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Monday, February 6, 2012

sleeve math.

sleeve math in process (and math with a purple pen?! it rocks!)
...there is a lot of math in knitting (and sometimes cooking!) - mostly numbers and counting and a little bit of algebra to work out gauge issues. when I tell my students "there's a lot of math in knitting", many of them groan. but for me, I think it's one of the things I like most about the craft. it's a problem waiting to be solved. but it's not a problem with just one right answer (the mid-life me loves that...but not so much the 20-something me!)

the problem I had was with the sleeves of my ella coat...sleeves that are knit flat, as separate pieces and then seamed to the bodice. one of the reasons I love to knit seamless sweaters is that I can try them on - or at least try on pieces - to be sure they fit. I love to knit sweaters. I hate to knit sweaters that don't fit. the ella coat is designed to accommodate stripes. so I get that it's knit for seams (knitting seamless stripes is a problem that needs a better solution!). and I could convert the whole thing to be seamless, but I'm knitting along with a group on ravelry - and a group at the shop - so I want to knit. along.

we started the sleeves on friday. I was concerned they'd be too big. my chicken-like arms measure 10" at their widest. as designed, the sleeve for my bust size would be 15-1/2" wide. of course it is a coat, but still?! I'd already shortened the armhole depth and I wasn't sure I could also narrow the sleeve and still have it fit into the armscye. so I decided to follow the pattern and hope.

until I read a comment on ravelry about sleeve math. specifically about this fabulous article from knitty way back in 2005. on the first read, I thought it might be just a bit overboard, but it was "real math" :-) and the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was to try. so yesterday afternoon I sat down with my ella coat swatch and the pattern and my own measurements (and a calculator and my favorite purple pen) and figured out a new sleeve design. it took me about two hours. which in the big scheme of things isn't really that much (if it works!)

then I pulled out the original sleeves - see how big they are?

in my new design, I reduced the cast-on from 44 to 36 stitches (nearly 2") and I reduced the upper arm from 70 to 54 stitches (about 3-3/4")

thanks to the super bowl and catching up on downton abbey, I've finished 60+ rows so I'm nearly half done with the new sleeves. the shape seems better... but I really don't think I'll know if I've been successful until I finish them. and sew them in. stay tuned for an update!



Blogger Carole Knits said...

I'm betting it will be perfect. Good for you for biting the bullet and customizing your sleeves.

Tuesday, 07 February, 2012  
Blogger Lydia said...

that kind of math is best left to the experts-like you!

Tuesday, 07 February, 2012  
Blogger Unknown said...

Mary you have guts and glory. Your hard work sounds like it is paying off. I often feel like I am in a daze when figuring out some of the math, especially later when it actually works out!

Tuesday, 07 February, 2012  

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