Today’s topic for the Second Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is a new skill that I’ve developed over the past year.
This year has been a good year for my color work skills, but it has been an even better year for my sweater design skills because I finally figured out how to work seamless set in sleeves.
This summer I bought a bunch of books on sweater design and I checked out anything I could find from the library that I thought might help my design skills. I understood how seamless raglans worked, but I really wanted to be able to make seamless set in sleeves. There is something about set in sleeves that just looks less home-made and more hand-made to me, if you know what I mean. Set in sleeves look more polished to me, but seamed set in sleeves don’t work well with my style of knitting. Everything has to be really precise and it’s not clear if it will work until it is completely finished and seamed. I have to knit almost all of my sweater parts at least twice to get them right and I like to try things on and make changes so seamed set in sleeves weren’t going to work for me. I knew that seamless set in sleeves were possible so I got reading so I could learn how to make them.
I read a lot of design books and I finished none of them. Many of them didn’t really go into seamless knitting. A lot of them only mentioned raglans and round yoked sweaters. One of them mentioned that you could work a set in sleeve using short rows, but they didn’t explain anything more than that. They had a lot of fit and proportion information that is useful if you have a good enough understanding of design to apply them to seamless knits, but I didn’t at the time. That’s not entirely what stopped me from finishing any of the books.
Sweater design books, especially the older ones, really really really piss me off. They’re all about making a custom fitted sweater for your body, which is fine and dandy, but they all seem to assume that you hate your body (I don’t) and that you want to cover it up and hide it (I don’t). I kept running into that attitude over and over! There were so many tips like to add positive ease so no one can see your lumps and bumps or to add strategically placed stitch patterns or color work to create optical illusions so no one can see your unsightly imperfect waist. They focused so much on the knitter’s flaws and hiding them, but they barely wrote about embracing the features the knitter likes and how to show them off. I really wanted to slap the authors. I had to put up with this on top of the fact that these books didn’t have all the information I needed.
I finally found out how to construct seamless set in sleeves in a pattern book, not a design book. I had a copy of Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard and in the back it explains all the techniques it uses so you can customize your sweaters. It explained the concept clearly and without insulting me! It was amazing! Some stuff wasn’t entirely clear to me, but the book is full of patterns so I could consult them to see the technique in action. It was a perfect combination.
Now I can knit seamless set in sleeves! I love them. They still take me a couple tries to get right, but they’re worth it. The funny thing is those sleeves that are in pattern took me two tries to get right and the stockinette ones took five. Knitting can be weird like that.
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