It’s a lovely day here. Too lovely for housework, which I must do anyway, but perfect for errands, visiting friends, and playing in the garden. And possibly sitting on the porch with a book and some knitting.

Now that I have committed to finishing Hopkins before I knit anything else, I am looking ahead just a little bit to when, with the front and back finished, I will do the sleeves. The first time I made Siv (the pattern I am using for Hopkins) I was dissatisfied with the sleeves. In fact, though I wear Siv fairly often and like it well, I am still dissatisfied with the sleeves. Obviously, I will have to make some changes when I make the sleeves for Hopkins. With any luck, if I contemplate these changes while I knit the back, I will have made some decisions by the time I get to the sleeves.

Ah, sleeves. First we visit Sleeve Island, knitting long dull things that have to be turned often, with lots of purling and decreasing to slow down our reading. Then, like as not, we have multiple trips to the Frog Pond in order to make the blamed things fit the armscyes. Then we complain on our blogs that the sleeves are too long, too short, too big, too small, or in some other way not really what we had in mind.

A map of Knitter World would be a strange thing, wouldn’t it? I guess it would have to contain Australia in spite of the boycott, and New Zealand, Iceland, the Shetland Isles, Fair Isle, Jersey, Guernsey, Polperro, France, Italy, New England, Peru, Japan, New York City, and portions of Scandinavia. Then there would be Sleeve Island and myriad Frog Ponds. Blogs hither and yon. That would be about it.

In an effort to stay out of the Frog Pond and enjoy my stay on Sleeve Island, I decided to read Knitty’s article on how to make sleeves fit. I read it when it first came out, sort of, except that I found that my eyes sort of slid off the page. There has since been a second installment. With this one, also, my eyes were inclined to slide.

This happens to me when there are lots of numbers and variables on a page. I read and review the new books for the store where I work (you’re jealous, aren’t you?) and I find that I have this problem with new algebra books. I end up saying things like how useful this book will be for those who need help with their rational numbers and equations, and that the word problems are unusually witty. I think I have even described the covers.

That Man doesn’t quite believe this. He was doing a mailing and had included an entire paragraph full of phrases like “…normally sells for $2.99 a roll, or $365.83 per case, but between March 15 and April 23, we will be able to offer them to you for $321.14 per case, with …” I pointed out that readers would have to hold the numbers in their minds while moving their eyes back to the beginning of the next line, and would doubtless find that their eyes simply slid off the page onto something more interesting. I pointed out that our average customer is not clear on the actual length of a yard of paper, and has to think several times before being able to say with certainty whether it was three feet or three yards that were wanted. The Empress hoped that those people were not the ones doing the purchasing for the districts, but she and That Man still went ahead and came up with a nice graph.

This was wise of them. I have nothing against math. I enjoy a good statistical analysis as much as the next woman. I have some favorite math books, and even own several excellent books about mathematics. (Let me know if you want a list. I am restraining myself here.) Nonetheless, I would recommend that, if you want to read those good articles about sleeves in Knitty, you arm yourself with a pencil and some graph paper. Then, when faced with “Subtract the body width from the wrist-to-wrist measurement. Divide the answer by two. That’s your sleeve plus cuff length. Subtract the cuff depth to get the main sleeve length,” you can draw the thing out to make it clearer.

You may not be like me, or our hapless paper-buyers. You may be like That Man and The Empress (an accountant and an economist by training). In that case, skip the paper and pencil and go immerse yourself in those Knitty articles, soaking up the measurements and enjoying a good mental workout. Also check out the references. I am fortunate enough to own one of the out-of-print books in the bibliography, Ida Riley Duncan’s Knit to Fit. It contains formulae for calculating your sleeve perfectly. However, you will end up with a 1963 sleeve. Styles have changed since then, and our idea of a perfectly-fitting sleeve may also have done so.

In any case, these ruminations on sleeves will occupy me sufficiently while I clean, cook, and restock. Enjoy your weekend.