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We’ve hit the “heel” of our Hitofude – that one part that seems like it’s really complicated, but once you get through it you think, “Wow, what a bit of knitting magic!  I’m awesome!”.  There are a few photos here to guide us.  If you need to see one bigger, click on it, but then hit your browser’s “back” button to get back here to the whole post.  Ok, are you ready?  Here we go!!

I really feel like Hiroku Fukatsu has written the absolute perfect pattern.  We will follow what she has written exactly, I’m just giving you a few bits of visual help in case you can’t make it in to the shop.

Once you have finished knitting the “Upper Body and Sleeves” portion of the sweater, you will have to pick out part of your provisional cast on.  You start with the sleeve that had the shorter chain.  Here, I’ve marked the space between my shorter chain and longer chain.  The way I picked up my stitches, I started picking out here.  As long as you pick up with a spare circular needle (instead of straight) it doesn’t matter what end you start at, because you can slide the stitches to either end.  If you accidentally picked up in the wrong loop of the chain it might not come out easily.  In this case, use some small scissors to cut your chain as you go.  It will be a tiny bit tedious, but in the end it’s SO worth it.

picking out 3I find the end of my chain and untie it by wiggling the tail back through the knot I had made to tie it off.  I give it a tug to start “unzipping” the chain.

Start out by putting the needle into the stitch first – #1.  I use my fingers to spread out my knitting and make sure I have bright light to see what I am doing.  If you pull on your provisional thread you should be able to see the loop that goes through it – that’s your stitch.  Tug your provisional cast-on thread until it pops out of your stitch – #2 & #3.

picking out 1 picking out 2

If you tug a little too hard you may pop out an extra stitch – #4.  Don’t panic!  Look at that stitch.  It didn’t go anywhere; it’s just hanging out.  If you don’t jostle it around it will stay right where it is and you can throw it on your needle like nothing happened.  Continue in this manner, stitch by stitch, until you have your stitches safely on your spare needle.  Now we have to get set up for our 3-needle bind-off.

You will be holding the two sides of your knitting together, with the needles parallel to one another.  You need the WRONG SIDES facing out – the right sides are on the inside – and the needles pointing to the right.  In this photo, I have my knitting all set up to begin my 3-needle bind-off:

3 needle bind off set up

Carefully pick up your two needles together in your left hand.  Use the other end of your main needle to stab through the first stitch on both the front needle AND back needle- #1.  There are no tricks to this – you are going into the front of the stitch as you always do, there are just two of them.  There are no awards for speed, either; take your time to see that your needle is going through both stitches.  Wrap your working yarn around your working needle as you always do and draw it through both stitches- #2.

3 needle bind off 1

Making sure that the yarn has made it through both stitches, slide those old stitches off of the left hand needles – #3.  You now have one stitch on your right hand needle and the two stitches you had knit through are below it.  Knit through the next stitch on both needles (repeat steps 1-3) so that you have two stitches live on the right hand needle – #4.

3 needle bind off 2

Here’s the BIND OFF part: on the right hand needle, lift the first stitch over the second stitch and off of the needle (as in a usual, chain bind-off) – #5.  You now have one stitch left on the right hand needle.

3 needle bind off 3

Repeat these steps.  Knit through the next stitch on both needles, joining them together, then lift it up and over the stitch next to it on the right hand needle, binding it off.  Not so bad, right?  Keep going until you have completed the bind-off as instructed in your pattern.  Hitofude-first-armYou will then pick out the other sleeve’s stitches from the other half of the provisional bind off and do this again.  Follow Fukatsu’s instructions exactly and you won’t have any problems!

In the end, you have a little shrug like this:


Does it look a little small?  That’s ok!  Remember, we knit and blocked our lace swatch.  This will grow a bit in the blocking process and it will be perfect!  Pat yourself on the back, have a glass of wine, and enjoy the magic trick you just performed!