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Seamless Shoulder-down Sweater Sleeves

Knitter's Q&A: Knitting sweater sleeves starting at the shoulder
by Jackie E-S

A knitter asked –

I've heard that sweater sleeves can be successfully knit from the shoulder down to the cuff, but have no idea how to approach this. I'm knitting a cable sweater for my daughter and would love to learn this technique as it sounds neater and more efficient for sizing than the usual cuff-up with seams method. Can you help me out?

Picking up stitches around the armhole and knitting sleeve down toward the cuff avoids the need to seam at top of sleeve, so it may be more efficient for you, assuming you prefer picking up stitches rather than sewing seams (I usually do!).

Sleeves can be knit from the shoulder down to cuff by either of two basic methods. You can knit the sleeves flat, but then you will require a seam to join the sides of the sleeve. Or, to totally avoid seaming, you can knit the sleeves in the round.

Basically, with the shoulder-down method, you begin by seaming the shoulders (if needed). If you want to knit the sleeves circularly, sew the side seams if needed (mostly I like to knit things circularly to avoid seams). Then pick up stitches around the armhole. Knit your sleeve, reversing the shaping from the usual.

The simplest sleeve would just be straight across the top with no sleeve cap shaping, such as in a drop-sleeved sweater. For example, that is what I did for the 3-to-2 Any Gauge Sweater versions with short and long sleeves atAttention is given to the pick-up ratio, so the sleeve fits in nicely without flaring too much, nor being too restrictive.

Another example is the Pinstripe Melange Sweater that has shoulder-down sleeves with a shaped cap (worked with short rows) and set into the armhole.

In either case, you would use decreases to narrow the sleeve as you knit down toward the cuff. If you are knitting circularly, just place a marker for an imaginary seam line at underarm, and decrease at .75 - 1" intervals as you knit down the length of the sleeve. Finish off with ribbing or other edge treatment as desired.

There is lots more to say on this topic in consideration of a 100% sure solution – e.g. if the pattern stitch is directional, there are additional considerations. Most popular cable patterns are not directional, so I think this (already long!) answer will suffice to help you proceed doing the neater and more enjoyable sleeve method you are looking for.

Return to Index of Jackie E-S Articles & Tips.

Thank you for interest. I am here to serve you and help keep your knitting a pleasurable experience. If you have questions or need assistance with purchasing or knitting my HeartStrings patterns, let me know. Sincerely, Jackie E-S

Email address: jackie@heartstringsfiberarts.com
Phone: 678-262-6338 or 877-764-2747 (toll-free in US)
Postal address: HeartStrings, Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer, 53 Parlange Drive, Destrehan LA 70047-2133 USA

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Last revised Tuesday, 05-Mar-2013 21:45:01 CST