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?
I am close to finishing the body and about to start a sleeve. I am still mesmerized by knitting in the round. I can’t get my head around the fact stocking stitch appears without any purl stitches or the odd vertical stripes/ridges that have appeared in my knitting because of the wool I’m using, Debbie Bliss, DK . I have 170 stitches, and I think i’m working to the gauge of 5 stitches to an inch on a 5 mm needle but I seem to be galloping through my wool. I’ve made two daft mistakes so far. I made a hash of joining the first new ball of wool and now have a bit of an unwanted ‘feature’ at the join. I looked up the internet to find out how to join a new ball while knitting in the round and someone suggested knitting the double yarn for three stitches. NO. As I say I now have a small mess, I think I may be able to improve the look with a small stich on the wrong side to pull the stitches together at the front. This was especially stupid as I bought EZ’s book, which I have been dipping in and out of, and she tells you how to add a new ball, right there. Double yarn for One stitch. It works beautifully. So my ‘feature” will either be disguised and hopefully I will manage to land it underarm rather than slap bang front and center or maybe I should TomofHolland it. He does spectacular visible mending on vintage knitted garments, discovered on instagram. Daft mistake number two, I didn’t buy enough wool, despite all the advice. I’m relatively small so expected to be using less than average. My knitting is dense. Another concept I’m struggling to understand, knitting to gauge with dk yarn on the same needles but my knitted fabric looks completely different to yours Kate. This is going to be a warm jumper! I went back to buy more wool and they had none left so I have bought from another source, different dyelot. The difference at the moment is not obvious but my colour work may be my contrasting shaded arms! This may be a “house” jumper! This is not a disaster our house is super cold in the winter. It’s also quite cold in the summer.
Also, I’m curious about adding ribbing later. Why? Is there a reason for this? Can I rib the cuff at the start of the sleeve?
Yes of course. Your choice. I will explain why I think she leaves it to the end in week 6.
You can do socks on magic loop. I was a long time double points sock knitter, but have just starting magic looping them. You just need a much smaller size needle.
I recommend you look at Asa Tricosa’s sweaters on Ravelry. She has a very lovely group there.
The construction is all in one from the top down, with a method that gives the look of a set in sleeve.
The Simple Ziggurat pattern is the most basic one.
Yes I’ve made one.
I have just about finished the jumper I was knitting which prevented me from joining in here. Coincidentally it turn out to be exactly what you were wondering about – basically your sweater without sleeves. See what you think. I’m really happy with my Colourmart cashmere version. I will blog when completed. Link below.
Thanks for all this information again, Kate. I started with the ribbing (in moss, as you mentioned) only because this is the way I knew. But I read about the EZ method and it makes sense for adjusting length. Also for the ribbing, I went for needles half a size smaller so it’s a bit tighter than the bodice, which is almost finished BTW. Hourra!
Well done Helene! I like the look of the moss stitch and I will find a way to copy it soon. Hope you have got to sleeves on the go so we can move on to the yoke next week.
Slow progress here this week. The body is done but I think I may undo a few rows because I forgot to allow for the ribbing so it’s a bit on the long side. My main achievement is getting to grips with the magic loop technique, after a couple of frustrating false starts where I seemed to acquire extra stitches. So this evening I have cast on for my first sleeve and am trying to position the increases opposite the join, as you suggested. I’m having to keep a close eye on my tension (there’s some uneven stitches creeping in where I’m pulling the loops through). Hopefully I shall get a little quicker as I become more confident with this method.
Michelle – you don’t need to allow for ribbing. We can put hems on your sweaters which doesn’t add any length. This is what I did with my blue one. Your very first magic loop sleeve maybe a little uneven but it does come with practice (like everything). Dont worry too much – most of the unevenness will come out with the wash. I think the main thing is to finish the garment – this will build confidence.
I’m using a cone of a knobbly cotton yarn – I think it has 400g and I know it will shrink when I wash it, as I washed a swatch. I’ve been on holiday in France so I’ve got a lot done, although it’s all been a bit Calendar Girls, knitting by the pool…. With the uncertain shrinkage factor and the lack of access to another cone of yarn, I have done quite short sleeves and body, as I’m worried about running out. I may have to add an extra strip/stripe to the bottom afterwards if that’s possible. But it’s looking good and might make a good cropped summer jumper for one of my daughters if not me.
I really like the freedom of knitting without a pattern. The only other adult sweater I’ve ever knitted was top down, and I think I prefer that as you can just keep knitting the body downwards until it’s the right length (you can try it on mid-knit) or until you run out of wool.
Ooooh! Bravo Anne. It is nice to have a holiday project on the go, and I am so glad you have made such good progress. And yes you can add more length to the sleeves or body later – I will cover that. This is amazing because you try on your sweater and adjust the length which is very freeing. No longer do we knit for weeks, try it on and decide we hate it! I agree that not having a pattern is very pleasant and makes you feel like you are in control. I think top down can produce a slightly better fit around the neck but we shall see. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
I am about halfway up my first sleeve. I use two circular needles but have used magic loop in the past. I loathe dons and never use them. I haven’t used the loop method of increasing before but thought I’d give it a try and quite like it. I am using continental knitting and my knitting is fairly uneven so I hope it improves with blocking.
Sounds like you are making good progress Sue and will be doing the yoke by next weekend. Also its a good idea to get practice with the continental style knitting – to avoid RSI and it is very handy when it comes to colourwork. I have not tried two circulars, except for trying on, and holding stitches, but I will have to give it a go.
My supplies arrived this week – EZ book and needles. I have tonnes of wool already. I’m weeks behind the rest of you but at least I’ve made a start. Thanks Kate because I know in the future I shall be returning to these posts for help and advice.
I hope you do one Ruth – it is a fairly quick knit for an accomplished knitter like yourself. In fact you were one of the knitting seamstresses that encouraged me to have a try at knitting. I loved the way your multi coloured jumper allowed you to create a whole wardrobe to pick up the various colours. The two yoke sweaters I have already made get worn alot as they go so well with my bottoms.
I’m half way through my second sleeve and it’s looking a lot more even in tension than the first sleeve. I hope all tension irregularities will even out in the wash. I have been unable to figure out EZ’s M1 technique. I tried, but kept ending up with a hole. Noone has made a video to show the technique and that’s what I need. So I’m using the traditional M1 technique. I’m really enjoying knitting without a pattern, and to my size. I can’t wait to try this on.
It is exciting to be pattern free, isn’t it? I think this must have been how people used to knit – like cooking without a recipe but using the limited ingredients you had to hand. The make one is illustrated in the book. I will send you a photograph of it. It is so easy. It does (like all increases) make a little hole.