OK, so I am a complete lunatic thinking that I could finish the pink flower/lace/pirate sweater by this evening. What was I thinking? Chalk it up to baseless optimism.
After working on the sleeve edging and front borders for a couple of hours last night, it's clear that it won't be done today. Everything I tried did NOT work so that means re-thinking most of the details that I had in mind. Fortunately, we are having unseasonably warm weather here in Central Florida right now so she won't need the sweater for a bit.
In my mind, just about all of this work falls under the category of finishing the sweater. You know how that looks in patterns - there's a caption that says "Finishing" and it has short snappy little instructions like "Pick up and work single crochet along front edge," or "Sew side, underarm and sleeve seams," or, one of my old-school favorites, "Finish in the usual way."
The problem with this is that "Finishing" really does make the difference in how well the project turns out, whether it's a full blown sweater or just a simple purse. However, it is a set of skills rather than just some instructions and the knitting and crochet patterns really aren't the place to spell that out.
The good news is that because finishing is a set of skills, it can be learned. The way to go about that is to start with reference material and then practice. Here are some sources to get you started:
The "I Hate to Finish Sweaters" Guide
This book is only about finishing. The author has a blog you might want to check out as well.
The Knitters Book of Finishing Techniques
Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book
This is an old standby with a lot of useful information.
An online forum for all types of craft and handwork. The place to ask specific questions.
Well, that should be a good start for getting information on finishing projects. Be sure to practice a new technique and ask questions when in doubt.
The most useful, though not necessarily pleasant, tip I can give on getting a professional finish is this: Just suck it up and re-do it if it doesn't come out right. Repeat until correct.