Saddle shoulder jumper

The second in my “I made this months years ago and only had the energy to post about it now” series is this knitted saddle shoulder jumper. I’d wanted to knit a saddle shoulder jumper for a while, but never found the right pattern. Seeing as I alter most patterns I use beyond recognition anyway, I figured it was the right time to just draft the damn thing myself.

Siobhan stands at her rollator, wearing a handknit brown fluffy saddle shoulder jumper, black jeans and ankle boots.
I am actually wearing the turtleneck tops I just blogged here. Obviously these photos were taken in the middle of winter, 6 months ago!

Don’t know what a saddle shoulder is? Barbara Walker, in Knitting from the Top (p.86), describes it as follows: “the saddle shoulder is a handsome, well-fitting design, especially attractive in boys’ and men’s sweaters. [I showed you, Barbara!] To knit it without any sewing is almost ridiculously simple once you know how to make a seamless set-in sleeve, for it is almost the same thing except that part of the sleeve cap runs on, without a break, to the neck.”

A diagram of a saddle shoulder jumper.

I realise that’s no description at all, so here’s a diagram and a Google image search. You get the idea.

A google image search for saddle shoulder jumpers.

The yarn I chose, after a lengthy process (see my previous blog post about trying Zealana yarns), was Zealana Heron in Raisin H08, 80% merino wool, 20% possum. As I mentioned in that post, the colour was noticeably different than in the product photo, being a more multi-toned autumnal brown than the basic burgundy-brown on the website.

A promo picture of a medium brown-burgundy skein of Zealana Heron yarn.

A knitted swatch of Zealana Heron yarn, stitches are even and yarn has a soft halo. it is brown with colours of orange, yellow and green showing through. The loose yarn at the sides has untwisted in the wash.
Very different tones between Zealana’s photo and mine!

Heron is a worsted (10ply) yarn made from 2 singles, loosely plied together. They undo in the wash, so make sure your ends are securely darned in before blocking. It’s quite lofty, though not as stiff and thick as their Rimu yarn (which I used to make my Bronwyn Sweater), which is strangely advertised as thinner at DK/8ply.

Siobhan sits on a garden bench, wearing a handknit brown fluffy saddle shoulder jumper, black jeans and ankle boots.

I figured a simple stockinette/garter stitch pattern would best showcase the varied tones of the yarn. Saddle shoulder patterns lend themselves wonderfully to this purpose. You can easily make the saddle part garter, and the rest plain, which is exactly what I did.

A diagram of the construction of a saddle shoulder jumper.

Following the directions from Knitting from the Top, supplemented with ideas from The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters, I started with garter stitch saddles (as in diagram above). I then picked up stitches for the back, cast on back neck and knit down plain to the underarms. I did the same for the front, with front neck shaping, then joined at underarms and knit straight down for the body.

A close up of Siobhan's brown fluffy handknit jumper, showing the back neck ribbing and shoudler attachment.
You can see the back and sleeve “seams” here.

The sleeves were a bit of a hybrid between good ol’ Barbara’s method and Andi Satterlund’s Guide to Seamless Set-In Sleeve Sweaters. I picked up stitches (in this case starting by slipping the live saddle shoulder stitches onto the needle first, then picking up 1:2 sts:rows, 1:1 st:st), and worked short rows beginning either side of the saddle. I initially tried to work short rows leaving about 1″/2.5cm sts at top like I usually do, but working into the saddle stitch area took away from the seamless visual transition and gave a puffed sleeve effect.

Puffy regular short row sleeve on your right. Smooth sleeve on the left where I started short rows either side saddle shoulder area.

The the sleeve was worked as usual, with the garter stitches continuing all the way down. I like the effect – sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in fancy stitch patterns and colourways but simple can be effective.

A close up of Siobhan's brown fluffy handknit jumper, showing the garter stitch detail running down the sleeve.

As for the overall sweater/jumper – I’m undecided. It’s very, very warm due to the possum yarn, and a bit thicker than I expected. It certainly feels a lot bulkier than other worsted jumpers I’ve made, and I really have too many thick and warm jumpers for my climate! You can see how it bunches up when I’m sitting that there is a LOT of jumper.

Siobhan sits on a garden bench, wearing a handknit brown fluffy saddle shoulder jumper, black jeans and ankle boots.

I don’t hate it, but I don’t think I love it either. Some projects are just a “meh”, and that’s ok.

ETA: I went back and cropped this jumper/sweater by 2.75″ (the length of the ribbing). I like it a lot more now and wear it often. Excellent.

Siobhan stands at her rollator, wearing a handknit brown fluffy saddle shoulder jumper, black jeans and ankle boots.


By the by – I won’t be posting this, or any further fibre arts projects, on Ravelry. They never fixed the accessibility issue of their latest update and going on that website will likely provoke a splitting headache/sensory meltdown/both. So I’ll source patterns from elsewhere from now on too.


The details:
Pattern: Seamless saddle shoulder sweater from Barbara Walker’s Knitting from the Top
Pattern details: Self-drafted from instructions in book.
Yarn: 9.78 skeins / 978 meters / 1069.55 yards Zealana Heron in H08 Raisin
Needles: 4mm for jumper, 3.75mm for sleeve and neckband ribbing (unsure about body hem ribbing)

More reading:
Zealana yarn reviews, and an unexpected break
Bronwyn Jumper
Rethinking Bronwyn


Author: Siobhan S

30 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic disability advocate.

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