Cozy Sweater Cuffs

Generally I’ve been trying to keep my standards relaxed for this Learning Project.  In spite of that, or perhaps in reaction to that, the cuffs have been an excellent example of the blog subtitle.

The original pattern calls for the sleeves to be…. well, I’m not sure how long, actually, since I couldn’t quite make sense of the pattern’s sizing in that regard.  But I think probably a bit below the elbow before the cuff.  Then it directs that (after all the sewing-up) stitches be picked up around the sleeve and four inches of garter be knitted flat and then seamed.

There are many things to change here.  First, I had cast on extra stitches to lengthen the sleeves, so they were about 3/4 length after sewing up (and I wanted them longer).  Second, four inches of garter would be over twice as wide as the other edges and I thought it’d look weird, though maybe not so much with the shawl collar.  Third, the projects by other people that I saw tended to have the cuffs actually wider than the sleeves, suggesting that too many stitches were picked up (and the pattern specified the numbers to pick up, I think).  Fourth, I am even less interested in doing another garter seam than I am in knitting garter in the round.

So I decided to add a few inches to the sleeve by knitting a piece in the same direction as the sleeve (that is, lengthwise) and including a garter border like that on the fronts, then mattress-stitching the whole thing to the sleeve.  The garter border would pull in a bit because of the shorter row gauge (and, unlike the fronts, wouldn’t have the weight to pull it into the same row gauge as the stockinette) and I could knit most of it before sewing it on (using the tail unpicked from the cast-on) and then see exactly how much more to knit.  Then I’d graft beginning and end together.

I cast on 16 stitches (6 for border, 10 for sleeve extension) and did exactly that — up to the point where I realized I had knitted it in the wrong direction (with the garter edging on the right side) for minimal seam bulk.  Specifically, I had intended to seam it half a stitch in on the new piece and either half a stitch or a full stitch on the sleeve (because half of it is off by half a stitch due to the two halves having been knit in the same direction).  But when I seamed half a stitch in I ended up with an extra half-stitch in the middle of the knitting, as the picture in the Doing It Wrong post illustrated.  I could fix this by seaming a full stitch in but then the seam was much bulkier than I wanted.  I did give it a try for a bit, but ultimately took it back out and ripped the whole thing.  So that was cuff #1, frogged.

For the next attempt, I cast on the same number of stitches but put the garter border on the left side of the work.  This one did work as planned, except that I found that the non-garter part was a little puffier than I wanted, so I ripped back a couple rows and then unpicked the seam a bit further back and re-sewed it with a couple of the mattress stitches only grabbing one bar from the new piece instead of two.  This, cuff #2, came out OK.  But I felt that maybe it was a little long and I might’ve wanted to just  cast on 15 sts instead of 16.  More importantly, the garter stitch, while slightly pulled in, was still looser around my wrist than I wanted.  I realized I wanted it fairly snug against my wrist.  By pinching the cuff I determined that I wanted about 25% fewer garter ridges.

So for cuff #3, I cast on 15 sts, and worked a short row every 7th/8th row — which is to say, I omitted every fourth garter ridge.  I did the first short row after the first full row, so the graft at the end would land between short rows and not involve them, and knit a total of 63 rows with the 64th row (and 24th ridge) being formed by the graft.  I also figured that since I knew that was approximately the right number of rows (uncharacteristically, I had not calculated this in advance, even though I could just count rows on the sleeves), I could knit it and graft it first, then sew it on.  And I did.

As it happened, this was the right cuff, the left one having been the one that was already sewn on.  And I much preferred it.  I still felt that the cuff could use maybe one fewer ridge (and I think the sleeve itself also ended up about 62 rows rather than 64), though.  Also, it seemed too short — because my right sleeve ends up hiked up a bit when I’m carrying a shoulder bag, especially with this kimono-style sleeve.  So using the stitch count I started with seemed like a good idea.  However, this length seemed like it’d work for the left sleeve.  I could just unpick the seam, unpick the graft, remove two rows, redo the graft, and sew it to the other sleeve.

Yes, I really did this.

Of course, first I had to remove cuff #2 from the left sleeve.  I frogged it (pausing to re-sew it incorrectly for the “wrong” seam pics, twice because the first one was even more off) and then had a ball of yarn that was slightly fuzzy from having been knit and raveled twice, but still the right length (or just a bit longer) to become the fourth and presumably final cuff.  I did get rid of the first yard or so that had been several seams by then.

Cuff #4a.  I cast on 15 stitches, worked about three inches, then realized I was using US 10.5 (6.5mm) needles instead of US 11 (8mm) needles.  Frogged.

Cuff #4b. I cast on 15 stitches, worked about two inches, then realized I’d forgotten the first short row turning.  Frogged.

Cuff #4c. I cast on 15 stitches, worked about 4 inches, then remembered that I’d intended this cuff to be 16 stitches.  Frogged.

Cuff #4d is now waiting for me to graft it together and sew on to the right sleeve.  Have I mentioned that grafting garter selvages is a pain?  Not the garter itself, which I could Kitchener in my sleep, but the selvage edge.  I might not care quite so much about it except that it’ll be something I’ll see rather often, being at my right wrist, and it’ll bug me if I can visually pick out every time where it is.

Okay, the graft is done and I should post this rather than waiting until I get the thing sewn on to the sleeve, since it might be a few hours.


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