There I was, careening toward my deadline for the Sweater-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Ponytails akimbo. Heart pounding. Cuff problem sort of, possibly, intellectually solved.
That's when I noticed Problem #2. I'm calling it Problem #2, but it could just as well have been Problem #1, had it not been eclipsed by the obviousness of the Cuff Thing: My sleeves weren't growing wider fast enough. By which I mean that a cuff which begins with too few stitches in it will, by definition, beget a sleeve which has also not got enough stitches in it. Even if you are doggedly and predictably increasing it every few rows. That's right, Gentle Readers. Sleeves which are too narrow to start with, it turns out, tend to stay too narrow, in spite of the maker's regular increases, time spent trying, and delusions to the contrary. Crap.
I was standing in line at the bank, working on the conjoined sleeve tube, cogitating on these and other mysteries. The guy behind me said "I think you're next". I thought, "Brother, you don't know the half of it," before I realized he was indicating the available teller window ahead of me. I startled like a lobster smelling melted butter and lurched forward, embarrassed at having held up the line. My still-knitting hands were on autopilot, and missed the memo from my startled brain and forward-moving legs. In what can only be described as a collision between a fugue-state and consciousness, my hands attempted to move the knitting forward on my circular needle at exactly the same time as my feet stepped gingerly around the velvet rope in front of me, at exactly the same time as my brain was trying to process the fact that it was time to interact with other life forms and I had no memory of what I was supposed to be doing here.
The snapping sensation between the fingers of my right hand was both unmistakable and sickening. The delicate size 2 wooden needle I had been using buckled under the pressure. Poor wee size 2. We hardly knew ye.
The bank teller looked at me with a sympathy that could only be worn by a knitter. "I do that all the time," she said, compassionately. "I've even managed to snap plastic knitting needles before." I knew there was a reason I love this bank. Who would have expected to find understanding like that at a teller's window?
My banking (mercifully - there was math involved) concluded, I headed directly home to replace the needle and see what could be done. In spite of the misfortune, I was feeling a bit smug. See, in an extremely uncharacteristic fit of forethought last week, I realized that I might be headed for trouble, because I knew I would be asking a lot of my favorite skinny little wooden knitting needles in the next few days. I actually imagined what would happen if I managed to break my only size 2 needle, and quickly ordered a new one as insurance. So sure was I that this was going to happen, I even ordered a corresponding needle in metal, just to be sure. Good thinking, no? Imagine someone as impulsive as I am, actually predicting the demise of my favorite needle and planning for the eventuality! Pleased with myself? A bit.
Or at least I was, until I understood that the new backup needles were the wrong length. That's right. Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink. I had assumed that the needle I would break would be the long one I used for the body. The one I actually snapped was the shorter, sleeve-size version.
I tried it all, man. Magic loop. Two circulars. Even, bizarrely, a collection of 8 DPNs, just to see what would happen. Not Good. I tried the too-long, the too-short. the too narrow by .25mm. Everything failed, and failed again. Nothing was comfortable, and nothing allowed me to get any speed. So I just kept changing back and forth between different imperfect tools, all the while imagining different solutions to the cuff problem, the too-narrow sleeve problem, and the all-needles-wrong problem.
This went on for no less than three days and three nights. I ate sleeve problems. I drank sleeve problems. I collapsed in a fetal pile and dreamt, what else? Sleeve Problems. At one very low point, I dreamed that the solution was to reverse the hypotenuse of the sleeve increases to the top of the arm, leave the cuff too small and let it lay open, as a decorative slot over the wrist. It even seemed plausible, until I regained consciousness sufficiently to realize that while I could probably knit that, I doubted sincerely my ability to write directions for it that anyone could follow.
Somewhere in the sleep-deprived sleeve knitting, a very simple notion presented itself to me. Since my conjoined-sleeve tube (appearances to the contrary) was getting bigger as I worked, If I kept knitting until the big end was big enough, maybe I could cut off the too-small end of the tube at the bottom!
And that's exactly what I did. Some ideas are just crazy enough to work.
While the sleeves are drying, I'm taking a break. From sleeves. From math. And from being awake. Deadline's still coming, but I'm hoping that the Knitting Gods are as tired of this particular episode as I am. Gentle Readers, place your bets.