Sunday, April 09, 2017

A Tale of Two Sleeves

I don't really like having too many projects on the go at once. Right now there are most definitely too many - not counting all the new things I want to make! The knitting queue just keeps getting longer and I haven't even sorted out my spring sewing yet. Soon.

Instead I've been madly knitting away on my Isabel cardi. And I'd nearly be finished now if it wasn't for the sleeves. Oy, they have given me trouble! It all began when I picked up the stitches around the armhole. FYI: the sleeves in this sweater are knitted down with a short-row set-in sleeve cap. I've done that before without too much incident. But this cap seemed to have too few stitches for a good fit over the shoulder. ??? You knitters already know what went through my mind: it'll work out in the blocking. Knitting is stretchy, right? I dutifully carried on and got several inches down into the arm, enough to try it on. Definitely much too tight! What? I have skinny arms and narrow shoulders and unless something was freakishly wrong, they should have fit fine. Not.

So...I pulled it all out and tried again following the pattern for two sizes larger. Yes, knitted into the same armhole and the ten extra stitches actually seemed a much better number to start with. Knit-knit-knit. Finished the sleeve all the way down to the extra-long cuff's still tight. I can get my bare arm in ok but wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt it's a little uncomfortable. NO!!! It'll block out, right? Right?

So...I carried on with the second sleeve and got down to the first few inches past the short-rows and...finally noticed that my needle size was wrong. I had picked up the wrong needles when I started the first sleeve! NO!!! I was knitting them with 3mm dpns instead of 3.25mm dpns. All this damn time! Ah-ha. That's why the sleeve was too small. Grrr...

So...I frogged again down to the first pick-up round (still 10 stitches larger) and started yet again. Now I'm back again to where I was on the second sleeve and it's finally looking like it should:

Who'd a-thunk that a measly quarter of a millimetre in needle diameter made such a difference? And I'm getting really good at short-rowing sleeve caps with all that practice. (Someone needs to invent a lazy-susan for sweater knitting. Just saying.) However now I still have to frog the entire first sleeve. So sad to pull out 3 days of knitting but hey, I'd rather the darn thing fit properly or it won't be worn. I'm stubborn like that. The designer, Amy Miller, intended the sleeves to be extra long and narrow anyway but nobody has arms quite that stick-like, do they?

Note To Self: Double-check the needle size - and the pattern - when switching needles. Use a needle gauge to compare. Do not rely on my memory. Or a guess.

I may be finally finished this sweater sometime someday. Meanwhile, look for me on Sleeve Island.

What else is new around here? The weather has been very changeable and not especially warm yet though we haven't had any recent frost. Just rain and wind and more rain. Many of my little plantlings are now spending their time in the greenhouse waiting until I can trust them in the garden. A least we're pretty much done with hauling them all out in the morning and back in the basement at night. Exhausting! The tomato seeds are finally in their flats under the lights but they're not up yet. There's still some baby flowers and herbs to transplant into larger pots. The only things I have left to plant in the "grow-op" now are the squashes and cucumbers. But they can wait a little while still. They have a tendency to outgrow their pots really quickly and need to get into the garden promptly but not until it warms up first. Warms up a lot.

One very interesting thing I discovered this year was that freezing the Japanese indigo seeds really does help them stay viable much longer. I planted one flat with 2015 seeds that had been kept sealed in the freezer and one flat with 2016 seeds that had been kept in the cupboard in the basement under the grow-op. They both germinated very well:

I even think that the plants from the older seeds (on the left) are bigger! Yes, I have way too many indigo plants now but I'm going to squeeze in as many as I can in the dye garden. These little guys have been transplanted into larger digs and are still under the lights for now. And all my leftover indigo seeds are back in the freezer.

And another interesting seed discovery: woad seeds germinate better if you break them out of their papery purple-black husks first. The technical name for this is "decortication". Tried both ways and only got one or two of the ones planted whole to germinate but nearly all of the "nekkid" ones came up. Good to know! I don't need a lot of woad this year because I've obviously already got too much Japanese indigo but I'd like to have enough for a dyepot or two. I'm very fond of woad. Just because.

Although I'm complaining about the cold and rain we are finally in full flower in Vancouver. The plum and cherry blossoms are coming out and everyone is enjoying hanami during this short but glorious time. There's a whole avenue of cherries just a few blocks away from us but we haven't walked over there yet. I'll be sure to take pics when we do! In our own yard we don't have cherry blossoms but we do have the Japanese pieris (aka lily-of-the-valley shrub or andromeda) which not only look beautiful at every season but the flowers smell divine:

We have little pink and red-flowering varieties too but these are our oldest ones and the biggest is more than 15 feet tall. Like everything in the heath family they love our damp acid soil. Glad something does!


Sharon in Surrey said...

We have those flowering trees popping up all over out here in Surrey/Delta too. It's like nothing was blooming & then 'poof' a tree bursts into flower!! I've seen some huge Rhodo buds too. Last week my Hostas looked dead - I thought they were dead & then yesterday I noticed two inch sprouts. Spring is here.

Louisa said...

Now if only it would warm up to normal seasonal temperatures!