As I look around in the Lounge and on Instagram, I can feel my lead slipping away from me. I’m like the hare (the hare who cheated with a fast head start) looking over his shoulder at a mob of hell-bent tortoises. They are getting closer and closer. When they catch me, I’m going to try to make friends and pretend I was never gloating over my lead at all.
Hi! Welcome! Let’s finish this sweater together! Let’s collaborate!
The reason everybody is catching up is simple: it’s just not that hard to knit a sweater, if you keep knitting on the sweater. Hadley is a very straightforward knit. You take the pattern and the yarn, add lashings of conference calls and/or semi-trashy TV bingeing (Versailles on Netflix certainly qualifies–my word, what didn’t Louis XIV and his brother get up to?), and before you know it you are starting the second sleeve.
The Perilous Shoals of Sleif
Note: I said starting the second sleeve. There is something troublesome about second sleeves. It’s similar to Second Sock Syndrome, but somehow more soul-crushing, because that first sock is a complete whole, an achievement unto itself. You could, if you wanted to, wear a First Sock in some kind of purposefully mismatched way, perhaps by pairing it with other First Socks in an enthusiastic collection of First Socks.
But, in contrast to a lonely but useful sock, a sweater that bogs down on the second sleeve is cause for great sadness. I call it sleeve grief, which Kiki of Luscious Gracious elides to the far more amusing term “slief.” Others have called this situation Sleeve Island. After weeks (or days that seem like weeks) on the vast, monotonous seas of the body of the sweater, you scramble onto Sleeve Island, where you experience the joy of exploring that first sleeve. Then you start the second sleeve, and all too quickly you get the suffocating feeling that you may never get off Sleeve Island. So many sweaters have perished on those rocks.
The solution, as ever, is: keep knitting. The sleeves on Hadley are finite. They go quickly. An hour or so of colorwork. A reasonable amount of stockinette, with increases, after that. Keep at it. Don’t give in to negative self-talk. You’re not on Alcatraz. There’s a way off this island, and it’s called: keep knitting.
The Sleeve Chart
Has anybody had any difficulty with Hadley’s sleeve chart? It’s a 12-stitch repeat, but the number of stitches on the sleeve is a multiple of 12 for the first two sizes only. For the other sizes, you have to start and end at a specified spot before and after the repeat, or mid-repeat, if that makes more sense.
For the bust size I’m knitting, 44 3/4, with 53 stitches for the sleeve, I started the pattern 2 stitches before the beginning of the 12-stitch repeat, and ended it 3 stitches after the 12-stitch repeat. What that means is that on the underside of the sleeve, where the round starts and ends, the pattern doesn’t flow seamlessly. There’s a little hiccup that looks like a face:
It kind of sprouts off of the center line.
I didn’t try to start the sleeve increases before the end of the chart, although that would have been fairly straightforward; I didn’t want to bother with more thinking about where to start and end the chart. I did the first increase round right after I was done with the colorwork chart.
I was used to Icelandic sweater patterns, where the cuff pattern repeat is fewer stitches, and the number of stitches on the sleeve are a perfect multiple of the number of stitches in the repeat. If that were the case, the sleeve would look like this, all the way around:
I think I could have done without those 5 extra stitches at the wrist/forearm of the sleeve, and had an easier time starting and stopping the stitch pattern. But I followed the chart for my size, and here I am, alive and well.
The moral of the story: live and learn. Stay flexible, follow the instructions, even if they seem a bit awkward, and it will turn out ok. Or, reject the pattern instructions, cast on an exact multiple of the 12-stitch repeat, and do a couple more increase rounds afterwards to get the sleeve up to the correct size. You’re the boss; it’s your choice.