Thursday, 2 December 2010

Some Thoughts on Seamed vs. In the Round

 First off, I should tell you that I've joined Pinterest, and have become completely obsessed. If you'd like to check out my boards, you can find me here.


I've been thinking about seamed vs. in the round lately. I'm working on a top secret sweater for my mother (Hi mom! Stop snooping!) that was written to be seamed, but I changed to be knit in the round. And even though I've done it dozens of times before, it got me thinking about the aversion to seams that is out there in the knitting world, and my personal reasons for avoiding seams.


I've got nothing against seamed or in the round knits. I often knit sweaters in the round, and I'll admit it's out of sheer laziness. I know perfectly well that the garment often looks more professional and avoids the dreaded bagging around the waist (and riding up to become a much shorter sweater) if it had the structure and support of seams. I think of seams as a good bra: a well done seam can support the knit and make the wearer look leaner and the knit look more polished. Whether or not this is a goal for your knits is definitely a personal choice. What I can't quite figure out is why, feeling the way I do about seams, I often choose to knit in the round. Is it laziness? Doing it because it's easier doesn't seem like a good enough reason to me. The best I can come up with is that the idea of having a sweater in several pieces make me wonder if I'll misplace a portion of it (front left side of cardigan, where did you?! etc.). But those feel like pretty flimsy reasons. Whenever I knit toys, there are tonnes of small parts and as much seaming as there is knitting, so... I'm not buying my own excuses. 

What are your thoughts? Why do you prefer in the round or seaming your knits?

40 comments:

Rach said...

I really like to knit in the round, but I like to seam too. I don't want every top I make to have raglan sleeves and I want some variety. I sometimes get annoyed that so many people knit everything in the round. I shouldn't care if they're not my projects, but I also wonder at this aversion to seaming. Unfortunately I have no explanation. Except of course that it takes time, your pieces may not be exactly the same, and if you've never done it before you don't want to ruin the whole garment by doing a poor job seaming.

Kara said...

I just joined Pinterest today and have been obsessed all morning!

Huset i midten said...

First of all: Thank you for a really nice and interesting blog!

As to the seaming/round issue: I don't mind seaming at all, but I do mind doing things more than once. Knitting in the round means that what's done is done, and I don't have to knit two (or three) almost identical bits.

Brenda said...

I don't think not wanting to seam equates laziness. It's simply faster to knit seamless items than it is to knit an entire sweater and still have to piece it together. Plus, not everyone is a process knitting (blasphemy, I know) and seamless knitting makes getting that end product that much faster. I think if you were truly lazy, you'd skip the knitting altogether and go shopping to find the sweater.

Sherral said...

I feel the same as you about seams- they are the framework of a good sweater! But the whole top-down try-it-on-as-you-go thing can be mighty reassuringing. The only construction I don't especially like is bottom-up in the round. Whenever I make one I constantly wonder why the designer didn't go top down, lol!

Phoe said...

I knit mostly in the round for sizing purposes. I'm outsized and curvy so anything that needs to be seamed means trying to fit medium backs to large fronts/sleeves or something. Annoying.

fridica said...

I think the main reason I prefer seamless knits is that I don't like finishing. I like my garment to be done very soon after I finish knitting, rather than another 20% of the work being the assembling. It's that rather than the act of seaming that I object to. Secondly, knitting in the round usually means less purling, which is always a plus. :D

Chris said...

I appreciate the structure of seams and will do so when it makes sense, but I also dislike purling and enjoy how quickly I can knit in the round. Also, stranded work is extremely unpleasant to me when knitting flat.

Peggy said...

I think it depends on the pattern. If it is stockinette stitch, then I prefer to knit in the round. However, if there is a lace pattern or something complicated, then I prefer knitting flat pieces.

Siga said...

Good question, for some reason whenever I see a pattern that calls for seaming, I think the designer is not a real knitter. I love my wool too much to waste it on seams.

grammynan said...

For me, a successful seam makes me feel like an accomplished seamstress (which I am not) and I like that feeling. Crazy?!

jen said...

I always knit everything flat, then seam + I think it's because I came from a sewing background, so it's easier for me to visualize things that way and make changes to a pattern. I do, however, have a Debbie Bliss Catriona that has been on the needles for, oh, 5 years? shhh.... So maybe I need to start knitting in the round?

jen said...

omg your pinterest is beautiful by the way, if I can remember my password I'm going to follow you asap!

soknitpicky said...

Good post! I like knitting in the round too, primarily because I don't usually swatch, so I like to block and try on things as I go along. It does sometimes get heavy/bulky, so that is a disadvantage. For sleeves, I prefer to knit them flat because they're fiddly in the round.

I'm so glad you joined Pinterest! I am going to look you up now!

Michele said...

I know I'm the oddball here (and a type-A personality) but I prefer to seam my sweaters. I get great satisfaction out of perfect seams. I also like my clothes to look tailored and I like the way sweaters fit when they are seamed. I've knit one seamless sweater and it just never hangs right. Don't get me started about weaving in ends though - HATE it!

hibou said...

I knit slowly, and my purling is that little bit slower, so I appreciate a pattern that spares me the excessive purling! That said, I rarely change a pieced pattern to knit in the round. A good-looking seam can be very satisfying!

I've got to look more into this Pinterest business I keep reading about!

Lillie said...

Thank you for this post I like hearing what everyone has to say. I knit everything in the round because I don't like how seams look on the inside... reminds me of machine knit things sewn together and feels less special in a way. I love weaving in ends and making them invisible and to me a seam takes away the "magic" of the inside of a garment. I love seamless top down and bottom up. I design/improvise a lot of *really* fitted dresses and so I also want to get through the dresses as quickly as possible with a tight flattering fit and room to experiment on my whims without worrying if it will fit later after finishing.

Sabrina said...

Hmmm...well,I started out knitting flat and seamed a bunch of hats and baby sweaters. But, once I learned to knit in the round, I loved how I didn't really have to do any finishing and how professional it looked. That said, I don't HATE seeming, like a lot of other knitters. I just am terrified that I'll do all that work and the seems will be crooked or the pieces wont line up. I just think it takes a lot of concentration for me to get the seems just right and nearly invisible.

Alyoops said...

I have been waiting for my Pinterest invite forever! How long did it take you to get yours?

Anyway, when I first started knitting, my first project was an afghan of squares sewn together. Shortly after that I learned to knit in the round and never looked back! I hated all that seaming! Lately, though, I've come to respect the need for a little sewing, especially to give your project a certain shape.

CanarySanctuary said...

I enjoy the illusion of efficiency that knitting in one piece give me. I do like to say that I'm too lazy to be inefficient!
There's the skill that's involved in seaming, as well. While I can do it just fine (in most cases!) it's a skill I don't take all that much joy in.

Kara said...

Ooh, just followed you on Pintrest. I'm just getting started there, so my boards are sorely lacking.

As to the seaming vs. in the round issue - I prefer in the round because I never trust my gauge swatches. Even though they haven't let me down yet, I always fear the finished project won't fit, so I like being able to try on as I go.

That being said, my current sweater project is a cardigan knit bottom up with no seams. I can't try it on, so I'm trying to trust that the numbers will lead to a sweater that fits me. It's terrifying.

I don't mind seaming, although I do need more practice when seaming cast on/bind off edges together. I just haven't been able to get them to look as nice as I'd like.

Denise said...

I've never heard of Pinterest... looks Pinteresting ;-) I used to always knit seams, because it just seemed the patterns I liked were made that way, but now I find myself searching for 'in the round' because I don't like my 'sewing' very much and I don't think my seams ever look very neat.

yoel said...

The ability to knit in the round (or seamless) is one of the big differences between hand-knits and mass-produced knits and wovens, so that is a big plus. If the yarn is sproingy and proper shaping takes place, I think seamless ends up being more shapely and flattering than seamed. Also, I despise seaming, so I will make every excuse to knit seamlessly!

Barbara Prime said...

I do a lot of seaming with the toys I make, and the practice definitely makes a difference in the amount of time it takes, and the finished appearance. That and mattress stitch, which is awesome. I wonder if many of the people who avoid seaming do so because they lack a bit of practice, or maybe they don't know of all the nifty ways to join knitted pieces?

I also do a lot of knitting in the round, so I keep those skills sharp too. So, I guess I tend to use whichever method works best for the project in hand, since I'm comfortable with both.

Knit 1 LA said...

I stopped making seamed garments and design only seamless ones at first because of the challenge but also for the intuitive nature of it. I love casting on with just a rough idea of what I want but as it grows it might become something totally different from my original idea. I couldn't do that with pieced knitting. For me it allows much more freedom. A badly seamed garment will look as horrible as a badly worked seamless one I guess but I have to think there are more badly seamed ones out there, if they even got seamed at all (guilty, I have the pieces of a sweater from over 10 years ago still waiting...)

Jane Richmond said...

You make really good points about the structure that seams provide. I knit almost exclusively in the round and I think I prefer it because of my paranoia about things not fitting properly, I like to try on as I go. I also knit almost exclusively from the top down and I like the freedom it gives to make adjustments to length and such.

Great topic!

Andi said...

I tend to work seamlessly because my seamed sweaters seem to linger half finished for ages because I can't seam and multitask like I can knit and multitask. Seamless knits also let me try things on as I go. Knitting in pieces means that I have to finish most of the sweater before I find out if it fits or not. Seaming can also spoil a project if it isn't done skillfully and I know a lot of knitters who find that frustrating

As for the visual and structural benefits of seams, a lot of that can be accomplished with faux seams. A faux seam using a column of purl stitches gets you the visual benefits of a side seam. If you work seamless set in sleeves, you can get the structure of shoulder and armhole seams by picking up stitches and working after thought sleeves and by working top down and picking up the stitches to work the fronts from the back, making a fake shoulder seam. That creates a lot more structure than simultaneous seamless set in sleeves.

As for the waist bagging and riding up, those are fit issues. The structure of the seams might hide the problems with fit by making the sides more rigid, but it's not the lack of seams that would cause those problems.

Maryse said...

I don't like seaming much either, but quite frankly, I would usually simply do what the pattern calls for! That way, all I have to do is follow the pattern!

monikita said...

I feel much the same as you. I prefer seams in a garment, but I also prefer knitting in the round. On my Noyaux dress, I ended up knitting it in the round and adding seams for structure when it was finished. I think I may do this more often, in an attempt to obtain the best of both worlds.

sweet jane. said...

I think I prefer making my sweaters in pieces - front, back, 2 sleeves - because I like the structure of seams. I've never made a colorwork sweater (only mittens so far) but I think I would do it in the round, for sure!

jdknitter said...

I do know HOW to do seaming, but I would try to avoid it as much as possible because I feel like it's too much work. If I wanted to SEW, I would buy fabric and sew it up on my machine. :)

BTW, just got an email from a LYS in Santa Barbara (California) re: Never Not Knitting trunk show. The email features a lovely picture of, YOU! wearing a brown neckwarmer. =)

Allison said...

I come down purely on the side of laziness. Some of my aversion to seaming probably also comes from a (largely false) conviction that I'm "bad" at sewing and I should stick to the knitting skill I feel confident about.

Rainy Daisy said...

because knitting a sweater in pieces doesn't feel like I'm knitting a sweater. It feels like I'm knitting a ranch house. :)

A sweater in the round is motivating because you can see how it will look, how it will hang (not as easy, pre-seaming, for the former) and keeps you continually excited to have a real honest-to-goodness homemade sweater. Knitting it in pieces seems like more of a gamble. More abstract.

betty said...

I'm a big fan of knitting in pieces and seaming, which is probably not the norm these days. I will convert from knitting in the round to seamed if I can.
There are many reasons for this:
(1) If I make a mistake and have to rip, I rip back a lot less (just one back or one front piece instead of the whole body
(2) I knit English style, and I like using long straight needles so that I can prop the right one on my inner elbow. My knits and purls are about the same speed that way.
(3) I like to measure my garment as I go against existing garments as size templates, and flat pieces are much easier for comparison purposes.
(4) I don't like to carry around the entire garment when I knit. Smaller pieces are more portable.
(5) Seams do add a lot to structure and can prevent that biasing effect with large pieces.
(6) I feel like I am making good progress as I complete each piece.
(7) Simple straight seams with mattress stitch are very fast to do and I find them satisfying. But then, I like finishing work -- good finishing makes the garment.

Christine said...

Thanks for the link, Pintrest is now my new obsession!

dawn said...

I prefer knitting without seems...I don't know it kind of feels like magic when I'm done and there's no sewing to be done.

The Sweatshop of Love said...

I hate seaming! I avoid it like the plague. The only thing that makes me need to seam is sleeves. I need to knit sleeves at the same time, so seamed, so I make sure they are identical. Otherwise, there is no seaming for this girl!

Anonymous said...

For all you who hate purling, if you would knit the Portuguese method purling is SIMPLE!!! Look up Andrea Wong online!

A and L said...

If it's not too late to comment? I really 'got into' knitting in Norway. These women knit the majority of things in the round. One of the reasons is when knitting a sweater it keeps sizing uniform. So that when you start at the bottom on both sides at once it will stay in shape and the rows, up to where you change needles is correct. I like it !!!! I just love knitting in the round, socks are in the round, too!!! And such fun. Thanks for your blog.

Susan Averello said...

I definitely prefer knitting in the round, I love fair isle knitting too so it works well for me. Adding a faux seam helps to give a bit more structure.

After 20 years of knitting my seaming skills are weak. I use a 3 needle cast off when I can, anything not to sew