Knitted in one piece: set in fitted sleeves, knitted from the top

So turned to my Pinterest knitting board and found this:


This is lovely, just what I am looking for. I don’t know who designed this garment – I would very much like to give them credit… Classic, beautifully shaped, timeless… male, beautiful simplicity with a twist. I love the broad shoulders flowing into a well fitting upper body and the well fitted sleeve heads.

What is great about this design is that it allows me to try out Barbara Walker’s top down fitted sleeves – knitted all in one, her method has intrigued me for some time. This is how it works – have a look at the picture before you read on. The red bits are the yarn ends I used for the invisible cast on. I leave them in for now, as reference to indicate where  my ‘shoulder’ down fitted sleeves - yoke

  1. cast on (invisible cast on) first shoulder (left), work short rows to shape the shoulder and at the same time, increase stitches for the roundness of the neck, cast on remaining neck stitches, cut yarn
  2. cast on (invisible cast on) second shoulder (right), work short rows and increase stitches for the roundness of the neck, work all neck stitches (across to the left shoulder) and start working the entire back piece, completing all short rows and work about 6 cm.
  3. pick up stitches at the right shoulder, work short rows and increase stitches for the front neck, work about 6 cm
  4. pick up st at left shoulder, work short rows and increase st for neck, work about 6 cm
  5. THEN wow, here it comes, the exiting bit: start at the left front neck (RS) and knit across to the right front piece to the armhole, then pick up stitches for the sleeve head  (through 2 out of 3 rows), knit across the back, pick up stitches across the right armhole, knit across the right front.
  6. Then merrily knit back and forth… increase at the front neck and at the armholes to shape the set in sleeve.

So far so good… that’s how far I have made it. I have learned a lot (and unraveled the lot already twice), but I think I am on to a winner.

This version of top down jumper appears in Barbara Walker’s book Knitting from the Top as a mere variation in her chapter about seamless set-in sleeves where she explains two ways of knitting set in sleeves from the top:

(1) body – first method: here, the sleeveless sweater is worked first, and the sleeves are set in by picking up stitches around the armhole later

(2) sleeve-first method: here, front and back of sweater are worked up to the underarm (more or less what I have described I have done, but here the jumper is knitted all the way to the underarm, not just 6 cm), then the underarm stitches are cast on to a separate needle (all stitches required for a seamless sleeve, or 2 x ½ the stitches required for a seamed sleeve), then all the remaining sleeve stitches are picked up around the armhole edge and the sleeve cap stitches are worked in short rows. Finally, the underarm stitches are worked and the sleeve is completed. Only then, the underarm stitches are picked up (increases mirroring the amount picked up for the sleeve at the underarm) to complete the body.

Here is a close up of one shoulder.

In addition to following Barbara Walker’s instructions to the dot, I have added a wee twist, too! As you can see here, I have decreased stitches at the armhole (5 in total on each shoulder, over 40 or so rows) to create a fitted sleeve that sits in a broad shouldered garment. In fact, my armhole resembles very much the shape of an armhole in a tailored suit jacket. Fingers crossed that it will work!right shoulder front and back

Peace at Last!

I have worked out all the issues… and I think now I can anticipate a calm and quiet weekend! I jumped out of bed early this morning and felt like screaming Eureka! In my sweet half slumber, while the birds were tuning up, it came to me how the sleeve heads are done! Much unraveling has occurred to get to this stage of this project and there are two things I’d really like to go on record: (1) I am not one for easily giving myself credit, but I am almighty proud of this jumper, having solved all the issues and problems with the design, matching the stripes to the size and design and so forth… (2) Even when the going got tough and I was in states of frustration, exultation, passion or flow – I did write a comprehensive pattern of those sections, this is a first! I usually get carried away and just get it done somehow and then cannot remember how on earth I did it.DSCN6570

Neckline challenge: I wasn’t sure if the neck really was going to sit nicely, being so square… I altered the Kangaroo Pouch Jumper pattern by starting the neckline of the front a stripe lower than the beginning of the shoulder.

Shoulder challenge: Uh, I didn’t take a picture of the back shoulder, hm. Well, in the above picture you can see a red stripe finishing the back piece. That stripe has got short rows on the side to shape the shoulder – and it was tricky to match the short rows with the stripes.


Armhole challenge 1: This picture illustrates  the name Kangaroo Pouch Jumper fairly well – an unusually big amount of stitches is put on hold (they look like kangaroo pouches, eh?); then one knits around the entire armhole (picking up stitches along the steek and along the ‘pouch stitches’) and then the top down set in sleeves are worked, starting up at the shoulder. A steek, YIKES! I did have a good look on google for steek information, but then decided to take Elizabeth Zimmermann’s instructions on face value: I stitched two rows of short zig zag along the opening, which I had basted carefully and then…DSCN6578.

… I cut it open!

Armhole challenge 2: I followed EZ’s instructions to the dot here, picking up the ‘pouch’ stitches that were on hold and then picking up around the armhole 2 stitches to every 3 rows, which resulted in a really nice and smooth finish.

Sleeve head challenge: I tried and tried, followed the instruction to the dot but couldn’t get it to work. EZ’s method is starting the sleeve head at the shoulder seam and then increasing the one st at the end of each row (short row shaping) as well as decreasing the armhole stitches. I couldn’t get the decrease to look neat with the stripes and all… so I hoped for the best that a solution may come to me.DSCN6599

Collar challenge: I wasn’t sure if the collar was going to sit nicely, being so square – but hey – looks good to me! I used the same method as for the hem, just in reverse (knitting lining last and then hand sewing it down.

I saved the best for last – the Eureka Moment. Instead of decreasing the armhole stitches, I decreased stitches within the sleeve cap! I thus had no issues with stripe colors from the sleeve head colliding with the light grey stripe of the armhole and making a mess. And an additional bonus was (which I didn’t know until I did it!) that my sleeve head stripes match the ones on the body!

Have a great weekend!