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Sweater Techniques Series – Gramps Baby Cardigan – 4 / 6 : Top-Down Sweater Construction – Body and Arms

March 28, 2012

At the end of last week’s tutorial we completed the yoke of the Gramps cardigan.  So far it doesn’t look like much, but I assure you that we are well on our way to completing an outrageously adorable baby garment!

This tutorial is part 4 of a 6-part tutorial covering sweater knitting techniques. To start at the beginning, see this post.

Today we will knit the body and the arms of the sweater, and the project will begin to resemble a proper little old man cardigan!  As I showed in the previous post, the process of knitting a top-down sweater is as follows:

Last week’s tutorial covered how to cast on and knit the yoke of the sweater.  This week we will be knitting the body and arms, which are quite straightforward.

HOW TO SEPARATE THE BODY AND ARMS OF A TOP-DOWN SWEATER

In order to knit the body, you need to separate the total stitches of the yoke into stitches that will become the body, and the stitches that will become the arms.  It will also be necessary to cast on some stitches at the underarm. (be sure to follow the pattern instructions for the size YOU are knitting.  I am knitting the smallest size, and therefore I am using the instructions in red.)

The pattern instructions read: 

On the next RS Row, divide body and arms as follows: k23 (25,25,27), put next 33 (35,36,37) sts on hold on waste yarn, cast on 5 (5,7,7) sts, k47 (49,51,55), put next 33 (35,36,37) sts on hold using waste yarn, cast on 5 (5,7,7) sts, knit to end. [103 (109,115,123) sts]

Below is a diagram showing graphically what this means:

Once you have knit the across left front (the number of stitches indicated in the pattern), and put the arm stitches on hold (by using a blunt needle to thread a piece of waste yarn through them), you cast on stitches for the underarm.  This can be done a couple of different ways, but I suggest the backward loop cast-on method.

BACKWARD LOOP CAST-ON METHOD

Use the working yarn to add loops to the RH needle.  1 new Loop = 1 stitch cast on.  The loops must be made such that they do not come off the needle, so the outside part of the loop catches the yarn and binds it against the work.  An image is better than any words:

So here we begin:

So you will:

  • knit across the left front,
  • then cast on stitches for the underarm and put arm stitches on hold,
  • then knit across the back, then cast on stitches for underarm and put arm stitches on hold,
  • then knit across the right front

Your yoke is now split into body and arm stitches, and if you squint your eyes and imagine, you see that the strange piece of knitting is beginning to take the shape of a cardigan!  At this point you can count your stitches to be sure that you now have the correct number on the needles.

The body of the cardigan in this case is very simple; follow the pattern and knit the majority in stockinette stitch, then switch to your contrast colour to work the ribbed bottom band.  I suggest that you bind of ‘in pattern’ on the wrong side (WS) of the work.  Binding off in pattern is simple; as you are binding off, you knit the stitches as they lie before binding off.  So if the stitch is a knit stitch, you knit it, or if it’s a purl stitch you purl it, before binding off as usual by lifting the first stitch over the second stitch and off the needles.  I suggest that you do this on the wrong side of the work, because I find it produces a slightly neater edge on the right side.

Voila!  You now have a sleeveless cardigan!  Next you move onto the sleeves!

HOW TO KNIT THE SLEEVES IN THE ROUND FROM UNDERARM TO CUFF

You will knit one sleeve at a time.  To begin, put the stitches that you have on hold on waste yarn back on the needles.  You can do this by inserting your needle through each of the stitches, following alongside the waste yarn.

Once you have your needle through all of the stitches, you can cut the waste yarn and pull it out.

Pick up 5 (5,7,7) sts from the body at the underarm.  Mark the centre stitch of these 5 (5,7,7) sts; this will be the first stitch of the round. Knit around 33 (35,36,37) held sts, and 2 (2,3,3) of the 5 (5,7,7) picked-up sts, to the new start of the round. [38 (40,43,44) sts]

HOW TO PICK UP STITCHES

To pick up a stitch you insert your RH needle through the work from right side to wrong side, and with the working yarn in the back, wrap around the needle, and use the needle to pull a loop through the fabric to the right side of the work.  Do this the number of times indicated by the pattern.  Then mark the middle of these stitches.

HOW TO KNIT A SLEEVE IN THE ROUND

Follow the pattern, knitting in the round, and decreasing as the pattern specifies:

…work decrease round every 5th round a total of 5 times…

This means that you will simply knit every stitch on rounds 1,2,3,4, then work a decrease round on round 5, then knit every stitch on rounds 6,7,8,9, then work a decrease round on round 10, and so on for a total of 5 decrease rounds.

Continue following the pattern until the sleeve is the specified length, then switch to your contrast colour to work the ribbed cuff the same as at the bottom of the body.

Then work the second sleeve the same as the first!  Voila – now your project actually looks like a tiny little sweater!

NEXT STEPS

The body and arms are done, and there are only a few finishing touches before this über cute project is complete.  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:

  • Shawl Collar and Button Band: Picking Up Stitches along an edge, Short-Row Shaping, Buttonholes

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 by email 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.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. Linda Burrows permalink
    September 27, 2014 4:45 am

    Hi and greetings from S. Wales,UK.
    I have just found your blog and Google+ website from a link on Cats Rocking Crochet blog and must say I adore what I’m seeing so far (haven’t had a chance to check out the rest of what seems a fab blog yet).
    Thanks so much for this easy to follow pattern for the Gramps baby cardigan. I haven’t made one yet of course but I’ve checked out your instructions and they are so clear and precise that I know I will enjoy making this up for my newest baby grandson.
    I haven’t been able to keep up with my blog for almost two years due to ill health so I haven’t linked to it, also my blog is mainly cardmaking and papercraft. Funnily enough my I’ll health is the one thing that drew me back to my first loves of crochet and knitting. Isn’t it funny how things that happen in our lives can totally change our needs for a while. I haven’t given up papercrafting, will be back at it hopefully in the next few weeks as I’d like to make my Christmas cards again now I’m feeling a bit better.
    Anyway enough of me, thank you again for your kind gift of the free pattern to the web. I shall be back to look around the rest of your blog for certain.
    Best wishes Lindyloo xxx

  2. Sheila permalink
    August 25, 2014 4:46 pm

    Wow! Very impressive website.

  3. Disha permalink
    June 26, 2014 2:56 am

    I loved ur tutorial and the way u explain in detail please tell me after picking up the stitches in the armhole why did u mark center how does that help?
    What is center marking for ?
    Thank u soo much

    • June 28, 2014 11:44 pm

      You mark the centre stitch of the underarm stitches because it will be the first stitch of the round (your BOR or beginning of round). So when you follow the pattern, and work decreases at the sleeve, the decreases will be made either side of this marked stitch.

  4. Jessy permalink
    April 28, 2014 7:05 am

    Can you tell me what yarn you are using in this tutorial as well as the names of the colors? I love it!

  5. Rockup permalink
    November 20, 2013 10:04 pm

    Why are the arm stitches inside of the raglan increases, rather than divided in the middle of them? In your photo on this page they appear to be divided in the middle of the “seam,” but in the Gramps pattern they are not. Is there a specific reason?

  6. Cheri permalink
    September 1, 2013 7:55 am

    I haven’t knitted in years, and am picking it back up. This is the first time, however, where I have done raglan sleeves this way. What I am confused about is how to add in the new yarn to work with for the sleeves.

    • September 3, 2013 6:09 pm

      Hi Cheri

      Place your stitches on your double pointed needles (or a long circular for magic loop). Using new yarn in MC knit across your stitches. I do this by leaving a long tail and just knitting with the new yarn. The first few stitches are a bit loose but you can tighten them up later.

  7. tasha lee permalink
    June 15, 2013 12:19 am

    Hi, i purchased gramps baby cardigan!

    I’m so glad this pattern is very easy to follow!
    However, i’m stuck at arm part!!
    I saw the pattern over and instructions

    i know how to pick up stiches but i’m so confused how to do next step.

    Knit around
    33 (35,36,37) held sts, and 2 (2,3,3) of the 5 (5,7,7)
    picked-up sts, to the new start of the round

    I’m using circular needle and there are 5 pickup stiches on my right needle and 33sts on hold.

    do i have to knit 33sts? so 38 sts on right needles together? i mean 5 pickup stiches goes bottom and 33sts on top of right needle.

    then, what is the exact meaning of 2(2,3,3)of the 5 (5,7,7) picked-up sts??

    I’m so confused! please help me!

    • June 15, 2013 10:18 am

      Hi Tasha – what you do is:
      1) Pick up 5 (5, 7, 7) stitches to begin (these are the only stitches on your needles at the start)
      2) Place the held stitches back on needles, then knit around on them, so you will have the picked up stitches + the stitches that were on hold, and be at your total stitch count for the upper arm.
      3) Lastly, knit 2 (2, 3, 3) of the picked-up stitches once more. Then stop. Then is the new beginning-of-round point, at the underarm.

      From there you proceed to work the sleeve following the instructions. Does this help?

      • tasha lee permalink
        June 15, 2013 2:47 pm

        thank you for quick reply!! :)so there are pickedup stitches on bottom and other stitches on top.and as you mentioned, [to knit 2 of pickedup stitches] , my all 5 pickeup sts are already on the bottom part so do i need to move sts to other side needle to 5pickedup sts goes on top part? sorry!

  8. jam jar permalink
    May 28, 2013 8:15 am

    the reason I am confused is that first schematic says to knit across the back, put the arm on hold, then cast on the underarm, but below second schematic says “you will then knit across the back, then cast on stiches for underarm and put arm on hold” – opposite order than before.

    • May 30, 2013 7:59 am

      See my comment below regarding the order of casting on underarms and placing sleeve sts on hold.

  9. jam jar permalink
    May 28, 2013 8:10 am

    not sure, are the 5 underarm stiches staying on the needle to be P on WS or do they get put on hold with the arm?

    • May 30, 2013 7:58 am

      The underarm stitches become part of the body – so you knit across the front, place sleeve stitches on hold, then cast on 5 stitches at the underarm. I suggest using the backward loop method to cast on these stitches – it is simple and effective, and you don’t need to turn the work. Then simply continue across the back, place the other sleeve stitches on hold, and cast on the underarm stitches at this side, then knit across the front to the end of the row. It doesn’t matter whether you cast on the underarm stitches THEN place sleeve sts on hold, or place the sleeve sts on hold first, and THEN cast on the underarm stitches. It makes absolutely no difference! I hope this helps. Here’s a link to the

  10. February 19, 2013 2:48 pm

    This set of instructions was EXACTLY what I needed today. I’ve been puzzling over the instructions for my first top down cardigan. Your photo How To Separate At Underarm was just what I needed to see. I think the cardigan you are knitting is very cute, and I’ll put it in my queue. Picked up your site from Pinterest.

    • February 21, 2013 7:10 am

      Glad to be of help! Top-down garments are my favourite! It makes it more likely that you will really finish! Good Luck ~ Emily

  11. March 29, 2012 4:20 am

    Such an informative post! And what a cute sweater.

  12. March 28, 2012 8:14 pm

    great tutorial. well done.

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

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