Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life

The saddle


Have you ever knitted a saddle-shouldered garment?  If you are not sure what this is, it’s where the sleeve extends in a narrow band past the shoulder all the way to the neck.  It creates an elegant, smooth shoulder line, and is most often used in men’s clothing.

In piece form, it looks like this:

This was me measuring the second sleeve against the first just to make sure they were indeed the same size… call me paranoid.  Notice that runty-looking extension past the top of the sleeve?  That’s the saddle.

A while back, I knitted a saddle-shouldered pullover for a boy.  I remarked at the time that I wouldn’t be keen to do another in a hurry.

Then a friend asked if I’d knit him a jersey.  He pulled out the pattern.  Apart from having to modify the pattern to suit a different yarn, and tailor it to his proportions (quite different to the pattern), it looked easy and relatively painless, so I said yes.  Until I realised it included a saddle shoulder. Booby prize!

I now do declare that I shall read all patterns thoroughly before embarking on any future “man knitting”.  And my next few garments will be top-down, in the round, and seamless.  I’m thoroughly sick of sewing up seams.  And I’m thoroughly sick of ripping out the saddle seams and re-sewing until it all fits correctly.  Grrr!

The problem with a saddle-shoulder is that instead of one continual shoulder piece to fit into an armhole, the front and back of your garment join up to each side of the saddle bar, and then you have to turn a corner and sew the edges of the sleeves on to the edge of each side of the garment.  There is no armhole to fit the sleeve into, as it’s a drop shoulder.   Conceptually, it’s fairly basic.

But this means you have to fit the sides of the sleeves at the right length in order for the garment’s side seams to match up.  And with no schematic giving me measurements, there was a fair amount of guesswork involved. 

And in the case of this particular pullover, the pattern diagram was wrong.  I should have trusted my instincts.  This is what it told me to do:  

From what I can see of the diagram, the coloured threads did not indicate where the sleeves where supposed to line up to, and you had to fit the longer side of the sleeve into the front, instead of the back (really?  does the saddle face the back??  I guess so…).  So I did that, and after I had happily sewed it all in, I went to sew the side seam and realised that the front and the back of the jumper did not match up, because it was too long in the front. 

This necessitated ripping out and resewing the sleeves with the shorter edge facing the front.  And then I realised that the tops of the saddles were supposed to fit exactly to the tops of the neck edge, leaving no gaps between stitches when you pick up to knit the neck band.  Rip! 

Then I realised that the sleeves were supposed to align to the coloured threads, and I needed to pull the front edge of the sleeve longer to match the length of the back sleeve, so had to rip those seams and sew again.  It was a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle where you’ve lost the original picture and have to work ‘blind’.

Despite the pattern’s failings in the lack of clear instructions on how to make the garment up, the actual pattern instructions were fine.  And I love the yarn I used.  Beautiful, chunky Corriedale yarn with lots of texture and body, but still soft enough so that it’s not scratchy to wear.  And so very warm!

Bear in mind this is me modelling it, still looking grumpy.  The owner, who does not possess hips or boobs, will look better in it:

The worst thing is… the yarn is so dark, you can’t even see the shoulder after all that work!

Yarn used:  Little Wool Company, 12 ply, in Pure Wool Naturals, Obsidian.  900g.

Author: kiwiyarns

Welcome to my blog where I talk about knitting in New Zealand and the beautiful yarns you can find here.

6 thoughts on “The saddle

  1. It looks fab (even with hips and boobs)! Well done for sticking to it.

  2. Oh – I think it turned out beautifully and looks fabulous on you! Kathy

    • Thank you! I hope it looks even better on the intended recipient. I’ve just seen your latest post – you’ve been busy!! I feel tired just reading your list. You should be very proud of yourself.

  3. Looks great. And grumpiness seems to make you look fierce – actually it suits you!
    Could you have redesigned it to not use saddle shoulders? That’s what I would’ve tried to do (whether it would’ve worked is another matter).

    • Thank you. 🙂 It is possible to redesign anything. Whether or not one can be bothered is another issue! Besides, I’m a bit perverse. Getting it “right” is a bit of a fixation…