I've conquered the sleeves!
They have been beaten into submission!
Perseverance pays off. I am victorious. yippee!
There were a few more missteps along the path, of course. On Friday night someone on Ravelry said she read an idea in a Meg Swanson book to pick-up stitches along the arm hole then Kitchener or three-needle bind off to attach the sleeve.
This sounded brilliant. I ran down stairs to try it out. There are, of course, more rows in the sweater body in the 20 inches the top of the sleeve covered than there are stitches in the sleeve. I couldn't get the correct number of stitches picked up nicely along the body edge.
I struggling with it for about an hour before giving up. Frustrated, I fought the urge to throw the sweater across the room and burst into tears. Instead I complained that I was hungry.
I settled myself down, repinned the sleeve, and had my breakthrough.
This time I started at the outside edge, where I wanted the sleeves to end, and worked my way toward the middle from both ends.
I thought of this because I had mentioned the other day that it is the direction I go when I'm attaching a set in sleeve that has shaping.
You might remember in my first attempt to attach the sleeves I started at one end and went straight across. But everything shifted out of place.
Since I own two darning needles (well, ok, four actually) I was able to work from both ends at once. I would work 10 rows (one stripe) on the right, then 10 rows on the left, etc. The whole time I kept smoothing the body down and it was much easier to see where it was buckling up and needing to be "eased in" by taking two stitches on the body instead of just one. In this manner I ended in the middle, at the shoulder seam, and was able to hide any remaining pucker there.
Of course, that was just one sleeve. The second sleeve I had to once again rip back before I could go forward.
I got the second sleeve finished Sunday evening and plunged right into working on the body.
(I didn't work on it Saturday night. Hubby was out for the evening. I borrowed Love Actually from the library. Even though I'd seen it before I opted to sit and watch it and work on the stocking. The stocking is into the toe shaping. When the toe is finished I just have to go back and do the afterthought heel. I might actually finish this stocking by Christmas! Although I suspect it might be smaller than the other ones I've made.)
The amorphous blob you see at the beginning of the post is the sweater in position to have the first side seem sewn.
I've used a combination of wee, spring loaded, butterfly hair clips and my trusty Lake Placid stitch markers to pin it together. (I'm not sure those hair clips have ever actually touched my hair, but they are awfully handy for seaming a sweater.)
As you might imagine, sewing up the side is much easier. First off, working mattress stitch on two even vertical pieces like this is easy-peasy once you know what you're doing. I like to work a few rows then pull the yarn and watch the work zip into place. whoosh!
On this sweater I have the additional guide of the stripes. If the colors start shifting out of place so the pattern doesn't match up I can see it right away.
I made it all the way up to the second charcoal stripe before I stopped to go to bed. Of course, for this part, I wished it was still the weekend so I could just stay up all night working on the sweater.
Alas, that was not the case. But now that I'm on a roll I might actually have the sweater finished by Christmas too!