Knitting Tips and Techniques

By Hand..

Invisible Casting On

This method uses an odd number of stitches, and gives a stretchy feel to the start of a rib with the appearance of a machine cast-on edge.

Abbreviations Used:

Using a contrasting colour yarn, cast on half the number of total stitches required plus one, e.g. for a final number of 29 stitches cast on 15 initial stitches.

Change to the correct yarn for your garment and work a double edge fabric as follows:

    Row 1. K1, *yfwd to inc 1, K1, rep from * to end
    Row 2. K1, *yfwd, sl 1 purlwise, ybk, K1, rep from * to end
    Row 3. Sl 1 purlwise, *ybk, K1, yfwd, sl 1 purlwise, rep from * to end
    Repeat rows 2 and 3 once more.
    Row 6. K1, *P1, K1, rep from * to end
    Row 7. P1, *K1, P1, rep from * to end
    Continue in rib as required. Unpick the contrast yarn used for casting on.

Short row Set-in sleeves

This technique was sent to the KnitList on Tue, 20 Jun 2000 by Jamie Wang

Since I am so proud of the way my top down set-in sleeves have turned out
(can't you hear me patting myself on the back?), I decided to give my method to
the whole list, even though Carol was the only one to ask for how-to's.  I got
my original directions from Sidna Farley, but have adjusted them to maximize

These directions are for average women's sizing.  I have assumed that you know
how to do short rows; if not, check a how-to-knit book or about any issue of
Knitter's magazine for instructions.  This can be done in any stitch pattern
except intarsia (okay, I'm sure someone on the list could do it in intarsia as
well, given the level of expertise out there), but it is simplest in

First, make sure the armholes are shaped properly.  Just like a well fitted
shirt or blouse, they should be horizontal along the armpit for 2" or less,
then decrease inward toward the neck until the final shoulder width of the
garment matches the wearer's shoulder width.  The shoulder seam should end on
the end point of the shoulder bone -- longer and the sleeve will droop.  For
wider sizes, the horizontal section can be longer.  As for length from shoulder
to armpit, this should be shorter than in a drop shoulder or modified drop
shoulder design.  Mine is approximately 9" on a woman's med/lg (store size
misses 10/12) on a cardigan.

Next, sew the shoulder seams.  I find that sloped shoulders (highest point at
the neck) fit me best.  Since I hate sewing seams unnecessarily, especially on
staggered cast-offs, I short row at the shoulder seam (starting on the next  to
last row I would be knitting before starting to cast-off) then knit the
shoulders together using the three needle bind off.

Begin picking up stitches at the armpit seam.  I follow guidelines taught me by
Joan Schrouder: one stitch for every horizontal stitch, one stitch for every
row on the diagonal, either two stitches for every three rows or three stitches
for every four rows on vertical lines.  The last depends upon the ratio of your
stitch and row gauge (mine is at two stitches to three rows).  When you get all
the way around, place a marker and count your stitches.  Does it look like the
right number of stitches (or does it bulge out from the armhole or pull in from
the armhole)?  If not, rip and adjust your pick-ups accordingly.  Do you have
the same number on each half of the armhole?  If not, decrease on the first
round to even out (you should only be adjusting a few stitches, if not, rip and
redo).  Divide your stitches by 6; place markers 1/6th of the way from each
seam (you now have a total of 5 markers).

Start knitting round one.  Stop at the marker on the far side of the shoulder
seam, remove the marker, wrap the next stitch, and turn.  Work your stitch
pattern to the marker on the opposing side of the shoulder seam, remove the
marker, wrap the next stitch, and turn.  You are now shortrowing the top third
of your sleeve.  Sidna's directions have you add one stitch each shortrow
(i.e., work the wrapped stitch, then wrap the stitch next to it) until you get
to the lower set of markers (the bottom third of the sleeve).  At this point,
you begin to knit around the sleeve.  I find that I want to decrease the sleeve
width about 20% by the time I get to the end of the shortrows.  What I do is
(on two out of three rows at my gauge) knit up to the last stitch worked.  SSK
it and the wrapped stitch together (remembering to move the wrap so it won't
show on the outside), then wrap the next stitch and turn.  You'll have three
strands of yarn on your needle as you do the SSK, instead of the normal two.
On the wrong side, I purl up to the last stitch worked, then purl it and the
wrapped stitch together, wrap the next stitch and turn.

If you really want to make all the shaping look identical on front and back of
the sleeves, you can do what this compulsive knitter did.  When I got to the
purling decrease, since I had worked one more row on that edge, I purled the
wrapped stitch through the stitch below (think of a brioche stitch or
fisherman's rib).  In this case, you'll have four strands of yarn on your
needle as you purl the stitches together.  It's bulky on the backside and takes
a bit of manipulation, but you'll have decreases running right along the edge
of the sleeve on front and back.

Once you've finished shortrowing, measure your sleeve length from shoulder seam
to needle.  Determine your desired sleeve length from shoulder tip down.
Subtract the amount you've already knit -- this is how much you have left to
knit.  If you want to decrease, say to a cuff at the wrist, determine the cuff
stitch count (given gauge and desired measurement).  This should be easy if
you've  made a gauge swatch or used the same stitch pattern for the garment
hem.  Subtract the depth of the cuff from the "left-to-knit" measurement
above.  You'll want to space your decreases evenly along the length of the
sleeve.  Take your row gauge and multiply by the number of inches you have left
to knit on your sleeve (excluding the cuff).  Take your current stitch count,
subtract the cuff stitch count, and divide the answer by two.  Divide the rows
by the stitches; your answer is how often you will decrease.  For example, if
your stitch count is currently 64, your cuff stitch count will be 44, the
sleeve left-to-knit length is 17", and your row gauge is 6 rows per inch (as in
my sweater), you will want to decrease 20 stitches or 10 times with a double
decrease over the 17x6 or 102 rounds.  102 divided by 10 is about 10, so I
decreased every 10th round.  I worked those extra two rounds at the top of the
sleeve, which is where most patterns have you put them.

Work your decreases as either paired double decreases (SSK and K2tog) or a
centered double decrease depending upon your preference.

I have a feeling that this may be as clear as mud (let me know if you want me
to clarify something), but hopes this helps the more adventurous.

I'm part way down my last sleeve.  Since I've already worked the collar and
sewn on the buttons, it should be ready to wear soon :)

I'll soon be able to get back to other unfinished (or unstarted) knitting

Jamie Wang

By Machine..


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Author : Steph Thornton.
Last modified on : 11 October 2001.