Saturday, May 15, 2010

WIPs and knitting in the flat

I'm almost done knitting this self-designed simple summer pullover. The yarn is Jaeger Trinity, and the tuck stitching is the main decorative element. The armholes extend outwards a bit to form small cap sleeves. The bottom edge is a a small rolled hem started with a provisional cast-on. All I have left to do is the neckline edging and a few more loose ends to weave in.

I've also been working on the two-toned shell from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2010. I'm using Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy. At 6 SPI, this is the finest gauge knitting I've ever attempted. It's been going relatively quickly, probably because it's mainly stockinette, and I love knitting with this yarn. I will most likely add the same bottome lace pattern as an armhole trim.

It seems de rigueur these days that patterns knit from the bottom are knit in one piece and then split at the armholes. I'm not sure why this is so, except that perhaps designers cater to modern knitters, many of whom don't seem to like seaming. Many knitters will convert a pattern in pieces to knit it in the round. Not I. This pattern is written as knitted in the round, but I decided to convert it to knitting as flat front and back pieces because I prefer to do it that way. I'm not sure if there are many other knitters like myself, but for some reason, I feel compelled to list my reasons for preferring to knit my garments in pieces and sewing them up:

  • I knit English style, and I use long straight needles so that I can rest the right needle on my forearm. This allows me to release my right hand to throw the yarn without expending any energy to keep the right needle level. I can knit and purl at the same speed.

  • It's a lot easier to change yarn and weave in ends if there's a seam to hide a multitude of sins.

  • If I have to rip back, then I'm ripping back one half the amount, or one quarter the amount in the case of the cardigan front pieces, as compared to knitting seamlessly.

  • I think that seams really do stabilize a garment in many cases and can prevent strange stretching over time.

  • I don't like carrying large pieces on the needles. Smaller pieces are more portable. Also, it feels like I am making faster progress as each piece gets done.

  • One can try on a garment as one goes along if it's knitted in the round, but sometimes I find that annoying because I have to take all or parts of it off the needles to do that. I find it much easier to use a finished well-fitted sweater of a similar shape, drape, and weight and just hold the flat pieces against it and use that as my sizing and shaping guide.

  • With a flat piece, I find it easier to get an accurate width measurement and a really good gauge measure after a few inches have been knitted.

  • If it's a pullover with a lot of stockinette (which I sort of like) I will be doing both knitting and purling, which is a lot more interesting than knit, knit, knit, especially since I do both at about the same speed.

  • Finally, I really don't mind seams, and I find the straight side seams to be satisfying to do. They go quickly, and the speed I gain from the first three reasons more than makes up for the little time I spend on side seams.


Robin said...

You raise a lot of good points! Maybe I will think about those next time I see a great looking Rowan design (which are always knit flat) and consider making it as drafted.

knitseashore said...

I don't think I have a preference at this point; just tend to follow whatever the pattern says to do. I don't mind seaming depending on the yarn.

One thing I'm finding annoying is knitting sleeves in the round, after the body of the sweater is completed. You have to rotate a huge weight of sweater as you go around the circle of the sleeve...I find myself wishing I could just knit the sleeves flat and attach them on later.

I love the scalloped edge on your new project!

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

Betty, what a great design! It will be just perfect on you!!! Love the tucked stitch detailing. Just enough.

I much prefer knitting in one piece. Even if I knit flat I still use circular needles. Over time I have developed a preference for them and I'm surprised that you came up with so many "pros" for knit flat - LOL

I do think that there are certain designs that will fall better and look more tailored if they are knit flat.