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How to Become an "Expert Knitter"   *Buy this book on CD for offline reading!

table of contents chapter 19 (of 29)

19: Stitch to Stitch or Horizontal Seams

The first seam you have to work can occur before you have knitted all the pieces that make up the garment. If you are knitting a sweater, cardigan or jacket with sleeves that are picked up around the armholes and then knitted to the cuff, you will need to join the shoulder seams before you can work the sleeves. As the shoulder is usually a cast-off row, you will be joining stitch to stitch, making a horizontal seam.

Because shoulder seams are in the area of the face they are very obvious, and so it will be equally obvious if they are joined badly.

Unless the neck of a sweater is knitted separately and then sewn in place, you will have to join one shoulder seam, then work the neck, (see here) then join the second shoulder seam. Other methods are to join both shoulder seams and then work the neck with double pointed needles, or work the neck in two separate pieces.


The simplest shoulder shaping is worked by casting off a row of stitches. Leave an end long enough to use for the seam. If you have knitted correctly, the number of stitches on each shoulder should be the same, so it should be very easy to work a shoulder seam by matching stitch to stitch on each shoulder. This sounds simple, and so it should be.

Some knitters backstitch the shoulder seam with the wrong side facing. This does the job, the pieces are joined, but as it is almost impossible to match the stitches from the wrong side, it will be hard to get a perfectly matched seam.

To match the stitches, place the two pieces, right side facing, into position ready to join. If you have knitted from hem to shoulder, the stitch is a V shape, but when one piece is above the other ready to be joined, the V shape of the stitches is reversed on the top piece. If you have cast off with the right side facing, the long end will be at the right hand side of the top piece [pic 1,2].

(left) Pieces in position to begin cast-off row to cast-off row seam.
2: (right) V and inverted V stitch shapes.

Joining an almost invisible shoulder seam is very easy. The trick is to ignore the cast off row. It is only there to stop the stitches below it from unravelling, and there is no need to include it in the shoulder seam. The stitches you will use for the seam are the stitches of the last row before the cast-off row.

There are two ways to join this seam. The first one I will explain is very good and hard to beat, the second way is my extra-fussy knitter way.

The first stitch, on the right edge of the lower piece is in the shape of a V. Using the thread from the top piece, place the needle behind the first stitch under the cast-off row on the lower piece from right to left, and bring the needle and thread through to the front of the work [pic 3].

3: Using thread from top piece, place needle from right to left behind first entire stitch and bring thread through to front of work.

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