This is the first in our series on simple mods. Quick ways to change a pattern to make it your own.

It’s not likely that your arm length is going to match perfectly with the pattern’s assumption, but that’s ok. If the schematic doesn’t match what you want your sweater to be then you need to do a little bit of figuring out. Not much – just a little. Promise.

A couple things to look at before you figure out how to change the length…

## 1. Check Gauge

Before you go any further, check to see if your gauge matches the pattern’s. A couple things to keep in mind:

- If your pattern states
**number of rows**between incs/decs then you’re dependent upon gauge if you plan to match the schematic. - Unlike what you might have been told, row gauge matters here. A lot.
- If your pattern states
**number of inches**between incs/decs then you’re not dependent upon gauge. That doesn’t mean that your sleeve length will be what you want though.

## 2. Measure a favorite sweater

Take a look and find a sweater that fits **and is a similar size, gauge and drape. **The gauge is important because you’ll want different amounts of ease depending on the gauge. Same goes for drape and fit. A drop shoulder sweater’s sleeve length will be different from a set-in sleeve’s length.

Don’t have a sweater that’s similar? Find one at a store and measure it. Seriously.

Now that you know what your preferred length, you have a few options…

## Change length by changing the straight part of the sleeve

Often, the sleeve will have some knitting worked at the beginning or end of the sleeve that’s straight. If you don’t have a lot of length to change, this could be a good option. Simple and it works.

## Change length by changing ribbing length

Similar to adjusting the straight knitting, you can consider just working the ribbing a bit more or less. You do need to decide if this works aesthetically. Often the ribbing in the sleeve matches the length of the ribbing on the body so you could adjust that as well so they still match.

## Important Info From the Sleeve Pattern

If your pattern states **number of inches **(e.g. Work increase row. Then, work increase row every inch for for a total of 12 increases) then your pattern is in number of inches. Let’s look at an example…

Say your gauge is 18 sts and 24 rows per 4″. Then you know the row gauge is 6 rows per inch. The patterns wants you to work an increase row and then an increase row every 6th row after that, 5 more times. This will be a total of 31 rows:

- 12 increases (2 increases per row)
- First row (2 increases; 10 increases left)
- Increases every 6th row after that
- Need 5 more increase rows (10 increases)

So, first row + 5 more increase rows + 5 plains rows per increase equals:

1 + 5*6 = 31 rows

If your pattern states **number of rows** (e.g. Work increase row. Then, work increase row every 6th row until you’ve worked a total of 12 increases) you also know the pattern wants you to work 31 rows.

## Shorten Sleeves

Let’s say you want to shorten the sleeve by 2 inches:

- 2 inches equals 12 rows (6 rows per inch)
- You need to work
**12 fewer**rows in the increase section

So, instead of 31 rows you need to work 19 rows and retain the same amount of increases. So:

- First row (2 increases)
- 18 rows and 5 increases left

So, first row + 5 more increase rows over 18 rows – work increase row every 18/5 rows (that’s not clean math). 18/5 equals 3.4 rows per increase. So, let’s try some increase rows worked every 3 rows and some worked every 4…

- First row (1 increase row)
- Then, work increases every 3 rows 3 times
- Then, work increases every 4 rows 2 times
- Total of 6 increases – check – and 18 rows – close but not quite.

Let’s swap the increase rates…

- First row (1 increase row)
- Then, work increases every 3 rows 2 times
- Then, work increases every 4 rows 3 times
- Total of 6 increases – check – and 19 rows – check.

## Lengthen Sleeves

If you want to lengthen the sleeve by 2 inches you’ll do the same basic thing…

- 2 inches equals 12 rows (6 rows per inch)
- You need to work
**12 more**rows in the increase section

So, instead of 31 rows you need to work 43 rows and retain the same amount of increases. So:

- First row (2 increases)
- 42 rows and 5 increases left

So, first row + 5 more increase rows over 43 rows – work increase row every 42/5 rows (that’s not clean math). 43/5 equals 8.6 rows per increase. So, let’s try some increase rows worked every 8 rows and some worked every 9…

- First row (1 increase row)
- Then, work increases every 8 rows 3 times
- Then, work increases every 9 rows 2 times
- Total of 6 increases – check – and 43 rows – check.

You’re all set!

There’s at least one more possible issue to address…

## Adjusting Length After the Sweater is Sewn Up

You might think all is good and you finish your knitting, sew up everything and then realize it’s a bit short or long. In addition to removing the sleeves and reknitting them (and who wants to do that for a small amount?), you have a couple other options.

## If the sleeve is too long

- Remove a bit of ribbing if it’s too long (easier to do if it’s knit top-down)
- Remove the ribbing and a bit of straight knitting at the start of the sleeve and then graft the ribbing back on

## If it’s too short

- Remove the ribbing, knit a bit more straight and then graft the ribbing back on
- If it’s knit top-down, remove the bind off, knit a bit more ribbing and bind off again

If you need to adjust the sleeve length you have options – several if you know ahead of time and a few if you don’t know until it’s done. Like most things knitting, don’t fret if you have this problem. There are always ways to solve it!

I might be convinced to work on a few calculators for popular mods. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments.

Until next time…knit smarter!

## Leave a Reply