Close up of the raglan shoulder seam on the Sagebrush tee.

Considerations in Sweater Knitting: Seamless vs. Seamed

Recently in my Instagram stories, I posted a poll on knitting sweaters in pieces. Not surprisingly, there are some strong opinions on seamless vs. seamed sweaters. Now, I love a good seamless yoke as much as the next person, but I generally prefer to knit sweaters in pieces. Here are a few of the advantages of pieced sweaters:

  1. The project is more portable. It’s easier to carry around a piece of a sweater that you’re working on than a whole sweater. Personally, I think sleeves especially are an underrated on-the-go project. And you don’t have as much sweater in your hands and lap as you knit, which is a) less weight for your wrists to deal with, and b) less hot in the summer.
  2. You can use the sleeve as a gauge swatch! Of course I’m going to be a stickler and tell you to knit a proper gauge swatch, but there are times when my knitting changes between knitting a swatch and knitting an actual garment. Maybe I didn’t knit a big enough swatch, or maybe I’m simply more or less relaxed when knitting the swatch vs. the actual garment, but starting with a sleeve is a great way to double-check my gauge. The downside, of course, to using the sleeve as a swatch, is you may have a bigger chunk of knitting to rip out if your gauge is off or you don’t like the fabric you’re getting. And yes, you do need to stop and block the sleeve before measuring the gauge.
  3. Seams help add structure and may prevent bias in the fabric. This is especially true for fibers that have a lot of drape, or for plant fibers which will tend to bias (twist) when worn. Have you ever had a cotton top you knit twist around your body when you wear it?
  4. This is more particular to top-down seamless sweaters, but in my experience trying on as you go works better in theory than in reality. I know lots of folks will argue with me on this point, but hear me out. First, you usually won’t have blocked the sweater if you’re trying on as you knit, so if your gauge is going to change with blocking, you won’t get an accurate sense of the fit. Better to knit an accurate swatch (see above) and do a bit of math. Second, I’ve found that it’s easy to overestimate the length of a piece that’s on the needles – I think maybe there’s some wishful thinking at play when I want to get the piece done!

On the flip side, there are some distinct advantages to seamless sweaters. The most obvious one is that once the knitting is done, there is less finishing standing between me and wearing my new garment! And one time I do appreciate a seamless sweater is when I’m playing yarn chicken. If the sweater is knit top-down, or if the sleeves are picked up and knit down from the completed garment, I can make adjustments to the body or sleeve length (or both) according to how much yarn I have. If I don’t have enough, I can maybe live with a slightly shorter hem or a 3/4 sleeve.

What is your favorite way to knit a sweater? Are there any advantages or disadvantages I haven’t covered here?


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Middle-aged woman modeling a relaxed fit open cardigan

On Sweater Sizing

Sweater sizing is a topic that has come up again recently on social media, and I thought it would be a good time to address the way I recommend choosing your sweater size for my designs. Generally in my sweater designs I recommend choosing the size with a certain amount of ease in the upper chest – this is measured around your chest just under the armpits and above the bust (if you have one). Because the armhole and shoulders of a sweater are the most difficult to alter, you want to choose a size that will fit best in that area and make any needed alterations elsewhere. And, since people with the same shoulder size will vary in the size of their full bust, it makes sense to fit the shoulder area according to the upper chest measurement.*

Now, you’re probably wondering how this will work if you, like me, have a small frame and a large bust. My measurements are as follows: upper chest – 34, underbust (this is the measurement generally taken for a bra band) – 30, full bust – 38. In the photo at the top of this post, I am wearing the Composure Cardigan in the 40 inch/ 113 cm size , which gives me 6 inches of positive ease in the upper chest, and just 2 inches of ease in the full bust. This gives me a nice relaxed, slightly oversized fit.

As a rule of thumb, the size you choose can have up to around 2 inches/ 5cm of negative ease in the full bust – knitted fabric will stretch to accommodate it without making any adjustments in the length or width of the fabric. With the oversized styles that are currently popular, most people will have enough room to fit their full bust. If you’re working with a more fitted style, you may need to add bust darts to get the best fit.

A schematic drawing for an open cardigan
Schematic for the Composure Cardigan.

There are a couple of other measurements you can use to help choose your size. One is the cross-back measurement, which on a drop-shoulder sweater like the Composure Cardigan or the Suora Tee, is simply half the chest circumference minus any stitches bound off at the underarm (for a modified drop-shoulder). This is measurement C on the example schematic above. You can measure across your shoulders where you want the shoulder seam to fall, and compare that to the measurements given on the pattern schematic. It’s also a good idea to check the neck width on your pattern to make sure it’s a comfortable width for the size you’re considering.

If you are working with a pattern that specifies ease in the full bust, or you’re not sure which it specifies, a good trick is to take your upper chest measurement plus 2 inches/ 5 cm. That’s because ‘average’ sizing in the women’s clothing industry has generally been based on a 2-inch difference between the upper chest and the full bust, or about a B-cup. In the example above, I would choose my size based on a 36 inch bust, so if I wanted 4-6 inches of ease for a relaxed fit, I would again choose the 40 inch size.

I hope this answers some questions you may have about choosing a size. Drop your other questions about sizing in the comments, and maybe I’ll answer them in a future post.

**Amy Herzog has some great resources on this topic. Here is a tutorial she wrote on choosing a size for her patterns: https://amyherzogdesigns.com/tutorials/choosing-a-size-set-in-sleeve/.


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New Pattern Release – March Flowers Mitts

The March Flowers Mitts pattern is now live on both Ravelry and Payhip. It’s been awhile since a design popped into my head almost wholly formed – I knew I had to knit these up right away! These mitts are just the thing to brighten up those chilly spring mornings, and they’re a great stashbuster too.

The pattern includes two charted options for the tulips. Use either chart for a simpler knit; or if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can mix and match the charts – if you mix and match there will be one 3-color row. The mitts are completed with an afterthought thumb so you don’t have to interrupt your colorwork knitting. Instructions are given for two adult sizes.

The March Flowers Mitts are 20% off from now until March 21st on Ravelry and Payhip with code MARCHFLOWERS20. Please share your makes with the hashtag #MarchFlowersMitts – I always love to see your projects!

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Announcements: Fasten Off YAL and a New Shopping Option

A handknit cowl, hat, cardigan, and socks.

A quick post with a couple of updates. First, when I released the Winding Stream Socks pattern, I decided to test out a new purchase option using Payhip. I’m happy to report that I am now slowly adding my other downloadable patterns to my Payhip site. This offers another option for purchasing my patterns off Ravelry, in addition to Etsy and LoveCrafts. I’m also hoping this will offer a way to easily purchase patterns through my website – it won’t be a full web shop, but you’ll be able to click through from the website straight to the pattern you want to purchase.

Second, the first ever Fasten Off YAL kicked off on Wednesday, and runs through December 5th. I am participating along with 90+ other knit and crochet designers. The Fasten Off YAL is taking place entirely off Ravelry, with community discussion being hosted on Discord. Click the button below to get all the details and join the fun. There will of course be prizes, and they’ve also created a special playlist on Spotify and there is even a bingo card. Through December 5th most of my participating patterns are 25% off with the code FO2020 on Etsy, Payhip, and Ravelry. Most of my patterns available as individual patterns are included, and you can see the full bundle in my Etsy shop.


Kerry models the blue Winding Stream Socks while wearing cuffed jeans against red brick stairs.

New Pattern Release – Winding Stream Socks

I’ve finally released a pattern that has been on the back burner for some time – the Wandering Stream Socks. I had a skein of hand dyed yarn I bought as a souvenir on a trip to Estes Park, Colorado (as one does). I wanted a pattern that would be a bit more fun to knit than plain stockinette or ribbing, and that would show off the variegated yarn without overwhelming it. So I decided on a simple cable pattern offset by purl stitches, with a short-row heel to avoid interrupting the flow of the colors. The socks are knit toe up, with both charted and written instructions for the cable, and are sized for toddler through adult XL feet.

Close-up of the left sock showing the German short row heel.

The Winding Stream Socks pattern is 15% off until November 8th. Newsletter subscribers – keep an eye on your inbox for a 30% discount code.

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