Knitting Without Seams
Note from Sandi: The following is excerpted from Interweave's new book, French Girl Knits: Innovative Techniques, Romantic Details, and Feminine Designs, by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes. Kristeen's book will be quite a treat for those of you who hate sewing up seams in your knitting– all 18 patterns in this book are seamless!
A top-down raglan begins with the number of stitches required for the neck circumference. The four body sections (front, back, right sleeve, and left sleeve) are delineated by markers, which indicate where increases will be made to shape the yoke. The increases create diagonal lines that follow the boundaries between the four body sections as you work the distance from the neck to the armhole.
Considering that many patterns specify working a garment in pieces from the hem to the neckline, most knitters learn to construct garments that way. This method can make custom fitting difficult because it isn't clear how the pieces fit together until all of the knitting is completed and the seams are sewn. Seamless bottom-up construction, on the other hand, lets you try on the garment as it progresses as well as cast on lovely scalloped lace edgings at the hem and sleeves.
You construct bottom-up seamless garments in the same way as their made-in-pieces sisters, but you knit the front and back simultaneously in a single piece to the armholes, work the sleeves in rounds from the cuffs to the underarms, then join the pieces and work the yoke in a single piece to the neck.
Top-down seamless set-in sleeve construction gives knitters who love seamless construction the means to achieve the sophisticated look of made-in-pieces sweaters without the tricky and often frustrating armhole seams. For the simultaneous body and sleeve method, the sweater begins at the shoulder line with a provisional cast-on for the entire width of the shoulders. You work the front and back separately, with short-rows worked across the back. You then join front and back as you pick up stitches for the sleeves at each armhole edge.
Sandi here again: Reading through Kristeen's book was a bit like having all sorts of little lightbulbs go off in my head. My background is in sewing, so I'm fairly comfortable with making pieces that fit and seaming them together. But studying the diagrams and techniques in this book helped me visualize garment knitting in three dimensions–which, of course, is invaluable considering that we humans are built in three dimensions! I'm totally stoked to try knitting a seamless set-in sleeve sweater now that I've seen the lovely photos of the Viola above.
Tune back in on Wednesday, when I will have some great seamless knitting tips from Kristeen.
What's on Sandi's needles? I've been finishing up things this week–seaming sweaters that had long languished in my knitting closet, for one thing–and now I have to decide: do I start the Central Park Hoodie my sister asked for, work on baby gifts for all the new members of my family, or start another lace shawl that is a gift for (shhh) someone else? Choices, choices.