I know I've been bad at blogging regularly, and it may be obvious from reading things here or talking to me that I've been knitting a lot. What is less obvious is that I've been writing a lot about knitting.

While I'd like to do some meta posting about these projects, instead I'm going to just jump in with a bit about the way I knitted the sleeve of the last sweater I made that I'm already duplicating because it was just that good.

I'm not a huge fan of well fitted sleeves on sweaters: I like to wear layers, and having a sweater sleeve hug my wrist often just means that I won't wear the sweater: it's good to get the sleeve right, in this context. At the same time, too bulky and the sweater looks goofy (to my sensibilities) and the sleeves take forever to knit. I've solved this problem, often, by knitting sleeves from the shoulder down: this way I can try things on as I go and easily re-knit the last few inches of the sleeve if things feel off.

The shoulder-down method works, but it's bulky to carry the entire sweater around to knit a relative small piece of fabric, and it precludes knitting single-piece seamless sweaters, as you have to get too clever to make it all work.

Here's what I've come to:

Start by casting on as you would for a sock: for me this means fingering weight wool with 64 stitches, US 0s (2.00mm) on 4 double pointed needles in knit 2 purl 2 ribbing. There should be 16 stitches on each needle, and knit for 2 inches.

This has several advantages not the least of which is you can chicken out after 2 inches and just knit a pair of socks. Your wrists and ankles (or calves) might be different than mine, and while my wrists are slimmer than my calves, ribbing is elastic, and I know that it won't be too small. I know Elizabeth says to figure out the chest circumference and derive the sleeve from that, and you could do that, but chest circumferences vary more than wrists.

In the next row switch to stocking stitch, and increase to 72 stitches, or 18 stitches per needle. I use a raised bar-type increase between the knit and purl stitches on the first and third ribs.

Increasing a bit after the ribbing helps achieve both "the cuff pulls in and isn't floppy" which is desireable, and also "sleeve isn't too tight". You could achieve this by using smaller needles, but I like to avoid needles smaller than US 0s whenever possible.

For sizing the rest of the sleeve, I believe that the "top" of the sleeve should be as wide as my expected yoke depth. To unpack: if the distance between the shoulder and the underarm should be 9 inches, then the sleeve should be 18 inches around. Given a gauge of 8 stitches to the inch, this means 144 stitches, and given paired increases in sleeves, 36 pairs of increases.

I do increases every 5 rounds. This means, knit five rounds, do an increase, knit five rounds. This means that there are actually 6 total rounds in any increase repeat. The increase are paired on either side of four stitches.

"Increase every 5th row" is a common knitting instruction and it's pretty ambiguous. Do you mean "increase on the fifth row," or "increase after the fifth row"? In computer programming we call this "a fencepost counting problem," and over the course of 36 repeats (as is the case )

In the past I used to pair increases around an odd number of stitches so that there'd be a single "seam" stitch, but as the sleeve has an even number of stitches, and most sweater bodies have even numbers of stitches and I haven't been particularly keen on EZ style pseudo seams, particularly since putting the increases 4 stitches away creates a clear "seam"-like effect. It definitely works.

The target size (144 stitches, or increasing 36 times for a total of 72 stitches,) means that the sleeve doubles in diameter between the end of the cuff and its final sleeve. My arms are a longer than average (particularly for my height, but that's no matter,) but given everything, it means that after doing these increases I only need to knit 3/4s of an inch before I'm done with the sleeve. Perfect. In my estimation if you can space your increases evenly across the sleeve the result is pretty enjoyable. Having a sleeve that's slightly longer than your arm increases the blousing effect, which by a little isn't always a problem. If you need a longer sleeve, putting more plain knitting at the top is good too, and the increases can always be closer together at the beginning of the sleeve if needed. Having an idea of your row gauge can help figure out the math.

There you have it!

While I was writing this up, I managed to knit both sleeves for another sweater, but I have yet to figure out how I want the lower hem of the body of this sweater to go, so I think I'll knit some socks in the mean time.