Technique Post: Finishing Sleeves

I have to admit, finishing is one of my favorite things. There is nothing more pleasing to me than a seam that melts away into the fabric of my knitting, never to be detected by an admirer, or a perfectly set-in sleeve that hugs my shoulder just so. However, not all shoulders are created equal. The method of knitting them and joining them can be quite different.

Raglan Shoulder (Flurry in Fresco): A raglan shoulder is decreased (or increased when worked top-down) at set intervals from the underarm to the neck, resulting in a diagonal line extending from the underarm. The sleeves have corresponding shaping. When knit in the round, the front, back and sleeves are all knit at once on a circular needle, with markers separating all four pieces. Paired decreases (or increases) are worked at the markers.

Set-in Sleeve (Pinnacle in Vista/Crestone): The armholes are shaped in a straight line extending from the underarm to the top of the shoulder, with a small decrease at the underarm to make room for the arm. The sleeve is shaped with a sleeve cap that must be eased into the armhole. This is a universally flattering shoulder shape, and one that is quite common. Setting in the sleeve requires a bit more diligence than a raglan, as a curved edge must be aligned with a straight one.

Drop Shoulder (Icicle in Ariosa): Drop shoulder sweaters are basically comprised of rectangles, one each for the front, back, and two sleeves. This style is often better suited to loose-fitting garments with lots of positive ease. Tight rectangles do not suit many (any?) body types, and there may be some unattractive bunching in the underarm when the wearer's arms are lowered. When worked in a fabric with ample room (like garter stitch) and with adequate positive ease, drop shoulders have a pleasant roomy, casual look.

Which sleeve style do you prefer?


  1. Ragland is definitely my favorite .. to knit and to wear!

  2. I agree, raglan all the way! No piecing arms to body when knitting and it's the easiest and most comfortable to wear