Shoulders bear the weight of the world, well, in this case, the weight of the sweater. Making sure that the type of shoulder used for a sweater will support it’s weight, stretchiness, and contruction are very important.
The above sweater is an aran type sweater that uses a lot of yarn and has saddle shoulders. I found out from a fellow TKGA master knitting student who is also working on level III that even if a sturdy seam is used on a saddle, if the the cable is not sturdy, the sweater will most probably hang longer than a knitter planned. Saddle shoulders can best be described, for those of you who are not familar with the term, as a sleeve with a long strip that goes betweent the top bind off shoulder area of the front and back of the body of the sweater. All the weight, especially vertically, is actually supported by the cable in the saddle, not just the seams that sew the front and back to the saddle.
Lesson to be learned, for a tidy neck, use a non-stretchy very sturdy cable.
Sometimes no seam at all is used in sweater construction, such as a cuff to cuff sweater or shrug. If the garment is light and/or is close fitting so that your body actually is supporting some of the weight of the garment, then, this might be a fine choice. However, if there are lots of cables, or it’s made out of cotton and not close fitting, you can expect sag.
There are many types of seams that can be used for the shoulder area. Often the asthetics play a major role in determining the type of seam. Three-needle bind off lines up the pattern from the front and back without being a half stitch off, and gives a somewhat continuous look. However, while this can be great for lining up cables, if the sweater is quite heavy, there may be some droop. True Kitchener stitch also droop in this case.
An invisible seam is pretty nice looking, but when a pattern must match, it will be off by half a stitch.
Backstitch is very sturdy, but asthetically, not lovely.
So, there is compromise that must be made sometimes when it comes to shoulders on garments.
The good news is that with a little tweeking, a pattern can be made to get the best of what you need and have the pattern line up. An example is to use a modified boat neck with a wide opening on a cable sweater. Less to line up and maybe just the the texture pattern to line up. So, next time there is a shoulder seam delimna, think outside the box, you may just find a way to solve it that puts a smile on your face.
Check out more knitting design patterns at http://www.ravelry.com/designers/margie-mitchell