Adapting a pattern

I am knitting a sweater based on a pattern I’ve used once before. I would like to improve on the fit under the arms. Last time the armholes were too low and the upper sleeves too baggy. So, knitting from the bottom up, I’ve increased the length before the armhole shaping begins and will make the armhole section shorter than last time so that the total length is the same. My question is: what adaptation do I need to make to the sleeve to accommodate this adjustment? do I make the sleeve narrower? Or the cap section shorter? Thanks in advance for your help.

After you BO for the underarms on the sleeves, and after the shaping there’s usually a part where it says `work X inches’ before you begin the cap shaping. That’s where you’d work less inches to match what you did on the back and front.


I thought I understood this answer, but now that I’ve checked two patterns, I don’t think I do. What I understood was that in the cap shaping part of the sleeve pattern, there would be a direction to “continue until the piece measures X” and here I would alter the measurement to match my armhole adjustment. But the two patterns I’ve checked don’t have that direction in cap shaping. Am I misunderstanding the answer to my question, or just using the wrong kind of pattern (modular, from the back of Vogue Knitting book). Thanks!

It would depend on how the pattern is written… there are top down or bottom up patterns where the shoulders are part of the yoke and so there would only be decreases or increases. Some are drop shoulder patterns, which have you basically make two squares for front and back and two rectangles for sleeves and sew them together. Or those that are like blouses or coats with set in sleeves where you need to BO for the underarm and match the shaping and length for the `cap’ of the sleeve.

Increasing the length before the underarm only makes the body of the sweater longer. Making the armhole (sometimes called the armscye) shorter will keep it from being too low and droopy. The bagginess might come from it being too wide.

If you can post a picture from the pattern book, it might help us figure out what you need to do. Or if you can post just part of the pattern from the armhole BO to the shoulder, that would be good.


Thank you for continuing to help with this. The two patterns I’ve been consulting are bottom up knitting – the one I thought you’d be familiar with is the modular patterns at the back of Vogue Knitting. Anyway, I’m knitting the back or front right now of a pullover which will have set in sleeves. I know that I can and should shorten the distance between the bottom and the top of the armhole to make the sleeves fit more snugly. When I look at the pattern for the corresponding piece, the sleeve cap, I don’t see how I can adjust it to correspond to the the change I’m making, because there is no corresponding “distance” direction (i.e., “continue until piece measures X”). Won’t the sleeve cap be too big to sew into the armhole if I’ve made the armhole shallower and have not altered the sleeve cap?

I’m not familiar with any Vogue Knitting patterns. Yes, the front, back and sleeve caps need to have the same number of rows. Do the instructions for the sleeve cap have you knit for X rows, rather than inches? If there’s some rows without decreases on them, maybe you can leave them out to shorten it somewhat.


Thanks. I get it. My patterns don’t have rows or distance counts, but I’ll measure the cap shaping as I go and make it match. It’s helpful to understand that, yes, those two dimensions have to match.