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Give an outdated sweater a fresh new look with the latest collar details. If you know how to knit and can follow a pattern, you can add a custom collar to any sweater -- whether you knit it from scratch or start with one off the rack. Swap out a crew-neck collar for a lacy cowl neck, or knit a roll collar onto a sweater pattern that calls for a split shirt collar, and you have a completely different look. Grab a pattern for a collar that you love and a sweater with a collar you hate and get to work -- creating your own fab new creation.
Prepare the Sweater
Fold the collar to the outside of the sweater to expose the seam attaching it to the body. Examine the seam to determine how it's sewn on. It may be knit on, sewn with an overcast stitch or sewn on with a straight seam. If you can't find a seam, the collar is knit on. If you can press the seam open, you're working with a straight seam. If the seam won't pull apart at all, the collar is attached with an overcast stitch.
Unravel a knit-on collar. Slide the blunt end of a yarn needle into the loop of one knit stitch along the edge of the collar. Pull it up to stretch the loop open. Snip one side of the loop with the fingernail scissors. Carefully, pull on the cut end to unravel the collar, one row at a time until you reach the neckline. At this point, you may have a raw neck edge with no loops. If so, you're all set. If you have a row of loops left, carefully slide one end of the circular knitting needle through each row of the loops. Working with the unraveled yarn, bind off the neck edge loosely.
For an overcast seam, slide the blunt end of the yarn needle under two or three of the overcast stitches that hold the collar to the neckline. Pull upward to isolate the stitches. Snip through them with the fingernail scissors. Repeat until you've snipped all the stitches and remove the collar, leaving a raw neckline.
Press a straight seam open and gently pull the two seamed pieces apart so that you can see the stitches holding them together. Snip one of the stitches with the fingernail scissors. Pull the collar and neckline apart gently, snipping whenever the thread gets too long to pull through easily.
If you've knit the sweater yourself, assemble the sweater as directed by the pattern.
Knit the Collar
Hold the sweater with the outside facing you. Insert one point of the circular knitting needle through the top of one knit stitch from front to back. Insert the other point of the needle through the same loop from front to back, crossing it behind the first point. Wrap the yarn from the ball around the second point of the needle and pull it through, pulling the original stitch off the needle. The knitting books call this "pick up and knit."
Pick up and knit each stitch around the neckline, keeping the knit stitches on the second half of the circular knitting needle. If you're following a pattern, pick up and knit the number of stitches given in the pattern, dividing them as evenly as possible around the neckline.
Arrange the stitches evenly on the knitting needle. For a split collar, turn your work and continue working back-and-forth on the stitches you've picked up to complete your collar. For a circular collar, knit the first picked-up stitch as if it were the first stitch in a new row. Place a marker on your needle to mark the beginning of the round and work in the round in your desired pattern until the collar is as long as you want it to be.
Bind off all stitches loosely so that the sweater will slip easily over your head.