Sleeving

Now that the neckline and fronts are finished (you DID take a minute to feel smug about that, didn't you?), the only big step left is to mount the sleeves on your Permission Denied. Or, if you aren't done finishing the fronts and neckline, that's fine, too; you can save them for last and hit the sleeves now.

But of course, first things first: Ruby is fabulous. Just saying.

So, sleeves. If everything is going according to plan, you should have armholes that look something like this; open slots at the sides of the body with closed shoulder seams:

Find the center top of one of your sleeves, where it will meet up with the shoulder seam, and mark it. Stick the sleeve into the slot from the outside, with the little armpit flange (the mitered part of the sleeve top facing) down toward the armpit, and the center of the top up by the shoulder seam. Pin the center top of your sleeve to the shoulder seam with a safety pin or a separating stitch marker.

Now thread up a tapestry needle with a single strand of yarn in any color (it should disappear if you do this right - mine's purple), about three times the length of your sleeve top circumference (mine was around two yards long). Leave a six-inch tail, and beginning at the armpit, stitch back and forth from the body to the sleeve. Your sewing should land in the first column of knitting adjacent to the securing stitches, and under both legs of every single knitted sleeve top stitch at the base of the facing rounds. Make long loose stitches, like the lacing on a corset. Every inch or so, you'll pull your sewing yarn snug, "lacing" the sleeve into the armhole and watching with delight as the working strand disappears.

As you know from sewing knitted columns to knitted rows in the past, you'll need to compensate for their differing ratios. At this gauge, I typically skip every 4th or 5th row of the body, while hitting every single stitch of the sleeve top. Your mileage may vary, of course, so be patient and unafraid to back up and start over if you have to until you get it right. The second sleeve will be much easier (for once!).

You'll know you've got it if everything is matching up as predicted when you get up to the shoulder seam/sleeve center juncture. Take self-congratulatory photos, if so. Then continue the rest of the way around the armhole until you meet your starting yarn tail. I like to tie the tails in an overhand knot, then pull them through to the inside and trim their ends to about 1". Now do your second sleeve while you still remember what the stitching ratio was.

You should now have sleeves in armholes that look perfectly respectable from the outside, and a little bit nightmare-y on the inside. Resist the urge to panic and get out some pins, a sharp hand-sewing needle and thread. A bit of beeswax on your thread is a good idea - you don't need any unwanted knots making things difficult for you. Smooth and pin your beautiful knitted facing down over the cut edge of the armhole slot. This is the last time that messy cut edge will be heard from, so thank it for its service, and bid it adieu. Thread up your sewing needle with a single strand of thread and knot its end. Start at the armpit again, and sew invisibly with a felling stitch all the way around the facing. Catch only the surface of the floats on the body side of this seam, and one leg of your bind-off stitches on the facing side. Keep your sewing stitches firm enough to be invisible, but not so tight they pull the knitting in.

Once you get all the way around, secure your sewing thread and cut it. This is the magic part of the sleeve top facing. It's almost impossible to figure out from just seeing a finished one. Now that you have done it, you know its secrets! Feel smarter? You are. Finish your second sleeve and congratulate yourself with a well-deserved treat of some sort. 

If you're moving on to finish your fronts and neckline, now's the time for that. If you already did that, the only thing left is closures, if you want them, and ribbons/trim if you are a maniac.

I skipped the ribbons and trim this time (well, not buying them, but applying them) in a bizarre fit of restraint. I made some swell contrasting button loops and ran my buttons two by two.

And that's all she wrote, my friends. Next time I'll model the big reveal. Providing I can find somebody else to hold the camera for me, of course. Ruby has yet to volunteer, but the camera is bigger than she is.

Where were we again? Oh yeah, Knitting!

Before we were interrupted by prom gowns and puppies, we were making a Permission Denied.

Believe it or not, once all the cutting is done, we're in the home stretch of Finishing. There are only two steps left: Mounting the sleeves, and finishing the fronts/neck edges. You can do either step first. I did my neckline and fronts first, because I hatched a cunning plan to add a collar. There just weren't enough birds on the thing for me:

First, I picked up and knit my way all around the neckline. Easy! Half the stitches are still live, after all. If I had planned a regular neckline, I would have just knit a simple binding from this point. But, being who I am, I was destined for a more fiddly path.

I flipped to the WS, and with a second needle, picked up all the purl bumps of the new stitches I just picked up. 

Now I had one needle on either surface of the neckline; RS and WS. I worked a few rows on each needle, until I had enough new knitting to sandwich my cut edges, and meet together.

Then I joined the two facings together on the next row by working together one stitch from each needle (like a 3-needle BO, without the BO). From there, I could easily have knit my collar from the top town, adding increases to allow it to curve around the neckline and lay flat. But that would mean that my motifs would be worked upside down. As in, knitted stitches that look like "A" instead of "V". So "Easy" was not to be. Surprising Nobody. 

Instead, I worked my collar separately, from the bottom up, creating first a hemmed edge, working a few decreases to make it curve, then joining for knitting in rounds with a center steek. Then I knitted my motifs (the birds from the chart). After that, I decreased the last round down to the same number of stitches in my neckline. I cut the steek, knit facings to cover it, and then grafted the finished collar to the neckline. 

After that, all I had to do was work matching bindings on the center fronts. Done and Done.

Presto! Permission Denied: Now with More Birds!

Nesting

Nothing in the world would make me take on a project like this:

A truly God-Awful specimen from the early 1980's, complete with oak-tone veneered particle board, broken hardware and mirrored panels that defy explanation. And the filth? So. Very. Dirty. And yet, my children decreed that it was the very thing we needed, and convinced me that it could become wonderful, with their help. So we parted with $5 at Goodwill, and home it came. I am such a sucker.

We cut the all the sides out and replaced them (along with the mirrors) with punched sheet metal. We replaced all the hardware, and added new feet.

After a solid week of filling, sanding, painting, sanding, painting again, steel-wooling, distressing and waxing, it started to come around. The children were right. It had become, if not wonderful, a suitable nest. And a not half-bad shabby chic end table for the living room. Which we would not have needed, but for this:

Her name is Ruby, and she came home to live with us yesterday, on Easter.

Ruby is a wee little Scotty, who has stolen our hearts. She's already supervising my work, as you can see. Born on Valentine's Day, she's just eight weeks old, but already completely full of Scottitude. She knows her name, how to get our attention, and even, thankfully, likes her little nest.

To all of you who sent your kind words of comfort last December when we lost our Paisley, I knew you'd want to see this update. Order has been restored to our universe.