Design WIP: Cabled Sweater > Sleeve Decisions

I’m quite picky about a lot of things in my life. I don’t like 3/4 length sleeves. I don’t wear logo t-shirts or necklaces that hang lower than my collarbone. (A squash blossom necklace—only turquoise and silver and not the needlepoint style—would be an exception, but I don’t own one yet.) I never sit on the bedspread in a hotel room. I hate getting my hands dirty. The sound of a mockingbird “singing” for hours on end makes me want to commit a felony. And yoga students who hang their head in paschimottanasana after being corrected a million chicken pluckin’ times heat my internal organs.

In knitting, I don’t like drop sleeves or ribbing knit on smaller needles than the main body to make it tight. (I never did get that in the first place. The nature of ribbing is to draw in, so why knit it on smaller needles?) I don’t like lace and I don’t knit shawls. Ribbing must naturally flow into a cabled design. I’ve already outlined how I feel about asymmetry and particular kinds of cables. And I’m a lazy knitter.

Traditional Aran sweaters crowd several of my knitting quirks. They were originally knit for men who did physical work in the outdoors and elements. Nothing should restrict or bind their arms and shoulders, so the sweaters had raglan sleeves or drop/modified drop sleeves—effectively square shapes with no fitting and lots of bulk around the resting arm.

Raglan (l) and drop (r) sleeves, along with the extra ick of diamonds, honeycombs, and abrupt ribbing.

This sweater I’m designing is not for working men, but rather fashionable women with curves. They might wear the sweater to meet a friend for coffee in the city or they might wear it to muck out horse stalls as a volunteer at a Boy Scout camp. Whatever we do, we should look like women, not hand-me-downed little sisters.

The drop-sleeve Aran sweaters also sometimes use a saddle shoulder, which is a little strip of knitting that continues up from the sleeve to the neckline to add a little bit of shaping to the shoulder.

Saddle shoulder and honeycomb cables.

To me, a saddle shoulder says “more work.” Instead of two shoulder seams to deal with, you have four, plus the extra maths of measuring, plus the drama of working the saddle strip into the neckline. Knitting and designing are already a lot of work, so I didn’t think I wanted to saddle myself with this design element.

I love raglan sleeves, and that was my default direction with this design, but I know that a lot of knitters don’t like them even a little bit, so for this sweater, I’m working on a compromise—a little bit of raglan shaping to reduce bulk at the underarm, then work straight up for a little bit of a square armhole, then a saddle shoulder. (Yes, I decided to do the work.*)

That’s the intent anyway. I’ve knit the front of the sweater to the armholes and started the raglan shaping.

Raglan shaping in a pasture of seed stitch**.

Cool cable continuation along the decrease line, yes? I had to dance a little to make it work for all sizes.

*I was forced by laziness to do the work. (An irony that has forged many parts of my life.) After knitting that far, I thought that the raglan decreases were happening too quickly and I needed to slow them down, which meant ripping and reknitting. But because I don’t want to start over, my only other option is to leave the decreases as they are and change the sleeve.

**If you think you might want to knit this sweater when the pattern is available, start falling in love with seed stitch (rice stitch for you Brits). There’s lots of it.


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