I’m really loving the seamless / continuous crochet! It makes such nice objects without the tedious working-in of the ends that you usually get with crochet squares. To see sleeveless items I have made before also using seamless crochet, see here for part 1 and here for part 2. (Not necessary to read those to understand this post though, no worries! …Also, that’s not a hole at the belly button area, that is where the jeans are poking through it.)
I have been dawdling over how to write this post for the past month, and how much detail I can go into. What I made up on this sweater was how to get connected motifs into a sweater shape, but I had a drawing in a book to give me the idea, and the motif design itself I got from books. (The motif I used in this sweater is in both books, see references below.) So, this post will tell you how to construct the sweater with continuous crochet, but you need to know how to make a motif. In general, this means making a long chain, then slip knot into a ring, then do something of your design for row 1 for the center around the ring, then chains around the outside edge for joining (chains making corners and sides). You can design your own motif if you wish. As long as you do them all the same, you will get a pattern.
In one of the books I reference at the bottom (Nihon Vogue-Sha), they have a drawing on how to construct a similar sweater on pg. 77 (see reference at the bottom). They do this differently than how I did it, and their way may be simpler and better than what I did. I have not found this book in English though, only Chinese and Japanese, so exactly how they did it was not completely clear to me. It looks to me like they complete a front half all the way, and then do a back half all the way, then seam some other way when the pieces are completely done. I don’t think the pieces are joined as they go, but it could be I just didn’t get it. So, exactly how to construct the sweater is what I made up as I went, generally based on their drawing. Let me add, I LOVE this book even though I can’t read it. It is full of drawings, pictures and interesting motifs, most of which I can use just fine just by looking at the drawings.
If you are interested in making these, you may want to buy a seamless or continuous crochet book. The drawings in the books help a TON in trying to attach these things together the right way. The first sweater I made with continuous crochet was really very confusing as to what parts of the motif attach to what, even with drawings to help. But you do get used to it the more you make, and it becomes very easy.
How my sweater was constructed: Look at the photo below. I made row 1 starting at the waist. I made this bottom row 6 motifs across. (For sizing – hold your row of motifs up to yourself and stop when its wide enough to go across your hips – careful not to stretch unless you want a tight sweater). It was worked the way continuous crochet usually is, doing bottoms and rights of the outer chain edge of each motif on row 1, then doing the top chain edge on all 6 motifs after all 6 were done, but leaving off the left outer edge, (meaning don’t work the outer chain on the leftmost motif of the row). Do Row 2 the same way, the leftmost motif is joined at its bottom, make it, then do its outer bottom edge, joining it to the one below on row 1 as you go, then work its right outer chain edge, then make the next motif. After all 6 motifs are done, work the bottom and right outer chain of that last one, then work the outer chain edge over the tops of all of them to get back to the left, and leave off the left outer chain edge on the last one. Row 2 is done. The left outer chain edge is done after all rows are done to get back to the starting point. So, I worked a rectangle with 6 motifs across and 8 rows high, (this is from the hips up to the armpits in this photo), then after working the outer chain over the top of the last row (row 8), I then did the left outer chain edge of all rows, bringing me back to the starting point at the left bottom. The starting yarn-end is tied to the ending yarn-end and worked in, and those are your only ends to deal with on this rectangle (as long as you didn’t need to join a new ball of yarn). Back half “body” is complete.
A note about my use of the words “left” and “right” for the remainder – My words say what was done as I was holding it, however, I was looking at the backs of all of my motifs as I went (the inside of the sweater). So left and right as I say it will match what it looks like when you are doing it, but you will notice it seems reversed in some photos, because the sweater isn’t inside out in all of them.
Then, to work the piece for the arms, I started at the left wrist and worked the first row all the way across to the right wrist. That was joined to the first rectangle (the body) when I got to the point where the armpit would be, and as the bottom outer chain (of each motif) was worked on that first row. You have to hold the arm motifs up to your arm to decide how long you want it to be, and make sure you are doing the same number of motifs for each arm and getting the body joined in the middle. Using markers may help.
The photo above is not half of the sweater, my arms were going to be six motifs tall total, (3 on the front side, 3 tall on the back side), so this is 3 rows, which is the back half, plus 2 half rows which are really on the front, and allow for the neck hole. (So the back half of the arm piece has no space for a neck hole, the motifs go all the way up, and it is simply a long rectangle.)
Neck hole: This was kind of complicated, let me draw out how I did the half rows for the neck hole in 2 ways. Look at the second drawing below, if it makes sense, that will allow you to skip all of these words! Number one to remember, if it is a pullover, it has to fit over your head or you can’t wear it. I used the already made parts of the sweater to stretch around my head and see how many motifs would have to be missing in the neck hole to get it to fit over my head. This is pretty stretchy, and I only needed 2 motifs to be missing. It may help to count these out before you start and mark the last motifs you do before leaving the neck hole.
The dark blue lines below are motif rows, worked to the right. The other drawn-on colors show how the outer chain edge of each motif was worked (back over the top to the left). So, we start with the bottom dark blue row, the last row of the back half of the sweater, (worked all the way across, to the right). For the right side – Follow the yellow line back to the left, this is the outer chain edge of that solid row, stop when you get to where you want the neck hole to be, don’t work over the tops of the neck hole motifs yet. Then, work the dark blue row right above the yellow line, making motifs to the right, working them from the neck area to the right side wrist (in my case this was 10 motifs). Then follow the green line back to the left for the outer chain, go over the tops of those motifs you just made, then go around the left side of the first/ leftmost one, then do over the tops of the solid row below for the neck hole, then do over the top for the length of the other sleeve to the wrist and stop. The topmost solid row on the back half is now fully complete (except for the left outer chain edge, which you always leave off, for around the left wrist). Left side – Then work the dark blue line over the left side sleeve, from wrist to neck, but stop, leaving a neck hole in the middle (have the same number of motifs as for the other sleeve, in my case 10). Then follow the red line to do the outer chain over your last motifs on the left sleeve. (You still leave off the left edge of that sleeve.) At this point, your neck hole so far is complete, all of the outer chains are done everywhere except the left wrist.
Finishing the front half of the sleeves and making sleeves into tubes – After the neck hole row / rows are done, you then do more solid rows the same way you did the first few. (In my case, that was 2 more solid rows so that I would have sleeves 6 motifs tall.) You work the bottoms of the motifs that go over the neck hole the same way as you make them on the usual starting first row, just remember not to connect them so that you leave a hole. Your neck hole should not have any unworked outer edges left on it after you pass over it with the next solid row, it is complete.
The photo below shows how I connected the sleeves. I didn’t seam them later, I used working the outer top edge of my last sleeve row (done on the leftward return after making the last row) to attach to the bottoms of Row 1 as I went. (The bottoms of row 1 were already finished when you did row 1.) Looking at the photo below, you can see this joining. It looks like I’m going the wrong way in the photo from what I said, but as I said before, it may be inside out when you are working it.
Complication modification – how I made this more confusing, and why you see another half row there at the top – (You don’t have to do this, you can make yours a solid row to make it easier to do.) My sleeves are 6 motifs tall (in the middle) and 5 tall from the elbows to wrists. I didn’t want my sleeves to have a very wide opening at the wrist, so I only made my sleeves 5 tall at the ends. The simpler sleeve way – If you make yours the same number of motifs high all the way across, that makes it a little easier, you just join your sleeves into tubes as you are returning from the right with the outer chain on the top of the last row, making sure to leave openings starting at the armpit for the body as you are doing that top edge of the last row. (Just work across the body motifs without joining). Once joined, your right sleeve is finished, and the edge at the right wrist is already done. Once you get back to the left wrist, you work the outer edge on the wrist of the joined sleeve to finish it and cut the yarn here where it meets your starting tail. Only one more yarn tail to work in, and both sleeves and the neck hole are completely finished. You only need one more rectangle now for the front body.
The complicated way – Adding extra half rows for sleeve modification: You can work row 5, (the last solid row on the long sleeve rectangle), get to the right wrist with the motifs, then starting at the right wrist join the top outer chain of row 5 as you go to the bottom of row 1 until you get to the right elbow. At this point continue working over the top of row 5, but stop joining it to anything. Work over the top of the top row with the outer chain back over the neck hole and stop at the left elbow (or to wherever you want row 6 to start – lets say elbow for simplicity). Now you start making and joining row 6 motifs from the left elbow to the right elbow. Then when you get to the right elbow, work the top of row 6’s outer chain – you will continue connecting the right sleeve into a tube now (I made this text purple to connect you to when it was last purple – that’s when you stopped connecting the right sleeve into a tube). You will be using the top of row 6 to connect to the bottom of row 1 at this point. (See note below on bunching up that first row 6 motif.) Stop connecting into a sleeve tube when you get to the arm pit of the sweater. Keep working across the top of row 6 for the body area doing your top outer chain, and go back to joining the top of row 6 to the bottom of row 1 when you get over to the arm pit on the other sleeve. Join this sleeve down the length, first while working the top of row 6, then it will turn into row 5’s top when you get to the elbow. When you get to the wrist, you then need to work the left edge around the wrist, and cut the yarn and work in the end. Your end yarn should join at your starting yarn for the long rectangle sleeve piece.
Note on bunching up end of row 6 motifs: Below you see the “complicated sleeve” elbow, and what the underside of the sleeve will look like if you add the extra half row. Here you see row 1 joined to row 5 on the left, and to the right of it, row 1 joined to row 6 where you see the extra motif in there which is looking bunched up. To make that join, you just squish the usual joining spots on the hook and pull the yarn through all of them at once. Your joining happens under the arm so this bulging at the elbow is not really obvious, as you can see in the two photos where I’m wearing the sweater, you wouldn’t have noticed it.
Below is what it looks like after both sleeves are tubes. The front body is another rectangle, identical to the back rectangle. You work it in the same way, I would suggest starting at the waist and working up like you did the first piece, joining on the right side edge as you do the last motif of every row, then joining the whole rectangle to the front of the arm piece when you do the top outer chain of the last row. Leave the left edge undone and unattached to work last, and join at that left edge after you’ve joined the rectangle to the front of the arm piece at the tops of the last row, (row 8 on mine). This is the simplest way to do it. (Not what I did! I attached the yarn at the armpit and tried to work downward, attaching to the arm piece first. It worked, but something about the joining was confusing and I had to cut and restart on the opposite side, so doing it the way you did the first piece in all the same directions and just attaching the two with the top edge of the last row of motifs, then the left edge, is probably the easier way to go. Once again, your last yarn tail will be where your first starting tail was, so only one more tail to work it.
Whew! I think it’s harder to explain than it is to do! If you stuck with this post this far, bless you for your infinite patience, and may your projects all come out lovely!
Books on seamless / continuous crochet that have this motif in them:
Continuous Crochet Motif 60. Nihon Vogue-Sha. 2009. ISBN-10: 9866817466. The motif I used on this sweater is design No. 6, page 13. This book also has a drawing showing how to construct a sweater in a little different way on pg. 77.
Seamless Crochet. Kristin Omdahl. 2011. Interweave Press LLC, Loveland, CO. ISBN 978-1-59668-297-9. The motif I used on this sweater is in this book too, called Lace Flower motif, pg. 60.