Designing a Simple Collar

collar on jacket from Vogue Knitting magazine
Design from Vogue Knitting Holiday 1987
collar on sweater design from Vogue Knitting
Design from Vogue Knitting Holiday 1987

An interesting knit collar provides the finishing touch to any garment. Most collar styles can be worked from picked up stitches around the neckline, or worked separately and sewn in place. The most simple of collars is worked from a round neckline. The majority of collars are knit with non-curling and reversible stitch patterns. The following describes how to make a flat collar either by picking up stitches from a round neckline, or knitting one separately.

Important Measurements

To determine the number of stitches to pick-up or cast on (if you are making a separate collar), sew the shoulder seams, then lay the garment right side up on a flat surface, such as a blocking board. Turn a tape measure on its side and measure the inner circumference of the neck opening. Multiply this measurement by the stitch gauge to calculate the number of stitches to pick-up. When making a separate collar, the base should match the circumference of the neckline. You may have to work a gauge swatch if using a different pattern stitch, yarn or smaller needles from the body of the garment.

Steps to Making a Split Flat Collar

  • have the right side of garment facing you
  • with a small circular needle beginning and ending at center front (for a cardigan or sweater with a placket this may be the center of the front bands, or at the inside edge of the band), pick-up the number of stitches you calculated, spacing them evenly around the neck – 1/2 of the stitches from center front to center back, and 1/2 on the other side
  • don’t join your work
  • if you want the collar to stand, knit approximately one inch on the small needles, then bind off
  • longer styles fold over and lay against the upper body
  • for a fold-over style, work one inch with smaller needle as above, then change to a larger needle, working the desired length
  • to shape the collar adding fullness, one method is to progressively change to larger needles every one or two inches
  • bind off stitches in pattern
  • if you don’t want the collar to spread too wide or want pointier tips at the front, increase one stitch at the front edges every right side row

Note: The inside (or wrong side) of the collar is the side that is visible when rolled over; make sure this side looks neat with no yarn ends.

Making a Separate Flat Collar

  • make a test swatch with the needles, yarn and stitch pattern you’ll use for the collar
  • calculate stitch and row gauge
  • you may want to graph the collar based on the stitch and row gauge before knitting
  • to shape a separate collar use short-row shaping, increasing or decreasing
  • block the collar before sewing in place
  • with the right sides together, pin the collar in place, centering the piece at the back neck

A typical flat collar piece

separate simple split collar

Before you go and try knitting a simple collar, watch this episode “The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion” from Patriot Act on Netflix. It’s a timely topic performed as a satire by the comedian Hasan Minhaj.