Tag Archives: shoulders

Inspiration: X-Files

I am a big nerd.  And, I grew up in the 90s/early 2000s.  Therefore, I am a giant X-Files fan.  I’ve probably watch the whole show through three or four times (I’ve got to do something to keep my mind busy while I knit).

xfiles[1]When I was really little (when the show was still new), I was a giant scaredy-cat, and didn’t watch the X files.  In fact, when my folks wanted me to go to bed on Sunday nights, they’d tell me that the X-Files were coming on, and I’d run off to bed, scared.

But, in high school, I discovered the X-files, and started staying up late to watch reruns with the volume turned way down so that I wouldn’t wake up my parents.  Sometimes, I’d tape them (on the VHS tape that I’d bought specially to tape episodes) and watch them later with my dad.  Still whenever I hear the theme song I think of my dad whistling along while we sat on the couch with a bowl of popcorn.

(I’m re-watching the series again (because why not).  I found a new podcast from Kumail Nanjiani (a comedian that I like-he’s on the HBO show, Silicon Valley) called the X-Files Files, where he goes through the series and talks about the show with various guests.  It’s kind of great.  If you’re a nerd like me, I’d recommend checking it out.)

You know what else is great?

Scully’s fashion sense.

I’ve never noticed how many boxy suits and sensible shoes she wears.tumblr_lgck2x6W6J1qdaotno1_1280[1]Look at those shoulder-pads.  Amazing.

If she had time to sit down and knit between fighting off the Flukeman and conducting alien autopsies, maybe she’d make herself a blazer like this:

The Season’s Smartest Blazer by Meg Black

img093_medium2[1]But, you know what?  I don’t think those shoulders are quite big enough for Dr. Scully.  This is better:

Midnight Blazer by Xandy Peters

Blazer08130504_medium2[1]But, on her days off with her man-eating puppy Queequeg, she’d probably wear a comfy, slouchy sweater like this one.  (In fact, I’m 90% certain I’ve seen her wear a sweater just like this in one of the episodes… I just can’t remember which.)

Simple Summer Tweed Top Down V-Neck by Heidi Kirrmaier


Stellar’s Jay Sweater-Shoulders

Indulge me in a little “do as I say, not as I do.”  The first time I made an EPS sweater, I ignored a step in the shoulders.  It was a vague little instruction where Elizabeth Zimmerman said to “work a few short rows across the shoulders”.  I was so close to being finished, and anyway, I didn’t know what “short rows” were, so they couldn’t be that important.

I ended up with a perfectly fitting sweater, except that if felt like it was trying to choke me.  Constantly.  With Icelandic Wool.

Ha!  That showed me.  I’ve never skipped the short rows on a sweater again.

So, where do short rows come into play for a bottom-up (or a top-down) sweater knit in the round?

It turns out, that, if you look at your neck from the side, it actually points a little forward, instead of pointing straight up.  (It points even further forward if you’re a sloucher, like me.)  See?

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????So, if you make a sweater without any short rows, the neckline will sit parallel to the floor.  This will pull uncomfortably on your throat and make you want to burn your sweater.  Also, it looks kind of dumb.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????What you want, to be comfortable, is a sweater that is higher (by an inch or two) at the back of the neck than the front.  Like this:

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Looks better, right?  So how do you do it?  Usually three or four short rows in the last couple inches of the shoulders are enough to raise the back of the neck enough to make it comfortable.  I am a big fan of doing a simple wrap and turn.

I like to make my first short row go all the way to the points of my shoulders (or a little past).  Then, each short row after the first gets progressively shorter by 8 or so stitches.  It requires a tiny bit of math, but it works out pretty well.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????All I know is, I will never leave out the short rows on a sweater like this again!

She’s got the World on Her Shoulders

Let’s talk about shoulders.

80s-Shoulder-PadNot those shoulders (although they are impressive).  Sweater 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).

Set-in Sleeves

sweater set-inThese 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.

Raglan Sleeves

sweater raglanYou’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.

Drop Shoulders

sweater dropThese 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.

Yoke Shoulders

sweater yokeA 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.