Shortening Sleeves tutorial


In this last post about the family cardigan, I thought you may enjoy seeing some sweater surgery. Cutting into knitwear is always a bit of a thrill, and it was necessary for Grandma’s cardigan. I knit the sleeves to my own length in her absence. I should have known better, as I am abnormally long monkey arms and an unconscious desire to knit all sleeves longer than they should be. That’s a theory for why my sleeves often come out out too long anyway.

Hand knit cardigan for GrandmaELK hand knit cardigan (1 of 1)-10

When we tried the cardigan on Grandma, the sleeves were much too long–more than 10 cm, so I marked the correct length with a safety pin and grabbed some scissors. I knit the cardigan bottom up, so ripping back the sleeves wasn’t an option.

ELK hand knit baby cardigan (1 of 1)-3

I cut it to the correct length, and then decided to graft the cuff I already knit back onto the sleeve.  The other solution would have been to pick up the stitches and knit a new cuff down.

ELK hand knit baby cardigan (1 of 1)-4

Beginning to work a cuff-length from the cut-off point, I began to graft the stitches from the cuff to the sleeve.
ELK hand knit baby cardigan (1 of 1)-5

I quickly realised 2 things; first, there were more stitches at this place on the sleeve, and they would have to be eased into the number of stitches on the cuff. Second, that it was easier to rip back to the point I wanted to graft from and work directly with the live stitches. After being blocked the stitches are well-set and the chance they will run/get lost is minimal.

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I grafted all the stitches, easing in the extra stitches evenly around the cuff.

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I kept the stitches loose until then end, and then tightened them up and I think it is a pretty smooth join.
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In the end, I think she was happy with it too. Or at least she did the nice thing and acted appreciative.

Grandma's hand knit cardigan

Happy knitting,



5 thoughts on “Shortening Sleeves tutorial

  1. That looks great and your Grandma does look very appreciative of your efforts. I agree cutting is the way to go, but it takes nerves of steel. I am like you – longer than average arms, and I do like long sleeves! I think too long is far better than too short, and you can always push them up… 🙂

  2. Hi, I need to cut off several inches of sleeve on a sweater that I knit for my mother. Can you tell me how you grafted the sleeve to the cuff when the sleeve has extra stitches? I can only find instructions on grafting pieces that have the same number of stitches.

    Thank you!!

    Your sweater looks lovely by the way!

    • Thank you Alejandra! As I mention in the tutorial, I too had more stitches on one side of the sleeve than the other, and had to ‘ease’ in the extra stitches, in other words, I evenly distributed the extra stitches around the circumference and grafted 2 stitches as if they were 1 in those places.

      I hope the surgery on your mom’s sweater goes well!!

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