Lessons Learned: Short Row Shaping a Shoulder

I love to learn. I’m constantly looking for new skills, new things to excite me and it’s probably one of the reasons I love to teach and love social media. There’s always something new and fresh to learn about that subject. So a few years ago I took a class at my favorite local yarn shop, Fibre Space, to learn how to knit a saddle shoulder sweater. I knit this sweater, the Andover. I had high hopes for it because I lived in Andover, Massachusetts for a few years growing up but that wasn’t enough to make me like this project.
Andover without neckline finishing
I hate it. I think I’ve worn it once (if anyone wants it I’m more than happy to give it to you). And there are a couple of contributing factors to why I really don’t like this sweater:

  • The pattern wasn’t a good one to start with for a saddle stitch shoulder. There were errors in the pattern and at times points where it seemed like she stopped mid-thought and never finished her sentence. There were multiple charts to have to refer to for the cables on the sleeve and the body and it was just a lot for a first time saddle shoulder sweater. I took the class with one of my coworkers and she felt the same way and I don’t think she ever got beyond the 50% point.
  • I didn’t love my yarn choice for this one or the color. I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash but in a purple I picked out for someone else and it just wasn’t my color so I wasn’t that excited about it. Plus one ball of it kept splitting on me.
  • My instructor made a comment to me about using an acrylic yarn for a hat I made from one of her patterns that left a bad taste in my mouth. I hate being yarn bullied. Everything can’t be made of organic wool sourced locally. It just can’t and I don’t think anyone should make anyone else feel bad about their choices of yarn. Period.

So overall, I just didn’t have a great experience but I said to myself that I liked learning how to do a saddle shoulder and would want to do that technique again. Unfortunately I don’t see that many patterns with saddle shoulders as an option, so I haven’t done one in 2 years. When I bought a bunch of colors of Berroco Pima 100 and wanted to make a fun striped tee for summer I decided it would be a saddle shoulder style and this weekend I embarked on that journey and I’m LOVING it this time around.
I’m horrible about taking photos as I go along. I should’ve photographed the saddles and then what it looked like when attached but I didn’t. But what got me super excited was creating a sleeve cap using short row shaping! I’m at that point in the sweater construction where I have a little over an inch from under the arm and decided I was ready to make the sleeves since I just had body stripes left. I was so nervous that this wasn’t going to fit and was going to be too small so I was eager to get the sleeves on to see how it all worked out. I’ve been using my favorite book for basic construction and some notes and got to the part where they say you add in short rows around the saddle’s live stitches left at the shoulder and then continue all the way down with short rows to the last stitches of the sleeve. Um…it created this awesome shape. I HAVE A SLEEVE! I’m such a knitting nerd.
Now I just have to do the same thing on the opposite side and then finish off the body. I picked colors I liked and didn’t have any rhyme or reason to them and I’m loving the big bold stripes and playing with so much color. It’s such a happy project. And when I love a project it flies off my needles so this one might be finished by the end of the week!
Stages of emotion
And in other news, does anyone else feel bad taking their dog to the vet? Saturday was Jellybean’s day to get shots and go through annual exams. And these were her stages of emotion. Excitement to go with me all by herself and even ride in the car, then the realization that she was going to the vet, then the relief once it was over and then the clingy/need for extra love that comes after the shots (that’s her curled up in my arms in a blanket on the couch on the bottom). She was a trooper, had some soreness the next day and walked a bit slower but seems to be back to her spunky self. Oh and she gained a pound…so we’ll be cutting back on those treats that we spoil her with!

20 Replies to “Lessons Learned: Short Row Shaping a Shoulder”

  1. it is coming along very well! and it looks like you’ve mastered saddle shoulders to me 😉

    1. I never feel like I master anything. I can always get better at picking up stitches so it’s cleaner but I’m pretty happy with what I’ve made so far. I can’t wait to finish it!

  2. Yarn and needle shaming are real and ignorant behaviors. So glad you stood up to the pressure and got something out of an unsatisfactory class. Your own righteous, joyous striped saddle shoulder sweater is a triumph!

    1. I hate when people shame others for their choices. I made the hat in this really fun grey yarn with a rainbow thread running through it and loved it and she went on and on about how awful acrylic yarn was and she couldn’t believe I did that. After that I decided to not buy anymore of her patterns. She lost a fan in me!

      1. I’m fierce about demanding respect for artistic freedom and equal access to knitting pleasure for all. That means whatever your budget, whatever your taste you have a right to jump in and try things out. And if you come up with a masterpiece made out of “trash” — so much the better! Extra points for champagne living on a beer budget!

  3. Sorry you had that bad experience with that teacher. Not cool at all. I have not done any kind of shoulder shaping. I usually chicken out when I see a pattern is knit in pieces and needs sewing together. Your shoulder looks cool and happy for you you’re pleased as punch at how this WIP is going.

    1. I’m trying to stop being afraid and just try more. Sometimes I let my fear hold me back.

      1. Yes! I understand about fear holding you back. I’ve been knitting for 9 years and am currently making my first sweater. I had it my head that it was too hard so I was afraid to try. I now realize how silly that was.

      2. All it took was someone to say to me ‘if you can make a gusset in a mitten why can’t you knit a sweater?’ And I thought why can’t I? It’s just me being scared so I did it and now I’m obsessed.

  4. I am, admittedly a yarn snob….give me all the scrumptious alpaca, the beautiful hand painted with a high silk content. But my budget often makes that impossible!! Never, ever would I put someone down for choosing acrylic! I prefer it for some things, especially big chunky blankets for my kids (translate that to kids and dogs, cause the dogs sleep with the kids). I’d rather work with wool, but if a color or texture grabs me, or it’s what’s going to work best for my project, it’s going on the needles. I would have never taken another class taught by this woman. Sorry, I can’t stand blatantly rude and snotty people!
    And those shoulders! So sexy and pretty!!

    1. It was such a turn off. Believe me I love cashmere and yummy soft merino but it’s not always in the budget. I was like it’s a hat and the yarn was fun. Why do you care what I put on my head?! Sigh….

  5. Love the sweater. I’ve never tried a saddle shoulder but doing short rows for a sleeve__ genius!! Poor Jellybean the expression on her face is priceless.

    1. Fortunately with all the extra snuggles and kisses Jellybean seems to be shaking off that vet visit. I just feel so darn guilty when I know they’re going to hate being poked and prodded.

  6. I have used many wonderful acrylics!! Down with yarn shaming!! I have no time for snobs like that, I shall use whatever I choose thank you very much… And I quite fancy trying out a saddle shoulder, it looks super fancy 🙂

    1. You think it’s super fancy and then it’s super easy! Next time I do it I want to have a pattern on the shoulder that carries all the way down the sleeve. I think that would be super fun.

  7. People should choose the yarn that they love. Personally, I love wool. (Although for baby stuff, I ALWAYS choose something machine washable.) But the yarns you choose always result in beautiful finished projects – it’s too bad that some people can’t see past their opinion to what is best for someone else.

  8. Such an interesting sweater story!! And Ohhhhhhh, Jellybean!!! ❤️

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