Second Sleeve Syndrome

I finally finished the first sleeve of Steve’s Aran and have started the second sleeve. I’m in the throes of Second Sleeve Syndrome now.  I’ve heard of Second Sock Syndrome, where the knitter despairs over having to knit a whole second sock, resulting in delays (or worse) a whole pile of single socks.  I’m not a sock knitter, though, so I’ve never experienced that.  Nor have I had an issue with anything similar regarding mittens.  Cold hands = motivation, I suppose.

For me, Second Sleeve Syndrome is the polar opposite of what I understand Second Sock Syndrome to be.  When I reach the second sleeve, particularly on an adult man’s sweater, particularly when that sweater is a complicated Aran, I can see the end in sight.  After months of knitting my way through the front and back, and then the brief excitement of forward progress when I start the first sleeve, only to lapse back into doldrums again as the increases pile up, I’m finally almost done.

No more whining about this being the third dark green Aran I’ve knit in recent times.  No more complaining about doing more calculations than a NASA interplanetary satellite programmer, thanks to my unwillingness to just follow the blasted pattern, already.  I’ve long since resigned myself to knitting a sea of teal green yarn.  As far as the calculations go, they’re done.  Really done.  All I have to do for the second sleeve is follow what I did for the first, and that’s that.  Sew the thing up and knit on a ribbed crew neck, and it’s finished.

I get really excited when I make it to the second sleeve, so the knitting tends to go way faster than the other sweater pieces.  I’m not as distracted by my other knitting projects.  I manage to find more time for knitting, as I anticipate finishing a big project.

I blocked the sleeve this morning, and took a few as-blocked measurements and photos:

Steve's sweater sleeve

See any resemblance to the original pattern, Cobalt Cables?  Me neither.  Just to bring you up to speed, I’ll re-cap my modifications.  Every sweater I knit for someone else begins with The Sweater Conversation.  I want to find out the person’s likes and dislikes, take measurements, discuss yarn fiber content, and so forth.  When I had The Conversation with Steve, he liked the Cobalt Cables pattern all right, but wanted some modifications.  I readily agreed.  The beauty of being a knitter is being able to custom-make things to a person’s specifications.

In this case, Steve wanted the neck opening to be smaller.  Okay, so I needed to make the saddle narrower, for starters.  He happened to like a basketweave cable pattern that I’d shown him on a swatch.  That basketweave is a mere two inches wide — narrower than the diamond pattern given for the saddle in Cobalt Cables — so it would make a good pattern to carry up the saddle.

Steve's sweater sleeve closeup

I also wanted to put the basketweave on the body of the sweater, so I eliminated some of the cables that separated the offset diamonds to bring the diamonds closer together and make room for flanking basketweave:

Steve's Aran front 2

Oh, and I switched out the seed stitch filler stitches for a waffle stitch that I’ve used on othe Arans.

Finally, I decided to give the sleeves some shaping, using  the instructions in Janet Szabo’s Aran Sweater Design book to make shallow set-in sleeves instead of full-on dropped sleeves.  This technique worked well for my son’s Aran, so I adopted it for this sweater, too.  The result is a more tailored sleeve than a dropped shoulder sleeve — kind of a cross between dropped and a regular set-in sleeve.

Steve's sweater sleeve cap

The resulting sleeve is totally different than what’s in the pattern, other than the ribbing.  It took lots more math than I’d hoped, and was way more involved that just following the pattern, but I think the results will be worth it.

Well, I’m off to knit on that second sleeve.  With any luck, this will be off the needles in March, after which I can work on some less bulky things as the weather warms.

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2 Responses to Second Sleeve Syndrome

  1. Marilyn Raffaele says:

    Hi, Love looking at your projects. What yarn are you using for this lovely mans sweater. Love the color.
    Marilyn Raffaele


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