The Antler cardigan employs one of our favourite construction methods: bottom up! The Antler Cardigan pattern is available here, so get your copy and away we go!
6 Steps to Knit an Antler Cardigan
Materials and Sizing
If you are new to knitting patterns the materials page can be a little overwhelming! Check out our tutorial on how on understanding the materials section of a knitting pattern here. To knit up an Antler Cardigan you will need:
- The pattern: download the Antler cardigan pattern here.
- Yarn: The Antler cardigan is knit using worsted/aran weight yarn. See the pattern table for yardage requirements and check out our tutorial on choosing a sweater yarn here.
- Needles: US #6 / 4mm and US #8 / 5mm needles. You will need circulars and double pointed needles (DPNs) in both sizes, the length of the circular needle required will vary by size. If you prefer, you can skip the DPNs and use a long circular needle for the magic loop method. It is critical that you check your gauge, you may require different needle sizes than suggested, but gauge is paramount.
- Notions: stitch markers, darning needle, cable needle, and 5-11 3/4″ buttons
Before starting any sweater, but especially an adult sweater, you want to make sure you review our tutorial on gauge to ensure your sweater comes out to the dimensions you want. To learn about choosing a sweater size, check out our tutorial on choosing your size here.
Antler is adorable on little ones and grown ups too! Make a wee size to learn the techniques, or jump off the deep end and get started on a sweater for yourself!
Sleeves and Body
Why start with the sleeves? The best reason to start with the sleeves is to get a gauge swatch without a gauge swatch. Just cast on, work your ribbing, knit about 5 inches of sleeve and check your gauge and whether or not you are satisfied with the fabric. If you like the fabric and you are on gauge, just keep going! If not you probably only have to rip back to the ribbing.
To knit the sleeves you will be casting on at the cuff (using your smaller needles) and working to the underarm. You can use either double pointed needles (DPN’s) to start, or a long circular for magic loop. Check out our tutorial for casting onto DPns here. Check out our magic loop tutorial here.
You can either place a marker (more on how to place and use markers here) if you are using magic loop, or distribute your stitches as follows if you are using DPN’s:
Distributing your stitches on DPN’s: I am a die hard DPN fan, but you can’t place a marker on the beginning or end of a needle. So instead I put about 1/2 of my stitches on the first needle, 1/4 on the second and third needles. This way I always know the beginning of my round starts at the beginning of the ‘big’ or ‘full’ needle. No markers required!
Once you have completed the ribbing, you will change to larger needles and start working your sleeve increases. Changing to larger needles is simpler than it sounds, instead of continuing to work with your smaller needles, grab your larger needle in your right and and start working the stitches from the smaller needle to the larger. No need to move stitches, just start knitting.
You can m1 (make 1 stitch) any way you like but my favourite way to m1 is this one here. I use a make 1 left at the start of the round and a make 1 right at the end of the round. Once the number of increases for your size have been worked, you will knit each round until your piece measures the specified length or the desired length to underarm. Measure twice!
To prepare for joining sleeves to body, place the first and last 3 (3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7) sts of the round on hold for underarm, and the remaining 24 (24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 36, 38, 44, 48, 52, 56, 60, 66, 70, 78, 80, 84) sts on hold separately.
To accomplish this you will need some waste yarn and a darning needle. You will put your sleeve stitches on hold using waste yarn, and the under arm stitches on hold on a separate piece of waste yarn. Make your second sleeve the same as the first.
Making 2 the same: There is nothing worse than finishing a sweater and finding out your sleeves are not the same size, so make a few helpful notes along the way!
- How many rows in your ribbing?
- How many rows after you finish your increases?
- Did I knit anything NOT according to the pattern?
Make these helpful notes and you will have 2 identical sleeves ready to join later.
Helpful Hint : How to avoid ‘ladders’
Ladders look kind of like runs in a stocking. They are loose stitches and gaps in the fabric that sometimes occur between the last stitch of one needle and the first stitch of the next. How can you avoid this? Simply make sure to give an extra tug to your yarn on the first stitch of a needle, this will make it extra tight and prevent ladders.
This part is pretty easy peasy. Just cast on using smaller needles, working back and forth in ribbing pattern to specified length. Change to larger needles and work in stockinette (knit 1 row, purl 1 row) until piece measures the length specified for your size or the desired length from underarm, ending with a WS (wrong side or purl) row.
Join Body and Sleeves
Now for the fun part! Once you join the body and sleeves it will start to look like an actual sweater. To get ready place the sleeve stitches back on the needles (leaving the underarm stitches on waste yarn for later). Your working yarn will be attached to the body and you will be ready to work a right side row.
You will be knitting across the right front, placing body stitches on hold for the right underarm, knitting across the right sleeve, knitting across the back, knitting across the left sleeve, placing body stitches on hold for the left underarm, and knitting across the left front.
That ugly underarm
Now that the body and sleeves have been joined you will have stitches on waste yarn from both the sleeves and the body. These will be joined once the yoke is finished to create the underarm. They look something like this:
The yoke starts out pretty simple, just a few rows of stockinette. Since the joining row was a right side row, your first stockinette row will be wrong side row. Next you’ve got a decrease row. If this is your first experience with a k2tog (knit 2 stitches together) check out our k2tog tutorial here.
Time for cables! For the Antler cardigan you can either follow the charts, or the written instructions. For more information on how to read a knitting chart check out our chart tutorial here. If cabling is new to you, check out our cable tutorial here.
Each row has 2 stockinette edge stitches, and 16 stitch cables separated by five purl stitches. Below you can see what my knitting looks like after the set-up row.
On the RS (right side) rows you will be working the cable chart, on the WS (wrong side) rows you will be working your stitches as established. What does this mean? You will be ‘knitting your knits and purling your purls’. Another way to think of it is: if you see a knit, knit it, if you see a purl, purl it.
Repeat the cable pattern as many times as specified for your size, and then proceed to decreases. The decreases are shown in the same manner as the cable section. You can follow either the chart or the written instructions. There are a few new techniques in the cable section: purl 2 stitches together and the cabled decreases. If purling 2 sts together (p2tog) is new to you check out our p2tog tutorial here. The decreases that are worked within the cable (c4bd and c4fd) are worked using a knit 2 together (k2tog) within the cable.
Work decrease chart to specified row (row 9 for child sizes and row 13 for adult sizes. One last decrease row and then it’s time to switch to smaller needles, a little ribbing, and a bind off!
Button bands are picked up and worked last. You will be picking up about 4 stitches in every 5 rows. This means you will pick up 4 stitches, skip 1 row, pick up 4 sts, etc. and you will want to end up with an odd number of stitches in total.
Tip: make a note of the number of stitches picked up on the first button band. You will want to pick up that same number on the other side.
You can find our full tutorial on how to knit a button band here.
Finishing a sweater can be the most important part. The first thing you need to do is to sew up those pesky underarms, to do that check out our underarm tutorial here.
The next step is blocking your sweater. Some knitters skip this step but DON’T! That yarn has been running through your fingers and your sweater at least needs a wash. Blocking will help your stitches to lay flat and will help show off those lovely cables.
Lastly (but maybe most fun?!) you can choose your buttons and sew them on corresponding to your buttonholes.
Finished! You can pop your beautiful sweater on and wear it out with pride (or put it on a wee one if you’ve knit a small size!). Now that you’ve knit your first bottom-up sweater you can tackle your next!