Amber’s Blaithin — Sleeves!

by Amber on August 19, 2013

second sleeve so close now

I thought I’d start this segment of my Bláithín saga with a brief explanation of how I came to realize that I have ridiculous monkey arms. It is a rambly and stupid story, so I have thoughtfully inserted pictures of sleeve progress throughout, because I find having pictures to look at makes my incessant rambling far more tolerable.


When I get a pattern, the first thing I do is read all the abbreviations, pattern notes, and other important bits they stick right there at the beginning. Next, I skim the pattern once or twice, just to familiarize myself a little bit ahead of time. In the case of an item that has sizing options, I measure any parts that need measuring and highlight the corresponding sizes on the sizing chart. Then I go through the pattern highlighting all the number instructions which match the size I’m making.


The last time I made an actual garment with sleeves for me, I was using a much thicker yarn than what the pattern called for, so I altered the numbers quite a bit to compensate. I measured the really important things like bust, waist, and length from underarms to bottom edge, picked my size, and started knitting away. Thanks to the magic of math and lots of meticulous note-taking, the finished sweater was just the fit I was hoping for, except for one thing: the sleeves were too short. Like, waaaaay too short. The now obvious reason this happened was that I had not actually measured my arms. (Duh!) Instead, I just assumed they’d be the same sweater size as the rest of me, and I was so very wrong.


Needless to say, I measured carefully this time, several times in fact, thanks to my previous discovery. In addition to increasing the length, I also went two sizes up for the upper arm circumference since I like to layer and I cannot stand the feeling of too-tight sweater sleeves over bunchy under-layer sleeves. Drives me nuts! Especially because I have an annoying habit of rolling up my sleeves on a long sleeve shirt, but throwing a cardigan on over that. (I don’t know. We all have our quirks I suppose.)

7-19 (1)

As for the length, I ended up going up four sizes to compensate for my freak arms. So basically, I am using seventeen times more yarn in my sleeves than in the whole rest of the sweater. (Okay, so that part’s a slight exaggeration, but still…)

7-19 (2)

So there you have it. I freely admit this was the lamest story ever, but there wasn’t too much else I could say about my sleeve and body knitting progress, you know?

Blaithin 2nd sleeve progress

As of today, I am only slightly beyond the picture below. There’s one sleeve done, one with only about 2 1/2 inches to go, and I need 5-6 more inches on the body. Knitting time is tight around here as we get the boys ready to go back to school next week, but if all goes well, I’ll have some colorwork to show you next time!

knitting knitting

Until then, happy knitting. :)


Amber resides in sporadically idyllic Berks County, PA with her husband and three children.

She can most often be found knitting, making soap, sewing, or puttering around in her garden. She should probably leave her house more often.


1 Bonne Lethco August 19, 2013 at 8:04 am

OMG! Someone else with monkey arms (my family refers to them as “ape” arms) They were genetic–my father had very long arms too! I was sorry to hear of the trials of the sleeve knitting but I can SO relate. And the blasted things take FOREVER to knit, along with taking 17 times more yarn. Thank you for sharing–nice to know that I’m not the only one in this boat (but I usually end up making my sleeves too long to over compensate!)

2 Amber August 19, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Haha, I’m glad to have some company in the long arms department. :D

3 Shirra August 19, 2013 at 10:02 am

Measure? What is this thing you call “measure”? Could this be why my sweaters have never fit through the shoulders? And using a larger size for the upper arm circumference? Brilliant, Babe! Maybe I’ll end up knitting a sweater that actually fits me one day.

4 Amber August 19, 2013 at 8:11 pm

*tsk tsk tsk* Oh Shirra, Shirra… (It’s okay, I didn’t measure before either. Until I made the world’s lamest “cardigan” this one time. That converted me to being a measure-er.)

5 Benita August 19, 2013 at 11:29 am

I totally agree with you on tight upper sleeves and layering. In fact, if a sweater has tight upper sleeves on the model, I tend to skip that pattern. I know I could do the math part (I’m a bean-counter), but I’d rather use my math skills for other things and let my knitting be the fun stuff.

6 Amber August 19, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Yeah, I like to have sleeves loose enough to accommodate layers, and to be able to push up at least a little bit too. These sleeves didn’t seem terribly tight, but this way I know they’ll be perfect for me.

7 Torre August 19, 2013 at 11:05 pm

I’m the same way with fit but haven’t ventured to these adjustments. You make it sound so easy! Sweater is looking great!

8 Amber August 19, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Thanks Torre!

9 Sarah V. August 19, 2013 at 12:18 pm

You are an excellent writer and an even better knitter :) I love this story and the sleeves are looking amazing! :D

10 Amber August 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Sarah!!! You are far too nice to me. Thank you for the undeserved ego boost today. :)

11 Torre August 19, 2013 at 11:06 pm


12 Amber August 19, 2013 at 11:17 pm


Sorry, GEAPing from here on out…

13 Sarah V. August 20, 2013 at 10:18 pm

You are welcome :) (though, I’m with Torre on this one, of course.)

14 Mary Hawthorne August 19, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I have a 2 year-old grandson who is very tall for his age. But we have discovered that the long length is only relevant to the torso. So patterns for different sizes need to be combined. Found this out the hard way- but ripping out sleeves for a 2 year old is not as daunting a job as for an adult! We need to measure everything that the garment is going to cover.

15 Amber August 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Ha, yes! At least those little 2 year old sleeves are only a few stitches around. ;) (I still hate having to rip ANYTHING out though, to be honest!)

And I agree about the measuring everything the garment will cover. I learned the annoying if not hard way and I will not make that mistake again!

16 Bonnie K. August 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Nice progress! But I’m holding my breath for the steeking chapter!

17 Amber August 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Hey, you and me both! ;)

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