Sleeve increases are one of the many areas of knitting in which a few tried and true tricks can help a knitter towards significantly easier and more elegant finishing.
The common sleeve injunction “Increase at the beginning and end of the row. Repeat every six rows until there are xx sts” is open to interpretation. I prefer making my increases at 1 (or 2) stitches from the beginning and end of the row and interpret the instructions as such.
I don’t recommend using any selvage treatments here either. Working your increases in from the edge by 1 or 2 stitches will give a lovely smooth column of stitches along which to mattress stitch. Experienced knitters know the value of keeping a selvage stitch unsullied when the edge is going to be seamed and nowhere is this more important than on a sleeve.
Another point to remember when knitting sleeves is that it can be tedious to keep track of how many increases have been made and how many rows have been worked since the last increase. Running yarn markers are an excellent tool which help here:
I begin by placing the marker yarn a couple of stitches in from the edge on either side, using a fine, smooth, brightly contrasting yarn. I use one long marker, which I run across the back of the work from side to side. This avoids too many dangling ends. On every increase row, I flip the marker yarn to the opposite side of the work, keeping it between the same vertical columns of stitches.
This way, I can both count and record the rows between increases. I can keep track of how many pairs have been added and whether the two sides have been maintained equally. The elimination of the need to count the middle section saves a lot of time, as well. Leaving the marker yarn in place until the second sleeve is done makes it easier to compare the two sleeves at the end.
For more of hints on sleeves check out the Sleeve Tricks chapter on my Knitting Venus DVD
Have you any favourite sleeve tricks you’d like to share?
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Take a look at our Special Holiday Bundles, featuring my Learn with Lucy Video Downloads paired with a relevant pattern. These should get your needles clicking in time for the festivities!