About sleeves…

People sometimes comment that cocoknits runs a bit narrow through the upper sleeve. There is a reason!

The arm looks as big as what you encase it in…if you knit 3″ of ease into the upper sleeve, guess what? Your arm looks 3″ bigger around than it really is. For more on this, see The Sartorialist’s post on sleeves and knitwear, he’s talking about menswear, but the same goes for women… a fitted sleeve can drop 10 pounds off the figure.

This does not bother most thin, young women. But as we age we need all the help we can get! Compare the photos below:

Try knitting your upper sleeve with 0-2 inches added to your upper arm measurement. You don’t want negative ease, that’s not good, either! But a sleeve that just fits is the most flattering. Look at schematics to find the size that best fits your upper arm and knit to that measurement. The rule of thumb is the thicker the yarn, the less ease you want.


  1. Joan DeWolfe

    I applaud you for the sleeve being closer to the arm measurement, nothing looks more home-made than the look of extra width in the upper arm. Joan

  2. Liz

    I completely agree that the slimmer fit sleeves look heaps better, but if I make the sleeves narrower (less stitches) aren’t I going to run into difficulties matching it to the body shaping?


    • It certainly helps if you choose patterns that offer a slim-sleeved silhouette. More about this coming in the book I’m writing…stay tuned;-)

  3. Hi Julie! I’m doing research for a pattern I’m writing, and I came here because I knew you’d have the answer about sleeves. 🙂 Do you know how much ease is in the sleeve in the right? I’m attempting a “slouchy yet fitted” look for a set-in sleeve, and I’m torn between 1.5 and 2″ of ease. Thank you!

  4. R K R

    In this example, you’ve compared ‘Apples’ & ‘Oranges’.
    The brown cardi is a drop shoulder (not fitted to the top of the shoulder) and, in the gold, it is a true set-in sleeve armscye, with the sleeve-to-armscye fitted to that particular person’s body.
    The top of the armscye (the brown garment) drops a good 4″ – 5″ below the shoulder’s top point. Even the most fitted sleeve cap is going to look loose & sloppy in that type of drop-shoulder garment.
    If the same sleeves in the brown cardi were put into the gold sweater’s armscyes, I think they too would look close to the wearer’s upper arm size.
    It’s definitely possible to have the gold sweater’s natural fit while adding another inch or 2 of sleeve cap width, by setting in the sleeve up where it should be: Clothes should properly hang-from-the-shoulder-seam, not from being snug around the upper arm.
    While I really do like your work in general, please use image examples that best fit your described situation, not posing false or misleading info.

    • Sorry if you misunderstood what I was trying to convey – this was not comparing the two sweaters to each other, it was supposed to be a visual aide in helping people decide what to knit for themselves. I am pointing people in the direction of what to look for in a schematic/style of a pattern – if a person is large on top, they probably want to steer clear of a drop-shoulder, large upper sleeve circumference style sweater. A set-in sleeve is a better option if they want a flattering style for their body type.

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