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Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along, Week 4: All About Sleeves

Knit-Along BadgeHi everyone! This week is going to be all about sleeves. In this pattern, the sleeves are put on hold until the body is completed. Then, the sleeve stitches are slipped back on the needle, and the ribbed border is started for short, t-shirt-length sleeves.

Lengthening the Sleeves

I decided that I'd like to do full-length sleeves. Lengthening your sleeves is pretty easy, especially if you'd like a casual looking sleeve with no shaping--just keep working until the sleeve is as long as you'd like it to be. However, I wanted more fitted looking sleeves, so I measured around my upper arm, just below my elbow and then around my wrist. Next I took vertical measurements to get the distance between those 3 points. Then, to work out how many and where my decreases should fall, I just used the same formula from my last post that I used for decreasing for the waist. For the sleeves, you'll only be decreasing twice in each decrease row, once at each edge, rather than the four decreases across a row for the body. I placed my decreases two stitches in from the edge, to leave the edges nice and neat for seaming later on.

If you'd like to avoid a long seam, you can knit your sleeves in the round. You can just slip your sleeve stitches from the holder onto double-pointed needles and start knitting in the round instead of back and forth. This way, you'll only have a tiny seam under your arm to sew at the end. Be aware, however, that your gauge can change from knitting flat to knitting in the round, so another swatch (worked in the round) is advisable. I find that whenever I switch from knitting back and forth to knitting in the round, my gauge is much tighter, necessitating a larger needle.

Seaming

I like to use the mattress stitch to sew the seam. To do the mattress stitch, thread a darning needle with a piece of the yarn used for your sweater. The strand of yarn needs to be about twice as long as the seam is. I find it helpful to pin my two sides together at a few points along the seam before beginning to sew. You will do the mattress stitch with the right side of the fabric facing; this ensures that the seam will be hidden inside.

To begin, start at the cuff of your sleeve. Take your darning needle and put it through the middle of the edge stitch on the left side of your sleeve, then draw a kind of figure eight with the yarn, bringing it through the edge stitch on the right side and then back through the stitch you started with on the left side. This connects the pieces so that you can now start seaming. Next, gently pull apart the edge stitch and the next stitch in on the right side. You will see little horizontal bars that connect these two stitches. These are called running bars. Put your darning needle under two of the bars, then put your darning needle under the two corresponding bars on the left side. Continue in this manner, going from side to side under two bars each time, never skipping bars, until the entire sleeve is sewn from cuff to underarm.

Seaming the Sleeve

Now you will notice you need a small seam under the arm on the body of your sweater. This was where you did the bind off stitches on either side of the sleeves stitches just before dividing for the body. To sew this seam, use the same piece of yarn, but this time work from the underarm down. Place the two bound off sides together so that the points of the V shape of the knit stitch are pointing in the same direction. Take your darning needle and go under the two strands of the V on one side, then under two strands of the opposite V on the other side. Do this until all the stitches have been sewn together. Then you can just weave in the ends of the yarn on the inside of your sweater.

I know that seaming can be a little intimidating, but I hope you won't find it as difficult as you imagined it would be!

Next week, I'll be going over how to pick up stitches for the front bands and how to add buttons and buttonholes. As usual, be sure to leave a comment and let us know how your project is coming along!

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