How many stitches make up the actual sleeve? Maybe it means just the sleeve stitches. I agree with Jan that it appears to be the number of stitches left on the needle. I may be misunderstanding how the sweater sleeve works. Can you link to your pattern? Or, what's it called and where did you get it?
Cheating is an option. . . . Cheaters never win and winners never cheat, but smart knitters who want to retain an iota of sanity do, cheerfully. ~~Kory Stamper