Knitting Nuances

A 2015 – 2018 Top 100 Knitting Blog!

Design Along, The Sleeves

Design Along Post 5

Design progress and knitting progress move ahead at different rates. One hopes the design process leads the knitting but I’ve been known to knit without really having a clue where I’m going.

Even though I’m just a quarter of the way through the knitting, the project decisions are  pulling together. I’m designing this sweater for myself. Is it bad to say it’s kind of fun being selfish? I do hope that by focusing on the details that are  important to me, the design will speak to you as well. It has changed my perspective and freed me up to make decisions that are not necessarily safe ones. A lesson I’ll apply to future designs.

Quick progress report

Here are the steps we’ve taken so far …

  • Back_Pattern_TallDesign goal: a mid-length cardigan with cozy collar I can pull up on chilly days; one with lots of texture and interest. Since the sweater will hang past my hips, the waist will not be tapered.
  • Gauge, color and yarn: Not too heavy, a nice neutral color and soft yarn I will enjoy knitting for hours and wearing forever. I settled on a DK weight alpaca blend in a warm gray that will show the stitches.
  • To seam or not to seam. Seams are beneficial in the long run because the sweater will hold its shape, especially at this length. Making the seaming process easier is important in preventing UFOs.
  • The Back: So often the back of a sweater has no real design interest at all. In this pattern, I viewed the back as the largest canvas on which to play, and play I did with a highly textured all over pattern that will be the signature of the sweater.

On the Needles Now: Sleeves

I’m knitting the sleeves next because I’m still not sure how I want the front to look. With so much emphasis on the back pattern and front shawl collar the sleeves need to coordinate but not dominate. This is the ‘white space’ that will balance the design.


The sleeves will extend a little longer than the wrist but, I don’t want them looking sloppy or get in the way when I’m busy. So I took a rather big risk and designed sleeves that I’m not sure will work. And then I doubled down and knit two of them, because why rip out one sleeve when you can rip out two?

Sleeve Elements:

  • They start with the same Showy Cable rib as on the back to give the consistency needed in the over all design. I left a very long cast on tail  so I can seam with it later.
  • The cable rib has a few extra stitches on the cast on to create a slight flare.
  • The edges stitches are seed stitch, which also matches the edges of the back. It will add some interest to the sleeve and make them easier to seam.
  • Flat i-Cord straiCord5ColorBraidHorizontal_Sqp. This is the risky part. I knit a Flat i-Cord to gather the sleeve a bit more at the wrist. You can knit a button hole in a Flat i-Cord so I’m thinking this could be an adjustable feature. I’m not sure how it will all work yet however, so fingers crossed. A nice button will add a little pop to the design.

Flat i-COrd

What do you think? Should I have gone with a totally plain sleeve? Another option would have been adding a lot more cable to the sleeve. It’s a Goldilocks decision, too little, too much or just right.

My Challenge

ISeamsing Ideas’ve knit the back and 2 sleeves up to the armhole. That’s because I haven’t decided how to work the armhole and sleeve cap shaping yet. I know they will be set in but I’ve been playing with an idea to make the seaming easier and it’s not quite there yet.

As you can see, I am slow to commit to this idea because I’m not sure it will work. I started with the smallest possible swatch and just connected it to itself. Not bad. On to a slightly larger swatch with a small modification and then again in a less forgiving yarn. Each sample is a tiny big larger. I’ve now knit a baby size sleeve cap and armholes and will see how it works at the top of the sleeve cap.

What’s Next?

I’ll finish the sleeves if I like the seaming method. In the meantime, on to the front. The starting point for the design was the shawl collar so it’s time to see how that works. It will be knit separately for now (I can always write the instructions as one piece). I can tell you there will be faux Showy Cables involved and it will be reversible. That way when the collar folds back, it looks good on both sides. I’m very excited about that aspect.


Swatching Anyone?

Manchester_Swatch2Has anyone tried the swatch for the raised Showy Decrease stitch pattern on the back? I’d love to hear how it went. If it felt too complicated, you just need to learn the technique with a simpler Showy Decrease pattern. The Manchester Scarf is the best training tool with both right and left leaning Showy Decreases. It’s part of your homework. Don’t make me keep you after school.

And … What Else Am I Up To?

Irish_Seas_PeekI am also finishing up a shawl pattern. The samples are knit but the pattern is taking a bit of time. I just put the samples up in the shop at Jimmy Beans Wool today. I’ve learned I get better ideas on tips to add to the pattern after I give a class on it. I was trying to take photos on a blustery Lake Tahoe day. The long mohair fringe was having way too much fun playing in the wind. Here’s a sneak peek for you since you made it all the way to the end of the post.

13 comments on “Design Along, The Sleeves

  1. Denise M.
    February 20, 2018

    Love the Manchester Scarf pattern. Am in the process of making one from Alpaca, Bamboo sport yarn. A variegated turquoise color. I did a couple more rows of seed to begin, will make a couple more at the end. Thank you for the pattern, and all the instructions with the pattern. Makes it easy for a semi-beginner knitter.

    February 20, 2018

    Stunning! I love the sleeves. The flat I-cord is perfect. Omigosh, why didn’t I start this KAL at the beginning?

    On Tue, Feb 20, 2018 at 11:15 AM, Knitting Nuances wrote:

    > Laura Cunitz posted: “Design Along Post 5 Design progress and knitting > progress move ahead a different rates. One hopes the design process leads > the knitting but I’ve been known to knit without really having a clue where > I’m going. Even though I’m just a quarter of the way th” >

    • Laura Cunitz
      February 20, 2018

      So glad you like them. Don’t worry, this isn’t a knit along. You’re just following my design process and thoughts and I’m throwing in a bit of homework so you’l be ready when the pattern is finally published.

  3. kate
    February 20, 2018

    stunning. I love the sleeves. The I-cord is the perfect complement to the slight ruffle. Why, oh why didn’t I join this KAL when it began? (I’m slapping my head.)

  4. Kathy D
    February 20, 2018

    Really like the showy cable rib on the sleeve. I think you’re right about plain sleeves- that leaves the back and the collar and fronts to steal the show. Will the flat i-cord band be enough to hold the sleeves up? I’m a pusher-upper if I get too warm or if I’m cooking or washing dishes.

    Can’t wait for the pattern! Haven’t started the homework yet (yes I was bad in school) as I have to finish a pair of socks for the Big Foot brother.

    • Laura Cunitz
      February 20, 2018

      Kathy, My idea for the Flat i-Cord on the sleeves would be to anchor one side by sewing it on at the seam and having a button hole at the other end. Then if we add 2 buttons to the sleeve itself the fit could be adjusted. Mmmm, thinking… if the i-cord fits the wrist snuggly then it should stay in place if you pushed them up. I really hope this works because it sounds great!

  5. M-R
    February 20, 2018

    This is extraordinary ! – wonderful ! The very thought of making it up as you go along makes my brain tremble …
    I think the sleeves belong to Baby Bear, btw …
    Waiting with impatience for completion !

  6. Pam
    February 20, 2018

    Your work is stunning and I’m very much lookin forward to the end result; of course, the pattern purchase will be a given when it’s ready. Just love your work!

    • Laura Cunitz
      February 21, 2018

      Thanks Pam, I do feel a little exposed right now. Not only am I devoting hours to a pattern that needs to design itself along the way, I’m letting you guys all know when I mess up. There will be mistakes, I just don’t knot where yet!

  7. Sandra
    February 22, 2018

    Really like the look of flare with flat I- cord…..following your design process has been a treat.

  8. Lynn L.
    February 23, 2018

    My reaction to the sleeve detail was an immediate “oooooooooo”! It’s lovely and I look forward to seeing your creation completed. I also applaud your decision to share any “warts” that may arise…we all have them and it’s nice to know we aren’t alone in that!

  9. Joanne Moore
    February 23, 2018

    Oh, how I love your sleeve detail. The I-cord is a stroke of genius. With the back and sleeves and collar being focal points, maybe go light on the fronts. Are you having zipper or buttons or frogs? Looking forward to seeing the finished sweater.

    • Laura Cunitz
      February 23, 2018

      I agree on the front definitely not being as busy as the back. I have not thought about closings too much but now you have me thinking about it. Not a zipper because that’s one more finishing item that might cause a UFO for others…. a full minute has passed as I stared off into space thinking. Will keep doing so. 🙂

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This entry was posted on February 20, 2018 by in Design Along, Nuances, Patterns, Showy Cable, Showy Decrease.


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