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Archive for March, 2014

Blessedly, even sleeve caps come to an end. Finally, part 2 of the sleeve cap.

sleeve cap

The area we’re dealing with is the space between the first and second arrows in the picture above. For this the knitter or designer needs to know the three numbers the garment industry uses for the Estimated Cap Length. Estimated cap length is based on the king of measurements, chest size. For a chest 30″ (76) cm or less the estimated cap length is 2″ (5) cm. For a chest between 31″ (79) cm and 48″ (122) cm the cap length is 3″ (7.5) cm. For a chest over 48″ (122) cm, the cap length is 4″. The cap length is crucial in finding the total number of rows in the sleeve cap.

Part 2 calculations begin by taking the final bind off width, 3″ (8)cm and dividing it in half. 3 divided by 2 = 1.5″ (4) cm. Next, select the estimated cap length number that goes with your chest size and divided that in half. In my case it was 3″ (7.5) cm divided by 2 = 1.5″ (4) cm. Then subtract the two figures from the armhole depth. The equation looks like this: 8.5 – 1.5 – 1.5 = 5.5″ (14) cm. The total cap length from the first arrow to the third is 5.5″ (14) cm.

Find the total number of rows for this length by multiplying 5.5 by row gauge 6.5. Answer: 35.75 rows. No such thing as a .75 row so rounded up to 36. 36 rows exist between the first and third arrows. Check the math by subtracting the cap length from the armhole depth. The answer should be the estimated cap length. 8.5 minus 5.5 = 3″. The math is correct, I get the estimated cap length.

Find the total number of stitches decreased in this section by subtracting the number of stitches bound off in parts one, three, and four from the total number of stitches in the upper arm. The equation looks like this: 66 -10 -8 – 16 = 32 stitches bound off in part 2. Divide 32 by 2 to get the number of stitches to bind off on each side of the sleeve cap. Answer: 16. Thus 32 sts total are bound off or 16 on each side.

Find the number of rows over which to bind off these 32 stitches by subtracting the number of rows in parts one and three from the total number of rows in the sleeve cap. The equation looks like this: 36 – 2 – 4 = 26. In part 2 there are a total of 26 rows. Thus, I needed to bind off 32 stitches (16 each side) over 26 rows.

I need a bind off rate. The best way of calculating shaping over a knitted area is with the Shaping Formula used by Shirley Paden in her book Knitwear Design Workshop. If you are serious about designing this is the book to read from cover to cover. If you want to be a tech editor, this is the book to read. Heavy on the math, but worth every struggling moment of it.

Find the bind off rate by dividing the total number of stitches by the total number of rows. 32 divided by 26 gives a messy answer. It doesn’t divide evenly. When finding rate of increase or decrease and numbers don’t divided evenly, the following is the solution.

32 sts / 26 rows = 1 st with a remainder of 6 rows.
26 rows minus 6 rows = 20 rows. So far, this tells me to bind of 1 st at the beginning of 20 rows.

Find the remaining amount of sts to bind off over the six remaining rows by taking the 1 st and adding 1 to it for a total of 2 sts. This tells me I need to bind off 2 sts at the beginning of 6 rows.

To sum up the sleeve cap shaping directions are:

BO 5 sts at beg on next 2 rows. BO 1 st at beg of next 20 rows. BO 2 sts at beg of next 6 rows. Bo 2 sts at beg on next 4 rows. BO rem 16 sts.

Check the math by adding up the number of rows: 2 + 20 + 6 + 4 = 32. Row count correct.
Add up the number of sts: 10 + 20 + 12 + 8 + 16 = 66 sts. Stitch count correct.

The final thing I do before I take up needles and begin knitting again is plot my sleeve cap shaping directions on graph paper to see that it does form a nice bell shape curve. If it doesn’t, I adjust the decreases so that it does. Then I knit the sleeve.

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Sleeve review: 66 sts at the upper arm equals 13″ (33) cm in width. Gauge is 5 sts per inch, 6.5 rows per inch. I know the initial bind off is 5 sts each end of the needle on the first 2 rows. I know too 16 sts is my final bind off.

sleeve cap

A moment of pause before I launch off into the math for part 3 (I know I haven’t done part 2 yet) of the sleeve cap. The only numbers we searched for in this sleeve cap ordeal exercise were the number of stitches to bind off at a specific point and the number of rows over which to do it.

The figures for part 3 of the sleeve cap are found before the figures for part 2. Part 3 is the area between the second and third arrows in the picture above. This area, when done right, will round the top of the bell-shape. To get that rounded effect each side must have the same number of bind offs and they must take place over an even number of rows.

Here comes the math.

Again, the only numbers we needed to find were how many stitches to bind off over how many rows. The stitch gauge of 5 multiplied by 2 equals 10 sts to be bound off. The row gauge (yes, row gauge is important) of 6.5 I rounded up to 7. I divided 7 by 2 and got 3.5 rows over which to bind off the 10 sts. I rounded this odd row number up to 4. I then divided 10 (the stitches to be bound off) by 4 (the number of rows over which to bind them off) and got 2.5 stitches bound off on each row. I rounded this stitch number down to 2. What my math told me: Bind off 2 sts at the beg of the next 4 rows. Part 3 is complete.

So now I know: Bind off 5 sts each end of needle at the beg on the next 2 rows. Info to be filled in…. Then bind off 2 sts at the beg of the next 4 rows. Bind off the rem 16 sts on the last row.

Part 2 of sleeve cap shaping on Monday. This is the part that’s the real humdinger.

Have a good weekend.

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Time once again for paper, pencil and calculator. I’ve learned few things in life are nice and neat and make sense from beginning to end and figuring out a sleeve cap isn’t one of them. The figuring itself is a back and forth kind of thing. The first 4 times left me dizzy, frankly, so I am going to try to make this as simple as possible.

The only reason I needed to rework the sleeve cap on the Spring Sweater was I changed the length of the armhole and the number of stitches bound off as well as the rate at which they were bound off. Nothing was wrong with the original pattern numbers. They were spot on standard figures. But my frame and build don’t match those figures. The minute a knitter has to alter the armhole from what is given, the knitter also has to alter the sleeve. Armhole and sleeve are like jigsaw puzzle pieces that are meant to fit together.

I need to begin my sleeve cap by finding the total number of stitches I’ll bind off initially, and the total number of stitches in the final bind off. The numbers for the initial bind off equal the same amount of stitches I bound off at the beginning of my armhole.

A word here about armhole shaping and armhole depth. They are two different measurements. Armhole shaping refers to the area over which armhole decreases occur. This area is usually 1.5 – 3″ (4 – 8) cm in length. Most armhole shaping takes place quickly and occurs underneath the arm in the armpit area. The initial bind off usually removes 0.5 – 1″ (1.25 – 2.5) cm of stitches on each side. Armhole depth is the measurement of the entire armhole from beginning of shaping to ending at the shoulder.

My stitch gauge for the sweater was 5 sts per inch (2.5) cm. My initial bind off on the armhole was 5 sts. Thus my initial bind off for the sleeve cap needs to be the same, 5 sts each side. A total of 10 sts removed over 2 rows. Part one of the sleeve cap complete.

Next I need to know the number of stitches bound off in the final bind off, part 4 of the sleeve cap. This part needs to be about 0.25″ (0.6) cm less than the width of the upper arm. I prefer to work in even numbers if possible when I am doing knitting calculations. Sometimes, when I am lucky, even numbers make things easier. Here I chose to go with an even number and hold my lucky charm as I crunched the numbers. The width of the upper arm is the measurement of the fullest part of the bicep when the arm is hanging loosely at the side.

Since my mastectomy sometimes causes lymphedema, which causes my upper arm area to swell, I take the measurement of both arms to get an idea of my parameters. My usual upper arm width is around 11 or 11.25″ (28 or 28.5) cm. The original stitch count for the upper sleeve area was 65 sts. I increased it by one st just to make it an even number, 66 sts. Thus the upper arm width is 66 sts x 5 (st gauge) = 13.2″ (33) cm. This is a comfortable sleeve fit for me.

To find the final bind off figure, I divided the upper arm width by 4, then subtracted 0.25″ (0.6) cm. The calculation looked like this: 13.2 / 4 = 3.25″ – 0.25″ = 3″. Or in cm: 33 / 4 = 8.25 – 0.6 = 7.65 cm. Thus my final bind off (FBO) width was 3″ (7.65) cm. How many sts does that equal? Multiply the FBO width by st gauge. 3″ x 5 (st gauge) = 15 sts. Stop the train.

I can’t do 15 sts. Toss the lucky charm. If the upper sleeve stitch count is even numbered then the final bind off number needs to be even too. If it were odd numbered the two would be odd. My upper sleeve stitch count is even, 66 sts. Therefore, I need to round 15 up to 16 sts.

What do I know so far? I know to bind off 5 sts at the beg of the next 2 rows…(info to be filled in)…on last row bind off rem 16 sts.

Next time, parts 2 and 3 of the sleeve cap. Isn’t knitting math fun?

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One of the aspects of knitting that drives me nuts is sewing sleeves to the body of the knit. I need the seam created by this joining to look and be perfect. If it is not, I will rip and join, rip and join, until A) it is perfect or B) I’ve ruined sweater and sleeve and it ends up on my pile of knits to be frogged to save the yarn.

What I’ve learned is a good join starts with knitting the armhole and sleeve so they are meant to fit together. The schematic below shows how a set in sleeve should fit into the armhole: like jigsaw puzzle pieces meant for each other.

set in sleeve schematic a

To achieve this fit, I need to mirror the number and rate of bind offs performed on the armhole on the sleeve. Easier said than done.

sleeve cap

This was the sleeve cap for the Spring Sweater I just completed. It has a nice flowing curve that is bell-shaped. I point this out not to brag, but to say that unless a sleeve cap has that bell-shaped curve toil and trouble lie ahead. Therefore be aware of the shape of the sleeve cap while knitting to make sure this curve is forming.

The sleeve cap has 4 sections. The 3 arrows delineate these sections. The bottom arrow indicates the first part of the sleeve cap. This first part has two rows of initial bind offs. The bind offs exactly mirror the initial bind offs of the armhole. The second arrow shows the end of the second section and the beginning of the third section of the sleeve cap. Naturally, the third and second sections–the biggest and most conspicuous–are the most complicated to figure out. Remember, weeping allowed. A mistake here is noticeable. But the twisted path to getting them correct is worth it when it comes to the sewing. The third arrow indicates the fourth and final section.

I think I will stop here and take a moment to address Winter.

Dearest Winter,
Other areas of the world are waiting for you. Although you like it here, you’re a house guest that’s over stayed her welcome. Time to move on. Take your polar winds and snow and ice, pack them in your suitcase and scram. Please don’t take this personally, it’s just time for you to go.

Next post, get out the calculators, pencils and paper. It’s knitting math.

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Everybody, including me, has body image issues. For instance, I refuse to measure my waist. The looks that attract me in a knitted or crocheted sweater don’t usually emphasize the waist, therefore waist shaping is minimal or non-existent in the pattern. But I need to know my other measurements if I am going to knit or crochet a sweater that fits.

The king of all measurements is chest / bust size. This had never been a body issue area for me until I had my mastectomy. Talk about body image taking a hit, the mastectomy was a biggie. I didn’t know if I would or could ever wear a knit sweater again. I mean, how do I get a bust measurement with one breast? I cursed myself for not taking an accurate measurement before the operation, as if that should have been the upper most thought in my mind: take bust measurement for future knitted sweaters.

An accurate bust measurement is necessary as it will affect all other measurements. My bra size is not my bust measurement. I didn’t know this until I was fitted for a special bra and prosthesis after my mastectomy. My bra size is the actual measurement I get when I wrap the measuring tape around my rib cage and back underneath and thus excluding the breasts. My chest measurement is 36″ (91) cm. But I wear a bra with a circumference of 38″ (96.5) cm so I don’t feel like a character in Downton Abbey all stiff corset and tightly laced in. For bra wear it’s the difference between the circumference of my chest sans breasts and the number I get when I measure and include the breasts that tells me what cup size the bra should be. It’s this latter measurement, however, that I use as a knitter to decided what size sweater I should knit.

But here’s the thing about the king of measurements, it only rules until I get to the point in the sweater where my bust is at its fullest and that coincides with where my underarm starts. At this point, the king takes a hike. The new ruling measurement is the cross back width. If I want my sweaters to fit from the fullest part of my bust up, I need an accurate cross back measurement.

The easiest way to get this measurement is to measure a shirt that fits me the way I want it to. Lay it out and measure the back from the top of one armhole to the other. In the picture below, notice that the measurement starts at the seam created by joining the top of one sleeve to the top of the shoulder and ends at the opposite side where the top of the other sleeve joins the top of the shoulder. That’s the cross back. It’s a painless, body image-less, measurement. It doesn’t hurt in anyway to know this number. It’s neutral, a no commentary number.

cross back 1

Next, I measure my shoulder width. Another neutral, no commentary number. The shoulder measurement starts at the seam created by the top of the sleeve joining the shoulder, goes straight across and ends at the neck. I don’t include the neck edging seam in this measurement.

shoulder width

The next number I need is armhole length. I measure straight down from the top of the armhole to the bottom and put a second ruler, or in this case piece of paper, at the bottom of the armhole to get a clearer measurement.

armhole depth

The last number I need is neck width. I find it tricky to measure this on a shirt. The area I need to measure is between the neck edge on one side and the neck edge on the other.

neck measurement

What I like to do instead, is take the tape measure in both hands and put it behind my head. I slide both hands down the sides of my neck and along the tape measure until I come to the base of my neck where it curves into the shoulder. I bring tape measure and hands forward and record the number between my hands.

Checking the accuracy of the individual numbers is easy. The cross back is the sum of my shoulder measurement times 2 and my neck width. If I have accurately recorded the cross back and one shoulder, I can easily find the my neck number without measuring. Multiply the shoulder measurement by 2 and subtract the answer from the total cross back number. What is left is the neck width.

A small aside here. I’ve been looking for this yarn that I don’t know where I got it or what it is. At the suggestion of a friend, I am posting a picture of my mystery yarn in hopes that someone might recognize it and tell me what it is. The only other clue I can give you is that its a fairly heavy weight yarn being knitted on US 8 (5 mm) needles at 4.5 sts per 1″ (2.5) cm. I am positive it is not wool as Yarn Rascal has little interest in it.

mystery yarn

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This Is My Life

I truly do want to write the second part of making a sleeve cap, but the universe and powers that be are aligned against me doing that today. Instead I am going to write out the things I want to do today, knowing none will get accomplished, but hoping that in some way the universe hears my plea for help.

1) What I’m Up To Today has alerted me to a Spring sale on roof rakes. The store that is selling them is…oh…about a 6 to 7 hour drive from here, but I am seriously considering it. Once I have the roof rake, I am going to take it on a date. An afternoon on the town, so to speak, where the roof rake and I visit all the hardware stores that laughed and scoffed when I was looking for one back in the deep freeze. I want to proudly show her off and say “This gentlemen is a roof rake. Good luck with the snow and sleet due for today.”

At the same time…

2) I desperately want to find more of the yarn (yes, yarn, as if I don’t have enough) that I bought on sale, from I don’t remember which store, but that I now need, in order to knit up a prototype of a I-don’t-know-what-to-call-it, bunting? cocoon? sleeping bag? type of thing for a baby. I need to have at least half of the prototype done by tomorrow and I’ve only just settled on the stitch pattern and figured out how to work the cable in the round. The bit of the yarn I do have, I’ve really given a workout with the knitting and ripping part of the design process. It’s worthy of anything Yarn Rascal would do if he’d gotten his little paws on it. Thus, I need more. If this were my idea, I wouldn’t be in this spot, but I was asked to design this…cocoon…for a company. I am on a deadline and the pressure is getting to me. Whoever said knitting is relaxing was a joker.

There are other items that need my attention and doing today: delivering a book to a friend with breast cancer to help her know what she can and can’t eat while going through chemo—she almost blew out her liver by eating the wrong foods. The Skipper need food, Rascal needs bones to chew and destroy. These things I will get done.

But first I am going to slowly breathe in deeply, exhale and repeat 5 times.

Then take an Advil for my whopper of a headache.

Rest assured that the minute I step out the door it will start snowing and sleeting.

This, my gentle snowflakes, is my life.

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In A Rush

Yes, I should be writing the second part of sleeve cap knitting, but today has been crazy and I am running late.

The cold weather has returned. I read a number of blogs whose bloggers reside in England and Scotland. From their pictures Spring has most certainly arrived there, but not here. Snow still covers patches of ground, but the garden is snow free. I am trying to find organic grass seed at the local stores. Chemicals mixed with grass seed galore, no organic grass seed in sight.

The areas I dug out earlier this winter for Yarn Rascal are really showing up with the snow almost gone. Truly, the yard looks like a treasure hunt gone very wrong. While I know The Skipper likes his grass, I don’t want chemicals on the lawn. Also I know the birds are going to eat the seed once I put it down, so I want it to be natural and organic for them too. Between the amount the birds will eat and the territory I have to cover, frankly I need a ton of seed.

On a positive note, my MRI showed no further breast cancer. I celebrated with a shopping spree. I hit the craft store for me, the pet store for Yarn Rascal (2 new toys and he’s already destroyed one) and for The Skipper I made up for no grass seed with a freshly made organic carrot cake, his favorite dessert. When at first you don’t succeed buy them their favorite cake.

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