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Let’s knit a bottom up sweater

March 28, 2017

Ironheart from the Heart On My Sleeve ebook

There are many ways to knit a sweater (probably as many as there are ways to knit!), but one of our favourite construction methods is knitting from the bottom up. All of the sweaters in the Heart on my Sleeve collection are worked this way, as well as many other TCK sweaters. If you are looking for a tutorial on a bottom up cardigan check out our Antler tutorial here.

To make a pullover from the bottom up, you knit with 3 tubes (2 sleeve tubes and a body tube), then you join them all together for the yoke. Sounds simple right? It is! Here are some photos to help you on your way.

Before the yoke join:

Your sweater will look like three tubes; two sleeve tubes and a body tube.

Your sleeves will have the underarm sts on one piece of waste yarn and all other sts on a separate piece of waste yarn. Before starting the joining round you must put all sleeve sts except the underarm stitches onto needles (so they’re ready to be worked).

For the Heart on my Sleeve sweaters you will also have one set of underarm sts on hold for the body (this is the right underarm).

Joining it all together

How do we join these all up? Different sweater patterns may vary  (it will depend on where the beginning of round marker is located), but here is how it works for all of the Heart on my Sleeve patterns:

The Steps

  1. Knit across a little less than 1/2 the body sts (this is the back)
  2. Place underarm sts for body on waste yarn (this is the left underarm)
  3. Knit across the sleeve sts (this is the left sleeve)
  4. Knit across the remaining body sts (this is the front). The right underarm sts from the body are already on waste yarn.
  5. Knit across the second set of sleeve sts (this is the right sleeve)
  6. Place marker (this is your new beginning of round, located at the back right shoulder, between sleeve and back stitches).

Steps 1 and 2: Once you have knit across half of your body sts (minus the underarm sts) you will place underarm sts on waste yarn.

Step 3: Next you will knit across the sleeve sts.

You will repeat this process (knit across body sts, then knit across sleeve sts) once more. Then re-place your BOR marker. This method locates the BOR between right sleeve and back stitches.

Once joined, you will still have 2 sets of sts on waste yarn at each underarm, to be joined with a Kitchener stitch once the yoke is complete. Check out our tutorial on those pesky underarms for details on how to seam them together.

This is what the underarm looks like while you complete the yoke.

Voila! You are all ready to knit yourself a yoke. I worked the Ironheart yoke, a lovely bit of garter and lace.

More bottom-up sweaters from Tin Can Knits:




18 Comments leave one →
  1. Jyothi permalink
    September 7, 2021 3:56 am

    Wonderful tutorial about knitting.
    You have given complete details. I would like to ask, how to find out how many rings to be cast on for any particular given size. Does this depends on yarn or can we find out by knitting Swatch.
    I’m trying to knit a sweat vest for my teenage son.
    Thank you

    • September 7, 2021 11:00 am

      Hi – You want to take your gauge per inch and multiply it by how many inches you need (eg. if your gauge is 5 sts per inch and you want your sweater to have a body measurement of 20 inches you would need 100 sts)

  2. X G permalink
    January 2, 2021 8:27 am

    Thank you very much!
    Your explanation is very clear.

    I finished knitting a bottom-up raglan striped sweater with some help and circular needles and I want to make sure I understand sweater construction and see if I can work differently next time. My pattern said I had to put 3 stitches on hold on each side of the stitch marker before joining the body and the stitches. But it didn’t say how. In order to use the yarn in the following round I had to knit the first three stitches of the following round before placing them on hold. Is that right? When I finally grafted those stitches to the body, the result wasn’t completely neat, so I wonder if that’s the reason.

  3. Sue permalink
    January 19, 2020 12:50 pm

    All your sweater patterns seem to have straight bottom hems. How can I make a shirttail curved hem to your top down sweater ? Thank you sue

  4. Helen Forrestal permalink
    October 22, 2019 11:44 pm

    Why is it almost impossible to find a pattern for an adult bottom up pullover???

    • October 23, 2019 9:45 am

      Hi Helen – we have several of them! You might want to check out Tenderheart, North Shore, Ironheart, Penny, Antler Pullover, Trek, Boardwalk, Dog Star, Bowline, Bumble Sweater, Spotlight… we have a lot!

  5. Kelsey Woods permalink
    April 15, 2019 8:53 pm

    Do you have any resources for knitting your Flax sweater bottom up?

    • April 17, 2019 9:57 am

      Hi Kelsey – not specifically, but we do have a tutorial on bottom up sweaters in general here that might be useful.

  6. Annie Bananie permalink
    July 20, 2018 7:51 am

    Can you please make a tutorial for top-bottom sweater sleeve-body separation? I’m having a lot of trouble picturing how it works after reading many patterns. This tutorial is really helpful and I’m finishing up a toddler sweater now!
    Thank you!!

  7. Kimmy C permalink
    December 10, 2017 3:05 pm

    I’m desperately looking for a nordic type knit pullover sweater pattern bottom up style. I made many of them years ago and I cannot find the pattern. Any suggestions where I can find these patterns. This tutorial is a very simple one and it would also be a great project :)

    • December 11, 2017 9:58 am

      Hi Kimmy – I’m not sure exactly what you mean by a nordic type pullover, are you looking for one with the steek at the arms etc? Try Dale of Norway, they might have what you are looking for. Otherwise there is always Ravelry!

  8. eva permalink
    April 30, 2017 12:50 pm

    I’ve never knitted bottom up sweater so forgive me my question but how to join underarm stitches thank you

  9. Ruth Barnes permalink
    April 13, 2017 3:53 pm

    This blog says nothing about yarn, needle size, weight, how many to cast on, sizes, etc.

    • April 16, 2017 11:09 am

      That’s right, it’s not a pattern, it’s a tutorial on the bottom up sweaters in our books (like Heart on my Sleeve), which have all the info on yarn, needles, sts etc.

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