Thursday, January 29, 2009

Knit a sleeve, rip a sleeve

This appears to be the latest dance move in the knitting of The Sweater.

The Gauge God is clearly out to get me (can't be a goddess; surely they're not this capricious)(and yes, I am waiting for the lightning strike now). In this case, it's row gauge, I think. I keep doing nice mathematical calculations, designed to tell me how deep the sleeve cap should be, and how often and where I should decrease along the underarm, and, in the same way that my calculations about decreases didn't work for the waist shaping, the calculations didn't so much work for the sleeve cap or decreases.

I knit away merrily yesterday, feeling good (should've been my first clue that I was about to get smacked down, right?), and thinking happy, bubbly thoughts about having my sweater finished by the weekend. Maybe even before my package arrived from the Rockin' Sock Club. I knitted the sleeve cap (which always takes so much longer than it seems like it should -- am I the only one with this problem?), and then worked away at the decreases. I made it through all of them by the end of The Italian Job (it was on TV last night, and Rick wanted to watch it), and set it down for the night, feeling virtuous and pleased with myself (warning number two of impeding doom).

I tried it on this morning. And no, I didn't take any pictures. Y'all have seen enough photographic evidence of my Math Issues to last a lifetime. Let's just say that, while I prefer to wear clothes that are relatively loose, with plenty of room to move, wrestle with dogs, and grab kids as they prepare to launch themselves towards the nearest source of doom, this sleeve was in no way loose. Tight might be a better descriptor, as might any word conveying the meaning "to bind"*.

I ripped it out. And I reknitted the sleeve cap much, much deeper. It took most of the morning. Then I knitted two inches (as called for by my row gauge plus some serious overestimating in order to compensate for whatever's going wrong with row gauge) and started the decreases. After two decreases, determined not to be led too far down another primrose path, I tried it on. The good news: my arm benefits from the circulation of blood whilst wearing this sleeve. The further good news: the sleeve cap is, if I do say so myself, quite nice. The not-so-good news: if I want to maintain the degree of positive ease with which I am most comfortable around the upper arm, I will need to rip out the last two inches of knitting -- again -- and knit down several more inches before beginning my decreases. Alas.

It's all knitting, though, right? And I do this because I love knitting, right?

Right.

I think that the problem here is that I have become, for the duration of this particular project (and some projects are just like this), a product knitter. I want this sweater. I have been contemplating this sweater, or some iteration of it, for the better part of a year. That's how long it took to find the right yarn (and may I just say here again what a genius Chris is? This yarn is perfect, and I love it madly, truly, deeply, and it is tolerating these iterative fiddlings beautifully), and the right stitch motifs, and to decide on the shape and size. And now that I've made all of those decisions, I want it.

I'm looking forward to getting back to my usual leanings towards process knitting. I think that part of the problem here, too, is that this is the last product-oriented project that was on my List O' Things To Knit Before the Recommencement of Research, and that day is nigh. Once this is done, I can go back to knitting things with less hard and fast timelines. Of course, the fact that my sock club package arrived today, and that it involves beads, and that I am charmed to pieces by the idea of knitting with beads, is in no way implicated in my sense of urgency here. Nope, nope, not at all. I am made of sterner stuff, and do not need to be swayed by my baser instincts and desires in the matter of casting on for a new and shiny project.

Might another smack-down be incoming? Wait and see...

* Just had to share a favorite etymology here. Did you know that the root of "yoga" and that of "yoke" are cognate with one another? They both relate to binding, in the sense of binding breath and movement in yoga, and animals together in the case of yoke. This is also cognate with the root in "conjugal" -- we all get where the binding is there -- and, now that I come to think of it, it's got to be what's going on in "conjugate", too, eh? However, as nifty as all of this binding is, it has no place in my armscye.

This just in (and thanks to Carrie for getting me started on this): Armscye is not, I repeat, not in the Oxford English Dictionary. I checked, in both my hard copy, and in the online version. However (despair not, ducks), scye is in there. It's defined as: “the opening of a gown, etc., into which the sleeve is inserted; the part of the dress between the armpit and the chest”. (of obscure etymology) I am so wishing that I had my Indo-European Root Dictionary at home (I knew I should have two copies). But, meanwhile, doesn't that mean that the "arm" in "armscye" is inherently redundant?

15 comments:

Carrie K said...

It depends. What is the root of armscye? ;)

Just think how fabulous it'll be when you've wrestled it into the correct proportions and how thoroughly and justly proud you will be.

Willow said...

I have a tutoring student who is a truly atrocious speller and whenever we are discussing how to spell a word, he'll just look at me and say "WHY? Why is it spelled like that??" So I explain etymology and historical linguistic and he still just looks at me like I'm speaking a foreign language. Which I suppose historical linguistics is.

I'm amazed that you are keeping at the knitting of The Sweater. I'd be throwing the thing across the room and then stomping on it. Oh wait. I did that. BUT, the blue sweater is finished. I just don't have the ambition to photograph it since I don't really love it. Maybe on the weekend...

Miss 376 said...

This is turning out to be a real labour of love.

EGunn said...

I'm sorry for the ripping part, but you're almost done. And, doing it right is worth it...you'll love it more when it's done. I understand the product knitter thing, though. You'll make it!

So armscye isn't really a word?* Huh. I see it everywhere; wonder where it came from?

*And, of course, not being in the OED means it's not a word...

FUZZARELLY said...

I've used armscye (arm scye)for 30 years. Many words and phrases are redundant: have and hold, secret stash. Shall we begin a campaign to have the compound recognized?

Love your etymology. As a linguist, and a knitter, why don't you give a word a week and its ancestry?

Like you have nothing else to do.

Gwen said...

I don't think it's a problem with the figuring of the maths so much as a problem with the intersection of the math and the knitting. (having the right things measured rightly to have the right data to put into the figuring, then taking what you get out of your figuring and knitting it rightly compared to the original measurements) We are beautifully imprecise creatures!

Not that it makes much difference when we're reknitting. Again.

KnitNana said...

Of course, but we all know that this world is striken with a horrible case of redundancy, right? I studied yoga long enough to know the root of the words yoga and yoke, but you know what? I didn't make the next mental leap to conjugate.
;)
I'm convinced that the "knitting deities" are gods. Goddesses would NOT put us thru all this, being female and knowing our proclivities as they do...

Good luck with the sleeve. But you realize that will all this ripping back, you're just making me more and more convinced I do NOT want to knit my first sweater, don't you?
((((hugs))))

Lynne said...

Yes, the word arm is redundant - I have only ever known it as scye! But your arm is definitely not redundant - how would you knit or hug or... you get the picture!

the boogeyman's wife said...

the sleeve cap does seem to take more time than it ought for something rapidly decreasing. i love making sweaters but they do seem to take more time, effort and thought because getting the proper fit is so much more difficult. i mean a hat just has to fit your head circumference, it's not like ear size or hairline or eyebrows come into play. it'll be cool to see the final results!

Mary Lou said...

Ah, once the sleeve cap is ok, even a few inches of ripping on the arm aren't too bad. I like the armscye etymology. Is it like a hot water heater?

Bea said...

Sorry about teh ripping and reknitting thing. At least the sleeve cap is good.

twinsetjan said...

Yikes! I'm a bit fearful having read your post...I just reached the sleeves on the sweater for my son and hope the curse doesn't extend out!

One of the things I love about your blog is your forays into your other love, linguistics. Please continue!

Alwen said...

OED doesn't have armscye? Interesting - Google Books pops it up multiple times as early as 1902. (There is one "No preview" ref. that says 1891, but from looking at the info I think that's a typo or bad OCR conversion.)

twinsetellen said...

I'm thinking the intersection of the math and the knitting may be a little like the intersection of science and religion or faith. Sometimes they mesh very rationally, sometimes one has to accept that they occupy different strata of the universe.

Whatever, when you are done, I am sure your sweater will be a bit of grace.

And I am so going to start referring to scyes, rather than armscyes. No complaint about the latter, just like the efficiency of the former.

whitknits said...

Oh, my, The Sweater is sure putting up a fight. My sympathies on all of the ripping and re-knitting.

I thoroughly enjoyed the etymology digression!