At CGOA's Chain Link conference (July '06 Valley Forge PA), I took a 2-day, 12-hour designing workshop with Lily. It's one of the best, if not THE best thing I've ever done. One of the tips I learned was to use giant graph paper that comes on a giant easel pad from office supply stores. Each page is marked lightly with 1-inch squares.
THANKS TO THIS TIP, I GOT A SET-IN SLEEVE RIGHT ON THE FIRST TRY! You know, those weird-shaped sleeve pieces that have sleeve caps, and the calculations for them can be as mathematically esoteric as you want them to be? I was resigned to needing 3+ tries before getting it right so I put it off until I had the necessary patience.
Well, not only did I use the graph paper to sketch a rudimentary sleeve-cap-looking curve freehand AND IT WORKED, I could sit in my comfy chair crocheting it up the whole time while the sketch stayed on the floor at my feet. If you want to, you could crochet a bit then see how the shape is matching up to your sketch, because on 1" graph paper it becomes a paper pattern; BUT DON'T GET UP! Merely glance at your sketch, and the gauge info you've written next to it, and you can see: hmmm, looks like the sleeve cap curve is now about 8 squares (inches) wide, and 2 more stitch pattern repeats should bring the next row up to 8".
WHEN I DID GET UP, my piece magically matched my sketch. BEST OF ALL, I tried seaming it to the body of the sweater and it looks great! Like I spent a lifetime designing set-in sleeves just so that this one could come out looking effortlessly chic!
Wish I could show ya a pic of the project but it's under contract. Is it a tantalizing revelation that it involves a certain excess of collar?