Tutorial: two sleeves at a time

I have always hated knitting sleeves. This is one of the reasons, I think, that I would rather knit socks or hats or cowls or toys or even a blanket than finish a jumper (or ‘sweater’ to the uninitiated). But, here I am knitting a jumper–almost by accident.

The sample cowl that I made last week was a 17-stitch repeat wider than necessary, but I loved the colour combination too much to frog it. I picked up stitches from each end and have been busy concocting a ‘cupcake’ jumper for my young niece. Dreading the sleeves as I do, I left them until last and debated long and hard with myself the pros and cons of a short-sleeved worsted-weight garment. The need for sleeves won.

I’ve heard lots about this two-at-a-time technique for knitting socks on circular needles, and decided that my dire need for sleeves warranted giving it a go. Here’s how it works:

Each sleeve is worked as a top half and a bottom half. You divide the stitches and make sure the top half of each sleeve is on one needle together, and the bottom half of each sleeve is on another needle, each sleeve with its own ball of yarn. It can help if both needles are different lengths, so it is easy to identify which is which at a glance.

Stitches are worked one needle at a time. You work across all of the top or bottom stitches, using the end of the same needle to knit the stitches on it. Use the relevant ball of yarn as you come to it.

So, for my little cupcake jumper sleeves I knit the top half of sleeve A with the top needle and one ball of yarn, then changed balls of yarn and knit the top half of sleeve B with the same needle. I then turned the jumper around and worked the bottom half of each sleeve with the bottom needle. One round of each sleeve complete.

I found it a bit fiddly at first, but when you get into the rhythm it’s fun, fast, and a lot like knitting a sock on four needles (which I love). I’ll check back in when the damned sleeves are–hopefully–finished!


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