Most of my students share a few commonalities -- they don't like to take the time to do a good gauge swatch and they hate the finishing process. But finishing does not have to be time consuming and laborious.
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1) My very favorite shortcut is to count the rows of the pieces that are going to be seamed together and make sure they have the same number. This may seem like more work, but mark every 10 rows as you go and the keeping track is easy and adds almost no time. The time-savings comes when you go to seam the pieces together. With the same number of rows, seaming together row-to-row one-for-one and the pieces match perfectly. No pinning, no ripping, no making sure to block both pieces "exactly" the same. This also eliminates the need to block the pieces to size first since they really do match up. Just steam the edges if need be to make the seaming process easier and then launder/block when done.
2) Do the finishing as you go along instead of waiting to do it all at the end. Technically this is not a shortcut in the truest since of the word, but it will feel less time consuming when worked in small spurts instead of as one giant project. As you finish a piece, weave in the ends. When the front and back are done, seam the shoulders and complete the neckline edging. As a sleeve is complete, set it in -- you don't have to wait to do them both at the same time. When you get to the end, there will be only a bit left to complete and it will seem to be very quick by comparison.
3) Practice the techniques you need to use for finishing. I know this sounds strange, but actually makes a lot of sense. The reason you are faster at knitting now than when you first started is because you have practiced making LOTS of stitches. I know from experience that you get faster at seaming, picking up stitches, weaving in ends the more you do it. If you feel like you don't have the skills, our good friend, Chris Bylsma has a new class available on Craftsy, Seaming Handknits and that link gives you 25% off! All of Chris' projects are beautifully finished, so I know she will give you wonderful tips and tricks.
Do you have a shortcut for finishing that I missed? Share it in the comments below, because we can all use a little more knitting time!