Monday, February 2, 2009

Sleeve One: Take 2

My husband is a woodworker, and we often discuss the many similarities between our hobbies. We both enjoy the process of making something unique by hand. We both get to work with wonderful natural materials. We each enjoy learning new techniques, and sometimes we have to learn them the hard way.

Today, I'm seeing where there is a major difference between our project work. If he joins two pieces together, and doesn't like the results, he is often stuck with it because he has cut special joints, used glue, or put nails or screws into his project. If I join two pieces and the result looks like crap, I can just pull it out and redo it. It's a beautiful thing.

Normally when I join a set-in sleeve to a bodice armhole, I graft the sleeve into the hole using a kitchner-esque kind of stitch. The result looks neat and smooth, and the seam is generally not very obvious - which, of course, is the goal.

For some reason, I decided to try something new this time. As I was knitting the sleeve on the machine, I decided to leave the stitches along the edge of the sleeve cap "live", instead of eliminating them using decreases or binding them off. Each time I was supposed to bind-off or decrease a stitch at the beginning or end of a row, I simply took it off the machine and put it on a holder, and continued to work the remaining stitches. The result was a well-shaped sleeve cap, with live stitches all the way around it. I then picked up the same number of stitches around the armhole, and joined the two together using a 3-needle bind off. While the result looked tidy on the inside of the garment, it looked pretty gappy and obvious from the public side. It had to go.

So... I removed the 3-needle bind off to separate the the sleeve from the bodice, and pulled out the entire 47 rows of the sleeve cap. Since the seam has already been sewn up the inside of the arm, the sleeve is in a fairly tight tube, and won't fit back onto the machine to be reknit. I hadn't yet done any swatches to see what manual needle size matches the machine gauge I'm using, and didn't really feel like doing any swatching (who ever does?), so I grabbed the needles I thought would work, and it looks like I've gotten lucky. I'm about halfway through reknitting the sleeve cap now, and, once completed, will rejoin the sleeve to the bodice in my tried and true method. I'm just glad I didn't make both sleeves the wrong way before I tried to attach one of them.


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