Saturday, October 13, 2007


I decided to put the sleeves under the knife -- or scissors, rather. I think the sweater came through better than I did.

Last night, I added the collar, even though I hadn't sewn up the right side yet. I thought that the gathering effect of having a nice trim collar instead of a large gaping hole would pull the sleeves in some. Turns out not much. So today I put on the sweater, and marked where I would need to cut back to add ribbing so the sleeve would fit. It was a disheartening distance. The safety pin shows how far back I needed to go.

Then, rather than start on that sleeve, I went to the same row on the opposite sleeve which hadn't been sew up yet. I very carefully threaded a circular needle on the right side of all the stitches in the row. However, since I was now looking at the fabric in the opposite direction of which I'd knit it, I was actually looking at the left sides of the original stitches. Take a pieces of stockinette sometime, mark a "V" with a stitch marker, and then flip it upside down. Everything kind of skips half a stitch. I would now be knitting in the ditches between the "V"s in the opposite direction.

But wait, it gets more confusing than that. Trust me.

Now came the scissors. The instructions I followed mentioned several approaches to making the cut. I took the one most complicated, and that has made all the difference. I ended up taking a deep breath and just cutting across all the knitting. At this point I discovered that I hadn't stayed on the same row all the way across. The second picture in this post illustrates this pretty clearly, in hindsight.

For the next three hours, I pulled little chunks of yarn resembling curly fries out of the resulting confusion. For most of the row, everything would be fine. Then, I would discover that the stitches I was carefully counting were part of a row with yarn that had been cut. I'd purposefully chosen a row that only had one small cable twist in it so that I would minimize my confusion, but in the process I ended up going back a few more rows to make sure all the stitches were on the same row. I almost gave up a few times, resigning myself to unraveling both sleeves and starting over. But I persevered, and finally got things straightened out.

How hard could it be right? I was just uravelling. But here's the deal. Unravelling from the working edge back to the cast on edge is just pulling on yarn and watching loops disappear. Unravelling from the cast on edge to the working edge is a whole different ballgame. Everything is interlocked -- especially if dealing with ribbing and cables. I knew this would be the case when I started, but dang! I had to use a darning needle and a crochet hook to unweave all the little scraps of left over yarn. Lots of pickin' and very little grinnin'. But it all worked out in the end. I think I'll cut the second sleeve a little differently.

The picture to the right shows the patient (and the impatient!) after surgery. The sleeve on the left side (which is sewn up), shows the original knitted length. The sleeve on the right side (which is not sewn up), shows the sleeve cut with a circular needle dangling off the new live stitches, ready for the ribbing to be added. I may do the cuff like the collar -- twice as long as required and then folded back in on itself. That way I can avoid having the cast-off edge showing. I'm also going to have to consider decreasing while I knit the ribbing, since I cut back into the increases of the original sleeve.

Whew! And to think that a week ago I thought I was almost done with this sweater!


  1. OMG -- you are so brave! I would have just ripped out the entire sleeve and started over. (I guess this might explain why it takes me so long to finish anything!)

  2. Wow. I don't know what to say. You are very, very brave.

  3. I agree with the previous posters... I would have become so upset with the whole thing I would have just ripped it. lol. Good job for being patient!

  4. Geeze - you ARE brave. I think I might have seriously looked into some surgical arm stretching as an easier alternative (especially for YOU!!) :) Thanks for being here Saturday!!

  5. whoo weee, you are a brave soul. The sweater is gorgeous, so here's to it being a gorgeous sweater you actually want to wear.