Question: I’ve been knitting a sweater with set-in sleeves. It was going well until I got to the sewing-up bit. The sleeve heads wouldn’t fit into the armholes because they didn’t have the same number of rows!

Tina answers your burning knitting questions!

Answer: There are several ways to shape armholes and the sleeve heads are shaped accordingly. If your sweater has raglan shaping, you’d have found the same amount of rows on the sleeve head and the armhole.

And that makes them easy to sew up.  Set-in sleeves are a different matter. The sleeve head will always have fewer rows than the armhole.

Had the sleeve head and the armhole had the same number of rows, you’d find the sweater looked wrong and your movement would be restricted.

In knitted garments this isn’t a huge problem because knitting fabric has so much give. But you’d run into problems if you were using other textiles.

Basically, you need extra width at the top of the sleeve and this is created by its curvy shape and calculated according to the depth of the armhole and the width of the sleeve.

Even a slight deviation from the instructions or the slightest difference in tension can throw everything off kilter.

But what if you can’t sew the sleeve head to the armhole row for row? Turn the garment inside out. Insert the sleeve head into the armhole from inside. 

Place the centre of the top part of the sleeve against the shoulder seam.

Match the cast-off stitches at the base of the sleeve top to the cast-off stitches of the armhole and fir the remainder into the armhole, then pin them into position.

With back or front facing, work in back stitch around the edge of both layers, working one stitch away from the straight part of the armhole edge where possible.

From time to time, check the right side to ensure the seam is being maintained properly and it’s neat and even.

Tina Egleton