Typically, this means you have only the sleeves left on a sweater, and it's taking forever because, well, sleeves are just long and painful. They have about as many stitches as 1/2 the body or more sometimes, and you have to make two of them. Two! You're usually already done emotionally with the sweater, and just want to put the stupid thing on already, so why are you still knitting?
For me, right now, this means that I have the sleeves from two sweaters done. But nothing else. I've knit both sleeves for the Telemark ski sweater, and they match perfectly, so I'm quite pleased about that. I've also knit both sleeves for my Mother In Law's cardigan, and blocked them both, as I really don't have enough blocking surfaces to block all of the pieces at the same time. Raglan pieces are huge.
I did the sleeves first because they are more like swatches, and if I was dead wrong for some reason or other, I wouldn't have knit quite as far before realizing and ripping it all out wouldn't be as painful. For the Telemark cardigan, I figured I should finish the second sleeve ASAP so it matched the first as closely as possible. I didn't want my gauge changing between sleeves, so doing them one right after the other seemed the best route. I should be continuing on with the body for consistent gauge throughout, but I've jumped projects a few times in between.
For the MIL cardigan, I'm making this up as I go based on desired dimensions and a picture of a sweater that is pretty nice. I'm really hoping that it turns out well. I took the dimensions before moving to Japan, and won't be able to re-measure/see her try it on until the summer of 2010. I'm worried the sleeves are long, but I knit them to the desired length. I'm just worried that the join between the underarm and body will be lower than anticipated, and therefore make the arm length even longer, resulting in gorilla arms. I'm doing the calculations and it just worries me that it won't turn out, mostly because I've never knit something this fitted completely from scratch before.
The sleeves were the easiest to calculate, so I started with them first. That and I wanted to be sure my gauge swatch wasn't lying to me. I was going to knit one sleeve first, then the body pieces, then the other sleeve, so that the sleeves didn't bore me, but then realized it would be better to just get the second one done in case I didn't write down some crucial bit of instructions and therefore had two completely different arms. As you can see, my blocking surface is a bit small, so I pinned one to the front of the board, sliding the pins in sideways so they lie flat along the foam instead of pushing straight through, and one on the back, for double the blocking area. I allowed it to dry leaning up against the wall, and then put it into the closet, knit a sock and worked on some other things.
As of this writing, am blocking the back and about to start the front pieces. I think I may do these two at a time, so that I mirror them correctly. It would be very much like me to make two rights, or two lefts, especially as my list of instructions says to mirror pieces instead of spelling out what to mirror. However, I'm not bothering to wind the hanks into balls, so maybe two hanks going at a time won't be the easiest thing to do. Or, the back took just over one, so maybe I could just use both ends of one...? No, that's definitely a tangle waiting to happen!