Fall in Love with Sweater Knitting KAL: Tips and Tricks for Sleeves

I feel like I’ve thrown a LOT of information at you over the course of the blog series thus far so I’m hoping this post won’t be quite as overwhelming as the rest and hopefully not as wordy!  There are a few little things about knitting sleeves that I wanted to mention and didn’t want the information to get lost in some of the longer posts about modifying sweaters.

Picking up stitches at the underarm: If you’ve knit mittens, you might know where I’m going with this. Sometimes when you pick up the number of stitches that the pattern specifies (at the underarm of a sweater to begin the sleeves, or for a thumb on a mitten), you end up with a little hole on either side of the picked up stitches. It looks a little like this:

Real sweater WIP complete with little holes under the arm.

There are a couple of ways you can deal with this. The first being to leave a decent sized yarn tail when you pick up your stitches and use the tail to close up the holes. The other thing you can do is pick up a couple of extra stitches and then get rid of them on the next round by using K2TOG (knit two together). You can even knit those stitches together through the back loop to tighten them up a bit more.

Modifying Shaping: We talked about this a bit in our previous post, and I just want to reiterate that you’ll be much happier with your finished sweater if you take the time to shape your sweaters to fit your body. If you’ll be shortening the sleeves or lengthening them, you’ll want to think about if you want to put your decreases (or increases if you’re knitting bottom up!) closer or father apart. Don’t be afraid to change the sleeve length of the pattern! If you prefer 3/4 length sleeves…go for it! Want to change a short-sleeved or 3/4 length sleeve to full length? Add a couple of more decreases and keep knitting!

Working in the Round: I’m going to be completely honest, here. I loathe knitting sleeves on double-pointed needles. This is the number one reason I taught myself Magic Loop (knitting in the round on one long circular needle). I highly recommend doing magic loop for sweater sleeves. I find that with dpns, you end up moving your entire sweater each time you reach the end of your needle. There are plenty of people out there who don’t mind using dpns for sleeves, so give it a try if you really love using dpns! If you’re interested in learning magic loop, we have a couple of great resources at the shop: The Magic Loop Booklet and the Circular Knitting Workshop book.

Consider Knitting Your Sleeves Before Finishing the Body: Never in a million years would I have thought to do this for a top-down sweater, but it makes complete sense. Jasmin from The Knitmore Girls Podcast mentioned that this is how she knits her top-down sweaters, and I think it’s brilliant. Like I mentioned above, when you are knitting sleeves you are constantly rearranging/twisting your sweater. This method has you knitting the sleeves right after the sleeve split, so that instead of an entire sweater sitting on your lap you just have the top portion of the sweater. You might want to knit an inch or two of the body first to make sure that you’re on track with the fit just in case you need to rip back! I haven’t actually tried this yet…but I’m hoping to do it for my next top-down sweater to see if it helps my dislike of sleeve knitting. The only reason I can see NOT to do this would be if you are worried about running out of yarn. In that case, I’d knit the body first and split your remaining yarn in half using a kitchen scale so that your sleeves will be the same length.

I think that’s all for sleeves! Next week we’ll have our final 2 posts in the series and then it will be time to start our sweaters!!

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