Skip to content

Dear Kay,

Reporting from a mildly frantic knitting scene down here.

My aim of two new sweaters to pack for Rhinebeck is going to require the sternest discipline to get to the finish line in time. It’s all sleeves.

I feel bad for sleeves. They’re a useful part of a sweater, really—arms appreciate a covering, right? And yet, they remain among the most-maligned, least-loved moments of sweater knitting.

It doesn’t make sense. I dislike knitting sleeves yet love knitting socks? They’re basically the same thing. Tubes. And sleeves tend not to be knitted on size 1 needles.

So: It’s time for a rebranding. From here on out, they’re arm socks. It’s already making a huge difference in how I see this stretch of knitting ahead.

Cider Mill Sweater: 1.5 Arm Socks to Go

Jen Geigley’s Cider Mill was designed specifically to pay tribute to things at Rhinebeck that are universally beloved: apple cider donuts, coffee, autumn leaves, and pan flutes, played by a band that pipes out cheerful music all day long.

The motifs in the Cider Mill yoke harken to Rhinebeck so specifically that I may end up with a moment in this sweater where I am eating an apple cider donut while drinking coffee and listening to pan flute music all at the same time. I gotta get this thing done.

Mood: Motivated like Mary Anne the steam shovel.

Papa Pullover: 2.0 Arm Socks to Go

The first time I glimpsed a Papa pullover was at Rhinebeck, when a group of knitters casually wandered around in their matching Papas like it was no big deal to have three women wearing one of the most confounding and cool designs ever invented.

Junko Okamoto, you are a temptress and a vixen and I gotta say, you are not going to get the best of me. Your Papa is about to become my Papa—I am not going to Rhinebeck without two arm socks firmly affixed to my Papa.

It’s going to be close. The duplicate stitch on this design nearly broke me. And when you throw in the capricious short rows on the back that turn this one-size-only design into a sculptural, knitted sweaterpod, well. You almost got me, Junko Okamoto. It was almost too much.

Mood: After 10 billion duplicate stitches, relief that I’m only a pair of arm socks from glory.

Please stay tuned.



PS For those of you headed to Rhinebeck, we’re really proud to be a sponsor of Wool & Folk, the all-day party  on Friday, October 14 in Kingston. “A celebration of our diverse, inclusive, and extraordinary fiber community,” say the co-founders Felicia Eve and Catherine Clark. We’ll be there all day, with Atlas yarn to mong (we are yarnmongers, after all) and all the visiting we can cram into seven hours. Tickets are going fast—get yours here.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


  • Hoo, boy. The Papa has been in my queue for a long time (steadily creeping lower) but if it almost broke Ann, Knitter Extraordinaire? Maybe best to just admire it from afar. I kind of enjoy duplicate stitch, but so, so much? Looks so great, though.

    • Hi Ginny–I did this sweater in two efforts, one a few years ago, where I got halfway through the duplicate stitch, then picked it back up a few weeks ago and it’s been a blast to come back to. Maybe it’s one of those kinds of projects. As for the duplicate vs stockinette, here’s my Ted Talk lol on the pros and cons. As I worked the duplicate stitch, I was glad not to have to worry about single-stitch stranding across floats and the challenge of getting the stranding to behave.

    • In the pattern, it’s a colorwork section rather than duplicate stitch. I’m planning on making it … after I finish the sweaters already on my needles.

  • Your sweaters are so beautiful Ann, love your color choices. And the bas relief effect of duplicate stitching the Papa is wha?! Head turning!

  • I put my sweater in a bowl on top of a lazy Susan when knitting sleeves. It makes it less cumbersome to knit around and around with the body of the sweater holding the sleeve, Um arm sock, prisoner.

    • Genius

    • That is such a smart idea! I have a beautiful raven-y black sweater that is missing…one sleeve. I started it when Bush was still President, and I could really use a black sweater. I’m gong to try the lazy Susan trick!!

    • I tie mine up with rubber bands to make it a big ball when I do sleeves. Keeps the pre-wear pilling down.

      • Love these ideas! Another tip: turn the sweater inside out to minimize wear on the outside while knitting.

        • I fold the body up and put it in a drawstring laundry or produce bag. I just spin it around in my lap as I work the arms. Also, I’ve discovered I LOVE LOVE LOVE the 9-inch circulars (Chiaogoo), so I no longer dread sleeve knitting.

  • Gorgeous sweaters! I made the Papa a couple of years ago and I love, love, love it! You’ll be glad you survived the duplicate stitch when you’re done. Love your colors!!

    • Oh, and meant to say…I didn’t duplicate stitch mine, but that is amazing! Maybe I’ll do another one!!

      • Congratulations on your Papa! There is definitely a weird impulse to make another one. WHAT IS THAT ABOUT???? ; )

  • I must have missed the reason you did the colorwork of the Papa as a secondary stitch. I have one in the works, seems to me just knitting the flower pattern is much easier.

    • All this talk of arm socks and foot sweaters reminds me that the German word for gloves is “Handschue”—hand shoes.

    • Hi Barbara! Here’s my (giant) post about the pros and cons of working this thing in duplicate stitch rather than stranded. Fun reading if you like to read a lot about stranded knitting versus duplicate stitch lol …

      • Thanks Ann!!

  • Just last week I was considering leave off the sleeves of a top-down raglan and just adding ribbing to the cap sleeves waiting there for me, but worried that it might be a desecration. Then what do you know a lovely New Zealand podcaster showed up in my feed yesterday wearing exactly that and it looked just great! So Ann if you are running short of time maybe -temporarily at least- you could keep one of those sweaters in their cap-sleeved state finishing them off as you see fit and going back later to add the intended length. (In my case I will probably keep the ribbed caps since the yarn is super-bulky and I would probably end up looking like the Michelin man.) Oh and Congratulations on duplicate stitching your much-loved Papa pattern. It is a work of art. Chloe

  • Mary Anne the steam shovel! Now there’s a blast from the past.

  • Ann, love the colors in Cider Mill. What colors did you pick and what yarn? It is gorgeous!

  • Your sweaters are glorious and I know you will get your socks on! I’m very jealous of those of you going to these iconic fiber festivals!!!! Eat a donut for me!

    • Will do special sweaterspotting for you, Elizabeth Ann! ; )

  • I feel you. I too love socks and have a sweater with one arm sock to go before I hit SAFF (Southeastern Animal fiber fair). Our version of Rhinebeck here in the South, although not quite as big. It’s all stranded color work but I think I can crank it out by then. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Papa was a blast to knit… and I also worked it stranded, not duplicate stitched. I love the look of the duplicate stitch, as well! I knit all arm socks flat and seam them, even though the first inch or so is difficult where I turn; it makes it go faster for me. Shall I call them mini vest-fronts, lol

    • Mini vest-fronts! Yes! And very interesting idea for flat arm socks! I get it!

  • Lol arm socks I love it!!

  • Socks = Foot Sweaters

    • ❤️

  • Ann, that group of knitters with their Papa sweaters was my original Rhinebeck sweater moment too! You can do it, knit away on those arm socks!

  • Every time you say arm sock I bust out in giggles. Love the re-branding.

  • And what needles are you using for those sleeves I mean arm socks.

    • Hi Stephanie! I started with 12″ circs, brand unknown, but I have since switched to Tulip Interchangeables with a 32″ cable. It was getting kind of pinchy down toward the cuff, and I do love Magic Loop!

  • As soon as I have an inch below where the sleeves separate I knit the sleeves till almost the cuff and put them on holders. Then as I finish the body I can try the whole sweater on.

  • If we’re using Mary Anne the steam shovel as an analogy you’d better be careful not to knit sleeves so long you can’t find your hands!! (That was one of my favourite childhood books <3)
    I do my sleeves two at a time on two circs and usually do them first, or as close to first as I can i.e. on a top down jumper I'll knit an inch down into the body, then go back and do the sleeves, then come back and finish the body. Somehow that works to stop me getting stuck on 'arm sock' island.

    • I knit foot socks two-at-a-time with magic loop, and a few years ago decided to knit arm socks the same way. In addition to knitting down an inch on the body, I do each sleeve separately for about an inch, otherwise the body fabric gets in the way. Once there is an inch of sleeve, it goes well. I have long arms and like long sleeves to reach my wrists, and fear running out of yarn. An inch too short sleeves is a deal breaker for me; an inch too short in the body is much more acceptable!

    • Love this idea, Ruth!

  • I think I’m the only sweater knitter who likes knitting arms. I always do them early on. It makes it much easier for me to try the sweater on to see the fit. I usually need to size up a needle on the arms since I tend to knit tighter in the round when the circumference is smaller than compared to the body. Then I size up a needle for the body. Knitting the arms first gives a great sense of progress early on. When I knit the arms last, it makes me sad and gloomy.

    • Same here! Sleeves first, then the rest is glory.

      • Me too! Sleeves went first on my 2 Main Squeezes, so I had swatches/arm socks/little portable motivational tools! Now I am craving a Cider Mill, when Christmas knitting is done!

  • Go Ann, Go!!!

  • Calling those things “arm socks” makes sense. They really are like tube socks without the Kitchener stitch at one end.

  • Arm socks! I love this renaming! A change in perspective can make all the difference. Go, Ann!

  • Arm socks is a great idea. Another thought? Arm hugs.

  • I HATE sleeves in the round. Not afraid of seaming (and seams serve a purpose!). She who taught me to knit (my mother) taught me to knit both sleeves simultaneously- so all decreases match, etc.
    Waiting for this ‘no seams’ trend to end!

    Beautiful sweaters though …!

    • Amen, Gail! I, too, enjoy the art of seaming and it adds the structure I like to my sweaters. I like in the round for extensive colorwork and also enjoy steeking. I guess I’m part seamstress part knitter…

    • I always do sleeves and cardigan fronts simultaneously since switching to interchangeable needles for virtually everything. Always symmetrical!

    • You are making me miss Rhinebeck. All those knitters in knitted things …
      (Also realize that type of sweater is meant to be created in the round – but my oh my the trends that occur in knitting ….which is on display at any knitting festival/event…)

  • Talk about rebranding: my tree year old granddaughter forgot the word for bra and called it “booby socks”-!

    • Too funny!! I love it!

    • I never got the ‘sleeve island’ thing. For me, it’s a peninsula. I just imagine a big raucous party in Key West as I move closer to completion.

  • I’ve given up knitting sweaters, which is really funny as I’ve knitted/am still knitting TONS of socks on smaller needles so the number of stitches knit is probably way more than lots of sweaters. I’ll just have to think of sweaters as two long socks and one really BIG sock in the middle. Thanks for helping me ‘reframe’ my thinking. lol

  • Good luck with your arm socks (I’m in the same boat) and see you at Wool & Folk!

  • Knit your sleeves before you knit your body. Then when the body, that you’ve spent so much time on, is finished, the sweater is complete.

  • Remember in the old days when sleeves were knit flat and you had to sew in the sleeve cap? And if your row gauge was off there was sure to be massive frustration? Good times. I do miss the structure but not the swearing while setting in the sleeve.

  • It might just be easier to move to San Diego. We don’t need sleeves here. At all.

  • enjoying the wonder new term for sleeves. Surely hope hope for chilly weather at Rhinebeck.

  • Arm socks! You’re killing me! I just started the sl—arm socks on my Rhinebeck Sweater. Mine have stripes so they somehow go much faster than just knitting one color. The stripes made the pick-up a little trickier but I worked it out and they’re zooming along.

  • I’m on my second arm sock of my alpenglow

  • Good luck, Ann! You got this!

  • I LOVE it! ARM SOCKS!!! Changes your whole perspective…I’ve been knitting short sleeve sweaters for way too long. (I live in Texas. Need I say more?) Time to upgrade and knit a sweater with arm socks. Now you’ve got me all excited about a long sleeve sweater. And that’s quite a feat! We had a nice cool front come in and it’s down to the mid 80’s for the highs. Still a bit premature for sweater weather. But if I started one now, maybe by the time I finish it, I’ll be looking forward to a sweater with arm socks! Thanks Ann

  • You go, girl!!! You’ve got this. I was laughing enough then read about the granddaughter who called a bra “booby socks.” I lost it completely!

  • As always Ann, you’ve given me new insight! Now my problem with sleeves makes sense – I don’t enjoy knitting socks either. So it’s not the sleeves, it’s the small circumference tubes! I recently completed a bottom-up sweater where I worked the sleeves before the yoke, per instructions, and surprised myself with how efficiently I got through it. In fact it was the fastest I’ve ever completed an adult-size sweater. It definitely helped that the sweater wasn’t “done except for sleeves.” I will try knitting the sleeves before I finish the body for my next top-down sweater, which may be Papa.
    Now, this pattern has been in my queue for months. I even purchased a kit. But then the floats… I’m both intrigued and terrified by your Papa experience. I wonder if it would work to divide the chart into quarters, 2 front and 2 back, and use separate CC yarn balls for each quarter. The floats would still be an issue, but maybe less so on the rows where there is only a few CC stitches. I’ll have to see if anyone has tried that!

  • LOL! Arm socks! Love it!

  • Two-at-a-time-sleeves for the win! Did this for the first time for my latest sweater and I will never go back again. No more sleeve purgatory!!

    • Me, too! I always knit both arm socks in the round at the same time on one very long magic loop cable. Marking the front sides of each arm sock is essential for me when doing this. (It also helps if I use different types of markers for the front sides of the arm socks so, no matter where I am in the process, I can tell which is the first arm sock and which is the second.) It does require some concentration, though, to keep from occasionally skipping one arm sock on a round — but having to pay attention helps keep arm sock knitting more interesting.

  • I do love ‘yarnmongers’- so Dickensian. This will be my go-to from now on- ‘I need to map out all the yarnmongers along the route of our road trip”

  • I’ve dubbed them ‘arm-more.’ I like the idea of getting my arm-more on!

  • My Cider Mill sweater is ready for Rhinebeck and I am so pleased with how it came out! The Atlas yarn was great to work with and the colors look great! It’s soft and warm and will get alot of wear this winter. Looking forward to taking a picture of both of us next week! Check it out on cozimek at Instagram

  • what needles are you using to knit the “sleeves” of Jen Geigley’s Cider Mill?

    • I used size 7 double points

  • What I do to deal with the sweater body while knitting socks: I make what I call a Sweater Swaddle! I use a large linen napkin (a hand towel works too), place the folded sweater body on the napkin, and cross the opposite corners of the napkin together. I pull out one of sleeves to be knit and work on it. Having the rest of the sweater tucked into the napkin makes it a bundle that is easily controlled on my lap. It also keep the sweater clean. I don’t undo the bundle until I need to start the second sleeve.

    • Sorry I mistyped in the first sentence. I meant to say knitting sleeves.

  • Since moving to Florida, i no longer add the arm socks. Every sweater is a vest. So nice!

  • This will sound like masochism, but I like knitting sleeves in the round separately from the cuff even for top-down sweaters – or if picking up stitches around the armsyce. I knit down past the underarm then graft the sleeves to the body about 3 cm below the underarm. Good results and not much wrestling bulky knitting. After doing this the first time, Kitchener holds no terrors.

    • I have this as a recurrent fantasy. It really works?!!

  • When knitting a raglan sweater (the only kind I knit; unless I’m sewing, I’m not seaming), I finagle the arm socks onto two circs and knit exactly as I do foot socks: two at a time, in the round. No worries if they’re the same length and they’re finished at the same time!

Come Shop With Us

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping