I love seams, as a caveat to this blog post, and there are a wide gamut of benefits to having a garment with seams. The sweater is less likely to stretch in unwanted places as gravity does its work over time, and I find working sweater pieces flat makes me work quicker, something psychosomatic about feeling like I’ve accomplished more than I actually have. I know I’m in the minority here though, and so I thought some people might find it helpful to have a blog post about how to convert a seamed set-in sleeve sweater into a (almost completely) seamless sweater.
Because I haven’t knit Marsellus seamless, I've tried to illustrate what I'm talking about with sketches. Consider this a rough field guide, rather than a pattern re-write. If you're new to short rows, I'd recommend practicing on a swatch before tackling a sleeve to make sure your tension is on, and there are no gaps between wraps.
Step 1: Knit Front + Back until the Armholes
Begin knitting the sweater from the bottom up in your size, but cast on for the front and the back on a 32” circular needle, and join in the round. Knit as the pattern calls for -- the front and back are worked identically until the arms -- and separate for the front and back once you’ve worked until the armhole shaping. At this point, the front and back will be worked flat separately. Work the armhole, neck and back shaping just as the pattern calls for, and join the front and back shoulders with a three needle bind off once finished.
Step 2: Pick Up Sleeve Stitches
Pick up the number of stitches the pattern requires before the sleeve cap shaping. Put more simply, we're basically picking up the stitches for the widest part of the bicep right now, and will only work the top portion of those stitches (the sleeve cap) until the sleeve gets to the widest part of the arm. For the 32” size, this is 74 stitches. To make the short rows even, this number needs to be divisible by 3, so I’ll add 1 more stitch to make it a cool 75. Pick up your stitches evenly, starting at the underarm, and work clockwise (if looking at the armhole straight on). Placement of markers is really important here in ensuring our sleeve cap will be worked symmetrically, and the markers divide the sleeve into three sections (top, center and bottom). If working the 32" bust size, there should be 25 stitches between markers 1 and 4 (if you were to look at the section going counter clockwise), 25 stitches between markers 1-2 and 3-4 combined, and 25 stitches between markers 2 and 3.
Step 3: Begin Short Rows:
A note on differences: There's one consequence to knitting Marsellus seamless. The braid cables on your sleeves will be traveling in the opposite direction as the sample, because you'll be working the sleeve from the top down, rather than bottom-up flat as written. I don't think this changes the look of the sweater drastically, but it’s something I wanted to make note of just in case it would be a nuisance to anyone else.
Placing cable panel: The cables occur in the center of the sleeve, so keep in mind the cables will be worked in-pattern simultaneously with the short rows. Transpose the cable chart to your sleeve, making sure the top marker hits the center of the cable chart. Essentially, the cable chart is centered with the sweater's shoulder seam.
Working Short Rows:
Begin your first round with the RS facing, and knit in pattern. Knit in the round until marker number 3, and knit one stitch beyond the marker. Wrap and turn. The work will now be WS facing.
Continue in pattern until one stitch past marker number 2, then wrap and turn. The sweater is now RS facing.
Continue in pattern until you come to your first wrapped stitch. Work the wrap and the stitch together, and then w&t the next stitch. The work will again be WS facing.
Work the WS first wrap, then W&T the next stitch. Keep repeating this process until you’ve reached one stitch beyond the Marker #1 with the WS facing. After that round, you’ve worked all of your short rows, and should have a nice sleeve cap going, ready to work the sleeve stitches all together in the round in pattern.
Step 4: Work the Decreases
Look at your size’s sleeve instructions as written, and note how many increases are made, and at what interval, to achieve the sleeve shaping. Then reverse that! So, if there are 17 increase rows, worked every 9th row, do 17 decrease rows, worked every 9th row. Double check your math with the number of stitches cast-on to ensure you’re working the right number of decreases.
This is a pretty rough outline of how to convert a seamed sweater into a (mostly) seamless sweater, so if you have any questions just pop them into the comments, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy knitting, and let me know if you’re thinking about working Marsellus this way.