sleeve math.

sleeve math in process (and math with a purple pen?! it rocks!)

…there is a lot of math in knitting (and sometimes cooking!) – mostly numbers and counting and a little bit of algebra to work out gauge issues. when I tell my students “there’s a lot of math in knitting”, many of them groan. but for me, I think it’s one of the things I like most about the craft. it’s a problem waiting to be solved. but it’s not a problem with just one right answer (the mid-life me loves that…but not so much the 20-something me!)

the problem I had was with the sleeves of my ella coat…sleeves that are knit flat, as separate pieces and then seamed to the bodice. one of the reasons I love to knit seamless sweaters is that I can try them on – or at least try on pieces – to be sure they fit. I love to knit sweaters. I hate to knit sweaters that don’t fit. the ella coat is designed to accommodate stripes. so I get that it’s knit for seams (knitting seamless stripes is a problem that needs a better solution!). and I could convert the whole thing to be seamless, but I’m knitting along with a group on ravelry – and a group at the shop – so I want to knit. along.

we started the sleeves on friday. I was concerned they’d be too big. my chicken-like arms measure 10″ at their widest. as designed, the sleeve for my bust size would be 15-1/2″ wide. of course it is a coat, but still?! I’d already shortened the armhole depth and I wasn’t sure I could also narrow the sleeve and still have it fit into the armscye. so I decided to follow the pattern and hope.

until I read a comment on ravelry about sleeve math. specifically about this fabulous article from knitty way back in 2005. on the first read, I thought it might be just a bit overboard, but it was “real math” 🙂 and the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was to try. so yesterday afternoon I sat down with my ella coat swatch and the pattern and my own measurements (and a calculator and my favorite purple pen) and figured out a new sleeve design. it took me about two hours. which in the big scheme of things isn’t really that much (if it works!)

then I pulled out the original sleeves – see how big they are?

in my new design, I reduced the cast-on from 44 to 36 stitches (nearly 2″) and I reduced the upper arm from 70 to 54 stitches (about 3-3/4″)

thanks to the super bowl and catching up on downton abbey, I’ve finished 60+ rows so I’m nearly half done with the new sleeves. the shape seems better… but I really don’t think I’ll know if I’ve been successful until I finish them. and sew them in. stay tuned for an update!

3 thoughts on “sleeve math.

  1. Mary you have guts and glory. Your hard work sounds like it is paying off. I often feel like I am in a daze when figuring out some of the math, especially later when it actually works out!

Comments are closed.