Hot Tip: Mark your armhole depth

Hot Tip: Mark your armhole depth

If you’re ever knitting a sweater from the bottom up, there comes a point where you work the armhole shaping and then are told to continue knitting until the armhole measures X inches deep — and I think it’s a measurement a lot of people have trouble with. In the event you’re working the body in one piece and then dividing into front(s) and back at the armholes, you’ll be told to put some part of it (most likely the fronts) on waste yarn while you work the other bits. When you put those held stitches back onto the needles, if you leave the waste yarn in place, you have a clear point from which to measure. But without that, it can be tricky to tell exactly where you’re measuring to, as you attempt to measure straight downward from the top of your knitting to the exact row where the armhole shaping first began. And hard to be sure you’re measuring to the same spot each time you check your progress. One option is to pin a removable marker in that row, but I prefer a mini version of the lifeline. When working the first armhole bind-off row (or later if need be) I’ll just run a short piece of waste yarn through an inch or two of stitches that will line up with the armhole edge. Then all I need to do is measure from that line to the top of my work. You can see here I’ve worked just a little over two inches from my first armhole row, so I’ve got a ways to go.

p.s. Keep in mind the best “waste yarn” is anything non-fuzzy or grippy, so it doesn’t leave any fibers behind when you pull it out. Thin, smooth cotton or dental floss is best.

p.p.s. The knitting pictured is my Spiral-Spun Waistcoat in progress. I decided on 3×1 garter rib instead of the 2×2, thanks to a suggestion from Annri in the comments on my swatch post. Thanks for all your input!

24 thoughts on “Hot Tip: Mark your armhole depth

  1. Thanks for the trick! Will be useful when I come to the bottom up construction…

  2. Can’t wait to see the finished product. I love vests and knit patterns seem limited compared to sweaters. Thanks for the tip!

  3. I often struggle with measuring arm hole depth. This is a great suggestion. Thank you.

  4. Wearing a top-down sweater right now with too much arm-hole depth…sigh. But it’s still fabulous!

  5. Thank you. I’ve been knitting for years and this idea is very helpful. I’ve never seen seen or thought of it, so simple yet …brilliant! I enjoy your blog very much.

  6. I use basting lines at strategic points throughout the making of a garment. They not only provide more accurate measuring, but also help with consistent shaping and seaming. A real tool if you make a lot of mods and/or shape as you go, and IMO, better than markers dangling all over the place. And if I am worried about the thread staying in place, I give a loose back stitch loop at one end of the line.

  7. I love all your tutorials and tips! This is so badly needed even for experienced knitters!! Thank you! I love reading your posts/blogs and I love receiving all your new posts. Thank you for all your input!!

  8. I want your brain…now!!! You’re an incredible teacher, Karen…thanks so much for elevating the knitting skills of all your readers! I, for one, am most grateful!

  9. Great tip, it is indeed often difficult to correctly measure this part. Yes, a smooth yarn is the best for waste yarn, I have a ball of cheap but smooth yellow cotton devoted to that purpose.

  10. This is a great tip…and have used it, what if you used numbers of rows as well…I am knitting bottom up sweater, flat pieces right now and have marked every 20 rows with a coiless pin. That way I make sure I have the same number of rows in all pieces. On this sweater my armhole decreases begin on row 100. I have begun my decreases on both front and back on row 100. I also mark every increase or decrease with a coiless pin, just in case this becomes a UFO.
    I just want to say, I have been knitting for 20+ years and Karen you have done more for my creativity and knitting skills than anyone else…I have coffee with you blog every morning…thank you so much.

  11. Pingback: Hot Tip: Off-center your buttons | Fringe Association

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