16 May 2006

Sticking to the sleeves -- a more flattering solution

Second side syndrome did have a strange side benefit. I was seeing a lot of halter tops in the shape of an inverted pentagon and my hummingbird of a neighbour got me thinking that a swirl pentagon wouldn't be a problem. So I started thinking that a pentagon might make for a very nice little Summer top and something that fades like denim would be perfect.

Denim yarn, like denim fabric tends to shrink more in length than in width. That fact combined with many knitter's fear of math and disinclination to swatch explains why denim yarns, while wonderful stuff scare many knitters off.

It occurred to me that a garment formed from medallions, with its knitting going in all directions, would not have the shrinks more in length problem of traditionally constructed garments. So I took up some needles and some Den-m-nit and swatched a medallion and a bottom to top piece. I outlined their shape/size on a piece of cardboard before laundering. When I compared the post laundered swatches, the medallion had shrunk in a more uniform manner than the bottom to top swatch.

While I was working on the pentagon swatch, at some point, I folded it in half and the shape reminded me of a raglan sleeve.

That got me thinking that garments formed from medallions would flatter more figures if you limited the use of morphing medallions to the sleeves rather than in the body of the garment. The design idea that was born had one sleeve with the pentagon at the bottom with its point pointing up and the other with pentagon at sleeve top with point pointing down.

I knew that short rows would be involved but I was a bit fuzzy on the details. I started in on the experiment with the denim yarn and in the first trial, I went too far with the short rows. I set it aside and started another version -- that one also had a less than ideal result. That's when I shifted from the denim to some Intermezzo in a cool minty green.

All three experiments sat on needles/waste yarn for nearly a year before I decided that I needed a break from flowers and some larger gauge knitting was in order. BTW, in my world, larger gauge is anything between a 2mm needle and about a 3.75mm needle. Everything over that starts the slippery slope to honking huge gauge.

I wasn't really thrilled with the 5 stitch icord start to my original sleeve/swatches so I consulted my polygon notes and cast on 10 stitches and followed the swirl directions. Even though I was on walkabout, I was paying attention so I know that I wasn't making the add an extra "rest" round before increases mistake that I'd made many times before. No, I was following the increase one round and rest one round formula but the fabric was far from flat.

So I pulled it off the needles and cast on again the next day, this time I increased every round like the instructions read for almost every other polygon -- flat fabric. Either this is one of those one offs with these needles, this yarn and me, or Mary Thomas is wrong -- horrors.

I played a bit with different wrapping short row methods but decided that the effort wasn't worth it for a bit of knitting that will be at the underarm -- indeed the resulting holes might help define the shape and make it look like a planned gusset.

Once again I took the short rowing a bit too far -- nice look but way too long a sleeve for me. So I frogged/tinked back and only filled in 1/2 of the stitches on each side. That was Friday and early Saturday's entertaining unknit fun.

As I was working on it, it occurred to me that the top of the medallion was increasingly disappearing into the sleeve top. My first thought was that I should have either done the medallion in a more textured stitch pattern and then switched to plain stocking stitch or vice versa. I'd considered that option before but thought it would be too busy -- maybe not.

As a second option, I thought that doing a single purl bump out on the final medallion row would define the medallion shape and be a nice subtle design element that could also deemphasize the holes from the short rows. I even said this out loud in the company of knitters who thought it a good idea.

Not liking the idea of still more ripped out rows, I decided to play the throw some lace in there to match holes with holes -- really obvious really soon that lace holes were much bigger than the short row holes -- so unknitting time again. Decorative make ones might have been a better solution also wouldn't have really defined the polygon's shape.

On Sunday sleeve (once again back to the end of the short rows) and I went walkabout.

My_for_this_time _around solution does involve purl stitches coming out from the short rowed segments. I may not have kept the best track of the symmetry and while this did produce a sleeve of the correct length for me, I think the texture change either subtle (the last round of medallion having a purl bump) or dramatic (texture stitch and stocking mix) would allow for more sleeve length adjustments for other sizes.

I finished the last purl meets purl row just as I was crossing 6th at Robinson and worked some icord for still more flowers on the last half mile home.

I'm not quite sure whether I'll make a second sleeve just like this one and leave the one pentagon pointing up and another pointing down for another project for another time. For the moment I'm just delighted that have successfully morphed a pentagon into a sleeve. Here's the unfolded sleeve.


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