Several people mentioned, after reading my notes about books yesterday, what people think of you based on your books. I hadn’t really thought about that (although I would put any steamy romance novels out of the public eye, for sure — I remember how shocked I was to discover that one of my profs in college read romance novels, and how fast I told everyone in the department). But then I remembered that our houseguests had looked all over the living room bookshelves while I was making tea, and decided to look and see what conclusions they might have drawn about me and my family.

I can’t imagine. Music, history, science, novels, craft books, more novels, religion and philosophy, and more novels. Photo albums, gardening books, a few assorted dictionaries. Kids’ books. Half a dozen books about planning a wedding. So… a musician/ craftsperson with an interest in the humanities, who has been involved in a wedding in the not-too-distant past, has kids, and reads a lot of novels. Yeah, that’s pretty close.

But that may not be what they thought at all. They might have thought I was a terribly light-minded person, a dilettante with more mystery novels than classics, and no political science whatsoever. Not a single word by Pablo Neruda, no spy novels, and an unreasonable number of craft books. Multiple copies of knitting books? What’s with her?

Actually, I am doing the armscye shaping on Hopkins now, an undertaking which requires immediate access to numerous books. My bold anti-agoraphobia program has caused me to have three appointments this week before work, as well as my three evenings out. Clearly, I am not getting to the gym much this week (although the Poster Queen pointed out that the gym in question is open twenty-four hours a day, so there is nothing to stop me from going at, say, 5:00 am, and getting back in time to make the boys’ breakfast. The Poster Queen says bracing things like this.) I will have a bit of extra knitting time in waiting rooms, though. I expect to get the back completed before Easter at this rate. I am therefore continuing to approach the question of sleeve shaping in an orderly and scientific fashion.

The Knitty article on calculating sleeve caps said you just have to use a little trigonometry. Who are they kidding? There is no such thing as a little trigonometry. Either you have taken a course in it, or you don’t know quite what the word means. No one decides to dip into trigonometry a little bit, to read a couple of articles on the subject over lunch, or to have a cocktail-party acquaintanceship with the topic.

Abandoning the Knitty article, I turn to The Big Book of Knitting. It shows a clear schematic of a set-in sleeve, and says that the stitches are bound off in a rounded shape, with the last 2 3/4″ bound of straight across. Okay, I can handle that. The it says, “the rounded part … should be at least 2″ less than the armhole length on the front and back.” Unable to turn this into English, I pick up Knitting By Design. Thank goodness I store my books vertically.

This book has charts. Armed with the chart, I measure the front of Hopkins from the first bind-off for the armscye to the shoulder. It is 10″, which is already larger than the book recommends. Never mind. The chart tells me that my sleeve cap should be 7″ long. I calculate the proper length of the sleeve from wrist to armscye and find that it is 17″. I measure Siv’s sleeve to that point and find that it is — 17″. So I can follow the sleeve pattern confidently to that point. I measure the height of the sleeve cap, which should be 7″, and find that it is — 9″. And it was longer than that before. No wonder I did not like it.

So I must calculate how to get all the necessary decreases into 7″, when the pattern has it figured for about 10″. I could figure from my gauge — or by directly measuring — how many stitches will make 2 3/4 “. Then, judging from the width of the sleeve… Oh, my goodness. Maybe trigonometry would be better. Or a dropped sleeve. What’s wrong with a dropped sleeve, after all? Possibly the fact that I have already made the front and much of the back of a sweater that calls for a set-in sleeve.

Pull out Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book. She says that the width of the sleeve at the beginning of the sleeve cap should be the size of the armhole minus 1″ — presumably, in this case, 19″. That seems rather large, but I trust Mary. She recommends measuring this out on paper — the width of the sleeve cap and the height of the sleeve cap have been figured and can be drawn in, and now you draw a nice freehand curve for the shape of the sleeve cap. Cut it out, and use it to block your sweater.

Okay. I have 7″ to get from 19″ (the width of the sleeve at the beginning of the sleeve cap) to 2 3/4″. I will bind off an inch at either end right away, making it 17″. So I merely have to subtract 2 3/4 from 17, getting 14 1/4, and then divide that by 7. I see that this is going to be a number slightly larger than 2. Let’s just call it 2. I’m getting about 4 rows to the inch, so I will have to get half an inch decreased on every row. That looks like a decrease at each end of each row will be required — about twice as fast a rate as the original Siv pattern calls for. Granted that there are too many numbers in this paragraph, I still think it will work. A little graph paper may be in order.

I’m sure your eyes have already slid off to some other, more interesting blog. However, I am going to keep this to come back to when it is time to shape the sleeves. Have I proven that it is essential to have lots of knitting books? Or that someone still needs to write a more perfect knitting book? Or only that I am too dense to be able to grasp things the first time they are presented to me, and have to have them phrased in lots of different ways before I can understand them? No matter. I was able to find all these books, regardless of color or size, pull them out, and put them tidily away when I finished, without even having to leave the computer. I consider that this proves the superiority of my book-arranging system over that of Southern Living. They will not be coming over to photograph my living room any time soon, either.