Sleeve cap tinkering

Having just completed a project, last week I found myself pulling out the Sofi jacket which has been sitting unfinished in my knitting pile for most of a year.   This is where I had gotten to before putting it away:

sofi

As you can see, I had finished up the fronts and back of the jacket, and was missing only the sleeves plus all of the edgings and finishing.  Part of the reason that I had stopped working on it was because the sleeves are worked in seed stitch on tiny little needles, and part was because I was having trouble understanding the instructions for the top-down sleeves.

Sofi is a very square garment; the underarms are formed by binding off a bunch of stitches, and then knitting straight up without further decreases, leaving a wide, flat edge under the arm.  The instructions are to pick up stitches along the vertical edges of the sleeves and then to start at the top of the sleeve and knit down using short rows knitted in seed stitch.  I was worried about this construction: didn’t I need to pick up stitches along the bottom of the armhole as well?

sofi sleeve 2

However, the instructions were to pick up 55 stitches along each side, and I had exactly 110 rows of garter, meaning 55 garter ridges on each side.  I took this to be a sign that I was following instructions, and I picked up a stitch in each garter ridge.

I was also a bit thrown by Hanne’s instructions for doing the short rows themselves, in which each row begins by throwing the yarn over the right needle, and ends by working 2 stitches together – one being the yarn over from the beginning of the preceding row and the other the next stitch on the pick up row.  I decided to stop over-thinking it and just follow the instructions and see where they led.  It turns out that this method makes a very nice edge along the shoulder, and looks quite neat:

sofi sleeve 1

As I continued knitting, I began to worry more and more about how the cap was going to be joined under the arm.  I even wrote to the designer, Hanne Falkenberg, sending her photos, to ask if I was doing this right.  It turns out that I was.  Hopefully, you can see from these photos how the sleeve is meant to be sewn to the bound off edge at the underside of the arm.  It is rather clever and also allows you to knit the sleeve back and forth instead of in the round (hooray!).

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Unfortunately, I had to knit the entire cap and start knitting the sleeve itself before I could try it on and see about the fit.  The verdict is that the sleeve is too roomy at the cap.

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Here is another photo where it does not look too bad at the back, but you can see that there is a bulge at the front of the cap:

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I think that part of the problem is that I have too many stitches on the needle. A more serious problem, I think, is that I picked up the stitches at the same rate along the entire armscythe – one stich for every garter ridge.  You can see that the puckering happens along the middle third of the cap, both back and front.  In this region, I should have picked up fewer stitches.

So, what to do now?  I am trying to be sensible and think about it carefully, and examine all of the photos with a critical eye before ripping.  I know that nothing drives me crazier than sleeves which are too tight, so I don’t want to adjust a too loose sleeve and end up with a too tight one.  I think that I will leave this cap as it is, and pick up stitches on the other arm, adjusting the rate of pick-up along the middle third of each side, so that I end up with 10 or so fewer stitches altogether.  Then, I will knit that sleeve down about the same length, so that I will have two sleeves at different widths to compare.  THEN, I will rip out the one that fits the worst!

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I wish you all a good weekend with minimal ripping involved!

6 thoughts on “Sleeve cap tinkering

  1. The short row shapings are usually quite clever and make for a more natural looking shoulder or neckline. I think your jacket is going to be superb, and your workaround to determine which sleeve works best is excellent. You will see very quickly if less stitches picked up results in a nicer looking sleeve. And, oh yes, horray for knitting sleeves flat. A clever pattern!

  2. A fascinating conundrum. I am sure you are right about concentrating some of the stitches in the middle third – this mirrors the approach one would take with sewing. How fortunate we are to have two arms so that we can try different approaches and compare lol – good luck and look forward to the next update! 🙂

  3. That sounds like a good method for deciding how to proceed. That definitely does not look like an intuitive way to shape a sleeve cap, but is definitely an interesting one. I was also wondering how the zigzags were done, but saw your answer above. Clever! This is a nifty looking sweater – will definitely need to check this one out 🙂 Can’t wait to see yours finished – you always make the coolest sweaters!

  4. I was wondering how you were doing on that beauty! It sounds a nice easy way to do short rows. Sort of like german ones?

    Clever of you to use the second sleeve as a test before ripping. I am sure it will work.

    It is going to be a treasure!

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