Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Stuck on Sleeve Island. . .

What is it about sleeves and my aversion to them? In theory, they usually aren't hard to knit, especially if they don't have a pattern beyond some ribbing at the cuff. If it's for a seamed garment, they are a perfect portable project to take to knit group.  Same if it's a sleeve knitted in the round that will later be attached to the body before knitting the yoke.

And yet.

A recent rumble through my various wip project bags turned up all of these. Notice something they all share in common?

I'm embarrassed to admit that at least two of these projects were started when I still lived in Toronto. That was over six years ago.

And so I am committed to a Summer of Sleeves (SOS) and rescuing these poor castaways on Sleeve Island. If I can just knit ten sleeves this summer, I will have five lovely new garments for the autumn months. Heck, I'd be happy with three.

SOS has not been without its pitfalls.  I started with my Spin Me Round top.

The sleeves are knit flat, starting with some ribbing at the cuff and then I decided to omit the pattern and just knit the rest in stockinette. I dutifully cast on and knit almost up to the armhole. It was only then that I remembered WHY I had abandoned the project at the sleeve stage.  I didn't have enough yarn to knit two full sleeves and I wanted to re-write the pattern so I could knit it from the top down and stop when I was sure I could finish both of them with the yarn I had left.  I ripped it out and started again.

I now have one sleeve done.  It will stop just before the elbow which is a nice length.   I have absolutely loved knitting this with Blacker Yarns' West Country Tweed. It is so soft and yet creates a really firm fabric that I predict will relax and get even softer with age and washing. I think it will feel like a favourite, comfy sweatshirt to wear against your skin.  Very excited to be nearing the finish line on this one.

But let's face it, sleeves can be boring. Part of my strategy to get these sleeves finished is to alternate between projects so that I am at least working in different colours and yarns. This may backfire and I'll be back in six months showing a bunch of one-armed sweaters that still aren't finished, but let's see how it goes.

I approached my Dorothy. I actually really like the sleeves on this - you pick up stitches around the armhole and then knit a band of the same lace pattern that is around the neck, before knitting stockinette in the round with decreases until you reach the ribbing on the cuff.  They aren't even full sleeves!

And so I knit down to the cuff. And then tried it on.  And realized that there is far too much material under the arms for my liking. It really bunches up.  So back to the drawing board - I'll need to rip back and pick up fewer stitches and try again.  I'm just not having a good sleeve week; you can see why I've been avoiding the darn things.

Of course it isn't helping matters that while struggling with sleeves, I've also been casting on some new patterns. What is the best procrastination project of all?  Why, to knit a dress in 4ply of course.  This is the Lotta dress by Marie Greene from the latest issue of Laine magazine.  It's a very clever design. Knit top-down, there is a pleat that incorporates all of the extra fabric that you'd normally need for your hips. So once you've reached that point, it's just plain stockinette until the rib at the bottom. No increases or decreases to worry about.

I am knitting mine in deep stash - some Swan's Island organic merino in their Indigo Watercolours Fingering.  I am using a darker indigo yarn from the Border Tart for the horizontal dividing line and also the ribbing.  This is the perfect project for watching the World Cup.  But please do notice that I have finished the sleeves.

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