Today's topic is Shoulder Seams.
As my Colour Block vision materialized, I knew I wanted set-in sleeves. And I wanted to knit CB in a top-down fashion. Suzie M has created a newer style of top-down knitting with simultaneous set-in sleeve which she calls The Contiguous Method. It starts at the centre-back neck then works back and forth making increases until the knitting reaches shoulder width. At that point, on either side of a few stitches set aside at the shoulder 'seam', increases are made in the sleeve portion of the knitting to create enough fullness to cover the upper arm. Ingenious! But--
The one thing that concerns me about Contiguous is the lack of a shoulder seam. After all, the entire weight of the sweater hangs from the shoulder. Doesn't it stand to reason that it is a good idea to have a seam there? To support that weight?
Some knitters, I know, would argue that there is no 'shoulder' seam in a raglan. Sure, the pieced raglan has sleeve seams that probably give some support to the upper portion of the sweater, but the top-down raglan has no seams. At all. Does that bother me? No. Why is that? I have no idea. But the idea of a set-in sleeve without a seam bothers me.
Ann Budd, in her Handy book Of Top Down Sweaters has top-down, set-in sleeve designs. Instead of simultaneous, set-in sleeves, though, her designs get the armhole ready for a finishing application of a short-rowed, set-in sleeve to be added after the body is complete. It works. But it wasn't what I wanted to knit.
But - Ann's system does create somewhat of a shoulder seam. The entire back stitches are cast on and short-rowed across each side to shoulder width. Next the fronts are begun by picking up their stitches from the cast-on stitches of the back. Although not quite a seam, there is, I feel, some support given by that pick up. The fronts are then short-rowed just like the back until they reach shoulder width.
What I decided to do was a combination of both systems. Call it the Suz-Ann method. I cast on and followed Ann's instructions until I reached shoulder width, then switched to Suzie's method of simultaneous, sleeve-cap construction. It worked. Really well, I think. There is just a slight puffiness on the purple side, that I should be able to block out. But...
There is always room for improvement. Next time, I would start both back and fronts with a provisional cast on, work short rows to reach shoulder width, join the fronts to the back with a Three Needle Bind Off then carry on a-la Suzie. That should be the perfect start to the perfect simultaneous, set-in sleeve.