Jean: I just poked my nose in and saw your post. There are different pattern choices for sweaters. Some are called top down, which means you start at the neck and knit down, then there are bottom up, which is what most sweaters are knit, from the waist up. You can get patterns where the sleeves are knit right onto the sweater, but most sweaters you knit a back piece, knit a front piece then knit each individual sleeve. Usually you then sew up the shoulder and side seams with what is called a mattress stitch, which makes an invisible side seam. I use the kitchner stitch to sew up my shoulder seams which is another invisible seam and what I use to sew up toes on socks. Then you set in the sleeves and sew them in and do whatever it call for with the neckline. I have no sleeves on this pattern I am doing for the cruise. It is a sleeveless shell. When I finish the knitting part, I have to block the two pieces so they are equal in size by pinning them down to the measurements for the size sweater I knit, which is on the pattern, then spray the pieces with water and let them dry. Then I will sew the shoulder and side seams, then do my knitting. I have to put a neckline on the sweater and put a couple rows around each armhole which I do using a circular needle. With this pattern, I pick up stitches, stitch per stitch and knit a row around the neck then the next row I purl around, decreasing evenly to the number of stitches the pattern says the neckline should be, ie I may have a total of 150 stitches on the neck I pick up the first time around, but only need 130 for the neck so after I have picked up the 150 around the neck, the next row I decrease 20 stitches back to 130 so the neckline fits correctly. It is the easiest way to do it. On this pattern I do 2 purl rows for the neck and for each armhole. I have an Iphone app where I can put the picked up stitches in, the number to decrease to and it tells me how to knit the row, knit so many than decrease, knit so many than decrease. In other words it does the math for me.
Now that it is clear as mud aren't you glad you ask?