I’m making very good progress on crocheting the cardigan I’m resizing for my big and tall man. The body fits perfectly to the point I’ve reached, which is just before splitting for the back and both fronts. The one sleeve I’ve finished fits perfectly, too – but not because my initial math was perfect.
Here’s something I should have realized from the very beginning: bodies rarely match the math you work out for them perfectly, and that’s just as true for men as women. I won’t completely rehash the math here; you can check the first post on this topic for my coverage of the sleeve math. Fortunately, I believe in repeatedly rechecking the fit of anything you’re making, so I only had to rip out 19 rows near the beginning.
My original plan called for increasing the sleeve from the wrist about every third row, at least initially. As it turned out, that didn’t get the sleeve big enough, fast enough. When I tried it on my dearest at the 20-row mark, it was clearly too tight. That meant I’d need to do an increase row every other row.
A quick try-on at the 20-row mark THIS time succeeded. Who would have figured my beloved had Popeye-like forearms? I certainly didn’t. But front-loading my increases worked, and I could work even for about 10 rows at the end before starting to decrease for the sleeve cap.
That was…fun. For each increase row, I added one stitch at the beginning and one more at the end. But because of my gauge issue and how rapidly I’d have to decrease for the sleeve cap – to say nothing of the size of my beloved’s arms – I would have to decrease FOUR stitches for every row, over about 20 rows. Doing this caused the sleeve cap to cup, turning it into, well, a real cap.
Though I felt a little concerned, this turned out not to be an issue. Or, for any programmers reading this, it became a feature, not a bug. When I tried the finished sleeve on my dearest, it fit perfectly. I used closely-placed safety pins along the sleeve seam to try it on him. This approach worked so well for me that I recommend it.
In total, I fitted this sleeve four times: after the first 20 rows, after ripping out and redoing those rows, after completing all of the increases, and after completing the entire sleeve. This doesn’t count my double checking the fit of the sleeve’s ribbing around his wrist – which did matter, as I added four rows to it after that.
For those who think this sounds a little OCD, keep this in mind: I won’t have to do any fittings for the second sleeve at all, since I kept notes of the changes I had to make. And these sleeves will fit, so this handmade cardigan will probably get worn. That’s all I could hope for in the first significant garment I’m making for someone else.
In my next post in this series, I’ll report on what I’m doing to the body to make it fit right. How do you approach your fitting challenges?