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  • January 11, 2021 3 min read 11 Comments

    Well, I have a confession. For those of you who know me and have been knitting with me for a while, you already know. I like seams in my sweaters. But then I like fountain pens, cloth napkins, and older men, so who knows? Maybe I'm just old school. Not everyone likes seamed sweaters. I get it. But plenty of people do, right? I figured it was about 50/50, but I wanted to check, so I ran a highly unscientific poll on my Instagram story. I was wrong. Very wrong. It was 75/25 Seamless vs seamed. Wow.

    I started thinking, maybe the data was skewed. There are all kinds of ways to build unintentional bias into a poll. If you want to determine whether people prefer classical music or rap, you’ll get a different result if you ask people coming out of the Kennedy Center vs those coming out of a Drake concert. I know that Instagram skews much younger than other social media, so I thought maybe, it’s just that younger knitters prefer seamless. So I polled my Facebook audience. Not a lot of response there, but Melissa shared what I believe to be a common sentiment among knitters: I like seams for structure, but I hate the act of seaming.

    What is it about seaming that knitters hate? I can’t speak for others, but I do remember being really discouraged with the seaming process. I was a pretty good knitter, but my seams looked really bad. I just didn’t know how to do it, and no one was teaching it at the time. I remember learning short rows pretty early on so that I could do a three needle bind off on my shoulders rather than have to seam them. When I learned how to do it, seaming became something I actually enjoyed, but until then, I would do almost anything to avoid it.  Is that you?

    Or maybe you know how to seam just fine but like the other benefits of seamless. I can totally get behind a well-done seamless sweater. Like Cocoknits. Love this method. I’ve knitted three Cocoknits sweaters, and I like them all. Her English tailoring method makes the shoulder line lie to the back a few inches. Very sleek. A beautifully modern design aesthetic too.  Elizabeth Doherty also does a super nice job and even has a way to work set in sleeves from the top down.

    The bottom line is that there’s a place in the knitting world for both seamed and seamless, and we will certainly each have our preference. That being said, there are terrific designers on both sides, being comfortable with either method keeps our options open.

    Here are a few pros and cons of each method, just for reference

    Seamed

    • Worked in 4 or 5 separate smaller pieces
    • Structure from seams at shoulder and along sides
    • Simple to knit
    • No more than two sets of shaping to manage at a time
    • Must be seamed at the end
    • Drop shoulder, set in sleeve, and raglan all equally easy to knit
    • Poorly done seams look really bad
    • Hold their shape better

    Seamless

    • Worked all in one piece
    • Structure only at the shoulder
    • Can be complicated to knit
    • Must manage 4 or five sets of shaping at the same time
    • When you’re finished knitting, your sweater is pretty much ready to wear
    • You can try it on as you go 
    • Pullovers are knit in a spiral and can bias and pull
    • Set in sleeves much harder to knit.
    • No seams to look bad and mar your nice knitting.  Most top down sweaters look pretty good. 

    What are your preferences?  I've opened up comments for this post and would love to hear your thoughts!  

    Warmly,

    Ellen

    11 Responses

    Stacey P.
    Stacey P.

    January 13, 2021

    For me, it depends on the type of sweater. I can’t imagine knitting a fair isle sweater flat (the one I did in the round nearly killed me.) I’ve never had much of an issue with seaming, but seamless is definitely my preference.

    Gwen
    Gwen

    January 18, 2021

    Ellen I love seamed sweaters. I love everything about the process. I feel a real sense of accomplishment once completed. I always say ……nothing ventured nothing gained! There are numerous reasons I don’t like top down knitting. For me I just dread the thought of knitting around and around and flip flopping my sweater during the process. Now on to the sleeves….that really gets on my last nerve! So in a nut she’ll give me seams hands down!👍

    Edith E Macdonald
    Edith E Macdonald

    January 12, 2021

    I love knitting the pieces because they go fast and you get the quicker sense of accomplishment. With that said, being a process knitter, once I’ve finished figuring out the pattern, the pieces will languish unjoined for years before I get around to it. Seamless sweaters usually just need the ends done and an underarm seam. Easy peasy. I last did a seamless bottom up sweater and it took some math, but the result was a beautifully-fitting, lacy-edged gem that she loved.

    Edith E Macdonald
    Edith E Macdonald

    January 12, 2021

    I love knitting the pieces because they go fast and you get the quicker sense of accomplishment. With that said, being a process knitter, once I’ve finished figuring out the pattern, the pieces will languish unjoined for years before I get around to it. Seamless sweaters usually just need the ends done and an underarm seam. Easy peasy.

    Leah Erickson
    Leah Erickson

    January 18, 2021

    I love knitting sweaters. I like the pieces better because I can be fancier with cables and lace and the nice thing about top down is the not thinking too much….it is a much less tailored sweater..more like a sweat shirt but sometimes I want that kind of sweater. I would say I tend to be a seamed knitter now.

    Leah Erickson
    Leah Erickson

    January 12, 2021

    I love knitting sweaters. I like the pieces better because I can be fancier with cables and lace and the nice thing about top down is the not thinking too much….it is a much less tailored sweater..more like a sweat shirt but sometimes I want that kind of sweater. I would say I tend to be a seamed knitter now.

    Pat
    Pat

    January 12, 2021

    I have done only 1 seamed sweater and 2 seamless for my daughters. The fit of the seamed sweater is more tailored and very flattering but don’t look too closely at my seams!

    When I did the second top down seamless sweater I added more shaping through the waist which made the fit more flattering but took some extra mental work and guessing since it was in the pattern.

    I’d love to get more practice with Seaming.

    Pat

    Katharine Mitchell
    Katharine Mitchell

    January 12, 2021

    Hi Ellen,
    I can’t say if I like seamed or not as I have never completed a sweater. I only started a sweater but when I returned to NC, I didn’t have anyone to assist me with the process.
    That is why I wanted to start with the hat class.

    Oh! You post came to my junk e-mail eventhough I did what you told me last time about
    using welcome/crazyforewe. whatever.

    Enjoy your posts.

    Thanks,
    Kathy Mitchell

    Robin
    Robin

    January 12, 2021

    I do both. I am not a huge fan of the seaming after the knitting is done, but I do it anyway (most of the time). I still have 2 sweaters completely knit but haven’t finished them. I did just finish a colorworks sweater with a beautiful yoke. Done bottom up and all in one piece. I absolutely love it and it looks wonderful to me. I’m very pleased and will definitely do more like this.

    Debra Hyden
    Debra Hyden

    January 12, 2021

    What Melissa said! I like seams for structure, but hate doing seams. It hurts my neck (probably because I don’t have a good technique). But mainly I knit most things sans seams because when I’m done knitting, I want the project to be done. I guess that makes me a lazy knitter – but still I knit well, and love a challenge in the stitch department (I’m a lazy cook, too – but a good one!). Have a great day everyone!

    Megan
    Megan

    January 12, 2021

    My preference is top-down seamless. I feel that any time you have a seam you have a potential gauge/row mismatch. Top down also lets you use all the yarn… once the body join is done, I do the sleeves, then am free to knit the body without fear I will run out before finishing the last piece or edging.

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