Tips & Tricks for Seamless Knitting

Note from Sandi: Any knitting technique that allows you to try on the garment as you go, making adjustments along the way, is a win-win. It allows you to really get to know your own shape, and how that shape may require different curves than the one in the pattern schematic. It also allows you to intimately connect each knitted element with its result–if you put short-rows there, then the result is that; if you add decreases here then the result is this. Each knitting decision thus results in near-instant feedback, teaching you more about garment shaping than any other method.

There are some tricks and tips that can help you to knit seamless garments successfully. Today, I present several tips excerpted from Interweave's new book, French Girl Knits: Innovative Techniques, Romantic Details, and Feminine Designs, by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes. Kristeen's book features 18 pretty sweaters, all of them knitted without seams! She also clearly and thoroughly discusses five types of seamless garments, listing tips and tricks for knitting each one.

Here's some of Kristeen's favorite tips for knitting seamless garments:

Top-Down Raglan Tips

  • An important consideration in constructing a top-down raglan garment is the shoulder width. For example, if you have narrow shoulders and a large bust, consider following the instructions for a size smaller than usual to get the proper fit for the upper yoke, then add the necessary room at the underarm by casting on more stitches at the body join and/or working short-rows in the bust area.
  • The increases worked along raglan seam lines can accentuate the shoulders and bust, which isn't always advantageous. Especially in silhouettes that feature a crew or high neckline, I often designs raglans to have a more open (broad and/or deep) or V-neck shape to help minimize the emphasis on shoulders and bust and highlight instead women's lovely necks and cleavage.
  • Pay special attention to the underarm area because it's easy for the sleeve and body width to grow rapidly as the raglan increases are made in this area, resulting in excess fabric and a baggy look. To control the excess, add extra stitches or short-rows only where needed at the bodice join and/or bust.

General Seamless Knitting Tips

  • Be sure to work your gauge swatch in the round. Many knitters have tighter or looser tension when they work in rounds than when they work back and forth in rows.
  • Work the sleeves first in a bottom-up seamless garment to learn the stitch pattern and verfiy your gauge before you cast on for the entire lower body circumference.
  • To keep the sleeves from being too wide at the base of the armholes in a top-down set-in sleeve pattern, use short-rows to create smooth, narrow sleeve caps. Doing so eliminates the problem–inherent in raglan constructions–of overly generous sleeves.
  • You can't rely on the adorable little unwashed, unblocked 4" (10 cm) square you may think will tell you how your knitted fabric will behave. After you've knitted washed, and blocked your swatch, you can be more confident about the properties of your yarn. Now, you can make decisions about sizing (e.g., the length of the sleeves or bodice) as you knit. You will know, rather than guess, what will happen with the finished garment.


For more techniques and tips regarding these types of constructions, plus patterns and information on all five seamless techniques
–look for French Girl Knits in your local yarn shop, or buy it online from our store.

Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? I needed some easy knitting last night, so I cast on for my sister's Central Park Hoodie. I may switch out the cable pattern, however, just because when do I ever knit a pattern exactly as written?


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