2011, Flat knitting, short rows

Set-in Sleeves: How to

I had been hearing great things about set-in sleeves for sweaters. They say it fits really well and gives more room for movement and so on, but when I heard it uses short rows to shape the sleeve cap, I was hesitant to give it a try. Definitely not an adult sweater because if I goofed up, it would mean redoing all the work and my knitting time is already at a premium. So I decided to give it a try with a child’s pullover. I made a pullover for N and made set-in sleeves and I really love the look of it. The shoulders do not droop like in raglan, and neither do they look puffed up like drop shoulders. This is a neat technique to avoid sewing them in (which I hate).

Here is the sleeve in all its glory. Can you see the wraps which I left unpicked? I actually like that look.

Now that I tried it, it turned out to be simple. You pick up X number of stitches around the armhole. Divide that by 3. Place one marker after x/3 stitches and another one after x/3 stitches, so you basically divide your sleeve into three parts. On the right side, knit to the second marker, wrap and turn the next stitch and knit back to the first marker and wrap and turn the next stitch. Continue doing this until you work all the unworked stitches and reach the beginning of the round. Then on, knit around and do the standard decreases. It may sound complicated, but trust me, it is very simple. Once you visualize how this is done, it is a piece of cake. Also, I was advised not to pick up the wraps and I am glad I followed this advice. The wraps make such a nice ‘lining’ around the armhole edge and does not alter the look of the pullover.

Here are some diagrams I made when I was learning this technique. I included an example to make it easy to understand.


Let us say you picked up 51 stitches around the armhole. It need not be a multiple of 3, but you can always go up/down a stitch or two without compromising on the fit, so let us assume you have a multiple of 3. Divide that by 3. 51/3 will give me 17. Place a marker (red) after 17 stitches from the underarm. Place antoher marker (blue) after 17 sts from the red marker.


After you pick up all the stitches, you will be back at the beginning of the round. Now, you will be knitting your first RS row. Knit till the blue marker. Remove the marker, wrap  the next stitch, place the blue marker (so that it is placed after the wrapped stitch) and turn the work. The marker’s position is changed so that you always turn the stitch after the marker. If you are experienced enough to know a wrapped stitch when you see one, then you don’t need to reposition your markers. You can as well remove the markers after your first wrap.



All WS rows will be the same. Knit till the red marker. Remove the marker, wrap the next stitch, place the  marker and turn the work.








All subsequent RS rows follow the same pattern. Knit till the blue marker. Remove the marker, wrap the next stitch, place the marker and turn the work.





You continue doing this until you have reached the beginning of the round by wrapping all the remaining stitches. At this point, you should have a neat sleeve cap and you are ready to begin knitting the sleeve in round. Follow your standard decrease methods and in the end, you should have one well-fitting sleeve. Admire your work and the fit.

I am glad I mastered another skill in the knitting world. I know, there are many more to go.

1 thought on “Set-in Sleeves: How to”

  1. How about if you have many stitches on the armhole plus the Bind Off at the UA..How will I divide it? Also I make 2 x2 Ribbing pattern ..Can I apply Short Rows too? pls help me……

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