Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

Set-in Sleeve Calculator

A lace pullover for spring

Although raglan and yoke constructions (and even Elizabeth Zimmermann’s set-in model) are seamless, I regrettfully find them ill-fitting on my body. Like it or not, traditional set-in sleeves just fit me better. However, calculating the armhole and sleeve cap shape is time consuming and rather unwieldy for patterns with multiple sizes. This winter, I designed several garments for publication with set-in sleeves. I created an Excel spreadsheet to calculate the armscye measurement, the perimeter of the armhole. Still, the spreadsheet required tinkering here and there and was not a very good solution. When I explained my frustration to Aaron, he decided there had to be a better way. Using Jenna Wilson’s (girl from auntie) impeccably thorough armscye tutorial in Knitty as a guide,  he wrote a web application that would take in the necessary information regarding gauge and armhole shaping to produce meaningful information about sleeve cap shaping. 

The application can be found for free here.

armscye

It may seem complicated at first, but I think his Help! pop-ups explain the inputs pretty well. Here are some sample inputs, taken from the lace pullover shown above. 

armscye_filled-in

By leaving the final output as the number of decreases and the number of rows remaining before the cap bind-off(s), the calculator provides the designer with enough freedom to play around with the curve of the sleeve by varying the rate of decreases. 

Set-in sleeve detail

I relied heavily upon Aaron’s calculator for this simple lace pullover. Although the body largely came to life during a fit of insomnia, the sleeves dragged on interminably in part because I ran out of yarn and needed to alternate between multiple skeins to hide the variation between dyelots. The yarn is yet more stash leftover from my Ivy League Vest, which called for far more yarn than was actually needed. 

Back view

Pattern: The vine lace stitch pattern is an easy 4-row repeat from Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns; the sleeve calculations came from Aaron’s armscye calculator 

Yarn: Harrisville Designs New England Shetland

Needles: US 8 (5.0 mm)

Side view

Since this was another stashbusting project, I’d say it was almost free! One thing is for sure: because I used a light sport weight (fingering, really) yarn on US 8 needles, the project required minimal yardage – only 570 yds for a finished bust of 36″ with 3/4-length sleeves!

 Set-in sleeve detail

This is the fifth garment I’ve knit using the calculator and every single sleeve cap has fit into its corresponding armhole flawlessly. Here are a few examples of the other garments:

Armhole details, using Aaron's armscye calculator

I hope others will find the calculator equally useful. 

Vine Lace Pullover

Perhaps it’s time to give set-in sleeves another go?