Saturday, March 8, 2008

armhole steeks

I thought L'Tanya's question was important enough for everyone to hear about, so I'm making a main post instead of answering in the comments.

L'Tanya, you are right. In the scenario you describe, you will lose body stitches. That shaping is for a modified drop shoulder, or what I like to call a square armhole. You don't lose any fit, though, because you add that back into the top of the sleeves, making the sleeves a couple of inches longer. In this scenario, the shoulders fall higher and closer to your actual shoulder line than in a true drop shoulder, and you have a slightly snugger fit in the shoulders, but by no-means constricting. This is actually the shaping that I used on the Andean sweater in Ethnic Knitting Discovery. It's perfectly acceptable to use this in a Norwegian sweater, but it's not traditional. You just want to align your pattern stitches so they center nicely around the armhole steeks and look balanced after you cut.

Here's the schematic of an Andean sweater, showing the armhole shaping.

If you want a true drop shoulder, where you keep the same number of stitches all the way to the shoulder seams, you don't need to do anything for a steek, or you can BO1 stitch and CO5-7 if you want to have the extra fabric to cut and fold back as a facing. In the Norwegian sweaters in Ethnic Knitting Discovery, I went with the old-fashioned technique of doing nothing in advance. You just knit a straight tube all the way up to the shoulders, then you make slits where you want the armholes. In this scenario, the shoulders drop down and sit on the upper arm, and you make the sleeves shorter to compensate.

Here's the schematic of a Norwedigan sweater, showing the lack of armhole shaping.

The total sleeve length, from center back neck to wrist, has to remain the same for both situations, so you add the part you remove from the armhole to the top of the sleeve to compensate. See how the top of the sleeve fills in the cut out body area on that first drawing? In both of these styles, I make the armhole depth the same. For a 40 or 44 inch sweater that I make for myself, I like a 10 inch deep armhole, so it's nice and loose. Probably going down to 9 would still be OK without causing the sweater to pinch at the underarm. But for me, that makes the sweater feel a little too snug, especially if I'm wearing it over a heavy winter turtleneck.

Does all that make sense?

How's everyone else doing on their knitting? Pictures, pictures, I want to see more pictures! :-)

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