve been known to turn sweater failures into lower lumbar pillows, and to change buttons half a dozen times before I settle on a set. “Mod,” short for modification, has become a knitter’s shorthand for the changes they make to a pattern, either to suit their own style or their particular knitting preferences. These mods usually happen at the outset of a project, but recently, I made a few post-photo shoot mods of my own (and all without voiding the warranty ;))

Alska originally had a mock turtleneck style and simple metal buttons. In case you haven’t heard, we’re in the middle of one of the snowiest, iciest, coldest winters in recent history. This has me reaching for scarves and my most generous collars, like the one seen on Wordsworth, a sweater from last fall that I am still madly in love with. Cut to TNNA. I was in the JHB booth, admiring all their new buttons when I came across Nicky Epstein’s new line, and a button called Dead King.

I knew what I had to do! As soon as I got home, I carefully undid my bind-off and studied the directions for the Wordsworth collar. Since the collar folds over, the directions are a bit unusual. You start by knitting two button bands and sewing them on (slightly stretched, as Norah recommends in our video tutorial). When the bands reach the collar, you transfer the stitches to a stitch holder. Then, you knit across these held stitches while you’re picking up the collar stitches. If you’re a bit forgetful like me, place markers to indicate where the button band stitches end and the collar stitches begin. Then you just knit the collar until it is…really long!! I did about 8″ of collar, keeping the button band stitches in 1×1 ribbing and the collar stitches in the mistake rib pattern.

Note, I knit the left button band in red, for a little peek of color. When I knit the collar, I switched to the main color. If you wanted to keep the red going, you could do a bit of intarsia or keep knitting it and sew in on as usual, but I wanted the clean look that knitting it all in one piece gave.

Taking another cue from Wordsworth, I finagled the top two buttons so they would face out when the collar is folded over. You might also notice that I put snaps underneath the buttons, a trick I like to use when I want the sweater to close securely.

I’m “done,” but not really…as soon as I have time, I might add some afterthought pockets! Elizabeth Zimmermann makes it look so easy in Knitting Workshop

Stay warm!


4 thoughts on “Mod Squad

  1. I was wondering if my production of “Nonpareil” cardigan with Blackstone Tweed was ever going to be finished. Today it is and, wonder of wonders, I love it. But what a bear. No real measurements given for the length of the front bands or the collar. (I need numbers!) Thanks to your tutorial I did leave the ends on a stitch holder to adjust them if needed. Your tutorial for sewing on the bands was a great help to prevent “bowing”. The pattern placement of the buttonholes looked off-centered and I was wearing out the yarn trying to get it right, in spite of your online encouragement My solution: forget knitting them. With fear and trembling I sewed them by machine. Perfecto. Now I am knitting a lace tunic for my daughter. It is a grizzly bear! What is it about this addiction called knitting??

Leave a Reply