I've been thinking a great deal about the different ways to achieve outcomes in knitting over the last few months (actually, I've probably been thinking about it since I started knitting 10 years ago). There are many ways to get to a similar end point - say a cardigan. Some will favour knitting in pieces and seaming, others will do anything to avoid a seam and will knit the body flat and the sleeves in the round. You can then choose whether to start at the bottom and knit up, or whether to start at the neck and work down. Depending on the sleeve construction, you may pick up the sleeves and work down to cuffs, regardless of which direction the body was worked in. And you can even choose to add a few stitches as a bridge at the centre front (a steek), and work everything in the round, cutting the steek later. Or work from side to side, starting at one cuff and working across to the other.
So with all these choices available, how do you decide which route to take? Much will come down to personal preference:
To seam or not to seam?
Would you rather work flat or in the round?
Other choices will be determined by the design itself:
Does the stitch pattern dictate one technique or another?
Does your sleeve construction (raglan, set-in sleeves, yoke etc...) particularly lend itself to a construction?
And then there is the psychology of working on a project. I love the sense of acceleration you get as you work through the yoke of a seamless yoked sweater. The rounds get progressively shorter, and with the end in sight it seems to fly by. Having two sleeves left to work at the end of a sweater is my personal knitting black hole. Will these sleeves NEVER END?! Far better for me to get them out of the way early on, when my project enthusiasm is high. My Stopover sweater was a great example of this: By the time the sleeves and body were joined for the yoke, I could almost feel the warmth the finished sweater would give me. As well as the decreasing rounds, there was the excitement of the colourwork pattern at the top of the yoke, and once I reached that point, I just couldn't stop knitting.
The best thing about all this, is that despite what some may tell you, there are no wrong or right answers. It's your knitting, and you can work in whatever way suits you best!
I'm currently editing the A-MAZING designs for a book of Haps, that I'm working on with Kate Davies. The thirteen designs use a range of constructions, and I can't wait to tell you more about them over the coming months. My needles are itching already, and I might have made a cheeky yarn purchase too...