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Let’s Knit an Antler Cardi

January 16, 2014

finishedantlercloseupWhile the Simple Collection’s Flax sweater carefully chronicles the basics of a top down sweater, the Antler cardi employs our other favorite construction: bottom up! The Antler Cardigan pattern is available here, get your pattern, your materials, and let’s get going!

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, and learn about choosing your size to ensure you get a sweater that fits the way you want it to. Make sure you read the whole tutorial through before you start, so you can pick up our helpful hints!

Antler is adorable on little boys and girls and grown up ladies too! Make a little size to learn the techniques, or jump off the deep end and get started on a sweater for yourself.

::: Sleeves :::

Why start with the sleeves? The best reason to start with the sleeves is to get a gauge swatch without a gauge swatch. Just knit about 5 inches of sleeve and check your gauge and whether or not you are satisfied with the fabric. If you like it and you are on gauge, just keep going, if not you only have a bit of sleeve to rip out.

To knit the sleeves you will be casting on at the cuff and working to the underarm. You can use either double pointed needles (DPN’s) to start, or a long circular for magic loop. For casting on onto DPN’s you can check out our tutorial here, and for more information on knitting in the round on DPN’s look here. For magic loop look here.

So, using the smaller needles cast on the number of stitches for your size. You can either place a marker 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, just start working with the larger ones. No need to move stitches, just start knitting.


All sts are now on the larger needles

All sts are now on the larger needles

Sleeve Increases ::: You can certainly m1 (make 1) any which way you like but my favorite is the paired increase. 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!

Next you will put your sleeve stitches on hold using waste yarn. You will be putting your underarm sts on hold on one piece of waste yarn, and the other half on hold with another piece (all will become clear 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.

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!

1. How many rows in your ribbing?

2. How many rows after you finish your increases?

3. Did I knit anything that was NOT according to pattern? Make a note!

If you make these helpful notes you will have 2 identical sleeves just waiting for a body!

::: Body :::

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 :::

All pieces are ready for joining. The arm sts (except the underarm) have been placed on double points so they are easy to join.

All pieces are ready for joining. The arm sts (except the underarm) have been placed on double points so they are easy to join.

Now for the fun part: Once you join the body and sleeves it will start to look like an actual sweater!

You will be knitting across the right front, placing body stitches on hold for the underarm, knitting across the right sleeve, knitting across the back, knitting across the left sleeve, placing body stitches on hold for the underarm, and knitting across the left front.

When joining you will be placing body sts on waste yarn for the underarm.

When joining you will be placing body sts on waste yarn for the underarm.

Right sleeve has been added

Right sleeve has been added

Sleeves and body have been joined!

Sleeves and body have been joined!

Note: You will have stitches on waste yarn from both the sleeve and the body. These will be joined once the yoke is finished to create the underarm.  They look something like this:

2 pieces of waste yarn, each with underarm stitches. One set from the body, one set from the sleeve.

2 pieces of waste yarn, each with underarm stitches. One set from the body, one set from the sleeve.

::: Yoke :::

Work the specified number of rows in stockinette before proceeding to the cable portion of the yoke.

Next Row: Knit decreasing ____ sts evenly spaced.

This may seem like a complicated instruction but follow along and we will do a little math. What this means is that you have X sts and you need to decrease Y sts for a total of Z sts. So how are we going to do this?

Take the number of stitches you have (X) and divide them by the number of sts you need to decrease (Y):

eg. For the Adult XS size this number is approximately 40. So you will decrease 1 stitch for every 40 stitches. Your decrease row will be: k38, k2tog. Because you need to decrease 5 sts for this size you will work that instruction 5 times and knit to the end.

Although this may seem unnecessarily complicated (why don’t we just do the math for you?!) it’s an instruction you will come across often in sweater patterns. If we wrote out each size every time we had to do a decrease round like this our patterns would be 10 pages long!

Time for cables! Each row has 2 edge stitches on either side and a number of cable repeats with the cables separated by 5 purl stitches. For instructions on how to cable, check out our tutorial here.


After the set up row your work will look like this

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’. In other words, if you see a knit, knit it, if you see a purl, purl it.

Repeat the cable pattern as many times as specified and proceed to decreases. The decreases are shown in the same manner as the cable section, but there are a few new symbols to note: purl 2 together, and the cable 4 back/front decreases.

The decreases that are worked within the cable (c4bd and c4fd) are worked using a knit 2 together within the cable. Read the chart carefully and make sure you double check all of the symbols.

Work decrease chart to specified row, then you will work another decrease row (decrease X sts evenly across the row)

Now you can switch to smaller needles and work in rib pattern for specified number of inches. Bind off.

::: Button Band :::

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 sts picked up on the first button band. You will want to pick up that same number on the other side.

Stay tuned for more on the buttonband! Next week we’ll be delving into button bands and buttonholes in more depth. Check back or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for a reminder when that post goes live

::: Finishing :::

Finishing a sweater can be the most important part. Block your sweater, seam your underarm sts using the kitchener stitch, and weave in your ends. There will be a small hole at either side of the seamed underarm, use your tail to sew that up. Sew on buttons corresponding to buttonholes.

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.


Looking for more ‘how to’ tutorials? Check out The Simple Collection – our 100% free learn-to-knit series.  The 8 fabulous free patterns sized from baby to big, and get started making modern seamless knits for the entire family!  Like our work?  Get our email updates and we will let you know about new patterns, tutorials, and events.

More Bottom-Up sweaters from Pacific Knits

34 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    January 13, 2017 2:09 pm

    I like to knit in the round. Can this sweater be worked in the round and then steeked?

    • January 16, 2017 11:29 am

      Hi Susan – Yep, you could, you would need to add in your steek stitches and convert the chart to working in the round (that part is super easy, on even rounds you are just knitting the knits and purling the purls)

  2. A. Mull permalink
    December 28, 2016 1:50 pm

    I would like to make this sweater as a pullover. Have you figured out how to adapt the pattern to a pullover?

    • December 28, 2016 2:05 pm

      Hi – you would want to add a few stitches at the fronts to compensate for the button band. Then, after the join at the yoke you would want to decrease to a number divisible by 21 (5 purl stitches and 16 antler stitches). You would work the chart in the round, which means on even numbered rounds you would knit the knits and purl the purls.

  3. September 19, 2016 1:21 am

    I’m going to try to knit the chest size 35 but I have one problem my granddaughter plays college basketball and her back is wider from playing sports all of her life. So what do you think of the size 39 or is there something closer to the 35 that I can do?

    Also I love your tutorials.



    • September 30, 2016 10:58 pm

      Hi Debra – I would probably knit a 39, it is better as a casual sweater with a little positive ease

  4. Ingrid permalink
    August 7, 2016 9:32 am

    I knit the women size M and it shows 39″. When you block it you block 39″ or 38″ since the pattern states 1″ negative ir positive.?
    Since it is not for me I can’t try it on.
    Thanks in advance!

  5. Lotte permalink
    March 16, 2016 7:32 am

    Could it be that there’s a mistake in the pattern? I am doing the sleeves of the antler cardigan and for the size 6-12months it says that I should begin with 30st and then increase until I have 32 st. But thats already after one set of increases, so it doesnt sound correct. Shouldnt it be 42 st?

    • March 16, 2016 10:51 pm

      Hi Lotte – nope, 32 is correct, babies arms don’t change like grown ups.

  6. sheila roberts permalink
    February 27, 2016 10:00 am

    So if I just ignore row 5 and move on, as you suggested to Christine, do I k or p any of these spaces? How do I account for the stitches?

    • February 29, 2016 9:40 pm

      Hi Sheila – no, definitely don’t ignore row 5, just the little shaded box that says ‘no stitch’

  7. November 7, 2015 10:30 pm

    I am having a terrible time with the c4bdec in the Antler hat I am knitting, and I am sure I must be slipping the stitches onto my cable needle wrong or something. It is the hardest stitch I have ever tried I think, and is when I try to knit 2 tog from the cable needle. Can you help me with this?

    • November 11, 2015 3:13 am

      Take it slowly would be my first suggestion. And perhaps practice this a few times on a sample swatch?

      The second suggestion (this is what I do), is instead of working the stitches directly off the cable needle, slip them BACK onto the left-hand needle, then work them off of that needle. I find this less fiddly.

      Good luck! It will become easier with practice.

  8. Susana permalink
    April 18, 2015 8:56 am

    Thank you very much! Excellent tutorial s and explanations

  9. goraya permalink
    March 11, 2015 2:42 am

    Where can inwatch video of this cardigam

  10. March 6, 2015 2:49 pm

    I was hoping to copy/paste everything into my Word so I could make smaller photos to print less pages.

    But the pictures don’t copy. Is there a way for me to do that for personal use only?

    • March 9, 2015 3:32 pm

      Hi Marny-sorry, we don’t have this one in PDF format quite yet but we are working on it

  11. March 6, 2015 2:32 pm

    The reminder about knitting a sleeve first makes perfect sense – and as a swatch!

    When taking a class for a entrelac long cardi, the teacher had us make one of the pockets first – that was our swatch.

    Lily Chin would be proud of me making any sort of swatch! LOL

    Thank you! Wonderful aka wonder-filled website.

  12. christine jacob permalink
    February 10, 2015 8:08 am

    Forgive my stupid question. I am stuck on the 5th row of chart B- decreases. what do I do on the “No Stitch” ?

    • February 11, 2015 11:35 am

      Just ignore that box and move onto the next one.

    • Judy B permalink
      February 26, 2016 6:03 am

      Thanks for asking this, Marny CA. I am stumped at row 5 decreases right now. I wish that the “written” directions would be written out completely. I will give it another try.

  13. March 17, 2014 5:11 pm

    So happy I Stumbled upon your blog,Lovely one at that! But the tutorial is so helpful.I am newbie at sweater not a novice.Thank you for the brillant blog

  14. February 20, 2014 10:14 am

    I just finish an Antler for my granddaughter and I’m going to cast one on for my grandson. I love the sweater and the pattern is written beautifully.
    I’m teaching a young friend how to knit and the tutorial would be a great help to her.

  15. Sandra Cunningham permalink
    January 19, 2014 2:03 pm

    Thank you for your beautiful patterns. Love them.

  16. January 16, 2014 9:57 pm

    Great tutorial

  17. Jules O permalink
    January 16, 2014 6:21 pm

    This is an awesome way to show how the bottom up pullover is done, & I love how you showed the step-by-step process especially for those sections which can be confusing like joining sleeves to body!!

  18. Rebecca permalink
    January 16, 2014 9:35 am

    This is a fantastic tutorial! Can you tell us which yarn you used?

    • January 23, 2014 5:48 pm

      Hi Rebecca

      You betcha! I eked this wee sweater out of one skein of Plucky Knitter’s Primo Worsted in ‘At the Copa’


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