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Fearless Inventory August 30, 2011

Every once in awhile, it’s good to have a reality check. Here at Chez Chic, that usually involves a trip by the knitting up on a mannequin.

But today, I just gathered up all the stuff lurking hither and yon in the house and found (no surprise here) all of them had one thing in common: a lack of sleeves!

Every WIP I currently have on the needles is at the sleeve knitting stage. And oddly enough, each one has a different sleeve making techinque going on!

From front to back:

Sweater #2: This lovely glazed yellow sleeve is a bottom-up, in-the-round edition that is a mere one pattern repeat from the start of Sleeve #2!

Next, Sweater #3 (light taupe alpaca/wool): a grand experiment in short-row neckline shaping on a top-down sweater, that is on hold, just like the stitches for its sleeve, resting on some scrap yarn.

I’m betting once the weather gets cooler, this one gets picked up for some more action. The jury is out if it will ever be a release because the technique is just different enough to what I’ll diplomatically characterize as a “rock the boat” type of move. I’ve found that knitters sometimes resist change although there is no sweeter music to my ears as a designer than someone writing: “just trust the pattern; just do what it says”. Yes.

This would be a grand play in just-do-as-it-says and maybe a coin toss will be the decision making tool I turn to because I LOVE THIS NECKLINE. Maybe it should be out in the wild.

In the far rear, Sweater #4 is what was going to be Sweater #2 in my grand Set-in Sleeve Experiment. However, since sweater #1 taught me all about the correct proportions for this style of armhole/sleeve cap, I’ve realized it would be an exercise in futility to make it work SO this little Hessian colored cardi (some yummy deep-stashed CashCotton DK) is being treated to an old school outing. That is: knit flat; seamed, curved cap, sewn in.

And, out of all of these, it will probably, imho, look and fit the best because it will have something the others do not: ease. In traditional sleeve making (ie. tailoring) of fabric clothing, you see a slight amount of extra fabric in there that is eased into place. It is subtle and not excessive. Instead it allows the sleeve to really mimic the shape of the upper arm and shoulder area of the body.

When I was apprenticing with an Italian tailor in San Francisco in my college days, I learned to design and make men’s suits from scratch. There you see all sorts of tricks and acrobatics to make a suit coat make a man look like a million. The shoulder area juts out over the round part of the top of an arm; it is padded from underneath, in the best suits in layers and different types of padding and interfacing. I get all misty-eyed watching BBC America and seeing the UK pols in their peacockery best – OH – those lovely lovely jackets!

But that takes us back to Sweater #1, where it is ultimately going to be proved, a Sleeve doesn’t always HAVE to behave that way. Knitting, by its very functionality and “give” allows for a very forgiving and flexible fabric.

Where truly form follows function.

This morning, I picked up all the stitches around the armhole for Sleeve #2 and am ready to rock out with my mad top-down set-in sleeve cap-making skillz. During the sleeve-play of #1, we tried a technique to do a virtually gap-less short row turn, and am looking forward to practicing it some more!

We’re so sussed about this sweater, we’ve already woven in almost every end we could find to get it on!


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