Let’s talk about shoulders.
I’ve been thinking about shoulders lately (because that’s what I do). They’ve been on my mind especially since I’ve been wrestling with the Sweater-Formerly-Known-As-Peggy-Sue.
It’s important to know the types of shoulders when you’re planning out a sweater, since they totally change the look of a sweater. Different sleeves/shoulders flatter different people. I know that I have narrow (ish) shoulders, so raglan sweaters aren’t the best look on me (so why I chose to make a raglan-sleeve sweater, I’ll never know). But my husband looks great in raglan-sleeves. Go figure.
Anyway, here are some of the different types of sweater sleeves that you’ll come across in the wild, illustrated by yours truly (so forgive the lopsided-ness).
These are your typical shoulders, they’re made to resemble the shoulders of a dress shirt. They are a bit futzy to make, since you usually have to knit your sweater flat, then sew all the pieces of sweater together, but they end up looking really nice. If you don’t like seaming, these might not be the way to go.
You’ve probably seen shoulders like these on baseball t-shirts, and some hoodie sweatshirts. They’re fun to make in a seamless sweater (although it is possible to make raglan sleeves on a pieced sweater, too). For a seamless raglan sweater, you simply stack your increases or decreases (depending on if you are doing a top-down or bottom-up sweater) at the four points in front of and behind both shoulders. They’re super easy.
These are even easier than raglan shoulders. Drop shoulders are the kind of shoulders you get if you make a sweater out of nothing but squares. These are super good if you’re a new knitter, or if you want a cozy, slouchy sweater. But, if you’re worried about looking sleek or sophisticated, drop shoulders probably wouldn’t be the way to go.
A yoke makes it look like your whole sweater is one single piece, with no obvious increases/decreases or seaming. They’re really nice if you want to have a cool pattern or something wrapped around your shoulders (think about beautiful fair-isle sweaters). However, they can look a little janky as you work them up, so make sure you block the sweater when you’re done to make sure it looks its best after all your hard work.
Of course, there are about as many variations of sleeves/shoulders as there are knitting patterns, but most sweaters you’ll find will fit into one of these categories, at least a little bit. And, now you will be able to identify sweater shoulders when you see them in the wild.