I was reading a thread on Ravelry recently in which people were commenting on patterns. I can’t remember the exact context, but one comment stuck in my head. Someone said “I won’t even look at a pattern if it’s seamed.” Why it stuck in my head now, when I have heard similar sentiments before, I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that I have also heard people say “I won’t knit a garment unless it’s seamed.”
You see, there are two primary ways to knit a sweater. You can knit it in pieces (usually 4 for a pullover and five for a cardigan) and then seam them together. Or you can knit in one piece (either bottom-up or top-down, but that is a different type of argument). In the latter case, you must come to some solution for the sleeves, either picking up stitches and knitting down, or knitting the sleeves up to the armholes and then joining to the body; in any case, the primary goal of this construction is to seam as little as possible. There are many arguments in favour of either approach. (Which are not the topic of this post.) I have always thought that there were sweaters for which it makes a kind of intrinsic sense to knit in the round; and others for which seaming is the sensible option.
I have increasingly noticed, however, that knitters often take sides, as if this is a battle line. Some designers will only create patterns for seamed sweaters and some are known for always designing in the round; most designers, I imagine, have to negotiate this potential landmine as best they can. If knitters take sides, then designers can lose half of their potential customers right from the get-go. I am not going to take sides. In fact, the point of this blog post is that I don’t take sides. You see, after pondering this for a while (and having nothing to do as I am stuck in my hotel room in Johannesburg, am too tired to leave my room, and have just finished reading my book) I decided to look at my projects page on Ravelry and add them up. (Yes, boredom will get you to do all sorts of useless things.)
What I found was this: 42 sweaters, of which 21 are knit in the round, and 21 are knit in pieces and seamed. This, I think, is the very definition of knitting neutrality. I am the Switzerland of sweater construction!
And this makes me think: are most knitters like me? Do you knit the patterns that appeal to you regardless of whether they are seamed or not? Or do you filter patterns out before you will even consider them? (Or alternatively, re-engineer any patterns that violate your preferred technique?)
Inquiring minds want to know. (Bored minds do, too.)