Skip to content

Sweater Techniques Series – Gramps Baby Cardigan – 3 / 6 : Top-Down Sweater Construction

March 21, 2012

OK, so you have picked your pattern, and knit the swatch to determine what needles you will be using for the project.  Lets move on to begin the knitting.

This tutorial is part 3 of a 6-part tutorial covering sweater knitting techniques. To start at the beginning, see this post.

The jacket is a seamless design, knit from the neck down. After the body and arms are complete, the button band and collar are worked. Pockets and patches are added last. Sweater body is worked in stockinette stitch.

What does this tell us?

‘Seamless design’ means that the sweater is essentially knit in 1 piece, instead of being knit in several pieces and sewed up at the end.  ‘Knit from the neck down’ means that the knitting will begin at the neckline, and work down through the yoke over the shoulders, to the point where the arms will separate from the body.  Then the body will be worked from the underarm down to the lower edge, and then the arms will be worked (in the round) from the underarm down to the cuffs.  Lastly, the button band and collar will be added by picking up stitches, and pockets and patches are added last of all.

Today we will be knitting from the cast-on at the neck edge, down to the end of the yoke.  As you can see in the first diagram, looking down on the sweater from above, you start by casting on at the neck opening, and then knit back and forth in rows, which increase in length due to increases at raglan ‘seam’ lines, and at the neckline edge.


To begin, we will cast on following the pattern instructions:

yoke: Using larger needles, cast on the number of sts indicated for your size.


Once you have cast on the required stitches, proceed to work the setup rows as per the pattern instructions.  Remember to follow the instructions for the size you have chosen.

Where it says pm in the pattern instructions, this means place marker: slip a stitch marker onto the needle before continuing to knit or purl.  Once a marker is in place, it will remain until you are instructed to remove it, and each time you come to it, you will slip it from the LH needle to the RH needle.  Markers are used to indicate parts of the work; in this case they mark where the raglan ‘seam’ lines occur.

Next, you will continue knitting the yoke, following the pattern instructions:

The yoke of the cardigan is formed by increasing every RS row along raglan ‘seam lines’. At the same time, the neckline is shaped by increasing stitches at the beginning and end of the first and each following 4th row (this will be on rows 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, etc.).

So each and EVERY RS (right side) row, there are 8 stitches added at the raglan ‘seam’ lines – two at each line.  At the same time every SECOND RS row (every 4th row), there are 2 additional stitches added at the neckline.

So on Row one 10 sts will be added, then on row three 8 sts are added, then row five, 10 stitches added… so on and so forth until the specified number of neckline increases and raglan increases have been done.  It is useful to keep track of your rows, so that you don’t work too many neckline increases.

As you will see, the yoke will begin to form a shape which, when laid out flat, will be somewhat like a doughnut, or a moon snail egg case.

MMMMmmmmm doughnuts… I’m getting hungry for lunch.

Well this shape just continues to grow, until you complete the specified number of repeats or rows, and meet the noted number of total stitches.

This is the end of the yoke section of the sweater!  Congratulations!


The yoke is complete, and although it doesn’t look like much yet, you are well on your way to creating a darling little heirloom for a special girl or boy.  In the blog posts to follow, I will take you through the rest of the steps required to knit the Gramps cardigan!

The next post will be:

  • Top-Down Sweater Construction: Body & Arms: Separating sweater at the underarm, casting-on stitches using backward loop method, and knitting in the round

Is there anything I covered that is unclear?  Did I miss any important points?  Please let me know what you think of these tutorials, and make suggestions for other tutorial topics by posting comments, or contact me directly.  Be sure to subscribe to the blog to receive each post as it goes live, right to your inbox!


For Knitting Teachers

This material is intended to be useful to those who teach knitting. If you are a shop owner who runs knitting classes, and would like to use this tutorial for instruction, you are welcome to download the .pdfs and use them free of charge in your teaching activities. Tin Can Knits wholesales books and single leaflet patterns to knitting shops in Canada, the USA and the UK, if you are interested in carrying our products, please contact us.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Siobhan permalink
    March 9, 2015 2:17 pm

    Thank you for the tutorial, I’m afraid I’m being a bit dim but do you actually give instructions for a provisional cast on? Above it says how to cast on with the provisional method but the it just says to cast on as per pattern instructions which are to just cast on? Am I missing something? Thanks!

    • March 9, 2015 3:24 pm

      Hi Siobhan – in an older version of the pattern there was a provisional cast on, but we have taken that out.

  2. Siobhan permalink
    March 7, 2015 6:21 am

    Hi, I’m still not sure what you mean by provisional cast on – this post doesn’t seem to address it? Do you cover it elsewhere? Also, do you cover how M1 should be handled in this pattern as my usual method (lift a stitch out if the yarn below and knit into the back) seems to leave a gappy trail rather than the neat raglan increases I see in the pics! Thanks.

    • March 9, 2015 3:30 pm

      Check out our ‘help’ page for both links (how to m1 and provisional cast on)

  3. mia permalink
    June 6, 2014 1:30 pm

    I bought your pattern, and started yo knit… I dont understand how you get the raglan to go in opposit direction. I get all my raglan-lines to the right. How do you get the PM to be the same if every row adds 8?

    Thank you!


    • June 10, 2014 10:16 am

      You should leave the markers in place, and simply slip them at each row. Hope this helps!

  4. March 25, 2014 11:35 am

    The pattern is wonderful, although I am a little confused about how many repeats I do. In the directions it says: “Repeat rows 1 and 2 a total of 14 times” – does that mean a total of 14 rows together, or a total of 14 rows per each row (so 28 rows I would have knit total)? I’m assuming 28 rows total because I have to do neckline increases 7 times – but is my assumption correct?

    • March 25, 2014 2:00 pm

      Repeat rows 1 and 2 a total of 14 times means you are working 28 rows (row 1, row 2, row 1, row 2…..)

  5. Ann Haggett permalink
    November 9, 2013 5:09 pm

    I am a sock knitter (dpn’s) and this sweater, albeit small, is throwing me. I have done the following on the yoke: setup row, first increase row, first WS row. I understand the need to increase at the raglan lines and will probably use Ml rather than the KKL deal. But I don’t understand when to do the neckline increase, i.e. do I do a Ml on the very first stitch using a knit through the front and back of the stitch? (in which case I would also knit through the front and back of the very last stitch on that row) Or, at the beginning of the row, do I Kl first and then do a Ml (increase) using the bar between the first and second stitch (and likewise do a Ml on the next to the last stitch of the row?) Thanks.

    • December 11, 2013 5:29 pm

      Hi Ann – Working m1 at the raglan points is totally fine. For the neckline increases, I would suggest working k1, m1 at the start of the row, and knit to last st, m1, k1 at the end of the row. Knitting front and back would work, but I think the m1s will be more seamless.

  6. Andrea permalink
    October 16, 2013 7:34 pm

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! It is great to be able to follow along while learning new techniques (and I have also discovered some better ways to do things than the way my mom taught me back in the day!). The photos are so helpful. I wish all knitting patterns came with similar tutorials! :)

  7. Catalina permalink
    August 30, 2013 8:16 am

    Hi Emily,
    Thanks for the tutorial. I´m confused about the raglan increases. The pattern says: “…knit to 1 st before marker, m1, k1, slip marker, k1, m1”. I knitted it and it formed a line of two knit stitches along the raglan diagonal line. In the pictures, It seems that the line is formed by just one knit stich along tha raglan diagonal line. I think I´m making something wrong but I don´t know what it is. Thanks! Catalina

    • September 3, 2013 6:11 pm

      Hi Catalina

      It just depends on which increase you are using. Emily used a krl and kll for the increases (see the abbreviations page for links on how to do these), but I always use an M1 (giving me the 2 sts instead of 1).

      • Catalina permalink
        September 10, 2013 1:08 pm

        Ok, I understand, thank you very much.

    • Andrea permalink
      October 16, 2013 7:25 pm

      Hi Catalina – I had the same problem but I think I figured out why. The abbreviations included at the end of the pattern pdf seem to be mixed up. The KRL and KLL definitions should be switched. The definitions appear with the correct abbreviations on this page I ripped back and redid and now see the one knit stitch along the raglan diagonal line.

      – Andrea

  8. Nicoleta permalink
    August 7, 2013 4:41 pm

    Great tutorial! I’ve been looking for instructions on how to knit top-down for some time and I am very happy I found yours. It is awesome! Growing up my mom used to knit like this, I’ve learned how to do it, but did not use it for a long time and I forgot it. Thanks!!

  9. bernadette permalink
    July 16, 2013 8:12 pm

    hi emily – I used all make one back (right) for the krl and all make one front (left) for all the kll and it is looking beeeyouteeful! thank you so much. on to dividing for sleeves!!!

  10. bernadette permalink
    June 26, 2013 8:13 am

    hi again,
    do you have a tutorial for the kll and krl called for?
    when I go to various knit help sites, there are different explanations out there…
    thanks! bernadette

    • July 9, 2013 9:45 am

      Hi Bernadette – thanks for your question! There are links on our abbreviation page which show how to do Kll and Krl. But FYI you don’t have to use these particular increases – M1 or m1r and m1l will work just fine too! Hope this helps! Emily

  11. bernadette permalink
    June 26, 2013 7:37 am

    hi Emily,
    I did the provisional cast on (woo hoo! new life skill!) and the set up row on the WS. Now I am confused as the pattern describes first row, second row on page 1 with m1 increases, then row 1 and row 2 on page 2 with krl kll increases. should the very first two rows (ok, really not the first two since I have the set up row, hehe) use krl and kll as the m1 increases???
    thanks! bernadette

    • July 9, 2013 9:47 am

      Hi Bernadette – because of the way you work the KLL and KRL, it is impossible to use these kind of increases on the very first row (after a provisional cast-on). That’s why the first increase row uses M1 instead (because there is a bar you can pick up). Then after that you can switch to KLL and KRL per the pattern, OR work M1 if you prefer at the increase points! Hope this helps! Emily

  12. Tess permalink
    January 31, 2013 10:37 am

    great tutorial, thank you. What I would like to ask is, how do I know how many stitches to cast on and HOW do I devide into 4, is it equal amount?
    Front- is it every 2 front rows (on the 4th row?, back and front)counted.

  13. August 25, 2012 8:47 am

    Your instructions are awesome!! I am a beginning knitter and an even more beginning blogger…so learning both by reading this :)

  14. susana permalink
    August 16, 2012 3:55 pm

    Gracias por compartir. Susana


  1. Free Tutorial: How To Knit Top Down Baby Cardigan » Da'Knit

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,109 other followers

%d bloggers like this: