Well, yesterday was a good day. I was working n the set of the television show Psych for about 11 hours, but because of how things worked out, I got to do some knitting for about 3. That was good for Jason as I had brought along the sleeves for the sweater I am making him. This will be one of the patterns available in the book, and also online here and at Ravelry. I’m hoping to have it finished by Monday. It would be this weekend but I have a baseball game Friday, reffing a volleyball tournament Saturday, and one of the knitting groups I belong to is coming over on Sunday. So I am going to get as much done as I can today and tomorrow and see where I’m at. Luckily for Jason, it’s the kind of sweater he might even get some use out of for another month or so. With that introduction, I’ll tell you about today’s post. It’s about knitting sleeves – both at the same time. Like a 2 on 1 break in basketball. It’s kind of unfair as the 2 almost always score, right? Well, in knitting, you’ll definitely score when you create your own 2 on 1 situation when doing sleeves. The Knit1Take2 group that I belong to is learning how to make baby sweaters to prepare them for learning finishing techniques (Deborah I wish your book was already done!). In Sunday’s lesson I mentioned that they could knit the sleeves at the same time using two separate balls of yarn, and a lot of them thought it might be a little over their heads. Well, I’d just like to reiterate that it isn’t. Yes, it requires a little extra concentration, but in the end it’s a great thing to learn and has many advantages.
Here are a few of the advantages of doing both at the same time:
- The first major advantage is that you are almost ensured to have two identical sleeves. I say almost because it is still possible to make mistakes when working both sleeves at once, but with a little preparation and some concentration, less so. Even if you put the sleeves down in mid row and come back, they will have identical tension and gauge as you are working on both at the same time.
- Both sleeves are finished at the same time and usually finished a little faster. I know it doesn’t make sense that you would finish them faster because you’re making the same thing, but it does happen to be that way. I think it’s like running a race solo and with someone else. It’s easy to lose your pace when you’re doing it solo, but with a partner to help, you can maintain a pace more readily. The second sleeve is like that partner saying, let’s go, one more row.
- You won’t be a victim of the “one sleeve syndrome”. I know it’s not as likely to happen as the “one sock syndrome”, but it does happen. There are times when people finish a sleeve and just can’t bring themselves to do the second one, or say they’ll get to it later. I have a frogged sweater that needs one sleeve to be finished – no lie – that’s been sitting around for quite some time now. I even remember times when working in a yarn shop that customers would come n and ask if I could knit the other sleeve for them!
- You often see your mistakes more quickly. If you scan both sleeves regularly, you’re more likely to see any differences (mistakes) between them right away. This would save a lot of frustration later when you’re deciding on re-knitting a sleeve or just leaving it for “artistic” purposes. This has already happened to me on my current project and I fixed it.
- Practice for intarsia knitting. Getting comfortable with using two balls of yarn brings you that much closer to using three or more in the same row and then learning how to knit intarsia. You’ll quickly discover that it’s not that difficult and actually quite fun once you get the hang of it.
I’m sure you can think of your own reasons for doing both sleeves at the same time, but here are a few tips for you if you do:
- Count twice, knit once. Just like when you’re doing the sleeves one at a time, it’s important to regularly count the stitches on your needle. This helps ensure you’re dong your increases when you’re supposed to be. Doing this over both sleeves means that they’re both on track.
- Recognize the progression for knitting the sleeves. Since you’ll be doing both sleeves at once, you should realize and remember that you’ll be working on each sleeve twice before going to the next one. You start by casting on sleeve A, then B, then knitting the 1st row B (as you turn your work), then first row A, then 2nd row A, then 2nd row b, then 3rd row B, then 3rd row A and so on. Notice that after the cast on you work each sleeve twice before going to the next sleeve. Recognizing this patter will help to figure out where to knit next if you’re using circular needles (recommended as your work gets larger).
- If you’re using circular needles, place a locking stitch marker on the front of the first sleeve. This will enable you to identify which sleeve you’re on and where on that sleeve (front or back) right away!
- Use other stitch markers for your increases. When doing your first combo sleeves, it is a good idea to use stitch markers for your increases. It’s very easy to forget to do an increase across one sleeve, doing both at the same time makes it even easier.
- Increases are usually missed on the second sleeve, so if you find a discrepancy, check that one first.
Hopefully this is enough of a start that you’ll want to explore making two sleeves at once for yourself. Who knows, maybe you’ll never go back to the solo act!