“It’s Too Short!”

Sometimes you find that a child or grandchild grew taller without growing much wider!  The long sleeves of the sweater you lovingly knit that once fit perfectly now end several inches or centimeters above the wrist.  Or maybe even the body is now too short!  What was once a normal length sweater seems cropped.  Perhaps you knit a sweater and simply miscalculated the arm or body length!   Or perhaps your scribbled design notes were so disarrayed that you knit the arm to the wrong measurement – like I did with Thor’s most recent sweater!

What to do?

  • You might pick up stitches from the cast on rows of the sleeves or body and lengthen the cuffs/bottom band.  (Of course, this may create an oddly disproportionately long cuff or band.)
  • Alternatively, you could rework the sweater into one with three-quarter lengths arms or even short sleeves.

Or you could try my preferred method.

  1. stitchesWith a blunt needle and a contrasting color yarn, pick up all the stitches in one row.
  2. Now, being sure to leave a row in between, pick up all the stitches in a parallel row.
  3. Cut between the rows of picked up stitches.
  4. Transfer the picked up stitches from the bottom garment piece onto needles and knit as many inches or centimeters you need to lengthen the garment.
  5. KitchnerStitchTransfer the top row of picked up stitches to needles and then, using the Kitchener stitch, graft the pieces together.  (Picture from Nancy Bush’s Folk Socks; see also YouTube demonstration from Webs.)

I have used this method many times over the years to lengthen both sleeves and bodies.  The addition and join is invisible in Thor’s sweater.

But …

knittedbandsWhat if you haven’t saved enough yarn from the original project?  Use contrasting yarns of the same weight and knit in a patterned band.  (Source)

stitchpatternWhat if the project has faded from sun or washings so your yarn saved from the original project is now a different shade?  Use an interesting stitch pattern to knit the band.  (The eyes will be drawn to the stitching.)

fakeseamWhat if the sweater and arms weren’t knitted in the round?  What if you knit each piece in the flat and them seamed them together?

Don’t panic … Create a “fake seam” on the addition section.

What if the original project doesn’t lend itself to simply adding in a lengthening section (e.g., heavy cables, Fair Isle, etc.).  There’s always regifting.  🙂

What do you do if you find the sweater body or arms are too short?



About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Knitting, Pattern Construction, Sweater Design and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to “It’s Too Short!”

  1. Susan says:

    Have you seen this site!!! NICE prices. http://www.sfbi.com/baking-supplies/wicker-baskets


  2. Clever! I’m sure most of us could make use of this tip at some point!


  3. My daughter had no such compunction: If she decided she didn’t like the sweater I sewed to her exact (and exacting) requirements, she tossed it aside. 😦 Brat. 🙂 But I think my years of sewing (though long long in the past now) make me comfortable with taking shears to knit wear. Well, that and all my Norwegian knitting relatives commonly knit circularly then slashed to make cardigans, insert sleeves, etc. Americans literally flinch or cringe when I talk about doing that! But I don’t sew much anymore … the last meaningful sewing project was my daughter’s wedding dress, and I kept a towel nearby. I was so nervous working with the gorgeous Italian silk that I kept sweating! (Oh, and I found blood spots on internal seams from pricking my fingers with the silk pins!) What you do with fabric simply amazes me! >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. fabrickated says:

    This is so interesting, and if I knitted I would definately use these techniques and tips. I love the inventiveness of it. Also I do commisserate about children not liking what we make. That has happened to me and it can be quite upsetting. And for the recipient also perhaps feeling the need to wear said item even if it doesn’t meet their expectations (imagination).


  5. Ahhh, we can still make mistakes knitting for ourselves! 🙂



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  7. Susan says:

    ALL great ideas, thanks for reminding me/us why knitting for ones self is sometimes easier 🙂


  8. Yes, knitting five up in time for holidays or birthdays would definitely be adventurous. Maybe you could knit one for the oldest child and then pass it down the line of children, remaking it slightly each time for the next child (e.g., lengthening the sleeves with different color yarn in some sort of pattern, adding pockets, etc.). 🙂 Of course, I had only one child so I’m sure you know far better than I how to make hand-me-downs work! >


  9. Deb says:

    Great ideas. I haven’t knit a sweater in ages as I fear the children will out grow the sweater before it is done. Plus I would have to knit five. A very daunting task.


  10. Neither will I! And I told her that (and why!) 10 years ago. I knit for her children though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. whip1up says:

    I know that feeling. My daughter has done the same thing, I won’t knit for her anymore, since this has happened more than once.


  12. Necessity is the mother of invention … 🙂


  13. Your way is fine for a child’s sweater, not to mention faster. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh my – outgrew between sleeves. I have done this many times and it’s saved time from having to completely redo! Now I’ve had my daughter decide, after finishing, that she no longer wanted the sweater (after she choice the design, customizations and yarn) … and she still fit it! That was quite frustrating.


  15. Give it a go … it’s not really that hard though does require exactness and patience.


  16. Thank you, and you’re welcome! It may (sadly), come in handy some day … just as it did for me about 10 days ago!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Another good idea! 🙂



  18. Thank you for sharing this advice. I added a rolled bottom to a vest I’d made for my son which I think was shortened by machine washing. But your method is more professional.


  19. Crafty Effie says:

    Great tips, thank you 🙂


  20. djdfr says:

    There is a sweater relegated to closet-land because of this. Maybe one day I will have a go.


  21. whip1up says:

    a very clever way to add length. I found my son grew between finishing one sleeve and the other, and the sleeves are now too short, I may give the cutting, adding and Kitchener method of lengthening, as the sweater is all over cables. thank you!!


  22. Very informative. Thank you. I had not thought about doing this method. When my youngest son’s sweater was too short in the body I cut off the bottom, slipped the love stitches from the sweater on needles and knit more then used the yarn from the ribbed bottom to reunite the ribbing. Your way seems simpler and elegant.


  23. That is actually a brilliant tip! Thank you.
    I once had to lengthen one of my daughters jumpers. But that was supereasy. It was crazily striped (one stripe per colour only, as it was a left over project) and knitted top down. So I only had to open the hemline and add a few cm. Initially I was a bit worried because the colour arrangement was perfect in its craziness but then I realised that I had a whole ball left from that bottom colour so I just added that, making the stripe much wider which did not matter at all. Perfect 🙂


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