The Gathered Pullover, like many stockinette sweaters, has a simple "rolled" hemline–you cast on at the bottom, and just start knitting in stockinette stitch. The stockinette causes the edge of the hem to gently roll upwards, providing an attractive, simple finish. A "curling" hem such as this does not pull in, as a ribbed hem might; it doesn't add another design element to an elegantly simple design, as another stitch pattern at the hem might. Plus: It's easy.
A plain folded hem on the Venezia
However, there are times when you do not want a rolled hem, but you do want something simple that compliments the rest of the sweater. Also, for some of us, a rolled hem adds visual bulk at a point in our silhouette where perhaps we don't need any extra bulk: hips, waist, etc.
When I was casting on for my second, skinnier version of the Gathered Pullover, I decided to do a knitted, folded hem rather than the rolled edge called for in the pattern. Yes, a folded hem adds a teensy bit of bulk at the hips, but it lays flat, it does not distract from the overall design of the sweater, and it is pretty easy to do.
There are several ways to do a knitted, folded hem. Eunny Jang used a plain folded hem on her Venezia Pullover; I used a picot version on my Gathered Pullover. Both work the same way:
Step 1: Casting on for a folded hem
I wanted my hem to be as neat and flat as possible, so I started off right at the beginning: I cast on all the stitches for the bottom of the sweater using a provisional cast-on. (I used the crochet provisional cast-on, but you can use the one you like best.)
Step 2: Working the first half of the hem
This part is easy—simply knit upwards for the "length" you want your hem to be. I knit for six rounds. This is going to be the part of the hem which is folded to the wrong side of your fabric.
A picot hem on my Gathered Pullover
Step 3: The turning, or fold-over, round
You can choose whether you want a plain edge, like Eunny used on the Venezia, or a picot edge, like I used on my Gathered Pullover. For a plain edge, simply work another knit round and continue to the next step. For a picot pattern, where you end up with little points along the edge where you fold the fabric over, work the fold-over round as follows: [k2tog, yo] all the way around.
Step 4: Working the second half of the hem
Same as the first: Knit. BE SURE that you knit EXACTLY the same number of rounds here as you did for the first half so the hem lays flat. I knit another six rounds.
Step 5: The hemming round
First, undo whatever you used to hold the provisional stitches down at the cast-on and carefully put all the live stitches onto a second needle.
See how neat and flat this is? Beautiful.
Bring this second needle with the live cast-on stitches to the wrong side of the fabric, folding at the fold-over round, and holding this second needle in back of your main (first) working needle. (Got all that?)
Now, knit your next round like this: Knit together one stitch from the front needle and one from the back, working this like a k2tog. Do this all the way around.
And that's all there is to it! Once that round is done, just keep on knitting as the pattern calls for. Once you've learned this technique, you can also apply it to sleeve hems, or even knitted-on button bands. In fact, this hem is so tidy on the wrong side of the fabric that you can even use it at either end of a stockinette scarf!
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Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.
What's on Sandi's needles? A bit past the hem of the New Skinnier Gathered Pullover.