Ideas For Changing Sleeve Shapes On Top Down Sweaters

Hello! Episode 16 of my Knits & Cake For Breakfast series is now available on my YouTube channel, and will be uploaded there every Thursday.

Join me as I share what knitting designs I’ve been working on this week and show you what kind of cake I’m eating for my breakfast – it’s nearly the weekend, right? 

Have you ever found the perfect sweater pattern, only to discover that you don’t like the shape of the sleeves? Or maybe you find that standard sleeves don’t fit in the way you’d like? Whichever it is, I’ve got some advice about how to change the sleeve shape in a pattern to get the fit and look that you want! (Time stamp: 9:14)

To find out more about swapping out sleeve shapes, check out my latest blog post, where I talk you through this and share a super-useful ‘knitting calculator’! Find it here.

Also … I cast on a two-colour Corra Linn Sweater and Mr H has been baking

This is a replay of my IGTV Live video from Thursday 17th September. 

Find all my links, including a transcript for this episode by clicking the button below:

How To Change The Shape Of A Knitted Sleeve In A Top-Down Sweater

Have you ever found the perfect sweater pattern only to discover that you don’t like the shape of the sleeves? Or maybe you find that standard knitting pattern sleeves don’t fit well, especially in the upper arms? Whichever it is, this ‘how-to’ will help you work out how to change the sleeve decreases to get the perfect fit and the look that you want!

Whichever way you’re planning to adapt the sleeves for your top down garment, it’s a good idea to have finished knitting the body and blocked it, before starting the sleeves. I know this is a pain, especially if you’re keen to get your project finished, but it’s really helpful if you know how the finished body is going to sit on your torso before starting to adjust the sleeves.

How To Narrow Wide Sleeves

If the pattern you want to make has wide sleeves, but that’s not your thing and you’d like to change them, you need to take note of three numbers in order to make them more tapered.

One: write down how many stitches you have at the top of the sleeve (this is probably the number of sleeve stitches on hold plus the number of underarm stitches that are either cast-on or picked-up).

Two: you need to know how many stitches will be in the cuff, again this is probably in the pattern or you might need to work it out: Measure loosely around your wrist, depending on how wide you’d like the cuff to be. Make a note of this number. Now find the stitch gauge from your pattern, let’s say it’s 21 sts per 10cm. To work out how many stitches are in 1cm, divide 10 by 21 = 2.1 sts per 1 cm. Then let’s say that your cuff is going to be 22cm circumference, multiply 2.1 by 22 = 46.2 sts (round this to 46 sts).

Three: the last number you need is the sleeve length in number of rounds, which you could take from the pattern or you might like to check that it’s going to fit first! So with your unfinished sweater on, measure your arm down to your wrist (remember to leave space for the cuff), starting from the underarm of the sweater. Make a note of this number and use it to work out how many rows or rounds this will be. Take a look at the patterns row/round gauge, let’s say it’s 28 rounds per 10cm. To work out how many rounds are in 1cm, divide 10 by 28 = 2.8 rounds per 1 cm. If your sleeve length is 38cm, multiply 2.8 by 38cm = 106.4 rounds (round this to 106 rounds).

Take these three numbers (beginning stitch count, finish stitch count and number of total rounds for the length) and plug them into this calculator (use the bottom one, ignoring what it says about sleeve caps!). It will tell you how many decrease rounds to work, and how many non-decrease rounds to work in-between to achieve the sleeve length that you’d like.

How To Adjust Sleeves for Bigger Upper Arm Circumferences

Often a knitting pattern sleeve has the decreases distributed evenly along the length of the sleeve, but if your upper arms are a similar circumference from your shoulder down to your elbow, then you might prefer to keep the upper arm circumference the same and start the decreases at the elbow working down to the wrist.

You can use roughly the same method as above to calculate the decreases: work out where you’d like the decreases to start (perhaps measure your upper arm in different places to see if the circumference from the pattern is going to fit all the way down your upper arm, or if you want to start the decreases just above the elbow etc) and measure the length of your arm from there down to your wrist (taking into account the cuff). Use the calculation from part 3 above to work out how many rounds this would be.

Then use this measurement, along with the starting stitch count (from where you’d like the decreases to begin), and the finishing stitch count (the one needed for the wrist/cuff), and plug them into the calculator!

How To Create Wider Sleeves or Puff Sleeves

If you’d like to adapt a pattern to have wide sleeves or even puff sleeves, then there’s a few options. Obviously these will all use more yarn than the pattern states so make sure you have enough before you start!

For wide sleeves all the way down, including the cuff, just keep knitting, with no decreases. Think about how the sleeve will finish and whether there will be a cuff to prevent the sleeve rolling back on itself.

For a wide sleeve with a narrower cuff (something a bit less dramatic than a puff sleeve but with a similar feel), you can use the calculation above to work out how many stitches would be in your cuff and then work out how many stitches you’d need to decrease by. Work those decreases (probably k2tog all the way round, for example) on the round just before the cuff starts.

For puff or balloon sleeves you’ll need to increase the number of stitches part way down your forearm, depending on the desired effect this could be doubling the stitches or increasing by one stitch every third stitch, or you could gradually increase either side of the beginning of round marker for several rounds (to find out do a search on Ravelry for free patterns with puff sleeves, and have a dig into the instructions to see what they do and what the effect is!).

These kind of sleeves, usually have some drastic decreasing just before the cuff (either get the stitch count from your pattern or measure your wrist, as above), for example k2tog all the way around, but make sure that the cuff will be the right fit for your wrist before you start.

Looking for further help with sleeve adjustments? Have a look at this blog post about lengthening or shortening effectively for top-down sweaters.

Tips For Lengthening & Shortening Sleeves

Hello! Episode 15 of my Knits & Cake For Breakfast series is now available on my YouTube channel, and will be uploaded there every Thursday.

Join me as I share what knitting designs I’ve been working on this week and show you what kind of cake I’m eating for my breakfast – it’s nearly the weekend, right? 

Do you always have to adjust the sleeve length on knitting patterns? Or maybe you’ve tried to do this and the fit hasn’t turned out quite right? Well, I’ve got you sorted into today’s video with an explanation of how to do this effectively (time stamp 9:08). And if you need some more help, check out my latest blog post, where I talk you through the maths for doing this (I’ll hold your hand, promise!) find it here.

Also … I’ve made white chocolate brownies and started a new exciting hat cast-on!

This is a replay of my IGTV Live video from Thursday 10th September. 

Find all my links, including a transcript for this episode by clicking the button below:

How To Lengthen or Shorten The Sleeves On A Top Down Knitted Sweater

Have you ever knitted a garment and the sleeves have turned out either too long or too short? Or perhaps you’ve tried to lengthen or shorten the sleeves but the fit hasn’t been right afterwards? I’ve got you sorted – here’s a handy explanation of how to adjust the sleeve length, as you’re knitting, to ensure a perfect fit!

Whether you’re lengthening or shortening the sleeves on a top down knit, it’s a good idea to have knitted the body first and to have blocked your knitting (if you’re not sure what this means, read this blog post here). This is super helpful because we’ll measure the sleeve length from the underarm of the sweater and doing this once the body is blocked, will be much more accurate than unblocked.

Firstly, try on your sweater and using the measurement in the pattern’s schematic, work out if the sleeve is going to fit. If not, measure roughly how much longer or shorter you need the sleeves to be to get the fit that you’d like. Make a note of this number (cm or inches), remembering to take account of the cuff depth.

Secondly, find the gauge information in your pattern and look at the row/round gauge. For this example, I’ve used my Corra Linn Sweater pattern (link to Ravelry), where the round (row) gauge is 33.5 rounds to 10cm in garter stitch, worked in the round.

To work out how many rounds you need to add (to lengthen) or take out (to shorten), you need to do a little bit of maths:

  • Round Gauge is 33.5 rows to 10cm
  • Firstly, work out the number of rounds that there are in 1 cm of knitting: divide the number of rounds by 10cm; in this example 33.5 / 10 = 3.35 (I.E. 1cm = 3.35 rounds)
  • In this example, you’re going to add 5 cm to the length of my sleeve, so you multiply 3.35 rounds by 5cm = 16.75 rounds, which you can round up to 17 or down to 16 depending upon my pattern.

Thirdly, you now need to distribute these extra rounds throughout the sleeve decreases. If you just add extra rounds on the end of the sleeves after all the decreasing has happened, then the sleeves may be too narrow on your forearms.

Likewise, if you need to make the sleeve 5cm shorter, you need to knit 16 rounds less, but they need to be ‘taken out’ evenly across the length of the sleeve, so that the sleeve is kept in proportion with your arm.

Have a look at how many decrease rounds you need to work in your pattern. For this example, the pattern says you need to work 14 decrease rounds, each with 5 non-decrease rounds between them, and then 2 decrease rounds with 11 non-decrease rounds between (16 decrease rounds in total).

You need to knit 16 extra rounds so it would make sense to add 2 extra rounds into every second sets of decreases, meaning you’d work as so:

  • 1 dec round, 7 non-decrease rounds
  • then …
  • 1 dec round, 5 non-decrease rounds
  • then …
  • rep those two sets of decreases 7 times in total = 14 decreases, 14 extra rounds worked
  • then …
  • 1 dec round, 13 non-decrease rounds
  • then …
  • 1 dec round, 11 non-decrease rounds
  • In total = 16 decreases (as per pattern), with 16 extra rounds worked = approximately 5cm added to length

Likewise, if you were going to make the sleeves shorter by 16 rounds, you would work 2 less non-decrease rounds in-between every second decrease, to make sure that you’re keeping the proportions of the sleeve in place.

As you knit, keep trying on your garment and adjusting the sleeve if you need to. Remember that your gauge might change once you block the sleeves and that when you start moving around a sleeve will often shift up your arm, thereby appearing shorter. If you’re not sure whether the length is right, then you might like to thread the sleeves stitches onto a waste piece of yarn and block it to check. Then you can always knit a bit more, or take it back, before adding the cuff.

Looking for top down sweater patterns? The featured pattern here is Corra Linn, which is coming out soon – sign up to my mailing list to receive 15% off when it’s released!

Tips For Picking Up Stitches

Hello! Episode 14 of my Knits & Cake For Breakfast series is now available on my YouTube channel, and will be uploaded there every Thursday.

Join me as I share what knitting designs I’ve been working on this week and show you what kind of cake I’m eating for my breakfast – it’s nearly the weekend, right? 

Have you ever struggled with the instruction to “pick-up and knit”? I’ve got a super helpful tip for you today (time stamp 8:18) plus a detailed photo tutorial over on this week’s blog post.

Also … how to cook pancakes on an upside down tin can and a brand new cast on to share with you.

This is a replay of my IGTV Live video from Thursday 3rd September.

Sign up to my Online Workshop Waitlist and find a transcript for this episode by following the link here: http://www.linktr.ee/harveyknits

Tips For Knitting With Yarn Held Double

Hello! Episode 13 of my Knits & Cake For Breakfast series is now available on my YouTube channel, and will be uploaded there every Thursday.

Join me as I share what knitting designs I’ve been working on this week and show you what kind of cake I’m eating for my breakfast – it’s nearly the weekend, right? 

Have you ever wondered how knitting with two strands of yarn works, or you’ve tried it and it’s not gone smoothly? I’ve got some great tips that’ll help, plus find more helpful advice in this blog post.

There’s also some more sneaky peeks of the new shawl kits that I’ve got for sale in my Folksy shop. Plus find out what cake I baked this week, and why it’s naked!

This is a replay of my IGTV Live video from Thursday 27th August. Find a transcript for this episode by following the link here: http://www.linktr.ee/harveyknits