Tag Archives: sleeves

Choices 2020

I’ve got a dilemma.

It’s a dilemma of my own creation, because I insisted on making a sweater without actually having a plan.  I should have had a plan.

I really should have had a plan.

Now I have… this:IMG_2909

Possibly the world’s least-flattering sweater.

Ignore the sleeve situation for a second, and let me walk you through what happened.

My original thought was to knit up a stash-busting sweater using the lace-weight alpaca that I’ve had in my stash for literal years.  I love all the colors, but haven’t had the time/energy for lace since… the early 2000s.  I actually knit up a swatch with the yarn held triple, and it seemed like it was going to work.  The first plan was to make a cropped, over-sized sweater, in the vein of the Love Note.  Super cute and trendy.

Well, I got carried away (a combination of quarantine blues and some good Netflix shows), and before I knew it, I had a hip-length sweater.  Not what I planned, but hey, that’s ok.

I tried it on.  It fit… well enough.  Even though I did a swatch, I forgot to factor in the inherent drapiness of alpaca.  It’s really kind of shapeless and droopy.  Don’t get me wrong… it’s real comfortable and soft, but not the most flattering thing ever.

It was time to tackle the sleeves.  My first thought was to just make it into a T-shirt- something trendy and cute, and something I could wear sooner than later with summer on the way.  I threw a quick short sleeve on the sweater.  I tried it on…

Y’all.  It was so wide across the shoulders (WAY too many raglan increases), that the armpit hits just a couple inches above my elbow.  It looks OK enough if I keep my arms down, but if I lift them up, I get a weird bat-wing look (and not in a good way).

So, I decide to make the other sleeve long.  I use my usual long sleeve formula,  and make it up in a weekend.

I’ve got big hopes.  I try it on.  Ugh.

It’s… fine, but way baggier than I hoped.  If I really want the sweater to be how I’m now imagining it, I have to rip it all the way back past the armpits and try again, and I’m just not feeling that now.

So, I’m asking you:  What should I do?

Long sleeve? Short sleeve?  Re-knit the long sleeve so it’s narrower?  Give up and walk around with one long sleeve like a crazy person?  Give up entirely?


(Don’t mind my dog and my kid barking at the cars driving by…  It was a day.)

Have you ever gotten almost to the end of a project, just to realize you did it all wrong?

Doing the Splits

It’s been nice, giving myself a break from all my “big” knitting.  I’ve given up on finishing my brother’s wedding blanket before his wedding next weekend (unless my kid suddenly decides he doesn’t need my attention, there’s no way I’m getting it done in the next 7 days), and I’m between work knitting assignments.

Which means I’ve been leisurely knitting away at my fun little Flax Light for the kiddo.

And I just passed my favorite part of a top-down sweater- the “split for sleeves” part.

It’s a simple little phrase, barely even a sentence, but it’s so fun.  (Especially when I’m just following a pattern and I don’t have to do any math!)  It’s that point where your project turns from a weird funnel-thing into an honest-to-goodness sweater.  It’s like magic.  (And it doesn’t hurt that suddenly you reduce your stitch count by a good third or more, which means the next section starts going really quickly.)

And I know it’s silly, but I love picking scrap yarn to hold my sleeve stitches.  I like a yarn that contrasts but still “goes.”  I kind of love this yellow scrap yarn with the red- the it really picks up the little yellow tweedy nupps from the red yarn.  It’s to the point where I’m half-considering adding a yellow stripe to this sweater, 90s-style.IMG_1793.JPG

What’s your favorite part of a sweater?  Casting on? Binding off? Sleeve island?

Husband Sweater: Finished… Well, sort of.

It’s done! It’s done!

Well- mostly.

I cast off the last sleeve last Friday, after months of stagnation.  (Sorry, husband!)  It’s done!

I wove in the ends and, miracle of miracles, it fits!  Woo Hoo!

11905401_10105373908271560_3140276053640019237_n[1]It looks great, and fits like a glove, and the cotton is so lovely and soft.

WP_20150815_002And it only took me 8 months.  (Oy!)

Of course, it’s still missing one very important thing:  the zipper.

I went to get a zipper at Jo-Ann’s over the weekend, but they were closed due to a power outage from a thunderstorm(!) earlier in the day.  So my husband has been wearing the sweater sans zipper for the last few days.  At least he likes it.

The moment I get a chance to go back to Jo-Ann’s I’m zipping over there as fast as I can!

What’s the last project that took you way longer than it should have?

Stellar’s Jay Sweater: Joining the Sleeves

Once I had my sleeves (and body) all knitted up, it was time to join the whole thing together.  On first glance, this seems like it would be difficult to do, cumbersome and fiddly, but it’s not too tricky, actually. Just go slow, and make sure you count your stitches correctly!

The goal is to end up with the sleeves arranged on either side of the body, with active stitches all the way around (so that you can keep  knitting the shoulders).  If you are imagining looking at your sweater from the top down, it would look something like this:

SchematicStart knitting at the beginning of your round (usually the center back of a pullover, or the center front for a cardigan).  Make sure to use a great big circular needle, or you’ll run into trouble in a few minutes! Work your way across the body of the sweater until you reach the armpit.

Schematic 1Then, pick up your sleeve and knit around the outside of the sleeve, leaving its armpit unworked.  Leave the active armpit stitches on a piece of scrap yarn or a stitch holder.

Schematic 2Switch back to knitting the body, and work your way all the way across the back (or front) of your sweater.

Schematic 3Then, repeat the process for the other sleeve, knitting around the outside of the sleeve, while leaving the armpit alone.

Schematic 4The final step is to close up the armpits.  Attach the sleeve armpit stitches to the body armpit stitches on either side.  I like to use the Kitchener stitch, but you could also use a 3-needle bind-off, if that’s your favorite.

Schematic finalNow you’re all set up for the knitting the shoulders on your bottom-up sweater!  Just keep going in the round (if you’re making a pullover), or turn the work and go back the other direction (if you’re making a cardigan).  Simple!

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.