Thursday, 30 May 2013

Going Seamless

I've often seen knitters referring to the chore of seaming their work.  I don't find it a chore, in fact it's quite enjoyable when all the pieces of a cardigan have been knitted to sew them together and hey presto there's a finished garment.

There are numerous knitting patterns out there that are worked seamlessly. I've thought about giving them a try but haven't done anything about it, yet.   Many patterns use a top-down technique with a rounded yoke.  I've never liked this style I don't think the resulting garments sits well.

I've noticed that some patterns use a bottom-up pattern for the body of the garment but then use a top-down method for the sleeves.

This idea appealed, so having worked myself into a frenzy of excitement about trying something new, I set myself the challenge of completing a seamless cardigan.

And here's what I made.

I decided to make up my own pattern rather than use an existing pattern - that way I could better understand the construction constraints.

I used 4 ply yarn - some Sirdar Snuggly I had left over from a previous project.  The body was worked in one piece up to the armholes.  I've used this technique before, but never in my own patterns.  I hadn't previously used side shaping, so I included that in this pattern.

I think it works well - very neat and I think I'll make an effort to make more use of this technique.

At the armholes the work divides and the fronts and back are knitted separately.  The shoulders are worked using short row shaping and a three needle bind off.  Again I have used this technique before and I find it gives a lovely neat and flat seam.

The new part was the sleeves.  These were worked by picking up stitches around the armhole and working short rows, backwards and forwards to shape the sleeve head.  The sleeve was then completed by knitting in the round.

A positive point to this technique is that the garment can be tried on as the work-in-progress grows to check for length and fit.  A negative is that I'm not convinced the join between the body and sleeve is very neat.  The short row shaping leaves a bit of a ladder effect  -  but that may just be me being too critical.  Over the last few days since I completed the cardigan, the 'seam' appears less offensive than it did at first.

The main complaint I had with the whole process was the number of stitch holders, circular needles and DPNs that had to be employed all at the same time.  When completing the sleeve head I found myself getting very frustrated with all the attachments and tangles.  It took several days just to complete the sleeve heads because of the fiddly nature of the technique, I found myself thinking that if I was knitting in the traditional way I would have finished them in a couple of hours.

So the verdict - I think I prefer the traditional method for sleeves - quicker, just as neat if sewn with care and more scope for a better fit.  I wouldn't rule out using the top-down sleeve method again but - life's too short to battle with all those needles.

I've kept notes on the pattern for this cardigan but, that's another negative about this method, it takes a lot of explaining in print.  I haven't worked up any enthusiasm for writing out the pattern properly yet.

The cardigan was quick to knit (apart from the sleeves) and is a great fit. I like the honeycomb pattern I added to the fronts to give a bit of interest.  I may still write the pattern but with sleeves knitted in the traditional way - watch this space.


  1. I don't find seaming a problem either. In fact (may be the engineer in me talking) I like having different pieces and then sewing them up to make a complete item xxx

  2. I love the soft colour and the honeycomb panels give just the right amount of decoration - very subtle. Three needle bind off shoulders are definitely the neatest option. A lovely little cardi !

  3. It's beautiful, I'm in awe of anyone that can create their own knitting patterns .. Sarah x

  4. Oh Janet - you are so clever I love your cardigan. Thank you so much for popping over to my blog and becoming a follower.
    Hope you have a lovely day
    Sue x


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