NaKniSweMo: Sleeve Island

Welcome to Sleeve Island, the land where time means nothing and sweater excitement goes to die.  These are our takes for this third week of NaKniSweMo.


I consistently have the same thing happen with every sweater, no matter how excited I am to start it, or how excited I am to have the finished object.  I knit the body, I immediately cast on the sleeve thinking that if I start it right away, I will be able to finish before I lose momentum, I knit a good amount of the sleeve in the first day, like maybe a third or even half of it, then I put it down and knit literally anything else, sometimes for weeks on end.  I finally come back to the sweater and try not to think about how it would have been finishing long ago if I had just knit those sleeves instead of whatever three other projects I had worked on.  I take another week to finish the first sleeve, find a second wind, and finish the second sleeve in 2-3 days.  Every time.

As I type this, I am avoiding knitting the last FIVE ROWS on the first sleeve of my Lopi sweater.  The way this sweater is constructed, you knit the body up to the armpits, knit the sleeves up to the armpits, then join and knit the yoke.  I thought maybe, since the sleeves are knit earlier in the process than I am used to and since the colorwork yoke is bound to be the most fun part of the sweater, that the sleeves would go better this time.  NOPE.  And I’m not even trying to get to the second sleeve here, I just want to finish the first sleeve so I can use the needles to knit a Christmas gift.

I have tried two-at-a-time (TAAT) sleeves in an effort to combat this problem, but the progress seems slower so I get discouraged.  Maybe the next thing I should try is knitting the sleeves FIRST the next time I knit a bottom-up sweater.  Then I guess I’ll find out whether Body Island is a thing.


I powered through Sleeve Island on my first sweater just by breaking it down into the smallest chunks I could reasonably consider a “grouping”. So, uh, nerd alert, this is how I finish nearly any interminable part of nearly any project. I break the next segment of knitting down (e.g. ribbing, raglan increases, waist shaping, lace repeats, WHATEVER) into bite sized chunks that would leave me at a “known” location. With lace panels, it’s usually 2 rows, a pattern row and a purl back. With sleeves, hats, socks, it’s usually 1 pattern repeat, or somewhere in the ballpark of 5-10 rows, depending on whatever divides easily. Then I just tally through them by interspersing knitting with something else.

Like maybe I’m cleaning the house, then my process is like: knit 1 chunk (one whole tally), change clothes over and fold clean clothes, knit 1 chunk, vacuum, knit 1 chunk, etc. It works the same way interspersing with fun vegging activities like video games as well, and my perspective on which is the “reward” is totally dependent on my frame of mind and the activities in question. When I was in grad school, I would study a section or read a paper, then knit a repeat, and it worked well to keep me on track for both things.

Ahem, did I mention this was a NERD ALERT.


I’m a monogamous knitter. I knit one project until it’s done or I decide it’s not worth finishing. This makes it really hard to be on sleeve island, because it means I don’t get to knit anything else. It’s a system that works for me 🙂

That being said, I have only been on sleeve island once and it was because it didn’t fit. I didn’t care enough to fix the sizing, so instead of being on Sleeve Island, I put the whole thing in the frogpond. Next project, please!