Let me talk briefly about inserting sleeves into the Chuck Sweater (which is done by picking up and knitting the existing armhole stitches). I knitted the arms in size small, though I modified the bodice in such a way that I have a few extra stitches at the underarms (3 extra at each armhole). It worked fine. I really encourage you to take your time picking up those stitches. I drew numerous diagrams (you know how I like to plan) but still ended up ripping out each first attempt a couple of times. I'm glad I did that because the final result was more evenly-spaced stitches for better sleeve insertion.
What Exactly Is the Sleeve Cap?
It's the area of flat descent from the top of the
sleeve, right from the sleeve head at the shoulder, facilitated by short rows. Those short rows allow you to create a sleeve that will run perpendicular to the shoulders. Just think: if you were to knit a
tube off of the side of each armhole (i.e. no short row, sleeve cap shaping), you'd
have a very weird and bulky underarm and a sleeve that would just pop out from the side of the bodice at the arm hole, at a 90 degree angle. The
sleeve would not be able fall towards the waist without wrinkling at
Enacting the short row shaping to produce the sleeve cap, which is done simply by applying a wrap and turn technique (lots of info out there), is not so tough to understand. Let's deconstruct it using the dimensions of the small as an example.
The Chuck pattern advises picking up 54 stitches from the entire round of arm
hole (that's about 1 stitch every 2 or 3). As the arm hole is
symmetrical, that means, at the top of the sleeve at the shoulder seam, one must have 27 stitches (54 divided by 2). At the bottom, one must have 54
stitches (Stitch 54 is right next to stitch 1 at the bottom of the arm hole). Let's pretend that "one" is actually "you". At this point, you'll need to knit your next row, starting at stitch 1, just
till you get to stitch 31 (4 stitches past the shoulder seam). Then, wrap the next stitch, turn around, and purl 8 stitches in the
opposite direction (i.e. 4 stitches before the shoulder seam or stitch
23). After this, wrap and turn on the next stitch, the one to the left (the ninth
back if you're thinking about the numbers in terms of the going backwards
from stitch 31 AKA 5 stitches before the shoulder seam AKA stitch 22 if you
want to view this from the bottom of the work i.e. stitch 1). And, as
the instructions direct, just keep wrapping one stitch further out than the last, and then turning, till your short-rowed crescent of a sleeve cap grows to encompass
almost the entire sleeve opening.
It's important to know that you are knitting a symmetrical, originally
8-stitch wide, but ever growing crescent by moving out one stitch on
either side of the top of the shoulder till you get to the instructed, designated end point: 1 stitch before
your cap markers. (Note: I didn't mention these markers before now, so
as not to confuse things.) For your info, you're instructed at the outset to place the markers 5 stitches on either side of
the base of the armhole i.e. after stitch 5 and before
stitch 49. You'll understand this once you're actually working the sleeves.
The idea is that you use short rows to knit the sleeve cap
(really, the sleeve till it almost gets to the bottom of the armhole) in
a little half moon shape, where the outer crescent attaches first to
the shoulder (and then extends to the side seams as you increase its
size). Yeah, it's weird that you knit a good third of the entire sleeve
as one modified row (which is what a short row is, really). But, hey, if
I really struggled with this at first because I didn't understand the purpose. (See above). Then I struggled cuz I didn't understand
the specific impact what I was instructed to do. I couldn't visualize it so it
was a scary undertaking.
Admittedly, short rows take many different forms, this is just one of
them. But now you can see how they work to make a nice symmetrical
crescent to facilitate the perfect, vertical fall of the sleeve from the
Does this make any sense? Or should I make sure not to quit my day job in favour of a technical writing career??