Thursday, 18 June 2009

or sleeves with no sweater!

Once upon a time, in the twentieth century, lived a young teacher who taught in the public school system. Her classrooms generally had gas heaters but they didn't always work effectively. Being part of a team in the NSW system, the young teacher was not only expected to teach but also to keep law and order in the playground in twenty minute blocks at least three times a week. And sometimes supervise students as they waited for the bus to whisk them off to their homes.

Now this young teacher was also a knitter. Every year she knitted herself one new jumper [sweater] to add to her collection. She also had a mother who knitted. This mother knitted the beautiful young knitter/teacher three twinsets, consisting of a vest and a cardigan. With this ample supply of warm sweaters in her wardrobe and a collection of gloves and scarves, our young teacher was able to make it through even the coldest of days on playground duty.

After a period of time, our young teacher gave up her career for the more difficult task of raising a child. After five years at home, the young mother was pushed by "the recession we had to have" back into the workforce and those handknits became her staple winter wardrobe. After five more years teaching the leaders and educators of the future, our not-so-young teacher decided enough was enough and took down her shingle [no, teachers don't have one but you know what I mean].

In the following years she worked in the job network assisting the long-term-unemployed re-enter the workforce. She did her best to train them in skills like punctuality, attitude and anger management. She also spent three years at university becoming qualified to teach English to adult learners from other language backgrounds, hereafter known as TESOL.

After several years away from formal education, our decidedly-middle-aged educator applied for and was accepted to teach English in the largest registered training organisation in NSW, hereafter known as TAFE. Things had moved into the twenty-first century in her absence. Educational facilities, at least for adults, now had air-conditioning, rendering classrooms impossibly warm in winter and unbearably cold in summer! Our not-so-young-but-still-enthusiastic teacher found that, although it was cold outside, she only needed a short sleeved tee-shirt in the classroom during the winter months.

This would have been no problem, except that our intrepid teacher had to travel to work in temperatures less than 10*C [50*F]. She needed to be warm while travelling, especially on the days when the air-conditioning on the train was non-existent or, worse still, set on cool! Wearing long sleeves to work then changing was a hassle but still our cold-is-my-worst-enemy teacher needed warmth. Was there a solution?

**light bulb appears above her head**
Why not knit some sleeves with no sweater? "Gauntlets", said the shivering teacher's Wonderful Man.
"Gauntlets with no hands" she replied. "Or sleeves without a sweater."
They must be knitted in something soft [no wool against bare skin] and light so that they can be worn under a jacket. And removed without undressing.
...Hmm. Alpaca? Silk? Bamboo? Cotton?...

She raised the matter in an email with another knitter, who likes to be known as Doctor Bones. Her friend advised, "Cotton and bamboo don't have a lot of stretch recovery, don't know how well they'll stay up."
"Good point", thought our erstwhile gauntlet-without-hands knitter. I must think on it some more.

And so she did....

[Comments appreciated]


  1. Knitting-in elastic in top band?

  2. It sounds unusual but a good idea-Have you cast on yet?! Do you mean something like this long version of a pattern on

  3. Dear Teacher,

    Could you perhaps use knit in elastic at the top. Per: Taphophile.

    Also please note: NSW better than Qld education.

  4. What I actually mean is a tube with ribbing on both ends - like a very long sock with no foot. I want them to be completely hidden when I put on a long-sleeved jacket.

    I'm thinking invisible cast on [as for a sock with a whole lot more stitches], knit a tube that decreases as it grows in length and rib cast off. The knitting in elastic mentioned by Taph and Rell would be a good idea but would it cut off my circulation?

  5. Hmm..Quite a few sock yarns have the elastic, reinforcement thread you can purchase such as Lang. Why not knit that into the edges to help hold it up.

  6. Toast? They are like arm warmers, have a look on ravelry or 'a friend to knit with' blog

    loved learning more about you...

  7. The Rose Dr Wh wristwarmers I've just made are done in a smaller needle than expected for the wool used. this gives a very firm fabric which would stay up.

    I remember those heaters. More than one teacher I knew had eyebrows singed when the gas blew back while being lit. I missed that one.

    When I was in primary school in chilly western suburbs, my father's classroom had an enormous coal burning stove like those used on snowfields. It could not be filled more than a third full as it was too hot. A huge cylinder, full of heat, it was very handy and made us toasted sandwiches for lunch and heated him some soup too. Those were the days!

  8. I love the story :) And I love the idea of legwarmers for the arms! I wonder if knitting the top and bottom ribbing on smaller needles than the rest would help it hold up? Because that seems like it will be the main concern if you want them to be invisible... And maybe doing them in a blend of mostly wool with a little bit of silk would work, so that you have the memory of the wool, but the silk to make it a bit softer and lighter?


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