Well, I was right; the front worked up pretty quick. I was working flat, knitting and purling and switching yarns every other row. When it was time I put the middle section of stitches on a stitch holder and the far side of the front on another holder, and worked each side up, one at a time. When I was done knitting, I had three holders on the front and three holders on the back. Each side has live stitches for both shoulders and the center sections. The front and back shoulders have the same number of stitches, as do the center sections.
I decided to do a three needle bind-off for the shoulders rather than binding off and stitching. Three needle bind-offs are neat and strong so I like to use them for shoulder seams. Luckily I have a great assortment of knitting needles, because as the name implies, you need three needles the same size to do it. I had to do a quick Google search to remind me how to do this stitch. Unfortunately, I did the search after I just jumped in and started off wrong; I had to undo part of one seam and pick up my stitches so I could start over. Try not to do this; double check first (I tell myself).
The first thing to keep in mind is that you work the stitches with the right sides of the fabric facing together. This is what I did wrong the first time. Once you have your pieces oriented correctly, pick up the live stitches that you will be binding off together. I always use the same size needle that I used to make the stitches, but I suppose you could go a size smaller if you had to. I would be sure that the working needle is the same size that was used for knitting, though.
If you are picking up your live stitches with straight needles, make sure you pick them up in the direction that puts the points of the needles facing the direction you need them to be. If you pick up with short circulars, you can slide the stitches to either end, but I prefer to use straights for this. So I line up my knitted pieces right sides together, and when I do the bind off, the knitted fabric will be on my left; the stitches that I am binding off will be in my left hand, and the stitches from the back will be on one needle and the stitches from the front will be on another needle. Both of these needles will be used together as the left hand needle, so they need to end up pointy end on the right. Then the empty, working needle in the right hand can knit and do the bind off. At this point it is a lot like a regular bind off, where you knit the first stitch and put it on the right needle, knit the second stitch and put it on the right needle, then pass that first stitch over the second, leaving one stitch on the right. Continue until everything on the left has been knit and there is one stitch on the right. Cut the yarn and finish off. The only difference in the three needle bind off is that when you knit ‘the’ stitch on the left, you knit through the first stitch on both needles, so they get knit together as one. There are many, better, descriptions of this, and videos too, on-line so look it up, find one that makes sense and try it. I might not be doing it exactly the way someone else would describe it, but it worked and looks good, so I’m happy. It’s a good technique to know, and a nice stitch to use when you can.