Frogs in My Armhole

The Inside Stories: Day 60
Monday, May 11, 2020

We started our stay-at-home adventures on Friday, March 13, which makes today Day 60. It’s also May 11, and this is what we woke up to:

January in May (2020 version)

Simply unbelievable. That’s about 3″ of cold-press frosting right there, folks. Winter just has to have the last laugh…

I want you to know that I really do read all of your comments, usually at least twice. I’ll go back and re-read a comment that did my heart good the first time around; I’ll double-check to make sure I am quoting someone correctly; or I re-read them simply because you are walking this journey with me, and it is deeply healing to hear from all of you again. I have missed you.

I love the variety of your responses. Sometimes you show links to what you are working on (YES, PLEASE); sometimes you say, “And I thought I was the only one!”; and sometimes you let me know that I am not the only one! You ask a question, or you make a request (A query such as “Could you write about X?” is a song to my heart), or else, you have rather gutted me with your wonderfully compassionate and wise insights. And many of you purr over kitty photos…

Kimberly assures me that there is no such thing as a gratuitous cat photo (made me laugh, 25 points to your School House, Kimberly), and from the comments, it appears that she is not the only one. Thus: Kimberly, today’s Fuzzy Images are in your honour (with thanks for some deeply sweet and very moving comments).

Dusty approves of Cook’s rendition of “Royal Canin, Flavour in A Major, Chicken”

(I’ll get the REST of you, my pretties, at some later date.)

A Minor Detail

Before we get into anything else, I’d like to point out a Minor Detail. For two blog posts in a row now, I have offered you this pretty picture to gaze upon:

Undercurrent Underarm

The caption, both times, was this:

Notice the beautiful curved seam? Notice the beautifully seamed armhole?

Let’s take a wander through that caption. (Hang with me here. Y’all know I am doing this for a reason.)

The first question: Notice the beautiful curved seam? might have been a BIG giveaway as to the point of that photo. However, since that didn’t seem to work, let’s take your comments regarding said seam at face value, thus: Thank you. I must say I agree, it is a really beautiful example of a curved seam. Part of why I included this photo was, I admit, to show off a particularly pretty piece of construction work. (If I do say so myself. Well. I only said that AFTER you said it, of course.)

The second part of the caption reads: Notice the beautifully seamed armhole?

{ blink }

Read. That. Again:

Notice the beautifully seamed armhole?

I’ll wait.



OK, then, here’s a HINT:

Since when do we ever seam an armhole, people?



The second point of posting that photo was to show you a mistake that is all too easy to make: I stitched together the front and back of the arm-HOLE; i.e., I seamed shut the part of the sweater that needs to be open to let your arms through.

I thought for sure I would get a pithy comment or six about that one, but perhaps, well. Perhaps you were all just blinded by the sheer architectural grace and beauty of the seaming. {bows} Thank you, you are all really too kind. {busts up in laughter}

Ben expresses his opinion

Either that, or you really were just too kind in holding your tongue. (You’re the best.)

One Stitch At A Time

Often in life, things are right in front of our faces, and yet we do not see them. Mistakes, particularly mistakes of the above magnitude of brilliance, often result from an inattention to Here and Now. This is neither good nor bad; our minds wander where they need to wander to heal and bring joy, especially these days.

A curvy hip…

We can let ourselves get swept along the flow of creativity; my seamed armhole was no doubt the result of enjoying the seaming process so much that I just hummed along merrily merrily with the mattress stitch until there wasn’t anything left to seam.

Another factor in the Hole That Wasn’t: I’m at the point now in my knitting life where I rarely pin more than shoulder seam to mid-sleeve-cap before just winging it all the way around the sleeve cap and down the length of the arm. This may seem like some sort of expert high-flying act, with experience tempering the risk of ending up with four inches of one side left hanging past the cuff of the other side; perhaps. But think: If I had taken those extra few minutes to pin, or at least to pin at more than just one or two places, then I might have been slowed down the fun long enough during Speedy Seaming to notice that I was going where no seam had gone before.

A waistly curve…

Oh, and yes: I do enjoy mattress stitch enough to get lost in the flow of it. I realize that I love the part that most knitters hate: I love the stitching-up part of knitting something. It’s like solving a puzzle: Find the paths for my needle to follow that will make the smoothest, most invisible seam possible. Sometimes a stitching path is obvious, so the work goes quickly; other times, I have to pick my way through the stitch-path carefully, one stitch at a time. Sometimes I have to back out a few stitches (or more than a few) to create a neater seam, or to close an unintended hole. And sometimes, I look at my work of the past fifteen or twenty minutes only to notice that I have once again created a monster of ugliness.

Or that I have sewn a crucial opening shut. (Neckline next time, anyone?)

The long and short of it, with the fabled sewn-shut armhole on the right of the photo above

The Frog Pond Report

First, a refresher photo:

The above is my heavily modified version of Mirabor. This perpetually on-the-needles project never turned into a burning priority of mine. While I loved the little sweater itself, it suffered from the effects of being selected as a “work project”, one I had started on Knitting Daily to use as an example for teaching pattern modifications. I’m not certain if I ever meant to actually wear the thing; nonetheless, I kept modifying it every time I changed shape, faithfully writing about every mod, either on one of my blogs (this one, Knitting Daily, or What’s On Sandi’s Needles, the interim blog I wrote for Interweave after leaving KD) or in my private scribbling—and in those years, I changed shaped quite a bit, in and out, up and down, this way and that way…

Zoë, my oh-so-patient model, who made everything she wore look shabby in comparison to her gorgeous fur

I think, in the end, the sweater’s lines became distorted by all those mods and re-mods, so that it just didn’t look right on me at any size! Thus it was that this past weekend, I bid this little red work companion of mine a fond farewell. I took some last shots of it, including the pretty lace edging: The lace edging that first caught my eye; the lace edging that was a big reason I chose the pattern in the first place; the lace edging that I loved so much from stitch to stitch in the knitting of it.

And then, it was just…huff ‘er a kiss, and let ‘er rip.

That pretty edging was the last to go

The Math of Frogs

This section is for super nerds. NO, wait. Actually…I highly recommend doing the following calculations (or similar) for at least one project in your knitting life, whether it be sock or sweater. It tends to give one a huge sense of accomplishment!

How Many Stitches? Hem to Waist

My gauge for Mirabor was (consistently) 5.5 sts per inch, which for my then-47″ finished size hip meant 260 stitches in each row thereabouts. My row gauge was 7 rows per inch, which works out to about 1820 stitches per vertical inch. Hem to waist was about 6 inches, or 1820 x 6 = somewhere around 11,340 stitches to ravel, just for the lower third of the garment!

How Many Stitches? All the Way Up

As for the rest: Back then, my waist was only about 1″ smaller in circumference than my hips, and waist to underbust was about 3″ vertically. So call that another, hm, muttermumble, 760 stitches. Bust, 44″ circumference then; high bust 41″; shoulders 15.75″; brain, 9 pounds; pasta, 8 minutes on setting 3…so say another 800 or so stitches there. Yoke and sleeves, 88 stitches per sleeve, plus say 180 for yoke, means, wild stab in the dark: 2100 stitches.

Le Grande Total: Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15,000 stitches for the whole red burrito.

(I’m actually checking my project notes rather than stabbing in the dark, just so you know.)


Silly me. I hadn’t done the math before I starting ripping, so I thought it might take, oh, about 45 minutes or an hour to rip the entire cardigan back from yoke to hem.

To my surprise, it took me nearly 3 hours over 3 days to get ‘er done.

In the end, I wound up (heehee) with about 1100 yards of lovely red-fuchsia DK merino yarn. I’ll skein it and give it a quick soak to get the grime of the centuries out of it; then I will hang the skeins to dry just under their own weight. (I never use weights when drying skeins. I actually wrote up a section on To Weight or Not To Weight, but I cut it for length. If you are interested, I can include that in a future post. Just let me know.)

Here’s a final kitty pic for you, Kimberly:

The Snugglers: Tessa and Dusty show how it’s done

Really In Conclusion

I think that’s (more than) enough for today. I will show you my Finished! Hoodie! next time. I could have left out a section or so here, but sometimes a post tells the stories it wants to tell, and then sits back and says: That’s all for now.

You folks are a joy to write for, thank you.

~ 💖🦄🦙 Sandi

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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8 Responses to Frogs in My Armhole

  1. Cat says:

    I noticed that you had seamed the armhole, but I was unable to articulate my amusement and my sorry in one comment. I am looking forward to seeing the finished hoodie with armholes completely open!

    Love the pictures of your furry overlords.

    I just finished knitting Ishbel in cotton – I am in need of shawls I can wear round my neck and I find wool itchy!


  2. Lori says:

    Sandi, your seaming was so perfect that I couldn’t tell it was a seam. It looked like a lovely, curved armhole. You have mad skills. So glad you’re back! I’ve missed hearing about your exploits and seeing your cat pictures.


  3. Barbara G says:

    From the angle of the picture, I couldn’t tell it was sewn shut. You did knit a very nice curve! I was curious about your comment about re-skeining your yarn “cut to length.” I wouldn’t mind some input as I have a completed sweater that is a mess and because I like the yarn, plan to frog the whole thing. Love those kitty photos!


  4. Kimberly says:

    Thank you for the kitty photos! So beautiful!

    I’m excited to see your finished hoodie.


  5. cjj says:

    I would like to read your section on “To Weight or Not To Weight”. You are so talented with your words and knitting skills, Love the cats.


  6. Tamara says:

    I love ripping things back! Or, well, let’s say that allowing myself to rip back when I need to has been the most liberating thing for my knitting. 🙂


  7. leslieileen says:

    Kitties and somebody else who makes interesting mistakes. No wonder I enjoy you!


  8. Faith Love says:

    Sandi, I am so glad you’re back – it is good to hear your voice again! Much love to you and the entire family!


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