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Let’s Knit a Gramps Cardigan (1/6)

February 23, 2012

Learn to knit a Sweater – Quickly :

Gramps Cardigan

Gramps – adorable outerwear for your grouchy little old man – by Tin Can Knits

Knitting a baby sweater is the perfect way to learn all the sweater techniques that would be necessary to knit an adult sweater, in a fraction of the time, and with a hopelessly adorable result!

Our Gramps cardigan is a perfect example, while it is a relatively simple design, its simplicity requires a good number of intermediate knitting techniques such as: increasing and decreasing stitches, pattern reading, knitting in the round, picking up stitches (both along an edge, and in the middle of the fabric), short-row shaping, buttonholes, and some seaming / finishing.

This seems like quite a long list of techniques and may seem quite daunting; but these techniques are the same ones that are required in a lot of sweater knitting, and if you take them step-by-step, each one is easy to accomplish.

If it still seems like too much, try our Flax or Harvest sweaters, 2 of our free patterns from our learn to knit series, The Simple Collection.

Gramps Cardigan:
adorable outerwear for your grouchy little old man


There is no better way to learn than doing right?- so purchase a copy of the pattern, grab your needles and yarn, and follow along as we explain everything in a clear, step-by-step manner. If you have questions, we hope you will post your comments, or email us and we will make every attempt to incorporate the answers to your questions into this tutorial.

The Gramps Cardigan tutorial is created as a series of 6 illustrated posts, clearly explaining each of the techniques required to knit the Gramps Cardigan.

Gramps Cardigan on is a fabulous community and resource for knitters and crocheters all over the world.  On Ravelry you can check out the Gramps sweaters that other people have knit, read their suggestions, and see what yarn and colour combinations they chose. It is a great place to start before any project!

For Knitting Instructors

This material is also 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 do so. 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.

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More TCK sweater patterns with in depth tutorials:

43 Comments leave one →
  1. Nena permalink
    June 14, 2021 7:34 pm

    working the short row collar shaping, and my question is after working short row 1 and 2, it says to work those rows a total of 15 times for the size I’m doing. Then it says Next 2 rows, work in ribbing to end of row, picking up wraps and working them together with the stitches they wrap. Is the Next 2 rows to be done after short rows 1 and 2 are all done for the 15 repeats, or are the Next 2 rows to be done after each set of short row 1 and 2 are done, before proceeding to the next short rows 1 and 2 again? Thanks!

    • June 21, 2021 12:13 pm

      Hi Nena – Those 2 rows are to be done AFTER all of the short rows are finished.

  2. October 1, 2020 6:53 am

    I just started the first in a pair of Gramps sweaters for my twin grandsons but am thinking of using a provisional cast-on which will make it easier to pick up stitches later. Is there a reason why a provisional cast-on won’t work or will screw up the design?

    • October 4, 2020 11:23 pm

      A provisional CO will work just fine, especially for smaller sizes (if your grandsons are little). In sizes larger than 6 or so, you might want the structure of the regular cast-on, because it will prevent stretching out of that neckline point.

  3. May King permalink
    June 4, 2020 11:24 am

    Hello, I’m almost done the cardigan! I’m a little intimidated with the shawl collar.
    I’m not understanding this
    Set up (WS): p1, [k1, p1] to second marker, kfb to 1 st before next marker, k1, [p1, k1] to last stitch, p1
    Can someone break this down? does it mean (the neck line) kfb every st to 1 st before next marker then K1..?
    Or is it k1, p1 then just before the marker kfb? pls confirm?

    • June 4, 2020 12:13 pm

      Hi May – No problem, you are going to work in rib to the second marker (this is the start of the back neck) then you are doubling your sts at the back neck, so kfb in each stitch to 1 stitch before next marker (that’s the end of the back neck), then rib to the end of the row.

    • May permalink
      June 8, 2020 9:36 pm

      Thank you so much for your quick response… So I tried your above instructions. At the back neck line I picked up 23 sts. If the instructions say to kfb every st to 1st before marker I ended up with around 37st.. is that right? and also ignoring the k1,p1 on the back?
      Also when I ended up with 37sts my next st. did not match up the k1,p1? HELP :-(

      • June 9, 2020 12:02 pm

        Hi May – if you are working a kfb in each of 22 sts, you will have 44 sts, plus the k1 at the end. That’s 45 total.

  4. May King permalink
    May 25, 2020 10:54 pm

    Hi can someone pls help me under stand the YOKE instructions below. I find it very confusing. I need someone to dumb it down for me.
    Row 1 (RS): [knit to 1 st before marker, m1, k2, m1] am i doing a m1 before and after each st marker. also am i ignore this st marker, because it says m1 and then k2 which takes me past the st marker?
    4 times, knit to end [8 sts inc]
    Row 2 and 4 (WS): purl- i understand this
    Row 3: k1, m1, [knit to 1 st before marker, m1, k2, m1]
    4 times, knit to last st, m1, k1 [10 sts inc]
    Work rows 1-4 a total of 6 (7, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10, 10, 11, 12,
    13, 13, 16, 15, 17, 20) times. [139 (159, 159, 179, 179, 203,
    205, 225, 233, 253, 279, 303, 299, 355, 339, 379, 439) sts]

    • May 27, 2020 1:54 pm

      Hi May – You have it just right, you are just going to slip the markers as you come to them, so it would be m1, k1, slip marker, k1, m1.

  5. Eva Halaas permalink
    April 10, 2020 9:06 am

    I have almost finished the Gramps Baby Cardigan, but when I came to the collar and the w&t I was in trouble.I understand the technique, I think, but where to turn? I started short row when I had knit 2 stitches after the last marker and made a w&t. But how to continue? Where to do the next w&t? How many rows? I do not find an instruction on this. Could I please get some help on that ? I would love give this to my grandson

    • April 10, 2020 11:42 am

      Hi Eva – Sorry, I’m a bit confused, there are line by line short row instructions in the pattern. You are going to purl to 2 sts after the other neckline marker, wrap and turn etc.

  6. Tammy permalink
    August 17, 2019 3:18 pm

    I would like to make this sweater for my Grand children, I have 6 small grand kids , I’m looking for an alterntive cheaper yarn to use , if anyone has any ideas can you please share them with me , thank you

    • Barb Neff permalink
      April 11, 2020 5:08 pm

      I used Paton’s Canadianna.

  7. Tina permalink
    March 13, 2019 2:58 pm

    Is this sweater knit in the round?

  8. Jennifer McLachlan permalink
    October 28, 2018 5:37 pm

    for M1 on the gramps sweater, I looked up how to do it on your site (which is awesome by the way) and you recommend doing a M1R before a marker and M1L after a marker. What about the front edges where you also add a stitch? Which M1 would you recommend? I just cast on, sooo excited to make this one!

    • October 29, 2018 9:44 am

      Hi Jennifer – it sort of depends on the look you want, I usually use a m1L at the right edge and an m1R at the left edge

  9. Jeanette Small permalink
    August 29, 2017 5:37 am

    I’m enjoying knitting the gramps cardigan and also learning a lot but not sure when it says cast on row for back of neck is it including raglan edges or just back off neck and does this need to be odd stitches.

    • September 5, 2017 12:28 pm

      Hi Jeanette – it includes all the sts cast on at the beginning of the pattern, and it should be an odd number.

  10. Cathie permalink
    July 14, 2017 2:47 am

    Thank you! I’ve just finished my Gramps cardigan for my grandson and am really pleased with it. Learnt so much – had never knitted from top down, never done short rows and had only ever knitted the odd beanie in the round so the sleeves were a new skill as well. The tutorial was great, couldn’t have done without it. I had a few glitches so will make another one to try and sort them out. I ended up with a few holes under the arms- easily sewn up and you can’t tell but suspect I did something wrong when separating them. Had to redo the button band as I went wrong picking up the wrap stitches at the end. Second time through was better but the wrap is obvious – and although on the back on one side the other side is on the front. A comment on the blog suggests that if a pearl stitch you need to pick them up from the other side? Not sure how this works – perhaps could include in the tutorial. Regardless, couldn’t bear to do band a third time and it’s not to obvious.
    Finally I think next time for the smaller sizes I would do a two stitch rather than a three stitch button hole – think they are a bit too big.
    Love it despite not absolutely perfect. Thanks!

  11. Anella permalink
    April 30, 2017 6:46 pm

    Hi. I am tryin to pick up the stitches to add the pocket on this sweater. I a, not quite sure how to do this. Is there a tutorial somewhere that I could watch?

  12. Barbara Clark permalink
    January 11, 2017 2:15 pm

    Anxious to continue with this sweater so I’ll post here also. I am making size 6-8. I finished the yoke increases at 203 stitches just like I said it should be. Then I come to Work rows 1-2 two more times with a bunch of parentheses with numbers between “two” and “more” Since I’m knitting size 6-8, my number is 1. I have not idea what I’m to do. Do I knit Row 1 and 2 two more times–then my stitches would increase to 211. The pattern says I’m supposed to still have 203. All the other sizes went up except size 6-8! What do the numbers in the parentheses mean since there already a “two more times”. How can I do more increases if my final stitch count is still to be 203???? Please help! Somebody!

    • January 12, 2017 12:12 pm

      Hi Barbara – for that instructions there is a two outside the brackets. Your size is the 5th size in brackets so you are working rows 1 and 2 a further 0 times.

      • Barbara Clark permalink
        January 13, 2017 7:41 am

        Thank you so much. Back to knitting!

  13. Robin permalink
    December 12, 2016 4:25 pm

    I have a question. I am knitting this sweater for a child 4-6. On yoke after working the 1-4 rows I have 179 stitches. Next I am to work rows 1-2 (0) times and have 187 rows. Is this just a typo???

    • December 13, 2016 8:51 am

      Hi Robin – there is a written out two in front of the brackets, so your size is working rows 1-2 one more time.

  14. Trish permalink
    November 19, 2016 8:41 am

    I’ve been looking for the “right” sweater to knit for my little great nephew John Christopher and this is it!! I bought the pattern, reading it over and I am excited about starting this sweater for him, for he lives in England with mommy and daddy and it gets cold there. I love the collar for this will keep his neck warm. Thank-you for your wonderful patterns and thorough explanations on each step! Much appreciated!!!

  15. Nastic permalink
    October 16, 2013 11:56 pm

    Can you tell me what’s name of green color?
    I don’t know where you use ” twig ” and ” grove” color


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