Tag Archives: woodburne

Seamless Saddle Shoulder Construction


Saddle shoulder construction at its most basic involves 2 saddles (strips of fabric) at the top of each shoulder that continue on to the sleeves. The body is connected at the front and the back to these saddles.
Obviously saddle shoulder sweaters can be constructed in pieces with the saddle continued from the top of the sleeve and then the front and back seamed on to the saddle at each side. However my preference (as always!) is to construct saddles seamlessly.

Top Down



Here’s a breakdown of the different steps that you’ll need to work your top down saddle shoulder sweater. This method creates a very polished finish and is fantastic for combining 2 colours. This is the method I uses for Viminal.

…remember you can still get 15% off any of the Dovestone Hills Individual patterns or digital book until the 14th of February if you use code HAPPYDOVES this includes Viminal!


To create top-down saddle shoulders you start by working ‘strips’ of knitting for each saddle. These start at the side of the neck and end at the edge of the shoulder. When they’re finished you put those stitches on waste yarn or holders and they will form the top of the sleeve caps.


Now we will work on the back and pick up stitches. If you lay the 2 saddles flat you can see how you pick up the stitches; first from the left shoulder, next you cast on neck stitches and then finally pick up stitches from the right shoulder.

After stitches are picked up we work short rows on each side so that the neck edge is higher than the outer edges. This is to create a shoulder slope as our shoulders are naturally sloped not flat.

Once that is complete you just work straight down until you reach the point where you want to increase stitches at the underarm. You increase slowly first and then more rapidly to create a nicely curved underarm. These stitches are then held until later.

This is worked in a similar way to the back but you will need to include neck shaping as well. For a sweater you’ll shape the neck with increases and a cast-on but for a cardigan you’ll never join the two sides of the front.

When the back and front are complete to the underarm you will join each side by casting on stitches at the underarm area. From there you work the body straight down to the bottom of the sweater, adding any shaping you might like.

When the body has been complete you go back to work the sleeves. You’ve got live stitches held at the top from the saddle stitches. If you put those on a needle and pick up stitches from each side you’re ready to go. The saddle stitches will form the centre of the top of the sleeve cap and you then work short rows back and forth, adding one extra stitch every time you turn. When the sleeve cap has reached the underarm stitches you join it in the round and work your sleeve all the way down to your cuff, decreasing as you need.

Bottom Up
The bottom up saddle shoulder construction I’ve used before are a little more complex than top-down. Elizabeth Zimmermann created a very interesting method that I used for my Woodburne Cardigan.

Woodburn Cardigan

Woodburne Cardigan

This method involves using a series of alternating decreases for the body and sleeves until you reach the saddle. Then each saddle is worked back and forth, one at a time, using short rows to decrease the stitches at each side of the saddle and create the saddle shoulder. If you’ve every created a standard sock heel where you work back and forth, decreasing on each turn it is a very similar method.

Picking Up Stitches
There are a few skills you’ll need to master in order to create top down saddle shoulder sweaters. The first is picking up stitches so that the ‘seam’ at each side of your saddle is neat and attractive. You can find a tutorial on that here.

Short Rows
The second skill that’s important for this construction is short rows. These are used in 2 places; the shoulder slopes and the set-in sleeve cap shaping. To create a well-fitted sloped shoulder you work short rows at the front and back of the body after you pick up stitches from the saddles. The second place is at the set-in sleeve cap. Short rows are used to create the curve so the sleeve cap fits the top of your arm correctly. You can use any type of short row you wish. Typically I’ve used standard wrap & turn short rows but leave the ‘wrap’ in place to form a seamline. More recently I’ve been experimenting with German Short Rows and I love how they work! For a full primer on short rows you can take a look at my Craftsy Essential Short Row class here (this is a 50% off coupon, valid for 3 months). For some basic short row tutorials just check out my website here.


Whistle Stop is a saddle shoulder cardigan that uses a slightly different construction, the saddle is much wider at the top so one half goes all the way across the back behind the neck. This cardigan was started with a provisional cast-on at the centre of the neck so that both sides could be knit towards the shoulders.

Whistle Stop

Whistle Stop

Knockmore is a bottom up sweater that uses the same construction technique as Woodburne Cardigan above.



Have you tried a saddle shoulder construction before? I think its a really fun technique to try out!

New Year Happenings

Happy New Year to all you out there who read my blog!  So much happened in the last year it feels like it lasted an awful lot longer than 12 months.  I started the year getting my Fyberspates ‘Scrumptious Knits‘ book printed.  This was a big step for me as I’ve never printed such a large quantity of books. In May I reached my 100th pattern milestone and ran the Ravi KAL which was so much fun thanks to all the knitter who participated and gave it a life of its own.  The next month I went to Denver to record my Craftsy classes, Short Rows and Celtic Cables.  This was probably one of the most different things I’ve ever done but was such a fantastic experience.  The year was then rounded out with my Woodburne cardigan KAL and my first contribution to Brooklyn Tweed’s wool people – Hathaway.

Outside of work this year we actually took a full 3 week holiday (a good and bad thing!) and I reduced my commitment level over the summer so there was less conflict with the boys.  I managed to start exercising last year but it somehow fizzled out over the summer and when I hurt my knee a few months ago it totally stopped even my walking.  So as soon as the boys go back to school next week I’m getting back to my exercise…does downloading a new Pilates app count as good intentions??

So what’s happening next year?  I’ll be starting with 2 classes at one of my favorite venues, This Is Knit in Dublin.  There are still a few places left if you want to join us….

I’ve already finished a spring collection and the photos have even been done when Joe was back in Florida!  There will be a new smaller KAL coming up at the end of the month and a bigger one at the end of the spring.  And my biggest commitment right now is another self-published book for TNNA this June.  I’m busy slaving away on the designs so that we’ll have enough time to photograph, edit, test and layout the book (and of course time to print!).  It always amazes me how far ahead of the actual deadline everything needs to be finished so that you have enough time.  One of those situations where you think you have all the time in the world but if you actually plug the timing into a calender you realize how tight it will be!

So happy New Year to you all, may next year be good to you and congratulations to my KAL winners from the Woodburne KAL.  Well deserved, there are some amazing finished cardigans there, go take a look!

Black Friday tag along!

While I’m not in the US the whole post Thanksgiving Day madness does appear to be catching :-)  Craftsy is having a big sale on their classes for the next few days that I though I’d share with you!Craftsy Holiday Sale: All online classes are $19.99 or less. Sale ends Mon. Nov. 26th, at midnight!

As well as the classes being on sale they also now give you the option of gifting classes, I think they’d make a really nice gift for a knitter!

Getting in the spirit of it all I’ve also got a sale going on – 20% off all my children and accessory patterns when you use coupon code ‘CHRISTMASGIFTS‘.  You should still have enough time to knit some little items up for your loved ones.  (Remember to ‘Add to Cart’ not ‘Buy Now’ so that you have the option of putting in the coupon code.)  You can use the code as often as you like here on my website or in Ravelry.  I wonder if I can get a hat pattern together for my hat obsessed oldest son before next month, I’ve got some delicious yarn hear that says it can be done…. (hope he’s not reading here!)

The final Christmas gift is not from me, it’s a generous offer from Chris at Briar Rose Fibers.  She has offered a $100 gift voucheras a Woodburne KAL prize and has also extended the discount code for the yarn until the end of December!!  This is so amazingly generous I’m just blown away, thank you Chris!  So what do have to do to win?  Well the KAL is ongoing and we’re now on clue 3.  If you’re knitting along with us then you need to finish the Woodburne Cardigan by the end of December and post the photo of your finished cardigan in the thread on the forum once I set it up.  If you haven’t started yet but you’re a fast knitter you’d totally be able to get it finished by the end of December to enter the draw!

Woodburne progress….

On Sunday night I released the third clue from my Woodburne KAL. I think this is the really exciting part of the cardigan – the yoke! There are a few knitters intimidated by bottom up seamless construction but once you get past the first few rows it all starts to come together (literally!). For anyone out there who hasn’t knit bottom up seamless before one of the most difficult ideas to grasp is how it all fits together. I usually consider the underarm stitches that you take out for the sleeves and the body as a gap that you ‘slot’ your sleeves into for the yoke. After this there are a few rows that are uncomfortable to knit – they are very long and also the sleeve stitches are very tight and hard to maneuver. I make this easier for myself by using an extra long cable and pulling a cable ‘loop’ out in the center of my sleeve stitches which really eases the pressure on the stitches there and stops the stitches from becoming distorted.

I’ve put a few photos together from my knitters to keep you all going, the first two are my test knitters who did amazing versions and after that there are a few in progress shots.

Celtic Cast On test knit in di.Vé Zenith

Grannyknits4u test knit in Plucky Knitter Primo Worsted

Here are a few in progress cardigans that will make you drool :-)

KittyGrandMa's tosh vintage cables

Sewknitful's pockets added

DianneK's purple cables in 'Yowza What a Skein'