Goodbye, Gaps! A Trick to Close Holes in Sleeves, Socks & More

Sometimes even if you follow the pattern, your finished project still has some imperfections.

Take, for example, this sweater sleeve. If I had picked up the stitches around it like the instructions told me to, I would probably have had a huge gap between the underarm and where the sleeve meets the yoke.

Knitting corner stitches in sleeves

This problem can happen with any pattern where you’re turning a corner as you pick up stitches, from sweater sleeves to sock heels. But there’s an easy way that you can fill that gap without messing with the stitch count.

When to pick up corner stitches

This technique can work on any project that requires you to pick up stitches across a line that’s not straight.

This technique can work on plenty of projects. For this demo, I’ll show you the technique on a sweater sleeve. But you can use the same approach on sock heels to avoid a gap in the corner between the foot stitches and heel stitches.

How to pick up corner stitches

To show you this technique, I’ll use this Agrotera Pullover by Amanda Bell as an example. The sweater is constructed from the top down. After knitting the yoke, I placed the stitches for the sleeves on stitch holders, following the pattern instructions. Then I knit the rest of the sweater body, and came back to the stitches around the sleeves.

Knitting corner stitches on a sleeve

To make sure the sleeve goes all the way around the armhole, stitches are picked up across the underarm and combined with the stitches on the holder. This requires turning a corner, leaving a little gap. To avoid that gap, all we need to do is pick up some extra stitches then decrease them out. 

Let’s take a look at how this technique worked on the sweater sleeve, then you can apply the technique to any project you’d like.

Knitting corner stitches on a sleeve

Here’s my armhole, pictured above. The pattern instructs me to pick up 3 stitches from the underarm starting at the center, then cast on the stitches from the holder, and then pick up 3 stitches from the other side of the underarm. (Note that I’ve used green scrap yarn as my stitch holder.)

Step 1:

Knitting corner stitches in sleeves

First, I picked up the 3 underarm stitches starting at the center. You can see that there’s a lot of space between the last picked-up stitch and the first stitch on the left holder yarn, which will create a gap. To avoid the gap, I’ll add some stitches (even though the pattern doesn’t call for it).

Step 2:

Knit corner stitches in sleeves

I picked up two extra stitches between the underarm stitches and the first stitch on the stitch holder. I also placed a stitch marker around the extra stitches so I’d remember when I made my way around again.

Step 3:

Knit corner stitches in sleeves

I continued knitting around to the other side of the sleeve. There’s a similar gap on this side, between the last stitch on the holder and the first picked-up stitch in the underarm section. So again, I’ll pick add some extra stitches.

Knitting corner stitches in sleeves

I picked up 2 extra stitches again, and placed another stitch marker around them.

Step 4:

Knitting corner stitches in sleeves

Then, I knit around to one stitch before the first marked stitch. I’ll need to decrease those extra picked-up stitches out so that they don’t affect my stitch count.

To do that, I knit the stitch before the marker together with the first extra stitch. Then I knit the second extra stitch together with the next stitch (which was the first stitch on the holder yarn and is now on the needle).

Step 5:

Knitting corner stitches in sleeves

I continued knitting around to one stitch before the next marked stitch and again prepared to decrease the extra stitches. I knitted the stitch before the marker together with the first extra stitch; then I knitted the second extra stitch together with the first underarm stitch on that side.

At this point, my stitch count matched the one in the pattern because I decreased out all the extra stitches.

The final finished sleeve

Knitting corner stitches in sleeves

Check out the photo of the finished sleeve above. If you look close, you’ll see where I filled in those two extra stitches between the underarm and the start of the stitch holder stitches.

As you’re trying this technique, just remember: You can pick up as many extra stitches as you need to close up that gap, as long as you decrease out all the extra stitches in the next round.

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