Picking up stitches

Regarding picking up stitches, for instance around a steeked armhole to knit the sleeves- there seems to be some mystery about this. One is instructed to knit x stitches per y rows because the size of a row varies from that of a stitch. Would it not make sense to simply measure the distance around the arm hole, say 20 inches and then multiply by the stitches per inch to get an exact number of stitches to be cast on? I am starting a sweater in the round and am planning to steek the armholes and neck, and then pick up the stitches and knit rather than knit the sleeves separately and attach them.

Also, regarding steeks- does anyone put stitches at the base of the armhole and neckhole on hold or bind them off at the start of the steek, and what would be the advantage of that? There is a lot of info on steeks on the web but no one site seems to cover all the questions. Thanks folks,



ronhuber's picture

The reason you pick up x number of stitches for y number of rows is that you don't want whatever you are knitting be it an armhole band or a sleeve to either pucker or pleat. If you are going to do the sweaer in Shetland for instance you would pick up almost l for l around the armband or sometimes 7 for 8 or 6 for 7. If you picked up 3 for 7 for instance the sweater would be puckered out of shape. Any extra stitches can be decreased after an inch or so of knitting.
Leaving stitches at the base of the armhole would depend on the type of sleeve you are knitting. For example, a drop shoulder sweater doesn't even need a steek but is simply cut from the shoulder down to the size you want. You would have to put about 6 inches of stitches on a thread or bind them off at the neck and then cast on your steek stitches above them. I don't see any advantage to binding them off.
I have also knit sleeves from the bottom up and then used a three needle bind off to attach them to the sweater which makes a very neat job.

kiwiknitter's picture

I agree with Ron's comments. I know there are a number of different approaches to calculating the number of stitches to pick-up but at the end of the day it's really about what looks the smoothest. If you are dealing with a repeat pattern of any kind, then that will influence how many stitches you pick-up. Other than with stranded knitting, I try to get the same number of stitches that the recipe calls for, give or take a couple. Evenly space them around and you should be right.
As for the steeks, I never bind off the stitches at the base but knit them up live. This makes for a neater fabric at the underarm or at at the front or back of the neck. With a drop-shoulder style I still have at least 1 live stitch and no cast-off stitches. I have done the 1 stitch steek but prefer a wider steek as it holds better.
I am happy and amazed at how steeks have entered our routine knitting vocabulary. I can remember some time back when I first asked about steeks here on MWK and no one was doing them at the time. And, now, people are realising how practical they are.
Have fun with the jumper and let us know how it goes!

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly