I've become a little obsessed with seamless yokes lately. For as much as I knit, I am a fairly lazy knitter, so seamless knitting patterns are very much up my alley—I don't mind finishing, but if I can find a way out of it, I'll do that. A seamless yoke also allows for endless permutations and personal customization (which yes, does require some work, but it's creative work, not minutia and detail work; it's totally different!). In the Fall issue of Knitscene, we featured two sweaters patterns with lacy seamless yokes: Lien Ngo's Abbey Pullover and Melissa J. Goodale's Counterfort Pullover.
But really, with a seamless panel as your base, you can do pretty much anything. Stripey colorwork, Fair Isle colorwork, funky stitch patterns—the yoke is your canvas. Before you begin, though, there are a few things to keep in mind about knitting a seamless yoke:
- A seamless yoke has a different armhole depth than your standard set-in sleeves. A quick glance at a schematic for each kind of sweater will tell you that.
The depth for a set-in sleeve is pretty much a straight up and down circle, even though you'll only measure one side, or half the circumference, beginning just under the arm and going straight up to the shoulder joint. A seamless yoke, on the other hand, is best measured down the front of your torso. The arrow I drew is a bit off center, but you want to measure from just below your throat, where your collarbones meet, down to just below your bust.(I extended the dashed line to show how the deepest joining round would continue around the yoke.)
- Spacing out your decreases or increases depends on your shoulder depth. If you're altering a knitting pattern with a seamless yoke, make sure you adjust the number of rows between decrease or increase rows.
- Planning the decreases or increases rows is pretty much up to the designer—there aren't any rules to follow. Typically, most seamless yokes will have three to five rows of changing stitch counts (either more stitches, in a top-down sweater, or fewer stitches, in a bottom-up sweater). In her book Knitting Plus, Lisa Shroyer points out that traditional yokes have four rounds of decreases, removing 20% of the stitches on the first round, 25% of the stitches on the second round, and 33% of the stitches on the third and fourth rounds.
I know seamless yokes, in this context, may seem overwhelming, but find a pattern that appeals to you and try it out for yourself—knitting a seamless yoke is really quite easy.
Till next time,
PS - Did you see the preview for Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts yet? Let us know what you think, and look for that issue on-sale September 6.