"Noun : A small specialized mechanical device. Synonyms: concern, contraption, contrivance, gimmick, jigger, thing. Informal: doodad, doohickey, widget. Slang: gizmo."*
I was all set to follow Diane's advice on the stitch marker system for knitting two sleeves on one circular when I remembered a clever little thing I got for Christmas last year. I've used this portable abacus on any number of projects, but just as a straightforward row/round counter. Once I started thinking about the complications that could arise out of color-coding stitch-markers with tallies -- locating a pen or pencil in the appropriate color, losing one of said pens or pencils, losing the tally -- it occurred to me I could use this thingumabob a little more creatively. I could make it do double duty.
Perhaps I should mention first off (and it's so obvious I hate to admit it) but I was surprised to notice that just placing a marker at the start of the knitting helped me keep track of whether I'd knit across both sleeves. If the marker is in the middle, I haven't. If it's at either end, I have. That was one frustration eliminated right there.
Here's where it gets really ingenious, though. Almost convoluted, but in a good way. I have devised A System.
The pattern calls for increases at each end every four rows. At the gauge and for the size I'm knitting, these four rows get repeated 18 times, so I'm counting by 5's instead of 10's. No really. This makes sense. This way, since there are nine beads on each strand, I can track different things. I'm using some of the beads to keep track of where I am within a given set of a 4-row segment and some to keep track of just how many segments I've done. Beads moved toward the top count rows; the larger beads count the left piece, the smaller beads count the right. Beads moved toward the bottom count sets of rows, that is, how many increase rows I've done. Small beads count single rows, large beads mark sets of 5. Once I have 4 beads at the top of each strand, I move them back to the middle and move a small bead to the bottom. Once I have 5 small beads on the bottom, I move them up to the center group and move one large bead down.
My head knows that I could do this by moving fewer beads. For example, while I would probably still want to move the 4th bead up on the first sleeve, instead of moving one up for the second I could just move one down to mark a completed set of 4 rows. I could do the same thing for the increases. My head knows, but the rest of me just doesn't trust me. Maybe after a few more repeats I will. Of course, looking at the beads, I'm half-way through the 13th out of 18 sets of increases, so in a few more repeats I'll be done with this part anyway.
I can't help but notice I've gone far and beyond "knit a few more rows before I give it up as a bad lot and return to a more conventional way of knitting sleeves." Admittedly with so many increases done, two sleeves on one needle knit an awful lot like the entire back of a sweater. I suspect the knitting equivalent of the Theory of Relativity is to blame here. I would have to knit two sleeves one way or another and knitting them on two needles would not, in fact, reduce the actual time spent knitting them. I anticipate the moment -- probably not until I actually bind them off-- when reality hits me over the head and I discover (no doubt to my astonishment) that the sleeves are done.
All thanks to the contraption, contrivance, jigger, doohickey, clever little device.
*American Heritage Dictionary.