A new thing!

If there’s one thing I hate about knitting, it’s weaving in loose ends when I’m finished. If there’s another thing I hate about knitting, it’s seaming—sewing the separate pieces together to make the garment.

There isn’t much I can do about the first, but there is about the second. Since I started knitting, roughly eight? nine? years ago, I’ve assiduously minimized the seaming I had to do on every piece I made, whether it was an “official” pattern or one I was making up as I went along. I thought I’d gotten as far as it was possible to go—knitting the body part “in the round,” where you’re actually knitting a tube that goes around the body, splitting into front and back to leave room for the arms, then seaming the shoulders together. On the sleeves, I learned how to pick up stitches from the shoulder and knit to the wrist, so there was no seam to sew there. (The only exception I can think of is Snaotheus’s Lebowski sweater, which was so big and heavy that trying to do it that way would have given me permanent stress injuries in both hands.)


The pattern I settled on for Miss D’s requested sweater (see below) turned out to have a completely different construction method from anything I’d seen before. It started at the top neck, added stitches here and there to make the shoulder slopes, and then—miracle! Really!—using a series of ingeniously placed increases, it let you knit the fronts, shoulders and back as one piece, while knitting in the sleeve caps at the same time. All in one piece. Contiguous method, I believe it’s called.

It was a little fiddly at first—at least, fiddly enough that I had to pay attention to what I was doing rather than paying attention to a movie and knitting mindlessly. At one point, I thought I’d never get past those darned increases and the counting that went with them, but I did. Now I’m down into the body, where I can knit fairly mindlessly for the next nine inches or so.

Strictly from an engineering standpoint, I thought y’all might get a kick out of this. Below is a shot of the shoulder from above. The not-quite-vertical rows are where the shoulder seam would normally be, and you can see the sleeve-cap increases heading out at about 45° to left and right.


Below, then, is the front sleeve cap (before reaching the underarm, where you attach the front to the back and finish making the armscye, or arm hole). This clearly shows the line where the stitch increases occurred to make the sleeve cap. Notice that they curve up at the right; this is to accommodate the sharp curve of the underarm:


And, at the same stage, the back showing the back side of the sleeve cap:


Then it became a matter of adding a few stitches under the arm and knitting back and forth. Interspersed in all this is remembering to make yarn-over buttonholes (large ones, to fit the big flower buttons Miss D picked out). Another eight or nine inches and I’ll be ready for the bottom rib. After that, I’ll use the stitches that are presently threaded onto useless yarn to knit the sleeves down to the wrist. (At that point—PAY ATTENTION, SNAOTHEUS & KRISDI—I’ll need to know whether Miss D has her dad’s monkey-child arms or not, measured from shoulder down to wrist.)

This is where it is today, showing left front, tied-off sleeve cap, and part of the back draped over my monitor screen:


I’m really taken with this whole approach. If I could talk myself into doing the math, I’d try doing one for myself. (Although I suspect someone may already have done that—I believe a brilliant knitter named Susie Myers invented the method, so she or some aficionada/o may have done a whole range worth’s of the math.) It’s pretty amazing, watching one row of stitches turn into all this without cutting the yarn at any point.

Now, if all is going well, the grains I’m going to put into the bread I’m going to bake today will be cooked and ready. Yes. Bread. I am baking bread today. It is a pretty good day. 🙂

Posted by wordsmith

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