Sleeve decisions

There was no more putting it off… the time had come to decide from all the options available for Ithilien’s sleeves. These are the cuffs.

Ithilien's cuffs

Ithilien's cuffs

The first decision was to make cuffs, instead of ending the sleeves (actually, beginning them) with just a hem, as the bottom of the sweater is finished. So I crunched the numbers and fudged the color rows to come out with two complete color repeats in three complete cable motifs. Now I just need to graft the ends together, then pick up stitches along one edge for the hem and the other edge for the sleeve. But first, I’m going to need to trim all those ends and see if I can semi-felt them to each other so they will stay put. Wish me luck on that – I don’t want to felt the fabric itself!

I plan to knit both sleeves at the same time, on one long circular needle, after I do a lot of measuring and charting. The measuring is to figure the increases and sleeve length. The charting is to figure out what row to start on so I’ll come to the armhole bind-off at the same place on the leaf brocade pattern and the same place in the color cycle! There will not be any room for fudging there. That was the main reason for knitting them both at once.

Then comes the tricky part… I am planning to try knitting the body and sleeves together in the round. There is nothing radical there, it’s a very popular way to do raglan sleeves – but these are going to be set-in sleeves! I am having trouble finding any examples of doing that in quite the same way that I intend, so it will be interesting to see how that all turns out. The charting will be indispensable here, too!

There are instructions out there for picking up stitches at the armhole and knitting a set-in sleeve down to the cuff, but that won’t work because the leaf pattern would look slightly different knitted the other way. I could steek the armholes (that was my original intent), but since the sweater is fitted it needs a set-in sleeve instead of a dropped sleeve, and I really didn’t like the idea of that bulkiness at the seam. As a last resort, I could knit the back, fronts and sleeve caps back-and-forth. Actually, that should could have been my first resort. But this is not a fun color pattern to purl, and besides, I’m intrigued by the idea of experimenting!

Here’s the plan: I will plot the sleeve cap and armscye shaping as for a sweater knit in flat pieces. I’ll bind off (or slip to waste yarn) the underarm stitches and work around the body and sleeves, decreasing each segment at their assigned rates at the fake seam (I’ll probably do a single purl column as with the body and sleeve ‘seamlines’). Then I expect I will come to a point near the top of the sleeve cap that will require me to finally separate the sleeves and body. So I won’t be able to work them completely in the round, since I’ll need more rows on the sleeve cap, and will need to shape the shoulder slope. I won’t mind a small seamed area, as long as everything else looks right!

And if it doesn’t work, I’ll just have to rip it out and knit the pieces flat from the armholes up. Either way, I will have learned a lot!

In other news, I’ve been tapped to demonstrate spinning for a day at the Kansas State Fair. This Saturday, I’ll be hanging out in the sheep barn, as the value-added attraction (?) with the sheep shearing demonstrations. There are five scheduled times, along with people wandering through the barns all day, so I should be busy! I’ve been assured that I don’t have to sit there the whole day, but will be free to leave my things under a watchful eye and meander around as I please during non-demo times. I will take some finished items (socks and sweaters) to display, and decided to do a little Kool-Aid dyeing too, since that always grabs kids’ attention!

These are some of the fruits of my labor on this Labor Day:

Roving in primary and secondary colors

Roving in primary and secondary Kool-Aid colors

I thought I’d also card some of the colors together to show blending. I had already spun and chain-plied a small skein of this same Merino roving, so I dyed it in random green/blue/purple dots (which also has the advantage of camouflaging the just-playing-around uneven spinning!) :

Kool-Aid dyed mini skein

Kool-Aid dyed mini skein

The colors were less saturated than the roving, but I liked it better when it was finished than I thought I would! I’ll knit about half of it in a swatch to show the finished effect.

Next post, I’ll try to have some pictures of the fair. I’m keeping my fingers crossed… right now, the weather forecast indicates that we’ll have a perfectly beautiful day!

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