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Easy Seamless Knitting

Sep 10, 2012

I'm just finishing up a top-down seamless tee-shirt and I can tell that I'm going to love it. I've been trying it on as I knit and adjusting the fit here and there. I added short-rows to the bust area, made the sleeves longer, and added short-rows to the hemline to give the sweater a dip in the front and back while staying a bit shorter on the sides. I love that look.

Equinox Raglan by Debbie O'Neill
It was such an easy knitting pattern, which was enjoyable in itself, but the changes I made added just a bit of challenge for me.

The editors at Knitscene magazine have pulled together some great information about seamless knitting—and some fabulous patterns—in the new eBook Easy Seamless Sweater Patterns to Knit. Here's some advice for knitting seamless sweaters:

Why Go Seamless?
A seamless yoke is actually straightforward by definition: a sweater with a yoke (the section of the upper body that encompasses front, back, upper sleeves, and shoulders) that has absolutely no seams.

By contrast, a non-seamless yoke has seams at the sleeve-body join. The stitch orientation of and number of rows in the sleeves usually do not align with the body, making continuous patterning on the upper body impossible. These constructions, such as the set-in or drop-shoulder, also feature shoulder stitches that need to be seamed, front to back.

The seamless yoke makes a great canvas for colorwork and uninterrupted stitch patterns-see the pullovers above and opposite. Seamless yokes can feature raglan shaping, which gives the appearance of seams without the bulk, or concentric shaping that has minimal obvious structure.

Top Down
Seamless yokes can easily begin at the top or at the bottom of the sweater. But for the knitter who wants to avoid seaming as much as possible, a top-down seamless yoke sweater is knitting nirvana. Stitches are cast on for the neckline and then increases are worked, either in diagonal lines (a raglan) or in a concentric pattern for a circular yoke. The body and the sleeves are separated; the sleeve stitches are placed on holders; then the body is worked in the round to the hem. The only seaming necessary is the underarm, which can, alternatively, be grafted. If a top-down sweater is looking too small or too big, place the live stitches on some waste yarn and pull the piece over

Sigma Tee by Melissa Wehrle
Bottom Up
Bottom-up seamless sweaters are great for the knitter on the go. In many of these patterns, the garment is worked in smaller, more manageable pieces. The body is knit in the round from the bottom hem and then set aside. The sleeves are then knit, starting from the cuffs, and worked to the desired length. With this construction, you have the added bonus of being able to knit both sleeves at the same time, if you choose. Another option with bottom-up construction is to knit the sleeves first and use your in-progress sleeves to check your gauge. Once the body and sleeves are knit, they're joined together in the round. The yoke is then shaped with decreases from joining round to neck.

—Amy Palmer, Editor, Easy Seamless Sweater Patterns to Knit

I love this knitting technique, and I know you will too. Download Easy Seamless Sweater Patterns to Knit now and get started!


P.S. What's your favorite sweater style to knit? Top-down seamless? Pieces? Bottom-up seamless? Let us know why in the comments!


Featured Product

Knitscene presents Easy Seamless Sweaters to Knit with 5 Favorite Raglan Patterns

Availability: In Stock
Was: $11.99
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Learn to knit sweaters with five easy sweater knitting patterns. Seamless raglan sweater patterns are easy to knit and require minimal finishing.


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shysquirel wrote
on Sep 16, 2012 11:26 AM

Miryam, an easy way to try on a garment as your are knitting in the round is to use 2 circular needles; if you have two of the same size, you can just knit half of the stitches onto the second needle, put caps on the ends of the needles so that the stitches don't slide off and then adjust so that the stitches are not stretched out.  If you don't have another circular needle the same size, you can use another smaller sized circular needle to slip half the stitches onto.  Either way will allow you to slip the garment on to determine the fit.

Miryam wrote
on Sep 15, 2012 3:54 PM

Kathleen, I keep reading about how with top-down you can "try on as you go".....but there's this pesky circular knitting needle in the way. How do you do that? Do you transfer all the stitches onto a piece of yarn or something so you can take the needle off and try something on? That sounds so fiddly....Is there something I'm missing?

on Sep 15, 2012 3:32 PM

The total joy of top down sweaters starts with the fact that every stitch and every row can be adapted. Not your size, continue increases until it fits your  bustline. Large chest and narrow back? Divide stitches to have fewer in back and more in front. Neckline to low or high for your tastes, adjust to suit you. I knit the Eqinox with a smaller scoop neckline by casting on, knit one row, purl one row, cont. in For me this gave me a very finished neckline which doesn't show my undergarments. And at any point you can run a safety line and try your sweater on, and make any adjustments you would like. Something you can't do with a pieced garment.

ChristineY@2 wrote
on Sep 15, 2012 10:51 AM

If you have a large bust (small back) does a top down sweater with raglan decreases make the bust look like it  POPS out?


on Sep 15, 2012 6:24 AM

P.S.  I pick up the sleeve stitches on double pointed needles and decrease on the way to the cuff.  

on Sep 15, 2012 6:07 AM

I do everything I can to avoid sewing seams.  I have done several sweaters bottom-up.  I use the Kitchener stitch to join the shoulder seams.  I then pick up and knit the correct number of stitches around the armhole and to the sleeves from the top-down.  Call me lazy but it works.

on Sep 10, 2012 8:25 PM

You seem to forget that seamless sweaters have been around for a long time. Indeed, that's how they were first made. Are you aware that Elizabeth Zimmermann is all about knitting without seams?

EVElLYN wrote
on Sep 10, 2012 8:01 PM

 OH JOY!!!  Some genius came up with the perfect  relief from the "seamingsyndrome". I have the "top-down" bug, and have been adapting

all my sweater patterns to this method. Another trick it allows you to do, is

use questionable amounts of yarn from your stash--you know--"I wonder if I have enough wool to make this pattern "---so you knit sleeves down as far as your stash will allow, or until you run out of yarn !!= many different sleeve lengths!

Happy "stash-busting"!  EVELYN.

rrichter wrote
on Sep 10, 2012 7:23 PM

Kathleen, thanks.  That is perfect.

on Sep 10, 2012 4:14 PM

Link fixed! Here's a shortcut:

gaetmax wrote
on Sep 10, 2012 12:55 PM

Bonjour ! à quand vos revues en français ??? je vois beaucoup de modèles qui me plaisent mais je ne parle, ni lit l'anglais !!! et on est beaucoup en france à vous apprécier !

rrichter wrote
on Sep 10, 2012 12:51 PM

Your link at the end of this article for "Easy Seamless Sweater Patterns to Knit" does load.  Any suggestions?  

AmyPalmer wrote
on Sep 10, 2012 10:32 AM

Hello Joan and Laughingrat! If you search our pattern database for the sweaters you're looking for (the search bar is in the upper right corner), you can find the individual pattern pages for the sweaters. The Equinox Raglan, for example ( goes up to a 48" bust; the Sigma Tee ( goes up to a 47" bust.

Laughingrat wrote
on Sep 10, 2012 8:00 AM

I agree with Joan--I came to the site expressly to ask if any of the admins could share the sizing info.  The sweaters are beautiful, but not necessarily worth buying the patterns for without this crucial piece of information.  :)

Joan Barbier wrote
on Sep 10, 2012 7:13 AM

Question, I love these patterns but there is no mention of what size they go up to or start at. I would probably have bought these, as well as others but for this issue.

I have only ever knitted sweaters bottom up. I am making a seamless one right now and I love it. I hate sewing up seams and with this one I don't have to.