Shoulders & Sleeves

In my inbox, during the lockdown, I received several invitations from Vogue Knitting Live's online experiences. I was so excited to be able to participate in anything knitting-related that I signed up for as much as I could. During these events, I learned how to build a top-down contiguous sweater for a wee teddy bear, distitch selvedge, and then discussed size inclusion. There we more classes, but these stuck with me.

Forty-Eight months and two patterns later, I dug through my notes and found the instructions from the contiguous workshop.

Knowing Spring was coming and being in the middle of a heat wave in March, it’s true, I cast on with a cotton yarn from my lockdown stash and plodded away.

My criteria for this project:

  • Jewel neckline
  • About 2.5 cm (1 in) ease at the bust
  • The body length ends at my waistline
  • Stretchy ribbed hem with tubular bind off
  • Long sleeves with substantial cuffs
  • Double-faced placket opening
  • Buttons or snaps
  • Collar

I cast on enough stitches to work the gauge, added a few markers, and worked the contiguous instructions to build what would resemble a neckline and a shoulder. The result was exciting. The faux saddle came out beautifully. The false armhole was looking just right. My plan was coming along so nicely that I jumped to the next step so quickly I didn’t even take a photo.

Planning Ahead

Knowing I would add a placket and a collar I chose a 2 stitch selvedge at both sides of the centre front and the neckline, respectively. When the sample was laying flat, there was this trapezoidal shape coming from the neckline to the end of the shoulder. For this to fit properly, I’ll need to do the maths and flatten that angle. For those with sloping shoulders, this will fit perfectly, but for those with squared-off shoulders, there will be some adjusting to do. This method doesn’t add increases as often as a raglan sleeve does. I needed to consider this to have the correct numbers. And, I could add more room in the sleeve head with short rows. This was an EUREKA moment!

I worked about a third of the sleeve head in short rows to give a lovely curve at the angle, to provide room for movement and the shoulder, and to prevent unnecessary stretching. Another beauty! – I’m batting a thousand over here! 

While I knit the body, I thought of how I was going to execute the rest of the sleeve. I knew I wanted a long sleeve but I really wanted to avoid the yucky stretching of the elbows. I recalled the tailored sleeve. In tailored sleeve jackets there is no side seam as there are in basic sleeve construction. The basic tailor sleeve is composed of two major pieces, an upper sleeve with the sleeve head and an under-sleeve panel.

Technical drawing of a tailored sleeve

Here is an example I nicked from the interwebs. See how the bottom parts of the sleeves are curved? This happens because there is room added and removed at the elbow. You can see an arch drawn at the elbow line on the left side. This is extra fabric and there are two notches on each end of the arch. This tells the sewist to align the notches from the undersleeve. When the sleeve is hanging in a closet, over a chair head, and especially when it is worn, the sleeve will naturally bend at the elbow and the end, or cuff, will sit forward. Avoiding any unnecessary stress on the fabric.

Since this jacket I’m building is in cotton, well known for its inability to retract from stretching, I chose to add short rows at the elbow, to add fabric and to tilt the sleeve forward. I love the details!

In this photo, I isolated the section in a contrast yarn where I added the short rows.

Sure, after wearing the elbows still stretch out, that should happen, it’s cotton. But these short rows will give more time to wear it between launderings. And, we want to launder less. Here’s a photo of the bomber on my couch.



p.s. regarding laundering. This is how I do it:

      1. Soak the item in lukewarm water with suds for a few hours
      2. Pull our plug and let the water drain for half an hour
      3. Roll-up fabric to squeeze out excess water
      4. Place in the washing machine and run the spin-cycle only
      5. Place in the dryer to tumble on low for twenty minutes, or so. Do not let it completely dry in the dryer!
      6. Finally, lay flat to dry

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