Designing an Aran Sweater: The Sleeves

Set in Aran Sweater Sleeve

This sweater will have set in sleeves. This can be a bit more complicated in the planning stage, so grab a coffee and a calculator and a comfortable chair.

Beginning the Sleeve
Sleeves start at the wrist. Measure your wrist and multiply by your stitch gauge. Be sure this number is divisible by 4 for a K2P2 ribbing.

The sleeve stitch count will gradually increase. These increases are done between the completion of the ribbing and the elbow. Calculate your “E” measurement, multiplied by your stitch gauge. Next measure your wrist to elbow subtract 2 for the ribbing. Now multiply by your row gauge.

For me my E works out to 86. My wrist had 56 stitches. I need 30 more stitches or 15 per side. My cuff to elbow is 9.5 – 2 = 7.5 multiplied by 7.05 or 52.875 rows. Now divide your row count by stitches to increase + 1 needed. This will tell you how many rows are knit between increases.

This means I will increase 1 stitch per side over 52.875 divided by (15+1) = 3.3 rows. I will round up to 4. This means I will increase 1 stitch per side on every 4th row until I have 86 stitches.

Choosing Your Design Elements
Your design elements should be based on the full stitch count you will have in your sleeve. The design should be centered on the sleeve. You will need to account for your increases. Mark your starting point on your chart.

For me I will be increasing to 86 stitches. I will be doing 60 stitches from the chart and 13 seed stitches per side. My sleeve begins at 56 stitches. I will start following the chart by eliminating the first and last two stitches of the chart. This would place a partial cable on the edge of my work. For now I will knit those stitches and not complete the cable portion until I have increased enough stitches to include the purl stitch to the side of the cable. This will ensure a nice smooth edge of the sleeve.

Continue knitting in pattern until you reach your “J” measurement. At this point you may want to add in a lifeline. This way should you need to rip back the stitches are secure.

Understanding the Sleeve Cap
This is where things get a bit complicated so approach it slowly.
A sleeve cap has essentially three pieces. The spot that makes up the under arm (stitch matching), the rounded top(3) and the area between those two sections (2). The sleeve will form a bit of a bell curve shape.

Sleeve Cap Anatomy

Measuring the Sleeve Cap.
We need a few measurements here. First is to get the height of the sleeve cap. Place a straight edge across the sleeve at the underarm. Now measure from the straight edge to the shoulder seam. This is your cap.

Put on Your Thinking Cap
Take that measurement of the cap multiply by your row gauge.
For myself the cap measured 5 inches. Multiplied by my row gauge I rounded up to 36.

The Underarm
The underarm area will match what you did for the back and the fronts of the sweater. This shaping will be done on each side of the sleeve.
Account for the rows used to complete the underarm. For me I have 36 rows for the sleeve cap and my underarm decreases use 22 rows. I have 14 rows remaining.

Shaping the Top of the Sleeve
Now measure your shoulder depth. Imagine the top of your shoulder is a shelf. You want the width. For me 4 inches is what I will use. Multiply by your stitch gauge. This will form your final cast off row. My shoulder depth is 4 inches multiplied by my stitch gauge of 6.5 means the top of my cap is 26 stitches.

The top of the sleeve will mimic the shoulder shaping of the back and fronts. This will be two sets of cast off stitches followed by the final cast off.

I started with 86 stitches across the top of the sleeve – 13 on each side for the armholes = 60.From the 60 stitches my final cast off row must be 26 stitches. 60 – 26 is 34. Divide by two for each side of the sleeve cap for me that’s 17 stitches. Then cast off 8 stitches per side (MyBox 12B) for the first decreases. The second set of decreases will use up your remaining stitches. For me this is 9 stitches. ( 17-8)

This is 5 rows used. My row count is now 9. 36-22-5=9. This means I will knit 9 rows after completing the underarm decreases.

The 60 stitches after the ar will be knit in pattern for 9 rows. The top of the sleeve will mimic the shoulder shaping using your BOX 12B. For me that is 8 stitches. The final cast off will be the shoulder depth multiplied by your stitch gauge.

So once I’ve knit the 9 rows after the underarm I will cast off 8 stitches per side once, 9 stitches per side once and end with the final cast off of 26 stitches.

This is your sleeve completed. Make a second sleeve, rinse and block.

Be sure to check out the video on YouTube to accompany this lesson. You may also be interested in the video on how to knit the chart.

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Thanks for stopping by and happy knitting.