As top-down seamless sweaters become more popular, I've started thinking about the advantages of this type of construction compared to the traditional seamed sweater. Here are my musings!
Top Down Seamless Sweaters
In recent years, the top-down seamless sweater has taken over the knitting world. It's easy to understand why. The sweater is knit in the round in one piece. When you're finished knitting, all you have to do is weave in your ends and hey presto! You're all done! No seaming pieces together. No attempts at precision blocking to match the size of the pieces. No extra ends from the seaming process. And you can try it on as you go. Who wouldn't love that?
I've knitted a few top down seamless sweaters, and it is pretty nice to have a sweater practically finished once it's off the needles. It's the ultimate in sweater knitting for the knitter in need of instant gratification. Some knitters now refuse to knit a sweater any other way. That's fine, of course. There are no knitting police. You can knit your sweaters however you like. But, the top down seamless sweater isn't without its flaws.
- Raglan sleeves aren't flattering on everyone. Women with a larger bust size tend to end up with lots of extra fabric around the underarms, and sometimes you just want a different line to your garment.
- Knitting the sleeves can be annoying. They're knitted in the round after the body is finished. So, you have to flip the entire sweater around when you first start the sleeves at the end of every round. As you get further down you can let the sleeve twist and untwist it at the end of every round. But that's kind of annoying, too.
- It's not very portable by the end (unless it's for a baby). An adult-size sweater can get unwieldy by the time you get to the sleeves. Not that it's absolutely not portable, but if you're like me and you take knitting with you to pass the time if you get bored, you'll need another small project for those situations.
Seamed sweaters do have some distinct disadvantages as well.
- You do have to make your pieces match, so blocking and accurate measuring are really important.
- You have to sew the pieces together when you're done knitting before you can wear the sweater.
- You'll have more ends to weave in, because you'll have the ends from all the pieces plus the ends from the sewing.
- A seamed sweater has more structure. Seamless sweaters can grow more easily, which can be problematic with slippery fibers like cotton, alpaca, and superwash wool. The seams provide limits and structure that help the sweater not to expand as much or as easily.
- It's more portable. You can easily take a piece of a sweater with you, when taking a whole sweater would be unwieldy.
- You have more choices for design elements. You can easily do all the shoulder styles as well as a wider variety of choices in construction elements.
- It's easier to block lacy sweaters in pieces than as one large item.
Of course, there are other ways of knitting a sweater: side-to-side and bottom-up seamless (with or without steeks) are two methods I've encountered. Personally, I'm not married to any one style.
What about you? Do you have a preference for sweater knitting patterns? Do you hate seaming sweaters? Let us know in the comments!