Knit Bit: Going Seamless
I have been spoilt recently as almost all of the projects I have knit haven’t required very much sewing up (if any!). Socks, mittens and hats have all been knit in the round and shawls are a knitters-best-friend as there's no sewing up. All the cardigans and jumpers I have been making have also been seamless, the Mossery cardigan is even knit sideways so doesn’t even require a button band!
My run of seamless patterns ended when I needed to make a sample from the West Yorkshire Spinners Bo Peep book. The designs in the book are all knit flat and then seamed. I completely understand why patterns are written that way, it makes them more accessible to more knitters as one of the things that I have learnt at shows is that for some people knitting in the round, even if they have been knitting forever, is a black art.
Super cuteness, worth seaming : )
I was in a hurry though (and I like small things without seams which add bulk) and thought I’d see about knitting it in the round. The pattern didn’t include any complicated shaping or colourwork so I thought it would be straightforward, and to be fair, it was.
The below are the things I thought about as I was making the pattern adjustments. It is in no way a complete list but might be a useful starting point if you are thinking about converting flat knit patterns to knitting them seamlessly.
I needed circular needs in the correct length to join and work in the round which isn’t a consideration for knitting flat. I worked out which needle lengths by using the final garment measurement and the gauge. When it comes to projects like this I’m always glad I have full set of interchangeable needles as it gives such great flexibility and I am never short of different cable lengths because they appear to be breeding in our house.
There has to be a better way to store these!
I paused here because when knitting flat, I knit the first stitch of each row on all edges that will be seamed so it is easier to mattress stitch. At a finishing class I was told that some patterns allow these stitches as a seaming allowance when doing final measurements. In the end I decided it wouldn’t make a big difference so, as the back and front matched, I just doubled the stitch count.
Tension: Flat V. Round
My tension varies a lot when I move from straight needles to circulars but as I now do almost all my flat knitting on circular needles, I generally get approximately the same tension when I knit flat so I wasn’t expecting a big variation when I split the pieces to work the back and front. If this was colour work, I’d have given it more thought.
Right Side V. Wrong side rows
In the round technically everything is a right side row so I had to have a little think to make sure my brain knew which way it was to do everything. It was fine as it had a moss stitch edge and the main body was stocking stitch. If it had been lace I’d have had to do more thinking. There is a little flaw in the moss stitch in that the stitch at the end of one round was the same as the stitch at the start of the next but it’s not too apparent as it’s mostly hidden in the round ‘jog’.
I know you can see it x
When to split for back and front
The pattern is knit from the bottom up so the split was just to be at the arm hole shaping. I am currently doing a sweater where there is no arm hole shaping so I subtracted half the sleeve circumference from the length of the finished piece to understand how much to knit before splitting. I am thinking about knitting a row or two more at that point to make sure I don’t have a hole by splitting too soon. If the split isn't soon enough, I’ll just hide any extra inside when attaching the sleeve. Knitting, so much you can hide.
There was no shaping before the split but if there has been I think the only change would have been to watch for the directional leans of the decreases and/or increases which I assume would change in some way. I must test that.
Once I split I knit the back and front as per the pattern. My brain did almost melt during the decreases in the straps because I love moss stitch but I find decreasing in it never goes as planned but I’m hoping no one notices!
Seamed V. Seamless
This was for a very simple garment knit from the bottom up so didn’t require a lot of thinking. As I write this I am trying to think of a pattern which has been knit in pieces but knit from the top down and I’m struggling to think of one I have knit or even seen. Anything I have knitted from the top down has been seamless.
There is one thing that I didn’t think of when I started knitting my current project seamlessly as the baby dress certainly didn’t have this issue ... I’m 400g into the sweater and if I had been knitting it flat I’d have finished one side but as it’s now seamless and both back and front are being knit together, it will be at least 700g before I’m finished and 700g of chunky yarn on your lap in Summer makes for warm work.
Right, it’s cool here today so I might try to get it finished!
Happy knitting (seamed or unseamed)
After the chunky monster sweater, my next ‘Knit Seamless’ conversion is for one of those old style fair isle t-cosies with the ridges. The best way seems to require steeking. It feels like a safe steeking project though (if such a thing exists!) as it’s small and if it did go a little wrong, an odd looking repair wouldn’t offend the tea pot. I’ll be back to let you know how it goes and how the teapot feels about it!
I’ll start with a Tiny Teapost Cosy … The principle being the smaller the size, the less to steek ; )