Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More sleeve talk

Okay, moppets, I'm sorry this one took so long to produce, but let's continue chatting about sleeves. Blogger is refusing to upload photos right now, so I'm going to add images later.

First, some reader comments in response to the first sleeve installment: Jove mentions that The Girl From Auntie wrote a tutorial on sleeves, from a designer's perspective, on Knitty. I hadn't seen this, but it's -- as usual for anything done by Jenna -- thorough and well-done. It may be more information than some of you need at this point if you don't plan on designing your own sweaters, but very helpful if you do want to design and don't have math anxiety.

Guido from Boston and Ted (from Canada) both ask how the drop shoulder vs. set-in sleeve distinction applies to men. Okay, let's look at a guy's body. (Oh no. Not that.)

[illustration 1]

Men generally have broader shoulders and chests than women and generally they have more muscular upper arms than women. (I said "generally"!) Unlike a woman's torso, which tends to taper in and then widen for the hips, men taper in more gradually and don't tend to start curving back out again (beer bellies aside).

In theory, the drop shoulder style should fit men better than it fits women, because the boxier shape would more closely match a guy's broader shoulders & chest and thicker upper arms. Better alignment with the natural line of the shoulders and arms means less excess fabric and therefore less pooching of said excess fabric. If you are, then, lucky enough to be built like David, and have broad shoulders, you can probably wear a drop shoulder sweater and look just fine in it, with minimal excess fabric at the shoulders and chest.

As Ted points out, however, not every man is built like Ah-nold Schwartezenegger. If you're a guy whose shoulders aren't exceedingly broad or rippling with muscle, then you will want to consider set-in sleeves. You will probably need to set the sleeves in less than a woman would, i.e., bind off fewer stitches and maybe decrease fewer stitches as you go up the armhole, because you will need to eliminate less fabric, to dip in less, than a woman would.

Remember this

My best suggestion when trying to tweak items to fit your particular body -- whether you are male or female -- is to find a sweater that fits you well and take a good analytical look at it, using a tape measure. Figure out if it has drop shoulders or set-in sleeves (or some other kind -- don't worry, I'll try to hit them all in the next few posts) and figure out how many inches the sleeves are set-in, along with a general idea of the slope of the armholes as they go up. Then try to replicate that when you knit your next sweater. You can just lay out the existing sweater like a template, and put your piece over it (taking into account seam allowances and so forth).


Today, let's talk raglans. I am a personal fan of raglans because I like the way they fit me, but women with large boobs or muscular shoulders generally don't like them as much. The raglan is styled like the old-fashioned baseball jersey: the sleeve piece extends all the way up to the neckline, making a diagonal slash from armpit up to that little bony piece that sticks out on either side of your neck (scapula?).

[illustration 2]

To accommodate that, the front and back of the sweater are decreased pretty dramatically up the front, making a shape like the roof of a house.

[illustration 3]

Raglans do a good job of cutting out excess sleeve fabric because instead of rectangles attached to rectangles, you are angling the body and the sleeves of the sweater. I also like them because they tend to let the sweater drape along your natural shoulder line. Raglans should be a good style for most men, too, since men don't mind if their shoulders look broad. (Of course, men with large breasts should steer clear of raglans as well.)

Can there be more sleeve talk? You betcha. Plus a Black Bunny Hop-A-Long....


Anonymous said...

The problem with raglans is that for guys with sloping or rounded shoulders, the diagonal shaping lines will reinforce the weak shoulder line. (Ask me how I know...) Guys with already good shoulders can wear them just fine. Mind you, guys with already good shoulders can wear anything and look good.

This is useful; thank you for writing this.

Mel said...

The "little bony piece that sticks out on either side of your neck", unless you are really weirdly put together, is the clavicle, or collarbone. The scapulae are your shoulderblades.

MsAmpuTeeHee said...

Actually, the little bumps are the sternal sockets (the clavicle is the bone that runs from the shoulder to the sternum).

Bones, I get. Knitting sleeves however, I do not. LOL Keep it comin'.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you got to raglan sleeves. I too love them for the same reasons. I particularly like them on sweaters for babies and young children .. they are very forgiving. If the sweater is a little too big, the raglan sleeves doesn't make it so obvious; if the sleeves too long, you can roll up the cuff and it works. My favorite children's pattern is a top down raglan in several gauges that each of my grandchildren has at least 2. Kids seem to like them; my guess it's because, among other things, they fit well over their tops ... they tend not to cling as set in sleeves can.

Thanks for the series .. very helpful.
Mary Kay