The son and heir had gone to Scouts by the time I finished the fronts and tacked the shoulders together so I had a choice of waiting for him to come in or DIY modelling. The addition of the ribbing does make this surprisingly stretchy, it was a bit snug but it was merely sized with negative ease rather than bursting at the seams (not that it has any seams). My head went through the hole easily enough, it will be a smaller hole once I’ve added the facings but there was enough room for me to not worry. The next step was to join one shoulder for real so that I could pick up and knit the sleeve. I did it four times and I still wasn’t happy about it but good enough will have to do.
I want to knit the sleeve down rather than up so I can add inches on at the cuff next week when he’s grown again. It started well enough, I Googled “top down sleeve video” and found two excellent tutorials which walked through knitting a shaped sleeve. I already knew how many stitches I should be picking up because I knew that I should end up with the same as the number in the sleeves at their full width. I had four more than that because my armhole was slightly longer than it should have been (not planned that way, I’m just bad at measuring). I got him to try it on and it looked ok so I ploughed on all the way to the cuff.
The fourth ball finished the fronts and got me right down to the cuff so another one and a bit balls should do the other sleeve, collar and neck facings. There’s a slight problem though in that this sleeve will be coming off. I thought the sleeve cap was right, he tried it on and it looked all right, it was a bit roomy but then these are big sleeves, 18.75″ sleeves for a 39″ chest. There’s something not right about it, the sleeve fits into the body but .. well that’s it really. I can’t tell you what’s wrong with it other than it is wrong. (ETA I have seen the light and think I know what I’ve done wrong. If I’m right it’s only the last bit of the sleeve cap that I need to reknit.) A bit more research on top down sleeve shaping suggests that the method I used doesn’t work well for very big or very small sleeves, generating a sleeve cap that’s too big or too small. Did I stop and think “are there limitations to this method and will it work with this sleeve?”. No, I did not but another time I will. If I can’t be a good example then at least I can be a terrible warning.
I looked to see what a straight drop sleeve would look like but if I’m only picking up the same number of stitches that I need for the width in the schematic then the hole is much bigger than the sleeve. Knitting stretches but if it’s doing it this much then there’s something wrong. To make this work I need to pick up more stitches making the already wide sleeve even bigger or I need to take some length out of the straight bit of the fronts and backs. I don’t want to do that because that’s going to raise the neck opening, to do it right means more knitting than I want to do (reknit the fronts starting the opening and the ribbing earlier, make back to match). My options now are to go back to the pattern, knit the sleeves bottom up and sew them in (thereby wasting the sleeve I’ve knitted and losing the chance for easy extension of the cuffs), knit the sleeves according to the pattern but top down so I get to reuse the sleeve I’ve made or revisit top down shaping but with less fullness.
After due consideration I’m going with the last option. I’m changing the rate of the short rows so there will be fewer rows in the cap and I might also start the sleeve decreases earlier. When (if?) I’ve got the second sleeve right I should be able to snip a thread on the first sleeve at the start of the shaping, unpick a round, rip and reknit the sleeve cap and graft most of the sleeve back on to it. The only knitting I’ll lose is the wonky bit at the top, I’ll save the perfectly good sleeve. I’m hoping that I’ll recognise a well fitting sleeve when I see one, otherwise I could be at this some time.
I’m still a one project knitter at the moment, it may seem that I took a diversion into a Christmas stocking but there is a link between the stocking and Dan’s sweater. More about that next time, I might need a fill in post to cover for me reknitting these sleeves again and again and again.