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.

Plotting A Sleeve

So it came to my attention today that I may have blown right past a whole "How to Plan a Sleeve" lesson. My fault, entirely: I just get so excited when it's time to cut the knitting. Allow me to back up the Permission Denied truck: Here's how to plan your knitting for stranded colorwork, drop-shoulder sleeves.

Measuring for drop-shoulder sleeves is twitchy: where will the armhole seam end up on my body, anyway? Halfway down my arm? Don't worry; there's a way to tell.

Below are two worksheets which should help. (click them to embiggen) Take some measurements and do some math. Fill in the blanks and you'll be ready to proceed with sleeve-making.

To take your Wingspan measurement, you'll need the help of a friend. Face a wall with your arms spread out and touching it, like the illustration above. Keep your body as close to the wall (touching it) as you can. Now have your friend measure you from wristbone to wristbone. That number is your Wingspan. Do the math above to find out your desired sleeve length.

To determine your armhole depth, divide your finished chest measurement by .25. Your sleeve top will measure twice this number, or .5 of your finished chest measurement.

Now that you have these numbers, you're ready to determine the desired finished measurements of your sleeves. Specifically, you need numbers for the wrist (cuffs), the top (also your armhole depth), and the length:

Now import your armhole/sleeve top and sleeve length measurements from the first worksheet. Make a command decision about the size of your cuff and fill that in.

Translate your measurements into stitches and rows by multiplying by your gauge (Thanks, Swatching!). Now you know how many stitches you'll start out with at the cuff, and how many you need to end up with at the top. The only thing left is to determine how many increases you need, and how often they'll happen. Here's the math (Hang in there; we're almost done with The Maths):

# of sleeve top sts minus # of cuff sts = total number of increases, divided by 2 = total # of increase pairs.

# of sleeve rows divided by # of increase pairs = increase interval (every ____ rounds)

And that's it! Fill in the blanks and your sleeve "pattern" is written. You are now free to knit your sleeves, two at a time. Don't forget to add 5 or 6 steek sts in between the sleeves, omitting them from your actual sleeve stitch counts. And remember, when you knit two sleeves at a time, each increase round will have a total of 4 increases: one adjacent to each side of both steeks. 

Enjoy! And holler for help if you get into the weeds. I've got your back, my friends.

Separation; No Anxiety

Today I'll show you how the rubber meets the road when you knit conjoined sleeves. Here are my Permission Denied sleeves, all done, with characteristic stockinette roll at the top edge (happens to us all).

Once I've knit the sleeves to their proper length(s), I bind off the steek stitches on the last round, then move all the remaining live stitches to two separate waste yarn holders (hiding under the rolling top edge here).

The first steek will have lots of yarn tails adjacent to it, just like the body tube did. The other steek, which falls in the center of each round, has none. So that's the one I'll secure and cut first.

Here are my sleeves, partially separated. Notice the naturally-occuring jogs in each round, adjacent to the steek? Ha ha, I don't care. The're going away! Watch this!

Here you can see the second steek, with more sexy yarn tail combover action. Now that my piece is opened up flat, I can manage the tails and secure it, just like I did with the body tube.

Gratuitous scissor shot, because, well, Steeks...

Woot! Twins, no longer conjoined! The one on the right is showing you its insides.

Now I block both sleeves the same way as the body tube. In the case of this yarn, a gentle shot of steam is all I need. Your mileage may vary, of course.

And now things get a little surreal. I've done all this knitting in the round, only to end up sewing seams! Trust me: It's worth it. I just sew regular old mattress seams with yarn, working from the right side.

See? By cutting and sewing, I can match my sleeve seams with surgical precision. No jogs in the bands or motifs.

I promised you wouldn't have to weave in any ends: Here's where I wave my magic wand and make them disappear! Thanks, bias binding!

TIP: Pre-cut bias binding comes pressed out to 1" wide. I usually have to re-press the edges so it measures 1 1/4". No big deal to do, and it makes covering the cut steek edges easy. To sew, just use a sharp sewing needle and thread with a bit of beeswax or this stuff on it. Only catch the surface of the floats when you do this - don't stab all the way through to the right side of the work.

Only one more magic trick left to perform on the sleeves. I'm going to knit a facing onto the top edge of each, which has a little gusset on it for underarm ease. This knitted facing actually serves to cover the cut edges of the armhole slashes, after the sleeves are mounted. 

I place all the live stitches back onto a needle. Then, with any color yarn that strikes my fancy, I work 7 rounds in reverse stockinette. I cheat and hold the knitting wrong way 'round, so I don't have to purl. At the beginning and end of every round, I increase 1 st to make a cute little mitre.

This mitred gusset will cover the base of the armhole slash at the armpit, just like a plumbing flange covers the edge of a pipe. Don't worry if it doesn't make sense yet; all will be revealed in the next post. Just smile and knit your facing. TIP: Bind off the facing with a needle a couple of sizes larger than the one you knit the gusset with. That way the bound edge won't pull in too tightly.

Here's my sleeve, all finished. Underarm seam happily matched and sewn? Check. Cut edges, knots and yarn tails cunningly hidden by bias tape inside? Check. Armhole gusset worked, with adorable wee mitre for the armpit? Check Check.

Commencing sleeve insertion sequence in 3, 2, 1...