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Archive for October 19th, 2011


Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover KAL: Time for Sleeves and Blocking

October 19th, 2011

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Welcome back to the Wisteria KAL! I hope working the front of your sweater went well and working through the “at the same time” was a success. Now that the body of the sweater is done, it’s time to give it some sleeves! When working sleeves I find it helpful to work them both at the same time for two reasons: it helps ensure they turn out the same shape and length, and they are both done at the same time! Personally I’m not a big fan of knitting the same exact thing twice, so it’s really nice to get them done all in one go. After working the top of the front piece at the same time, working on both sleeves is a snap!

To set up for knitting both sleeves at once, you’ll need two separate balls of yarn and a long needle, preferably a circular needle at least 29″ long. Using one ball, cast on the instructed number of stitches for one sleeve, then drop that yarn. Now using your second ball, cast on the same number of stitches for the second sleeve. Now start knitting across both sleeves — just be sure to use the yarn attached to each sleeve and not carry the same strand all the way across both! Here’s a shot of my sleeves in progress:

Knitting the sleeves

The sleeves begin with 3 inches of ribbing, just like the body pieces, then increases begin immediately in the stockinette section and continue for most of the sleeve. The increase used for the sleeves is the knit into the front and back (kfb), and you can learn more about how to work this stitch by clicking here. There are many repeats of the increase row as you work your way up the sleeve, so it’s important to keep track of how many you have done. The nice thing about the kfb increase is that it makes what looks kind of like a purl bump (a little bar) on the right side of your work so you can count your increases if you lose track. Once the increases are completed, work even until the indicated length (or your desired length, measured from wrist to underarm). Afterward it’s on to the sleeve cap!

Sleeve caps can be a bit tricky, but we’ll make it through with the help of our row gauge. Remember back in the post about gauge when I told you to go with the needle size that gives you stitch gauge but to know what your row gauge is? This is when it comes into play: the instructions for shaping the sleeve cap are based on the row gauge of the pattern (6 rows/inch) so that the finished cap will fit into the armhole depth we already knit. If your row gauge is off, you may end up with a sleeve cap that is too tall or too short to properly fit into the armhole. But don’t despair! It takes a bit of math so bear with me, but we can figure out how to make your sleeve cap fit based on your own row gauge.

After the initial bind-offs every row, the pattern says to repeat the decrease row every other row (every right-side row), which is the same as saying every 1/3 inch (2 rows at 6 rows/inch gauge, 2 rows divided by 6 rows/inch equals 1/3 inch). To calculate when you should work your decreases, multiply your row gauge by 1/3 inch to find out how often you should increase. However, from your comments in the gauge post, it sounds like that most of you are getting a row gauge of just slightly over 6 rows/inch – somewhere in the range of 26-30 rows over 4 inches, which will give you an increase every 2.5 rows or so. In that case, I would advise that you throw in a regular knit row (with no increase) a few times along the way (and purl back) to make your cap a bit taller, then you can block it to the exact shape later. If your row gauge is looser (less than 6 rows/inch), you may need to make a few decreases on the purl rows so your cap doesn’t get too tall before you complete your decreases. My best advice is just to keep an eye on how tall the cap is getting and refer to the schematic in the pattern to make sure you are on track for the right size. Your sleeves should end up looking roughly like this:

Sleeves

As you are working on your sleeves, it’s a good time to block the front and back of your sweater so they can dry while you keep knitting. To block my pieces, I fill my bathroom sink with lukewarm water and a cap-full of wool wash (why not clean it while I’m at it, right?). I leave it for 10-15 minutes then drain the water and gently squish the pieces to remove excess water. I carefully transfer my knitting to a towel, scooping them up so they don’t stretch out of shape when wet, and then roll them in the towel to get out more of the excess water. I lay out my blocking boards (a yoga mat or layered towels work, too!) then get my blocking wires, pins, a measuring tape and the pattern schematic. Being careful to follow the schematic measurements, I pin out both pieces of the sweater to the size indicated, measuring each part as I pin and adjusting as necessary. I personally don’t block out the ribbing and instead start my pins and wires above the ribbing because I want it to retain its natural tendency to pull in. If you want to the bottom of your sweater to be less shaped, you can also pin out your ribbing, but keep in mind that it will have less elasticity. This is how it looked once I was done:

Blocking

Now let the pieces air dry. Repeat this process with your sleeves once they are knit as well, and next week we’ll be ready to seam the pullover and knit the collar! A finished sweater is soooo close! Have a great week!

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