Monday, January 7, 2013

Top-down set-in sleeve tutorial

I've been promissing this tutorial for a while... But I delayed writing up this post, because although the concept is simple, I wasn't sure I would be able to explain it well. Oh well, let's just start and we'll see how it goes...

First, a disclaimer: this is NOT a top-down SWEATER. I made the fronts and back (together to underarms) from the bottom up, and then decided to try top-down sleeves to avoid the seeming.

What that means for you? This will only work with stitches that look the same when looking straight or upside down (stockinette, seed stitch, garter etc.) or with sweaters where you don't mind the body being different from the sleeves (beautiful intrasia in the front and plain sleeves anyone?).

Now, let's get started. Oh, and do read through before you start because there is a twist you may need to address. I wrote general directions without using specific numbers so you can try it with any yarn or gauge. And if you are in a hurry, scroll down for a step-by-step.

You will knit the sleeve cap flat while the stitches are picked up around the armhole, then join them in the round to knit the sleeve down.

All your sleeve stitches come from picking up so the number of stitches you pick up is the number of stitches your sleeve is going to have at its widest point - the underarm.

You will be picking up one stitch at the end of every row, so the number of picked-up stitches will be the same as the number of rows on the sleeve cap!

Now, whether you have to worry about matching pattern on sleeve and body (e.g. stripes, like mine) or not, it is always a good idea to have as many rows in the sleeve cap as you do in the armhole.


number of stitches at the widest point of the sleeve =
number of stitches picked up around the armhole =
number or rows knit in the sleeve cap =
number of rows in the armhole

I realized this only after I finished the sleeves so do yourself a favor and learn from my mistakes: the number of rows you have in the armhole is the same as the number of stitches at the widest point of the sleeve. See if that works for you. Count the rows on the armhole, and use that number of stitches to see if the resulting sleeve will be wide enough/ not too wide.

Knitting is so forgiving, you can ignore a stitch or two (or a row or two). OR here's how you can fudge: before you even start on the sleeve, adjust the armhole depth; OR add a couple stitches to the sleeve by picking up additional ones at the shoulder and at the underarm (make sure you will pick the additional ones on the same row as the 'regular' ones - this will give you more stitches on the sleeve than rows in the armhole); OR skip a couple pick-ups (i.e. pick up but immediately turn and k2tog - that way you don't create holes, but you are also not adding stitches - you will get fewer stitches on the sleeve than rows in the armhole).

Oh, and to confuse you even more: ideally you will end up picking up one stitch on every other row. Why? Because even though the number of stitches is the same as the number of rows, you will need to pick up half of them at the front, and the other half at the back.

Black lines represent the wrong-side rows, knit on the sleeves from
the back of the garment to the front. Black dots represent picked-up
stitches. The number of stitches and rows is the same. 

Whew! That was a long intro... Short version for the impatient:

1. Seem sides and shoulders of the body

2. Starting at the shoulder, seem join yarn and pick up and knit 1 stitch on every other row around the armhole

3. Knit flat from the top, picking up one stitch at the end of the right-side row at the back of the armhole, and one stitch at the end of the wrong-side row at the front of the garment

4. As you pick up stitches, wrap and return to the left needle the next one of the picked-up stitches - this will avoid any holes (there are tons of tutorials for wrapping stitches, mostly used for short-rows so I won't repeat here)

5. Continue until you picked up all the stiches

6. Join in the round; the center of the underarm becomes the beginning of the round - place marker

7. Knit down to the wrist, decreasing 1 stitch at each side of the marker (2 stitches total) on every 8th row (regardless of gauge)

8. Apply your desired  finish.

Hopefully at the end of it all, you will get a functional garment :)

If you follow this tutorial and find some flaws or have questions, leave me a comment; I'll be happy to explain or correct.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice tutorial. It's totally understandable! :)


I would love to hear from you!