Skip to content

Gramps Cardigan: Body and Sleeves (4/6)

March 28, 2012


This tutorial is part 4 of a 6-part tutorial covering sweater knitting techniques for the Gramps cardigan. To view the other parts of the tutorial click on the links below.

At the end of Tutorial 3 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!


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.


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 1-2 year size)

The pattern instructions for the 1-2 year size read:

separate sleeves and body:

Removing markers as you go, knit to marker (left front), place next 36 sts on hold (left sleeve), CO 4 sts using backward loop method (left underarm), knit 53 sts (back), place next 36 sts on hold (right sleeve), CO 4 sts using backward loop method (right underarm), knit to end (right front).  [111 body sts]

Below is a diagram showing graphically what this means:

how to separate

Once you have knit the across left front, 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.


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

Tip: use a very different coloured yarn for your waste yarn, it avoids confusion when you go to place those stitches back on the needles

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 off ‘in pattern’ on the wrong side (WS) of the work. Binding off in pattern is simple; as you are binding off, you work 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.


Voila!  You now have a sleeveless cardigan! Time to give it some sleeves.


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. I used DPNs (double pointed needles) to make my sleeves but you could also use a long circular and the magic loop method.


Held sts are picked up and placed on the needle. Once all of the sts have been picked up I remove the waste yarn.

Once you have your needles (3 needles if you are using DPNs) through all of the stitches, you can pull the waste yarn out.

Place 36 held sts on larger DPNs (or 16” circular needle for larger sizes). Knit across these sts, then pick up and knit 2 sts from underarm, PM, pick up and knit 2 more sts. Knit around to marker, this is the new beginning of round, located at underarm. [40 sts]


  • 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.

For my size I am picking up 2 stitches, placing a marker, then picking up 2 more stitches.

You will pick up stitches here (1 and 2, place marker, then 3 and 4)

You will pick up stitches here (1 and 2, place marker, then 3 and 4)



Needle inserted

Wrap new yarn around the needle and pull through

Wrap new yarn around the needle and pull through

Stitches have been picked up and I know the BOR comes between the blue and yellow needle at the center of the underarm.

Stitches have been picked up and I know the BOR comes between the blue and yellow needle at the center of the underarm.

Because I use DPNs, I don’t place a marker, I just know that the beginning of the round occurs in the middle of the underarm. If you are using the Magic Loop method, you will want to place a marker.


Tip: After working 2 rounds I place a locking stitch marker at the underarm to make it easy to measure my sleeve length. I simply measure from the stitch marker.


To work the sleeve follow the pattern, knitting each round until your sleeve measures a specified number of inches. Then you will begin your decreases.

Decrease round: k1, k2tog, knit to last 3 sts, ssk, k1

Knit 5 rounds

For my size I will be working these 6 rounds (decrease +5 knit rounds = 6 rounds) 3 more times (a total of 4 decreases) and I will end up with 32 sts.

Continue following the pattern until the sleeve is the specified length (if you are knitting for a wee one you may want to add an inch or so and fold up the cuffs for extra sweater longevity, but this will take a little extra yarn). 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!

Body and sleeves complete!

Body and sleeves complete!


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:

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 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.

button-email-40Wanna hear about these tutorials as they are released?  Get our excellent emails!

SHARE the knit knowledge :::

Do you have knitting friends who could use this tutorial?  Share this post, or let them know about the great free patterns they could try from The Simple Collection.  And join in the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Ravelry!

Tin Can Knits on FacebookTin Can Knits on Instagram Tin Can Knits on Twitter Tin Can Knits on Pinterest Tin Can Knits Email Updates Tin Can Knits on Ravelry

More handsome knits from TCK:




55 Comments leave one →
  1. Nahid permalink
    June 11, 2019 2:24 am

    I like to knit this elegant cardigan for ladies (Adults XS, S, S/M, M, M/L, L, XL, XXL).May I have the pattern? I want calculations for knit it.
    With thanks

  2. Heather permalink
    June 11, 2018 1:09 am

    have you any patterned yolks and patterned raglan shaping you can share please

  3. Anny permalink
    November 30, 2017 2:52 am


    Est-il possible d’avoir ces explications en français ?
    Merci d’avance.

  4. fresia permalink
    October 4, 2017 1:15 am

    I have a question about picking up the underarm stitches. Typically, I have seen that stitches are usually picked up by inserting the needle directly into the “V”. I see that there are 4 “V”s in my work, which makes sense since I cast on 4 stitches. The pictures above seem to indicate that you should instead pick up between the “V”s. In that case, there are 5 spaces between the “V”s so I am a little confused. In the picture above, it looks like there should be another stitch to the left of the 1 – is it supposed to be asymmetric?

    • October 4, 2017 7:52 pm

      Hi Fresia – I would say both will look fine, my underarm looks good the way I did it above, but your way is just as good!

  5. Mommo permalink
    September 4, 2017 1:56 pm

    Gramps cardigan is such a great pattern and sweater. But, I have big holes at the underarm where I added the 4 stitches. It looks like such a large expanse for only 4 picked up stitches. Any advice on how to avoid the holes? Thanks.

    • September 5, 2017 12:32 pm

      Hi – the number of sts picked up is equal to the number of sts cast on at the underarm. Remember that you are going to pick up some sts, PM, then pick up MORE sts at the underarm.

  6. February 29, 2016 2:48 pm

    I’m really confused! I have finished the body and am just starting the sleeves. The pattern I have here says to have 32 sts on hold for each sleeve and to then pick up 4 sts under the arm…but on this tutorial you have 33 sts and pick up 5 sts. I’m also getting a hole when I join the 32 sts to the 4 sts. I’m so pleased with the cardigan so far but this bit is throwing me :/

    Also, why do you have red yarn in two places on the neckline in the photos above? The only markers I have are the two locking markers – I’m now wondering if I’ve missed something and won’t be able to pick up the right sts later

    • February 29, 2016 9:36 pm

      Hi – not to worry, I’m sorry, this tutorial has slightly different numbers than the current version of the pattern, the numbers in the pattern are correct. The original version (which only included childrens sizes) had a provisional cast on but the pattern no longer has that.

  7. marta duarte permalink
    July 11, 2015 4:33 pm

    Muy bueno el tutorial, yo particularmente los saco mejor con el dibujo, poniendole los datos de cantidad de puntos y demas en el croquis mismo del dibujo, soy de Montevideo URUGUAY, FELICITACIONES, ME ENCANTA ESTA PAGINA !!!!!! Gracias!!!

    • September 11, 2017 9:08 pm

      Hola Marta de Uruguay… me puedes eyudar con la parte del cuello? No se bien cómo hacer las vueltas cortas en el punto elástico. SOS

  8. Mudd permalink
    February 10, 2015 2:15 pm


    I just put my DPNs through the armhole stitches that were on hold, but was wondering if I should knit these or purl them? If I’m doing stockinette, shouldn’t I be altering between knit and purl rows? The pattern says knit around…

    Thanks for the tutorial!

    • February 11, 2015 11:35 am

      When you are working in the round, stockinette is achieved by knitting every round. Knit away!

  9. February 1, 2015 12:20 pm

    Hi, I’m knitting another Tin Can Knits pattern (Harvest) and have a question on the arm separating when you need a different arm size (1 size up from the body). Do I use the body size for the counts to hold and cast on extra and then pick up more stitches for the sleeve? Or use the larger size counts? It’s my first sweater so I’m just not sure where exactly to change it. Thanks! :)

    • February 4, 2015 11:51 am

      When separating for the sleeves you want your extra sts to come at sleeves only (the sts you are putting on waste yarn), the body sts will stay the same and the cast on number at the underarm will stay the same. When you go to do the sleeves you can work the instructions for the next size up.

  10. Debbie Widner permalink
    January 21, 2015 1:02 pm

    I’ve made it through knitting almost all of yoke section. Have a question about directions (before separate sleeves and body), “place locking stitch markers or safety pins in the fabric at the beginning and end of this row.” ???? Which row do I do this— Is it at thebeginning of working # rows for size, in stockinette stitch/yoke depth measures etc., Then put marker/pin at end of this row too? Thanks for your help!

    • January 22, 2015 12:03 pm

      The row that you are on, place a safety pin in the first and last stitch.

      • Debbie Widner permalink
        January 22, 2015 4:47 pm

        Thank You for answering. Don’t think my brain was thinking very clearly when posting! Just put safety pin and moved on! Am wading into waters unknown having put stitches on waste yarn to hold for sleeves!!! Looking so cute and taking shape of sweater! Thanks for being such a great and inspiring teacher!!!

  11. Debbie Widner permalink
    January 6, 2015 6:57 am

    I’ve been knitting for few years but have never attempted a sweater. Have been “eyeing” different versions across web. Thank you so much for all the time and effort for these posts. I am so much a visual learner and all these photos of construction help me so much! I am seriously considering knitting this cardigan. Thanks again,

  12. Mary Hartwig permalink
    November 29, 2014 7:11 am

    Hi – I’m knitting the 4-6 yr old size – I’ve completed the body and am starting to work on the sleeves. Reading the instructions and your explanation in the tutorial of June 15 seems contradictory to me. I’ve placed my stitches back on the needles, THEN I knit a row, THEN pick up 6 stitches from the underarm .- is that correct? I end up with a hole between the stitches that were on the needle and the new picked up stitches. It almost seems as if I should pick up 8 stitches so I don’t have a hole. Or does knitting the row first and then picking up the 6 stitches leave a gap? I love your tutorials, they’ve really helped me through unknown territory.

    • December 3, 2014 5:31 pm

      For the underarm there are a couple of options. I always think if you are getting holes, pick up another stitch or 2 and decrease on the next round. OR you can use your tail to sew up the little hole (if you work a bottom up sweater there is ALWAYS a little hole after you Kitchener the underarms for example)

      • Mary Hartwig permalink
        December 5, 2014 11:46 am

        Thanks – I did pick up an extra stitch on each end and still have a little hole, so will sew them closed when I finish.

  13. 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

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

    Wow! Very impressive website.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. The Modern Home Economist permalink
    March 29, 2012 4:20 am

    Such an informative post! And what a cute sweater.

  24. March 28, 2012 8:14 pm

    great tutorial. well done.


  1. Gramps Cardigan: Body and Sleeves (4/6) – My Blog
  2. Top down knitting: How to Separate the Body and Arms of a Top-Down Sweater on Ti... - KnittingMAXX
  3. Top down breien: Hoe het lichaam en de armen van een Top-Down sweater van Ti scheiden … – knitting for beginners
  4. Top down breien: Hoe het lichaam en de armen van een Top-Down sweater van Ti scheiden … – sjaals breien
  5. Sweater Techniques Series – Gramps Baby Cardigan – 5 / 6 : Shawl Collar and Button Band | Tin Can Knits
  7. Sweater Techniques Series – Gramps Baby Cardigan – 3 / 6 : Top-Down Sweater Construction | Tin Can Knits
  8. Sweater Techniques Series – Gramps Baby Cardigan – 2 / 6 : Beginning a Knitting Project | Tin Can Knits
  9. 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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: