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Tips & Tricks for Seamless Knitting

Jan 21, 2009

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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idamonica wrote
on Nov 27, 2010 10:21 PM

I have been trying to find a proper tutorial for sleeves for my (adult) sweater. would you please let me know how many increases I need to make until the armhole and how many decrease for the sleeve cap. Is it alternative decrease for the sleeve cap or every knit side. Also, after how many rows I need to incease until armhole. I would be grateful.

PatriciaS@4 wrote
on Jan 23, 2009 9:44 PM
please eunny, show me how you make your slip knot. I know this is so basic, but in one of the youtubes it looked as if you did more than just a simple knot. thanks. Patricia
on Jan 23, 2009 5:55 AM
Just a quick question, since I can't find sizing info anywhere - What are the size ranges for the patterns in "French Girl Knits"? I love seamless knitting, but I hate trying to resize everything when it isn't written large enough (I know, not everything looks flattering in a larger size!)..
AnnO wrote
on Jan 21, 2009 7:55 PM
Hi Sandy, I attended a meeting tonight, and was asked if I knit my vest. The lady asking me mentioned that her daughter writes a knitting blog, "Knitting Daily." "Your daugher is Sandi Wiseheart?" I asked. " I read her every day! I know she just moved from Colorado to Toronto, and was able to keep her position with Interweave Press." So this is to say hello from a big fan of yours and KD. I live in Palos Park, and volunteer at the McCord Gallery which is where I met your mom tonight. Thanks for inspiring me. Ann Oliver P.S. I am a strong believer in supporting my local yarn shops. The stash behind my couch is proof!
cmattes wrote
on Jan 21, 2009 7:04 PM
ahem...looks to me like Miss Viola is holding a violin instead of a viola...
DarleneW wrote
on Jan 21, 2009 6:39 PM
I love one piece sweaters. And you are right- the gauge is different when you knit in the round. Great suggestion to do a sleeve first on a "bottom-up" sweater. I remember reading Elizabeth Zimmerman's suggestion to try a hat for the top-down sweaters. That way, you can check the gauge, try out the pattern, and have a hat to boot without a great deal of time or yarn.
SharonV wrote
on Jan 21, 2009 12:00 PM
I never thought about seamless knitting until I made the Tangled Yoke Sweater (Interweave Knits, Fall 2007). Love it! The beauty of it is when you're done knitting the piece is virtually finished. No matching up seams, so no crooked seams, minimal sewing/finishing and maximum satisfaction!