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My mother in law, Nancy Schaeffer, was an avid knitter. She would knit, watch TV and read simultaneously. Every member of her family received a handknit sweater each Christmas. She passed on in 1990, having shared with me one of her techniques, picking up armhole stitches to knit sleeves from shoulder to wrist. She also taught me how to knit a classic sweater in a few easy steps. When I returned to knitting after a 20 year break, I examined several of the sweaters she knitted and admired the slightly raised, tidy shoulder seams. I carefully untied a shoulder seam and found there were 4 strands of yarn. I tied a differently colored strand of yarn to each, then began to unravel the seam. It turned out to be a simple oversewn / whipstitch seam. Each bound off stitch was sewn through the outer loops only (see diagram).
It has turned out to be a soft seam suitable not only for shoulder seams as Nancy used it, but also for baby clothes and bootie soles. It has much less thickness than mattress stitch, back stitch, or any other seam except grafting. It is flatter on the back side than the front side. It does not disappear as mattress stitch does. It does not sink in as three needle bind off or crocheted seams do. On the top side you see a rounded raised seam.