Today I am going to cover the sleeves on our Seamless sweater with a colourful patterned yoke.
The yoke sweater really needs sleeves, although I have been thinking about a sleeveless version. Maybe you could make very short sleeves – a couple of inches – just to finish the sweater off?
Determining the length of the sleeves
I don’t have long arms and I don’t like long sleeves, but the length you make your sleeves before you join them with the body is very much a personal choice. Measure from the underarm (or actually about one inch down), or measure the jersey you already have that fits well.
For me bracelet length is about 15″ and full length is 17″. Mrs Zimmerman says the average woman would want an 18″ sleeve, but this is a little long for me. Maybe you like to push up your sleeves or fold them back in which case even longer than 18″ is OK. So having got the length in mind, we can move on to the width.
The width of the sleeves
The sleeves, like the bodice are knitted in the round. They are just two tubes that will be joined to the bodice when we create the yoke. They taper a little towards the wrist, unless they are made for a child in which case they can literally be tubes. Elizabeth Zimmermann uses a very simple method to decide how many stitches to cast on. Divide the number you first thought of (ie the number you used for the bodice) by 5. Cast on this number of stitches.
Let’s say you have 200 stitches – divide by 5 to find 20% – and it is 40 stitches at the wrist. My bodice has 160 stitches, so I cast on 32 stitches. Easy!
You add two stitches every fourth row until you have 33% of the bodice – roughly divide by 3. With 200 stitches you would have about 66; with 160 – 52 stitches. Also easy! When you get to the larger number just keep knitting straight until you have the length you want. Incidentally I knitted the bodice and one sleeve and still had some yarn left (150 gram cone).
Now two questions remain – how and where to increase and how to knit a small tube.
Increases for the sleeve
Mrs Zimmermann doesn’t specify where exactly to do this, but my advice is opposite your beginning of row, but you could do it at the beginning of the row if you prefer. Use a marker. After the marker M1, K3, M1. EZ suggests that you make 1 (M1) by just looping the yarn around the needle to make a nice, neat unobtrusive new stitch. The three plain stitches in between the increases means you have a nice pattern of increases on the underside of the sleeve. I guess you could do them another way if you prefer but I have used her method and I like it better than other approaches I have tried.
Knitting a small tube
The Zimmermann method is to knit the ribbing or whatever at the end. I like this idea and will explain it in the final week – week 6. Next week – week 5 – we are doing the yoke and the optional colour work. But you can rib 1×1 or 2×2 or moss stitch like Helene if you like, but I am assuming everyone else is sticking with the simple tube at this point.
You know what you are knitting but how to do it?
- dpns to start it and swap to circular needles on a short wire
- magic loop
I can’t advise on either of the first two methods as they involve the double-pointed needles. I had one go at this and all my stitches fell off randomly and I hated it. One day I may learn to do it as I think socks appear to be made this way and I look forward to the challenge. For me the only way to go is magic loop.
This is a weird thing as magic loop is regarded by some as unusual and somewhat exotic. I know several experienced knitters who have never tried it. The truth is I tried it as I didn’t want to buy a second or third set of needles, and anyway the small circumference circular needles don’t come in every size of needle. So I thought before I buy more needles I will give it a go. For magic loop you can use the exact same set of circular needles as you used for the body. I did – as a complete beginner – on my first ever jumper, and I found it quite easy with great results. I searched for magic loop on the internet and watched a Youtube video. So give it a try unless you are already adept with those dpns. I suggested this to Giorgia and she gave it a go and is a convert too.
I have a few of magic loop tricks that I like, that may be of assistance.
- Cast on the required number of stitches – 32 in my case. Now divide them roughly in half so that the first 16 or so are on the left needle
- Then comes a loop
- Then the remaining stitches
- Then a loop and right hand needle has no stitches on it
- Using the right hand needle knit the 16 stitches
- When knitted let all the stitches come together on the wire
- Then take the remaining 16 stitches, plus a few of the already knitted stitches, and put them onto the end of the left needle and repeat from 2.
- You are pulling the first loop through at different points so you don’t get an obvious line through the work
- Also when you take the yarn from the stitches that are on the wire rather than a needle be careful not to pull too hard as they will shrink and become too tight
- But equally you don’t want them to be too sloppy and loose, so keep them close to the next stitch.
- It is impossible to explain this in words. You need to watch a video or ask someone to show you.
The sleeves are quick after the bodice. The increasing is regular and fun. I must admit I hate counting rows and some of my increases come after five or even six rows rather than the four recommended. I don’t suppose anyone cares. Once you have one sleeve, you need to do the next one. The sleeves are more portable than the bodice and much more portable than once you join the whole sweater together, so if you like to knit when travelling you could do the sleeves concurrently with the bodice. Once you have done the two you will be ready to start on the yoke, which I will go on to explain next Saturday.
How are you getting on?