Sunday, October 20, 2013

Top down sleeve caps in the round - my version

Top down set-in sleeves are very cool. The sleeve cap makes itself; there is no sewing in of the sleeve into the armhole; and the knitting is easy. Well, it is easy if you've done some math to prepare.
First of all, seam the shoulder and side seams on the body, if you have not knitted it in the round. Pick up stitches around the armhole. You need to pick up 1 st for each bound st on the underarm, and 3 sts in every 4 rows in the vertical portion of the armhole. In the curved part, you need to pick up sts evenly spaced at a rate that looks nice, lays flat and doesn't ruffle. Make sure the number of sts on either side of the armhole - between the side and shoulder seams on each side - are the same. It also helps if you have an even number of sts but if you have an odd number, the center st should line up with the shoulder seam.

I take some time picking up sts as it makes a real difference in the way the finished sweater looks. Finishing matters!

Once you have that done, count the number of sts you have on the needle. Place markers at the point where the armhole bound of sts end, on either side. These are points C and D in the diagram above.

Now for the mathematics. No, it isn't hard. Just simple division.
Divide the total # of st by 3. Mark off these thirds. Now you have points A and B in the diagram above. If you have 1 extra st, put it in the section between A and B. If you have 2 extra sts in the remainder, put 1 each between A and C and another between B and D. These will tell you where exactly your A and B markers go.

The sts between A and B are the top of the sleeve cap. The sts in A-C and B-D sections will be where you work your short rows. .

Next, divide the number of sts in A-C and B-D (which should be the same if you have done everything correctly) into 3. This will now give you the points marked by the arrows above. Place a marker 1/3 of the way up from C and 1/3 of the way up from D. These now mark off the section in orange in the diagram above

We are now ready to start knitting. Your beginning of round will be at the side seam, mid-way between C and D. Start knitting and knit all the way to B. Turn and knit back to A, k 1 more st and turn. Knit to 1 st past B and turn. Continue knitting this way, increasing the length of the short rows by 1 st on each row (which will be on each side of the armhole) until all the sts in the black sections are incorporated into the short rows. You are now at the section of the armhole that is marked in orange.

Now you will start increasing the length of each short row by 2 sts. Why? because it reduces the number of short rows that you will work and that flattens the height of the sleeve cap. If I don't do this, I find that the sleeve cap had a bit of a puff sleeve look to it and I don't like that. If I decrease the number of short rows this way, I get a perfectly fitting sleeve cap.

You are done with short-rowing when you are at points C and D. Just knit across these sts and your sleeve cap is complete. You can now start knitting the sleeve, either knitting straight or decreasing at the sleeve seam as your shaping dictates.

I supposed that if you want to flatten the sleeve cap any further, you can divide the side sections (A-C, B-D) in half and lengthen the short rows by 1 st for half the sts and by 2 sts for the other half. Once you recognize that you don't have to keep lengthening the short rows at an even rate, you can create a very customized sleeve cap. Just keep good notes so you can repeat it on the other side!

As for the short rows themselves, I like a wrap and turn. I don't pick up the wraps. It gives me a look that I think imitates the 'fully fashioned' shaping that some commercial sweaters have. I happen to like that look. You can use whatever short row method you like.

I hope this helps and isn't too hard to follow!


C. Almeida said...

Very clear and helpful. Thanks, Jaya.

Karen said...

Nicely stated. I always found standard instructions for this to result in a 'puffy' cap too, but never took the time to sit down and work out a better rate of short-rowing -- thanks.

Karen said...

Nicely stated. I always found standard instructions for this to result in a 'puffy' cap too, but never took the time to sit down and work out a better rate of short-rowing -- thanks.