Another good way of picking up for button bands on straight edges, if the exact number of stitches is not totally important, is to pick up three and then miss one. On curved edges it should be one to one.
If you have to pick up stitches for neckbands and button bands divide the stitches evenly(ish) into 4. Then fold your work in half and mark the halfway point with a safety pin. Place a safety pin at the mid point of each half (3 pins in total - each marking a quarter distance of the work).
Then pick up a quarter of the total number of stitches required between the start and the first pin, a quarter between the first and second pin and so on until you have picked up all the stitches. This will give you an even band.
If it's made of wool (as opposed to a manmade fibre) soak it in tepid water for 20 mins (I use some of this which is marvellous but hellishly expensive) then squeeze but do not wring the fabric, roll it flat into a towel and press hard (stand on it if necessary). Then pin the garment out and pat it straight and leave to dry. If you're doing a hat like I did on Xmas day you can shape it over a balloon
If manmade, I would pin it out on your ironing board, whack the iron on its steamiest setting and then go over the airspace above the fabric (do not let it touch the fabric of course) to get it reasonable wet, then again pat it down and move stitches about a bit. Leave to dry.
Blocking seriously transforms stuff. It may be your mum's secret
Rowan run a course called Professional Finishing Techniques and honestly, it is worth its weight in gold. It takes a lot of the horror and mysticism out of making things up and, whilst it can never become a pleasure, it stops being the thing that takes all the delight out of a garment you've worked hard on.
This should be a list of the dates and places their course is being offered in 2013. I'm sure there are equally good alternatives available.
I have to say, quite a few people I've met on these courses have pretty much come to learn the bits their mum used to do for them! As your mum is still with us, you do at least have the opportunity to ask her how she would do it.
ourvye is right - one of the best ways of minimising the amount of finishing you need to do is seamless knitting. Look out for patterns which are knit all in once piece (I love Carina Spencer's stuff). The mattress stitch is your friend and don't forget you can block the garment as well to smooth out lumps and bumps.
A lovely baby cardigan is the baby surprise jacket and it has virtually no making up - just two seams across the top of the arms.
But definitely do ask your mum, I would love to hear what her tips for finishing are.
If you haven't done it before, learn to do mattress stitch. That way, you can see how the pieces are joining together, you get a nice even seam and you can join row for row to keep the seams straight and avoid puckering. Lightly steaming the pieces before you join them means you work with them at their final size and shape, so you can see better where there's any slack to take in.
And if you really hate making up, baby garments are a good size to practice knitting in the round!
I love knitting, started about 30 years ago and made loads for my three dc's when they were young but always used to give what I had made to my mum to make up. [lazy emoticon]
I am now at the stage where my dc's friends are having babies and my friends are becoming grandparents and I have started again but i really can't make up. Mum is 86 this year and I really couldn't ask her now.
Last night I finished a cardigan for a baby girl and it was lovely until I had to make it up, now it looks a bit like a dogs dinner.