I did it! I finished something! I’ve been plodding along on so many different projects lately, I decided I MUST start finishing my UFO’s before they start taking over my house. I did knock out a few things for Christmas, which made me hit the pause button on my WIPs. But back in the game, baby.
In my last post about finishing your knitting, I neglected to talk about setting sleeve caps. Mainly because I was being an uber procrastinator about sewing and photographing them on a few sweaters I have going. But also because I used a technique on this new swing coat for Miss Cakes that I felt deserved more attention.
I took a short row shaping class with Lily Chin a million years ago, and found my notes recently. While I’ve been using the technique of short rows in my knitting whenever a pattern indicates, I haven’t taken advantage of all the ways they could help finesse patterns that don’t specify to use them. If you’re not familiar, short rows are simply that: rows in your knitting where instead of working all the way across, you stop at a certain point, turn your work around using a wrapped stitch to close up the inevitable gap, and keep knitting. It’s done to add shaping or length to your knitting, almost in the opposite way a dart works in sewing by taking away fabric. In the case of knitting, it makes a certain section longer. Which is useful for all kinds of things as you’d imagine- heels in socks, lengthening the center back in a pair of soakers or longies, the upper back neck on a sweater, or even to add bust shaping.
Graphic courtesy of Interweave, and explained in depth here.
At the end of the class, she encouraged us to brainstorm all the ways that short rows could help us accomplish more elegant finishing in our knitting. When you work a short row, you eventually do knit a row all the way across again, which turns into a nice smooth rounded edge. By doing this, you can create perfect curves that would help in your finishing anywhere a smooth edge is more desirable than the stair step casting off 2,3,4 stitches at a time. Areas like mitten tops, sock toes, or what I used them for today, sleeve caps.
Now I absolutely adore every pattern in the book Wonderland by MillaMia. I’m sure I’ll eventually knit at least half of it, which is a lot to say for such a long book. The designs are fresh and modern, easy enough to knit, but with a nod to the designers’ Scandinavian heritage. When I started delving into the patterns however, I noticed that they don’t take advantage of techniques that would make their garments as fun to make as they are cute to wear. So many seams could be eliminated, shaping done differently.
I didn’t make a plan when I cast on the Cissi Swing Coat, I just impatiently cast on one day in fall when I wanted something new. I would have knit the body all as one instead of a two fronts and a back. I would have knit the sleeves in the round instead of flat. But c’est la vie. When I finished the first sleeve cap, I noticed the ragged edge their shaping left me to work with, and I decided to knit the second using short rows instead. I started the shaping a row earlier, as you have to with short rows, since you end up with the extra finishing row at the end going across the top. And seriously. Do you see that perfectly curved line? Game changer.
So for those dying to know, here’s how I sew in sleeves. I start by sectioning off all areas of different shaping: 1. Across the underarm, where there is a 1:1 ratio, 2. Initial shaping, which is usually mirrored on the sleeve and the body of the garment, and 3. The upper edge of the cap, which is usually a flat cast off edge on the sleeve piece and straight on the body pieces, where the ratio may be closer to 2:1 due to the different directions of knitting being joined.
- I start at the underarm, and work a faux graft stitch.
- At the initial shaping, which in this pattern is a single decrease every other row, I use a mattress stitch and work mostly 1:1, taking an extra bar or two to make the pieces fit.
- Along the upper edge, I do a combo. It functions as a graft from the top of the sleeve, coming from the centers of the V’s at the top of the stitches, but picks up the bars between the rows along the body pieces. Here I pin to make sure the pieces are the same length, aligning the center to the shoulder seam, and take up however many stitches as needed to make it work. In this case, I alternated between 2 and 1 body stitches per 1 stitch on the sleeve cap.
The short row cap set in so much easier, and makes such a smoother finished line. I can’t imagine I’ll go back to the old way of knitting caps again. Short row sleeve on the right below.
I’ve been wanting to knit this for Miss Cakes for a few years now, and I’m so glad I waited until she was a bit bigger. Even though it meant searching for an extra skein on the Buy Sell Trade pages of Ravelry, since this dye lot of Cascade 200 Heathers had been discontinued since I bought the first three skeins. At this size, it’s something she can wear for a few years and a garment she’ll get a lot of use out of.
It turned out soooo cute. I debated about knitting the scarf versus a more traditional collar, which would have made it a bit more versatile, but it was such a sweet detail I went ahead with it. And as a bonus, now I know she has a scarf that will get used and that can’t get lost. 😉
Pewter buttons, sourced from our amazing local yarn store The Sow’s Ear.
I also love the non traditional ribbing on all the borders. It doesn’t pull in as usually K2P2 ribbing does, but you wouldn’t want it to in a swing shape.
Finished just in time to keep her warm and cozy for the rest of our already subzero winter. One of these days, I’ll make something for myself again. Really. I will.
Stay warm out there! Love from Wisconsin,