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Let’s Knit a Cardigan

December 24, 2013

This is it! It’s the final installment of our Simple Collection. If you’ve been knitting along with us this is your last project before you go forth and conquer the world of knitting.

If this is your very first garment there are two important things to consider: gauge and fit. Review our tutorial on gauge to ensure your sweater comes out to the dimensions you want, and learn about choosing your size to ensure you get a sweater that fits the way you want it to.

::: Get Started :::

Download a copy of the Harvest pattern (it’s free!) grab your yarn and needles, and let’s get down to business.  If you have been following along and knitting the other free Simple Collection designs: Wheat Scarf, Malt Blanket, Oats Cowl, Barley Hat, Maize Mitts, Rye Socks, and Flax Pullover you will already have learned almost all of the techniques required to make the Harvest Cardigan.  Believe it or not, there aren’t that many complex techniques required to make a simple sweater!

::: Yoke :::

Using larger needles, CO 10 (10, 12, 12, 14, 14, 14, 14, 14, 16, 16, 16, 16, 18, 18, 20, 20) sts provisionally using the crochet chain provisional cast-on method.

Setup row (WS – wrong side): p2, knit to end
Row 1 (RS – right side): knit
Row 2 (WS): p2, knit to end
Work rows 1-2 a total of 39 (46, 49, 52, 49, 49, 49, 59, 57, 62, 59, 60, 58, 58, 64, 66, 70) times; creating the same number of garter ridges. This is a total of 79 (93, 99, 105, 99, 99, 99, 119, 115, 125, 119, 121, 117, 117, 129, 133, 141) rows worked, including the Setup row. Your final row is a WS (wrong side) row.

Basically we are creating a strip of garter with a stockinette edge on one side. This will be the back neck of the sweater.


Ready to pick up stitches and place markers?

The next portion of the yoke involves picking up stitches along the stockinette edge, placing markers to indicate the garter panels, and unzipping your provisional cast on to give you live stitches.

Next row (RS): knit to last 2 sts, PM, k1, m1, k1 (this is the end of the row), next, turn work 90 degrees, and pick up and knit 52 (62, 66, 70, 66, 73, 73, 88, 85, 93, 89, 90, 97, 96, 107, 110, 117) sts along the edge of the collar (pick up at a rate of 2 (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5) stitches in every 3 (3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6) rows).

When picking up stitches you will not be picking up 1 stitch in every single row, you need to pick up at the rate indicated instead.

Eg. for the smallest size you will be picking up 2 sts for every 3 rows. So you will pick up a stitch in each of the first two rows, then skip the next one. Pick up 2 sts in the next two rows, skip the next one. etc.

Finally, undo the provisional cast on (details here), put live sts onto LH needle, and work across them as follows: k1, m1, k1, PM, knit to end.

When unzipping/undoing the provisional cast on I often find I am one stitch short. This is because the edge stitches sometimes get lost when you undo the provisional cast on. Not to worry. Simply increase 1 stitch on the next row (you can use a m1 or a kfb) to make sure you have the same number of stitches in each garter panel and the correct stitch count overall.


Stitches have been picked up and markers indicate the garter panel

Now it’s time to place markers (PM), setting up for the raglan increases.

Setup row (WS): knit to marker, p3, PM, p14 (17, 18, 19, 17, 18, 18, 23, 21, 23, 21, 21, 22, 20, 23, 23, 25) sts, PM, p24 (28, 30, 32, 32, 37, 37, 42, 43, 47, 47, 48, 53, 56, 61, 64, 67) sts, PM, p14 (17, 18, 19, 17, 18, 18, 23, 21, 23, 21, 21, 22, 20, 23, 23, 25) sts, PM, p3 (this brings you to the last marker), knit to end.

From now on you will be working paired increases at each of the 4 raglan markers every 2nd row, and increasing at the neckline every 4th row. Always slip your markers as you come to them.

As you work you will start to see the raglan lines forming where the markers are.

As you work you will start to see the raglan lines forming where the markers are.


Raglan close up

Follow the raglan instructions for your size.  The pattern includes the generic instruction ‘m1’ for increasing, but if you like, you can use mirrored increases at the raglan points: work m1R first, then k1, slip marker, k1, then m1L on the opposite side of the marker.  You can learn more about increases in our tutorial here.

::: Separate Body and Sleeves :::

Now that your yoke is complete you will separate the body and sleeves. The sleeve stitches are put on waste yarn, stitches are cast on for the underarm, and the rest are left for the body. Remove raglan markers as you come to them.

Knit 20 (20, 22, 22, 28, 28, 31, 31, 34, 36, 39, 42, 45, 50, 53, 58, 61) sts (left front), place the next 26 (29, 30, 31, 33, 34, 38, 43, 45, 47, 49, 53, 58, 60, 67, 71, 77) sts on hold on waste yarn (left sleeve), cast on 4 (4, 4, 6, 6, 6, 6, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 10, 10, 12, 12) sts using backward loop method (left underarm), knit 36 (40, 42, 44, 48, 53, 57, 62, 67, 71, 75, 80, 89, 96, 105, 112, 119) sts (back), place stitches on hold for right sleeve as at left, CO sts for right underarm as at left, then knit to end (right front). The sleeves are on hold, and there are 84 (88, 94, 100, 116, 121, 131, 140, 151, 159, 169, 180, 195, 216, 231, 252, 265) body sts on the needles. The first and last markers indicating the garter edges remain in place. Work one WS row: knit to marker, purl to marker, knit to end.

Sleeves have been separated

Sleeves have been separated

Sleeve stitch close up

Sleeve stitches on hold –  close up

It’s time for a lot of knitting! The sleeves are on hold, the body will be worked in rows down to the hem, then the sleeves are each picked up and worked last.

::: Body :::

The body is worked by continuing in pattern as set: garter panels at each side and stockinette in the middle. You will continue to work increases at the neckline as indicated for your size.

Then repeat rows 3-4 until body measures 4 (5, 5.5, 6.5, 8, 11, 13, 12, 13, 13, 14, 14, 14, 15, 15, 16, 16) inches from underarm (or 2 (2, 2.5, 2.5, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4) inches short of desired length to hem).  Work in garter stitch (knit all rows) for 2 (2, 2.5, 2.5, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4) inches, then bind off.

Body complete! Time for the sleeves.

The body is complete! Time for the sleeves.

::: Sleeves :::

To work sleeves you will need to first put all the stitches from the waste yarn onto your double pointed needles.  If you don’t know how to knit in the round on double pointed needles, check out this tutorial. Knit across these stitches. Then you will pick up stitches from the body of the sweater at the underarm, place a marker as indicated, and you will be ready to work the sleeves in the round.

Knit all rounds until length indicated has been achieved.

Decrease round: k1, ssk,  knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1
Knit 8 (8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5) rounds.
For child sizes: work one more decrease round.
For adult sizes: continue to decrease every 9th (9th, 9th, 9th, 8th, 7th, 7th, 6th, 6th, 6th) round 4 (4, 5, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15) more times. [26 (29, 30, 33, 35, 36, 40, 41, 43, 43, 45, 45, 46, 48, 51, 53, 57) sts]

Continue working sleeve as instructed, you already have all the skills required!

Tip: Making 2 the same

The important thing about knitting sleeves is making 2 the same (sounds obvious right?). So make sure to take notes on the number of rounds you work as you go.

  • how many rounds to the first decrease?
  • how many rounds after the last decrease but before the garter cuff?
  • how many rounds in the garter cuff?

::: Finishing :::

Finishing a sweater can be the most important part. Block your sweater and weave in your ends. There will be a small hole at the underarm, use your tail to sew that up.

You have put a lot of work into your first sweater so don’t skip blocking, it’s an important step. Blocking will make your stitches even out and lie flat and generally ‘smooth out’ your work.  It’s easy to block a sweater out of proportion if you aren’t careful. Make sure you have your measuring tape handy and that your chest measurements and length are as desired.

The Simple Collection is for Sharing ::: This tutorial is part of The Simple Collection – our 100% free learn-to-knit series.  Check out the 8 fabulous free patterns sized from baby to big, and get started making modern seamless knits for the entire family!  And be sure to share this and our other Simple Collection patterns with your friend, fellow knitters, teachers, and knit groups.  If you appreciate this project, please take a moment to help us to spread the word by clicking below to share on facebook, twitter, or by email.

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2015 4:57 am

    I avoid using dpns if at all possible, any reason why I can’t use magic loop on the sleeves. Love the pattern and the tutorial!

    • November 18, 2015 10:01 am

      Hi Mary – yep, you can magic loop pretty much anything that is done on DPNs!

  2. Aubrie permalink
    November 12, 2015 1:48 am

    For the yoke and picking up rate, I am a bit confused. During the knitting of the stockinette stitches do you do the pick up rate while or knit the whole yoke then start the pick up rate?

    • November 17, 2015 10:31 am

      Hi Aubrie – I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question….are you talking about picking up sts from the garter strip you knit at the start?

      • Aubrie permalink
        November 20, 2015 1:36 pm

        Yes, picking up stitches from the garter. I figured it out along the lines of what a pick up rate is.

  3. Kquvien permalink
    September 25, 2015 5:19 am

    I just finished up the Flax sweater. These are the best patterns!!! I am wondering if it is possible to add a hood to this cardigan?

    • September 29, 2015 6:17 am

      I’m sure you could add a hood by picking up and knitting one up from the neckline. I haven’t designed (or knit) a hood before, you might want to study other patterns to figure out how they are constructed. Good luck!

  4. Nicky permalink
    May 1, 2015 12:22 pm

    I’m a little confused when it comes to the raglan increase portion of the yoke. I’m comparing to the steps/photos you list here before I attempt knitting it, so I don’t have to keep starting over. When you refer to “raglan” markers, you’re only talking about the blue stitch markers, correct? So you would only do the raglan increases before and after the four blue markers, and not the two orange ones? How does this account for the different stitches before and after the orange markers? In the image above, it almost looks like you’re doing the same raglan increases 6 times at each marker.

    • May 5, 2015 9:13 am

      Hi Nicky – nope, there are no increases at the orange markers, they are just there to indicate the garter border. Eventually there are increases at the neckline. It must be an illusion in the pic

  5. Lauren permalink
    April 3, 2015 8:33 am

    On this pattern do you have to use this method of cast on?

    Also, is it possible to modify it a tad so that the sweater will fall three or so inches below the hip? If not I’ll just follow the pattern as intended; I am a fairly new knitter so I’m not incredibly good at making edits like that.

    • April 3, 2015 1:14 pm

      Yep, definitely use a provisional cast on, that way you can unpick it later for a smooth join at the back neck. To make it a bit longer, just keep knitting! Since this sweater is knit from the top down you can just work the body longer. Happy knitting!

  6. Lisarie Gleason permalink
    February 1, 2015 8:05 pm

    I’m using your sugestion of using M1r before a marker and M1L after a marker, but it isn’t specified which increase to use on the neckline increases. I’ve done a few in M1L, but I want to make sure if that is best.

    • February 4, 2015 11:49 am

      I used an M1r at the right neckline and an m1l at the left neckline. The decreases then slant with the neckline.

  7. December 31, 2014 5:28 am

    So.. I’m a beginner and Dutch speaking and no hero at working by plan so .. with the collar “the collar is knit sideways.Using larger needles, CO 10 (10, 12, 12, 14,” Do I have to use a pair of larger needles to knit the collar or just to cast on stitches? Thank you

    • January 5, 2015 6:32 pm

      You will be using larger needles to knit the collar. The smaller needles are for the hem and the cuffs

  8. Tripazia permalink
    August 20, 2014 10:12 pm

    I am guessing I have found this much later than anybody else! it looks lovely, especially for someone like me who hates the look of he ribbing that a lot of cardigans and jumpers usually have. Yours is so clean looking and elegant!
    I do have a question as well. I have noticed that in a few places it looks like the numbers do not increase with the increased sizes. For instance, in the box right below the paragraph where we are told to place the markers for the raglans, the numbers for the first few adult sizes go 23, 21, 23, 21, 21, 22. I see this happening in many other places in the pattern, and I am just going to go with it, but it’s the first time that I come across a size XS having more stitches/rows than a size S and was wondering how come. Thanks!

    • August 24, 2014 2:36 pm

      It just depends, you need to work different numbers for different sizes and there will be more sts/rows in some places to make the numbers work.

  9. Brenda Wetli permalink
    July 27, 2014 2:13 pm

    Not sure about this instruction….Decrease round: k1, ssk, knit to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1
    Knit 8 (8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5) rounds.
    Do you do one round of decrease and then 8 rounds without decreases?

    • August 5, 2014 10:09 pm

      Yep, you got it. One decrease round, then a number of plain rounds, depending on your size.

  10. Nillie permalink
    March 3, 2014 4:34 am

    In Norway, yarn weight is measured by how many metres of yarn you get per skein (each skein usually being 50 g). A relatively thin 3-ply yarn I’m currently using (double yarn to knit “Wheat”) is 50 g ≈ 150 m.
    How does the yarn suggested in this pattern measure this way?

  11. Grete permalink
    February 26, 2014 1:55 pm

    Thank you so much for the free pattern and excellent tutorials. I am what you might call an “advanced beginner”, and this was my first sweater knit. It turned out great and I am very happy with it. Thanks again!

  12. Judy11 permalink
    December 27, 2013 4:31 pm

    I know that pattern call for Madeline Tosh Vintage, but thought I ‘d check to see if that is what is shown in this tutorial. I would also love to know the colorway – it’s ymmy!! Thanks and love your creative take on simple patterns!!

    • January 23, 2014 5:53 pm

      Hi Judy

      The colour is Esoteric and it IS yummy. The sweaters featured in the pattern are Glazed Pecan and Silver Fox.

  13. Adamalia permalink
    December 26, 2013 12:10 am

    Thank you very much. These tutorials are clear, detailed, really well written. Excellent work.

  14. Helen Stephens permalink
    December 24, 2013 3:36 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for a wonderful year if knitting and marvellous tutorials.
    My first year of retirement is going to be a knitter’s delight using your patterns.
    Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year full of good health and exciting times.
    Helen S


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