Neckline Planning

When choosing a sweater style to knit, one of the many decisions is "what neckline style do I want?"

There are many considerations when making this decision:
  • Your preference
  • Your skills
  • Your machine
  • The chosen yarn
Let's explore necklines with these choices in mind.

It is a good idea to experiment with the different neckline finishes on a sample before committing to them on a full-sized garment.

1 Finishing Necklines on the Knitting Machine

By Katharine Seaman (used with permission)

Where to Begin?

As you plan your garment:
  • Think about coordinating the trim at the bottom with the trim around the neckline.
  • If you have a ribbed border, consider placing ribbing at the neckline and on the front bands.
  • If you have a plain turned hem, a stockinette neckband and front bands will coordinate nicely.
  • If the garment is for a baby or a little (or big) girl, you might want to consider a ruffle at the neckline.

2 Some Things to Keep In Mind

The neckband choice will react differently with the body of the garment.

  • A ribbed neckband will tend to stretch out and gather the body of the garment as it relaxes

  • A stockinette neckband will be a bit tighter and the neckband may buckle. This occurs on round necklines but not on the straight lines of a V-neck.

In order to compensate for this when making a full-sized garment

  • Ribbed Neckband: add 10 to 15% more needles

  • Stockinette Neckband: decrease the needles by 5%

  • Tuck stitch or a slip stitch, treat the neckband as if it were in stockinette

3 Round Stockinette Neckband

The easiest shaped neckline to finish on the knitting machine, whether single or double bed, is the round or scoop neckline. (The slit is a bit easier, but it is similar to a front band and will be covered below.)

You will not have to do any increasing or decreasing for the round neckline.

This neckband is usually knit double, folded to the back, and stitched in place. The double band gives the knitting a more finished appearance.

Single Bed
Since single-bed knitting machines do not give us the option to knit in the round, one shoulder of the garment will be seamed, leaving the other shoulder open to be stitched along with the edge of the band when the band is completed.

When working on a single bed, be sure to remember to add one stitch at each end for the seam.

Double Bed
On a double-bed machine, the neckband can be set up on both beds for a seamless band
(knit circular/tubular )
Stockinette Neckband

Seaming Bands

4 Round Ribbed Neckbands

To knit a ribbed neckband for a round neckline, on both single- and double-bed machines:

  1. Seam the right shoulder
  2. Pick up stitches starting at the front left shoulder and work down the straight section and the curving decreased section of the front
  3. Pick up any bound-off stitches in the center front or hang them on your needles if they are on waste yarn or a stitch holder
  4. Repeat the hanging of the stitches for the opposite shoulder and then across the back.
  5. Set up your machine to knit either in stockinette stitch for a mock rib or as a true rib if you have a ribber or a double-bed machine.
  6. Be sure to add an extra stitch at each end for the seam Seaming Stitches .
  7. Knit the neckband to the desired length, gradually reducing the stitch size as you approach the center of the double band, then increase the stitch size as you approach the joined edge. (Grade the Tension )
  8. Bind off (complete the mock rib if you are using that style),
  9. Finish the second shoulder seam
  10. Seam the edges of the neckband
  11. Stitch the inside edge of the neckband in place by hand. If you finish this seaming on your machine, you may find that the edge does not stretch enough to go over the wearer’s head. Keep this in mind as you decrease the stitch size at the center of the band.

On the single-bed machines without a ribber attachment, a ribbed neckline looks better when worked as a 2x1 mock rib. A 1x1 rib tends to stretch out and look loose and untidy. Mock Rib Variations

Neckbands can also be knit separately and joined to the body of the sweater

5 Overlapped V Neckband

When the overlapped neckband is created, each side of the V will be worked separately and seamed at the center back or left shoulder seam.

To knit an overlapped V Neckband
  • Start by joining your garment at both shoulders.
  • Then, with the wrong side of the garment facing you for single-bed machines and the right side for double-bed machines and starting at the center back, hang the stitches on the needles across half of the back neck and down one side of the front.
  • As you place your stitches, put 3 stitches from the back edge onto the first 3 needles for the front, then stretch the front slightly and place the three stitches in the point onto three needles.
  • Remember to add one stitch at each end for seaming.
  • Stitch the hung needles in the same manner as for the round neckband, decreasing to the fold line and then increasing the tension to the join. (Grade the Tension )
  • Repeat this process for the other side.
  • Finish the band by using Mattress Stitch for the band seam.
  • Overlap the two fronts, left over right for a boy and right over left for a girl.
  • Slip stitch the under piece to the opposite cast off.
  • Neatly sew the center stitch down and slip stitch the top layer of the upper neckband to the area where the lower band was picked up.
  • Do not sew the two bands together.

6 Mitered V Neckband

This V-neck version has an attractive mitered point at the center front or “V.” This is done by decreasing on the outside of the neckband and increasing on the inside.
To make a mitered neckband on a V-neck sweater, you will be decreasing stitches next to the center stitch on the right side of the band and increasing on the wrong side.

To knit a Seamed, Mitered V Neckband (using increases and decreases)

First half of the band
  1. Seam the right shoulder of the garment
  2. On a single-bed machine with the wrong side of the garment facing you, pick up the front neck stitches starting from the side that is not seamed, increasing 1 stitch at each end for joining
  3. Knit one row at main tension
  4. Reduce the tension by one whole number and decrease one stitch at the center front by moving 2 stitches.
  5. Knit across the row
  6. Knit a row without decreasing
  7. Continue these 2 rows until the neckband is the desired width
  8. Knit one row at main tension for the fold line (turning row) .
  9. Set the tension dial to main tension minus one whole number.
  10. Increase 1 stitch at the center front with a simple increase.
  11. Knit that row
  12. Knit a row withoutincreasing
  13. Repeat these two rows until there as many rows after the fold line as there were before.
  14. Knit one row at main tension, break off the main yarn, leaving an end for seaming
  15. Knit 6 rows with waste yarn (scrap Off)
Second half of the band:

Repeat these steps for the opposite side of the neckline and the back of the neck

  1. Use the same needles for the front that were used for the side just finished, but push back the 2 needles that were used for seaming
  2. Once all the stitches are hung, put a stitch at either end into working position for seaming.
  3. Knit the second half of the neckband in the same manner as the first.
  4. Join the second shoulder seam, neatly mattress stitch the center front seam catching the center front stitch under the center front of the band
  5. Slip stitch the inside of the band to the join line.
Before you work this on a garment, you might want to make a sample that is about 5” by 5” with a 7-row neckband to familiarize yourself with the technique.

Use the Knit it Now Practice Neckline Pattern

One-piece Mitered V Neckband (transfer stitches)

7 Square Neckline

Square necklines can be finished like the V-necklines, use either a 1 piece method (transferring stitches) or knit 3 band pieces, seaming the mitered corners

8 Slit Neckbands and Front Band

These closings can be either in the front or the back of a garment.

Simple Slit

A simple slit may be finished with a crocheted edge to keep it from curling. This would be sufficient for inserting a zipper or a button-and-loop closure at the top.

Placket Style Opening

A slit as created can also have some bound-off stitches at the lower edge for the creation of a placket.
Creating a placket is similar to adding a center front band to a cardigan. Whether it is a placket or a band, hang the first and the last stitch of the garment (wrong side to you for single bed, right side for double), then hang the stitches between the first and the last. Make sure that you are picking up the stitches one in from the edge and that you are working in a straight line.


Sometimes, you may want to add a ruffle around a neckline.
A round neckline is perfect for this, as is a cardigan band. After you hang the garment stitches for the round neckline or front band, add some lace or ruffle to the needles, then proceed to make your neckband following the directions above.

Do make a sample first to ensure that the trim is not too thick for your carriage to pass over and knit the stitches off.
Crochet Edge on a Simple Slit

All-in-one placket finish

Short Row Ruffles

9 Practice Makes Progress

It is a good idea to experiment with the different neckline finishes on a sample
before committing to them on a full-sized garment.

Does the thought of shaping necklines make you cringe? Neckline finishes can make or break the appearance of a sweater.

With the Knit it Now Neckline Shaping Course you can practice and gain confidence in shaping and finishing necklines step-by-step.

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Naomi S
 Dec 1, 2021
Great article. Well explained. Thank you.

Jacqueline O
 Dec 1, 2021
Thank you for pulling all this info together into one place. What a great post! Neckline shaping and bands is one of my favorite topics, maybe because I’ve messed them up so often! This is so helpful.