Norah’s Knits: Handknit Sleeves on Sweaters

Perusing the Berroco pattern library, I see that we tend to favor 5 different ways of knitting a sleeve. Here is an illustrated guide with a few thoughts on each:



Set in sleeves – This is my favorite sleeve cap, because it fits so well. Due to difficulty, set in sleeves may strike terror in the hearts of some, but we have a short video about sewing in set in sleeves that will help turn you into an expert. Tanta



murcott - Version 2


Drop shoulder – 30 years ago, this was THE sleeve type for hand knitting because it’s so easy. There’s no shaping and you can even pick up at the top and work the sleeve down to the cuff. The problem?  It’s not very flattering. Drop shoulders tend to make the wearer look extra wide from arm to arm, right at bust level, which is generally not the most flattering look. Drop shoulder can and does work well for some sweaters or knitwear, as is the case with kidswear and oversized sweaters. Campus Onesie

photo-2niche_lg Dolman – Most of our patterns with dolman sleeves are knit from cuff to cuff in one piece, so the sleeves are one with the body.  Sometimes they are knit in one piece from back to front or vice versa. This results in minimal finishing, and a nice, loose armhole if that’s the look you’re after. Niche


photo tracery_lgRaglan –   A favorite for neck down devotees, the diagonal lines of raglan sleeves make for a nice design element. I also like sewing the seams because there is one row of sleeve for one row of body – no guessing.  Tracery



IMG_0717 ng11_linea_lgYoke / no shoulder – Another popular sleeve treatment is no sleeve cap at all. Yokes are usually knit seamlessly in the round unless it’s a cardigan. This example is knit circularly from the bottom up.  Linea



knickknack - Version 2knickknack_lgUndefinable– occasionally we go crazy and use a sleeve that defies categorization.  With the case of Knickknack, the sleeves are sticking out at the top of its very wide shoulder seam.



Which sleeve type is your favorite to knit and wear?




  1. set in sleeves are my favorite in terms of the fit. Now I’ve watched your video on how to seam them properly, maybe they will be my favorite to make too!

  2. I too used your video for my set-in sleeves. I am comfortable doing all sleeves thanks to how-to-videos. The seamless sweater is my favourite to knit because I generally dislike seaming. However, I choose my patterns now based on my daughters’ (4) choices, not my comfort level.

  3. Love the Knickknack sleeve, I love flowy tops like that. This looks like it would be a fun project, and the textural lace stitching is just gorgeous!! Thank you!!

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