Make it seamless!

Kathleen's top-down seamless
cardigan, in progress!

Seamless knitting and I have a love/less-love relationship. When the method first became popular again several years ago (it had a little lull after Elizabeth Zimmermann and Barbara Walker made it famous), I knit sweater after sweater in one piece.

Then I got tired of knitting on such a huge piece, so I went back to knitting sweaters in pieces. I liked how each piece was more portable than the huge one-piecers. (Disclaimer: I usually knit a 48- to 54-inch size, depending on the ease I want, so my seamless sweaters are pretty sizey.)

But I always go back to the seamless knitting technique because there are so many great patterns written using it. I'm working on a seamless sweater right now (shown at right)—a top-down cardigan. It's my own pattern, one that I'm developing as I go. I am keeping notes, though, so maybe I can get it published! I'm working on the sleeves now, and to finish it off, I'm going to knit a wide seed-stitch border for the front.

In the new book The Art of Seamless Knitting, Simona Merchant-Dest and Faina Goberstein have pulled together a group of beautiful designs, plus plenty of information to help you understand seamless knitting, convert pieced sweater knitting patterns into seamless sweaters, and even step-by-step instructions on how to design your own seamless knits.

It's a fantastic book. Here's an excerpt, all about top-down construction worked in rows (versus in the round), which is how I knit my sweater.

Top-Down Construction Worked in Rows

To work cardigans seamlessly from the top down, cast on stitches for the neck and work back and forth in rows to the base of the armholes, shaping the neck and armholes along the way. Then work the lower body in one piece in rows to the lower body all in one piece in rows to the lower edge. To finish, work the sleeves (in the round) to the cuffs.

Raglan Shaping
Cast on stitches for the neck and shape the neck as desired while working back and forth in rows, increasing along the raglan lines to the base of the armholes. Place the sleeve stitches onto holders and work the remaining body stitches in rows to the lower edge. To finish, work the sleeves in rounds to desired length.
   Circular-Yoke Shaping
Cast on stitches for the neck and shape the neck as desired while working the specified number of increase rows to the base of the armholes. Place the sleeve stitches onto holders and work the remaining body stitches in rows to the lower edge. To finish, work the sleeves in rounds to desired length.
Dolman Shaping
Provisionally cast on stitches for the back right shoulder and sleeve and work back and forth to the base of the neck shaping. Repeat for the back left
shoulder and sleeve, joining the two halves at the base of the neck and working in one piece to the base of the armholes. Then pick up stitches from the provisional cast-on for the front, work the front to the base of the armholes, shaping the front neck as desired. Bind off the front and back sleeve stitches together, and then work the remaining body stitches in rows to the lower edge. Work the lower body (above right) in one piece in rows to the lower edge,
shaping the waist and hips as desired.

There's so much to learn about top-down sweaters! Reserve your copy of The Art of Seamless Knitting today and we'll send it to you as soon as it's here!


P.S. I don't have a name for my sweater design yet. Help me out and leave me a suggestion in the comments!

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Knitting Daily Blog
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

15 thoughts on “Make it seamless!

  1. I am making a sweater; top down, seamless and enjoy it more than making the separate pieces. I am now at the sleeves and knitting them at the same time also. It gets me to finish my sweaters faster. This looks like a nice pattern, also.

    “Down in One” because it’s a top down and one piece. That’s the first thing that popped in my head.

  2. Interesting what you say about knitting a garment in pieces vs knitting in the round, one piece. Since I’m always on public transportation, I like to travel light so I like to carry knitting projects that don’t weigh a ton. I knit a vest that way – in sections on the bus, train, at talks. Another advantage – if you lose your knitting on the train (as I did) you haven’t lost your entire garment. Luckily too, I was able to replace the yearn easily and there was no dye lot issue. That said, I like knitting in the round, easier to do, less mattress stitch…but at a certain the WIP begins to weigh a lot and feels like a blanket!

  3. “Beginners Plain Jane.” It looks lie a very easy way for someone to create a “go with everything”sweater while learning the top down technique.

  4. Other than having smaller pieces to deal with, is there a reason to have seams? Obviously there are occasions where structurally you need to have a seam to join the fabric but does it have any bearing on the way it hangs or wears??

  5. You definitely need to publish it–I’ve just started knitting an almost identical self-designed cardigan for a friend!! She doesn’t like the look of ribbing, so I’m using seed st hem and sleeve cuff, and using a wide seed st border on each front. It’s a take off of the minimalist cardigan with fronts that meet but not overlap, and a little longer in the length. Can’t decide if I’m going to add shaping. Just wanted a basic, no-frills top-down seamless pattern to show off gorgeous yarn.

    I’m using Ann Budd’s ‘The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters as my jumping off reference. Of course now I want to add The Art of Seamless Knitting to my reference library, too!

    I don’t have a creative name to suggest, but include your name, as in ‘Kathy’s Mellow Mood’ or ‘Kathleen’s Stone Jam’ Cardigan. Give yourself the credit you deserve!

  6. I agree with marthawright. The coral/mauve short sleeve cable top with the deep V is exceptional. Is the pattern available without the book? Is it in the book?

  7. Hello Kathleen, I always enjoy your articles. I’ve been knitting top-down since I discovered Barbara Walker’s books back in the seventies, and have just been reading Elizabeth Zimmerman’s bottom-up method. Haven;t tried sideways yet, but all one-piece garments are good. I hate seaming! I usually knit the front bands in with the garment, using short rows where needed – anything for an easy life AND a smooth finish.

    Your sweater looks the handy sort of garment you can put on at duck when the heat goes out of the sun; I suggest calling it “Sundowner”.

  8. Once I got to know to knit all in one I got hooked. I am trying very hard to convince all knitters at our local woolshop to give it a go. My motto now is ” If you don’t try it, you won’t know what you are missing out on!!” Just to think the only part that gets handsewn on is the bottons!!!! I challenge all knitter who have not tried this method out to go and just DO IT!!!!