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!

Now, With More Cutting!

With the majority of the knitting done, our Permission Denied projects will move into what is known as the Finishing stage. Finishing will consist of all the steps required to turn our knitted tubes into finished garments, so there's some construction involved, too. All these steps take time, so don't be surprised if you're in the finishing stages for as long as it took to do the knitting. Take your time and enjoy each of the steps for its own sense of completion. It really is satisfying to do each part, and if you are a knitter who thinks you "hate finishing", you might be surprised to learn that doing it in a new and different way is all you needed to try.

Ready? Let's do this!

With your body tube stitches divided and held on waste yarn, secure and cut the center front steek (!). My yarn wants to use a machine-stitched steek because it's a blend of wool, alpaca and silk. The alpaca and silk wouldn't hold a crocheted steek, and a handsewn one isn't as stable or quick, so I chose to use my sewing machine. I made 4 vertical passes with regular sewing thread and a medium-long straight stitch.

Once the beastie is flattened out (look how much knitting you did, and how fast!) It's time to place some waste yarn markers. Measure the tops of both your finished sleeves, below their knitted top facings. If the two sleeve top measurements are slightly different, take an average. This is your armhole depth measurement. Place a short horizontal marker yarn at the exact depth measurement for both sleeves. Then place a vertical one from the center of the bound-off stitches at the top, down and across the depth marker.

My neckline will be a crew-shape, so I placed my markers to guide the curve. If your shaping is a kimono or V, your markers will form a wedge-shape. Measure on each side front to your preferred depth (if you're not sure, mark conservatively - you can always cut deeper later). My vertical marker lies between the groups of held stitches (neckline and shoulder). My horizontal one is at the exact preferred depth. A third, diagonal marker shows me where to create my curve. Thanks, Precision!

Markers for a deep-V/Kimono neckline and armholes might look like this:

markers.jpg

Then I secure my armhole cuts like this (I'm showing you from the WS so you can see the machine stitching better).

Now cut, slicing the marker yarn in half vertically (if you've been in Eeek! Steeks! class with me, this is the part where we shout "Evicerate"!). Stop your cut at the horizontal marker. Allow me to repeat: STOP YOUR CUT AT THE HORIZONTAL MARKER.

Look, Ma: no steek stitches required! We just cut into perfectly good patterned body knitting, in order to put our armhole exactly where we wanted it! Pick out the yarn marker schrapnel and it should look like this:

Sexy! And accurate! Now turn your attention to the neckline. Here are my machine stitches (hard to see in matching thread - I usually use higher contrast because it will never show, but I was too lazy to change what was already in my machine).

Now cut the neckline, leaving a 1/2" "seam allowance".

Can you believe this is all the knitting that's wasted? No one will ever tell you have to knit stranded colorwork flat to shape a neckline again!

And that's it for the cutting. You can put away the shears and pretend it never happened now, if you want. This is also an excellent time to retire to a relaxing place with the beverage of your choice. Perhaps somewhere with Knitters, so you can regale them with your tale of glory.

When you're ready, you can move on to joining the shoulder seams.

I like to join my shoulders with a 3-needle BO. You may have heard that this join isn't strong enough to support the weight of a full-size sweater at the shoulders, but that's wrong. IF, that is, you make the join in two separate passes. First, put the live sts for each side of the shoulder back onto some needles. Still got the same number for each side of the shoulder? Good. If not, don't panic. Drop me a line and I'll help you sort it.

Fold your sweater with right sides together and the needles parallel.

1st pass: With a new working yarn, and starting from the armhole edge, knit one stitch from each of the first two needles together, pulling one new stitch through two old ones. Be careful not to accidentally skip any old sts; you should have the same number on each of your first two needles.

2nd pass: Once all the old sts are joined, bind off all the sts on your third needle.

Break the working yarn and pull both it and the tail from the 1st pass through the last stitch. Tie the ends in a square or surgeon's knot. Trim them to about 1" long.

Here's my finished shoulder seam. It worked out that my pattern matched exactly, due to the way I divided my body tube sts. This isn't always possible, so don't stress out about it. As long as both shoulders match each other, it will be beautiful, I promise.

Try on your masterpiece to see how/where the neckline falls on your body. Are you happy with it? If not, re-mark, secure and cut. Precision! Don't we love it?

Now you're ready to mount your sleeves and cover the cut armhole edges. Then you can finish your front opening and neckline edges. You can do either of these steps in either order you prefer: Sometimes it's easier to work on the front and neck edges without the sleeves flopping around. And sometimes you want to get the sleeves in before you commit to the final front and neckline finishes. Either way is fine. Take a selfie like the one above and show us all, over on Ravelry!