Finished Projects · knitting

Knitting for Necessity: My Dad’s Sleeve

or, what happens when you can knit anything you can dream!

Happy Friday! If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope it was wonderful! Thanksgiving falls around a lot of birthdays in my family – one of them being my dad’s birthday. Today I’m going to explain the story behind something I knitted for him for his birthday this year, as well as some history to how this specific garment came to be. This is a fun reinvention of standard knitwear that I hope encourages you to think outside the box with your designs.

My dad and I are very similar in that we like to make things that are tailored to our specific needs. (In other words, he is an engineer and I was raised with this perspective.) Many years ago, my dad expressed to me that, when sleeping with an arm outside of the blanket, his arm gets cold. Initially, we cut up an old sweatshirt of his into three pieces: a vest and two sleeves. My dad has one of these sweatshirt-material sleeves, and I have the other one, thus marking the first iteration of the sleeve series.

Some time passed, and my dad asked if there was something I could make to cover his arm instead of the cut-up sweatshirt, so I came up with this: (And yes, he could put his arm under the comforter, but then I wouldn’t get to knit fun things like this!)

The second iteration of “the sleeve”

I knit a sleeve for his arm! This sleeve was meant to be worn over a long sleeve shirt to add a custom-fit “blanket” to his forearm. This is was one of the first projects I ever made, and it marked the first time I used a set of double pointed needles to knit in the round. I had to have been in middle school when I made this. I added on a few inches a few years after I made it, too (left side of the photo). The red and white stripes were also one of my first experiences with “colorwork” and carrying a color up the back of the work. (We chose red and white for the Detroit Red Wings, our favorite hockey team, and to honor the fact that most of my time knitting as a young girl was done while watching the Red Wings with my dad.)

My dad has used this red and white sleeve religiously since I made it, but I figured it was time for an upgrade, taking into account some modifications he has requested throughout the years. So this year for his birthday, I knitted him a brand new sleeve!

The new and improved sleeve!

For this reinvented sleeve, it was very important that I made sure the larger end would not roll down or slouch down his arm throughout the night. I also wanted this sleeve to be longer, made out of a higher quality yarn, and have a more defined cuff at the wrist.

I loosely followed this pattern for the sleeve instructions. Using size 6 needles, I cast on 52 stitches and knit a 2×2 rib for about two inches before switching to size 8 needles. Then, I knit about ten inches in the round, making one stitch every four rows. You can see the increases along the underside of the sleeve in this photo:

Increases on the underside of the sleeve

For the cuff at the bicep, I knit a 2×2 rib for 12 rows with size 6 needles before binding off. In total, this new sleeve measures 16″ long, whereas the initial sleeve measured 13″ long. It was very important to me that the upper arm bind off maintained the integrity of the cuff but was stretchy enough to fit over any shirt or sweatshirt my dad might be wearing. I needed to account for not only his upper arm dimensions but also for any fabric sleeves underneath. This cuff was meant to grip other fabric, whereas the cuff by his wrist would be around his skin. I sought the help of one of my favorite knitting YouTubers, Very Pink Knits, to find a stretchy bind off. This is the bind off that I used.

The stretchy bind off flares out the ribbing, meaning maximum stretch potential!

For the yarn, I used my favorite, Cascade 220, 100% Peruvian Highland Wool in the shade Smoke Blue. This was a natural choice for me because it knits up quickly, is incredibly warm, and has wonderful stitch definition – which is great for a project with a majority of solid knitting. The yarn I used in his initial red and white sleeve was likely Red Heart 100% acrylic. I wanted something a little more luxurious yet sturdy for something that is worn daily.

After blocking this sleeve, I wrapped it up and gifted it to my dad. He absolutely loves it! Here are some photos of the birthday boy with his new sleeve:

I am very pleased with how this fits him! The cuff at the bicep has a decent amount of grip to prevent rolling, the sleeve covers more of his arm now, and the cuff at the wrist is a much needed addition. Happy birthday, Dad!

As knitters and crocheters, we are able to stretch our imaginations and create anything we can design. This project, for me, is proof that necessity is the mother of invention. I’d love to hear what you have created out of necessity, or any other unconventional projects that accomplish a specific goal for you!

In addition to thinking outside the box with this project, I also felt very enthusiastic towards knitting my first sweater. I really loved watching this sleeve take shape and, had I continued knitting without the bicep cuff, I would be well on my way towards making a sweater! I have officially bookmarked this yarn and sweater pattern combo for the future, and my creative gears are already turning in the design process of a chunky sweater with this yarn. How exciting! I think next year, you will be seeing multiple sweaters from me…

Well, I’m off to go knit more Christmas gifts. I have only a few left to make before I’ll be done with my holiday knitting. Until next time, happy knitting!


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