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Love Note Sweater: Body and Sleeves (4/6)

June 18, 2020
Aimee is standing in a cobblestone street wearing her orange lace yoke sweater. Her hands are in her pockets and she is smiling.

This post is step #4 of the Love Note Tutorial series. Other posts in this series include:

  1. Yarn choice and sizing: How to choose a fabulous yarn combination and find the right size for you.
  2. Construction: An overview of the process and how the sweater is constructed.
  3. Yoke: How to work the provisional cast-on, lace pattern, and raglan increases.
  4. Body and sleeves (this post): Creating the high-low hem and picking up the sleeves.
  5. Neckline: How to pick up stitches from the unzipped, provisional cast-on, plus tips for ensuring the perfect fit.
  6. Finishing: How to finish off your beautiful sweater!

Separate body and sleeves

You separate the body and sleeves by knitting around on the body stitches, casting on underarm stitches, and placing stitches on hold for the sleeves of your sweater (which will be completed later). Follow the step-by-step instructions, as illustrated below.

doughnut-shaped lace yoke in progress with annotations showing which sections will become front, sleeves, and back
First, the right half back is knit, and the right sleeve is put on waste yarn. The underarm sts are then cast on, and the front is knit. Then, the left sleeve is put on waste yarn, and the underarm sts are cast on. Lastly, the left half of back is knit.

We recommend putting the sleeve sts on waste yarn; this will keep them flexible while you work on the body. For help with this technique, see our post explaining how to place sts on waste yarn. When we cast on stitches for the underarm, we use the backwards loop method.

lace sweater in progress
Sleeve stitches are on hold, and we’re ready to knit round and round on the body.

Once the separation round is complete, there are only body stitches on the needles. From here, just knit around and around until you reach the stated length for either a cropped or longer sweater! It’s very easy to adjust the Love Note to be longer or shorter as you see fit. (Alexa has both a short, cropped version and a longer version in her wardrobe.)

Nina is wearing a soft pink lace yoke sweater over a floral print dress that hits just above the knee. Her sweater is short, ending above her waist.
Nina is wearing her cropped Love Note over a dress.
Alexa is standing in a field of trees wearing her green lace yoke jumper with her hands in her pockets. Her sweater hits just above the pockets of her jeans.
Alexa is wearing a longer Love Note with jeans.

High-low hem

Once you have knit your desired length, it’s time to create the high-low hem. It’s a cute detail, but you can choose to skip it if you prefer. To create a high-low hem, you’ll knit a wedge of fabric that has more rows at the back than the front. This is where short rows come in. The marker is located at the centre back of the sweater, so the short rows are worked symmetrically around that marker.

An orange sweater with the needles still in the body of the sweater. A black marker notes the beginning of the round at the centre back of the sweater.
This marker is located at the centre back, and the short rows will be worked symmetrically around that point to create a high-low hem.

If you are new to short rows, we highly recommend trying the German Short row method.

Once the short rows are complete, you’ll switch to smaller needles, and work 1” of 1×1 ribbing (that’s k1, p1 around). It is important to bind off very loosely, so that the lower edge of the fabric doesn’t ‘pull in.’ If you can’t manage to control the tension as you bind off, you can use a larger needle or try a different, stretchy bind-off method.

The sweater may seem short at this moment, but wait until you’ve finished the entire sweater and wet-blocked it before you fret and pull out the hem to add more length. The fit of the yoke and the change to the fabric that happens with blocking will have a big impact on the finished length. Wait and see!

A detail of the high low hem of the Love Note sweater. Aimee has her hand in her pocket and the curve of the hem is visible.
You can see that the back of Aimee’s sweater is longer than the front, but the short rows do come around, making for a nice curve.


Remember those sleeve stitches that you put on hold? Now it’s time to put them back on the needles. Rejoin the working yarn, and pick up and knit stitches at the underarm. Place the BOR marker in the centre of these newly picked-up stitches, and then knit around the held stitches.

One tip for avoiding holes at either end of the underarm: Pick up an extra stitch at each end of the underarm section. For example, if the pattern says to pick up a total of 8 sts for your size, then pick up 10 sts. On the very next round, work a decrease like ssk or k2tog to join the held stitches together with the picked-up underarm stitches. This helps to avoid a hole at the underarms, while maintaining the correct stitch count for the upper arms.

For larger sizes, the sleeve stitches will fit around a 16” long circular needle, so you can knit on the round on a circular for the majority of the sleeve. For smaller sizes you’ll knit in the round using a longer circular and the magic loop method or double pointed needles (DPNs).

An orange sweater with the live sleeve sts shown on double pointed needles.
The sleeve stitches for this sweater have been placed on DPNs. Now we’re ready to join a new ball of yarn and pick up those underarm sts.
A green sweater with sleeve sts shown on a 16 inch circular needle.
For larger sizes, a 16″ circular needle will work for the sleeves.

The sleeves on this sweater are EASY PEASY. You just knit in the round till you achieve the stated sleeve length. Work a sharp decrease round, and then switch to smaller needles to work a little 1×1 ribbed cuff on smaller needles (and likely using either DPNs or magic loop method at this point). You’ll want to use a loose bind off, just like on the body of the sweater.

The sleeves as designed are ¾ length. However, it’s easy to add in another 4″-6″ of length for long sleeves if you prefer. Note that the yoke is fairly deep, so that will impact how long the sleeves need to be. If you’re adjusting sleeve length, wait to work the ribbed cuffs until you’ve finished the neckline, blocked the sweater, and tried it on – that way you can add or subtract length before finishing the sleeves.

An orange lace yoke sweater with the neckline on white waste yarn.

Next step

Just the neckline and finishing to go! The next step in this series is the neckline. Head there now!

18 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2021 9:55 pm

    Hello, I’m planning to knit this sweater in adult size XS (chest 35″) but with size L arms (15″) because that’s how my body is :) I’ve done the math– during raglan increase round, I’ll increase 3 sts instead of 1 sts at both ends of the sleeves, then after separating body & sleeves I’ll have XS back & front sts and L sleeve sts on hold. To get back to the stitch count for XS body, cast on XS sts for each underarm. Does this sound right? Or is this not advised? This will be my first sweater, and I think I understand the pattern and how I can adjust it, but maybe I’m way off? Thanks for the blog posts, they are really helpful!

    • September 29, 2021 10:08 am

      Hi – This sounds right to me! Another option is to increase the extra sleeve sts needed in increase round 3, and then take those extra sts into account in the raglan set up round.

      • September 29, 2021 9:58 pm

        Ah! That sounds better! The increases would be evenly spaced during Increase round 3, instead of 6 sts increases per round on each sleeve during Raglan increase round. Thank you!

  2. Margaret Cole permalink
    May 24, 2021 5:28 am

    I thought I read that you should block the lace yoke before continuing on the body but I can’t find it here so perhaps I misread it?

    • May 25, 2021 10:08 am

      Hi Margaret – Sometimes it’s helpful to block the lace portion of a sweater before continuing, but I don’t think it’s necessary for the Love Note

  3. Elizabeth McIver permalink
    January 23, 2021 6:16 pm

    Hi, I’m using two different colours to knit this jumper. Where is the best place to make this change of colour? I’m knitting a small size which will be quite loose on me.

    • January 24, 2021 10:22 pm

      Hmmmm I’m not sure. Some folks have knit just the lace section in a contrast-colour – you could do that. Or you could change just after the lace ends.

  4. Aoife permalink
    November 30, 2020 2:18 pm

    Hi there, do you suggest binding off in pattern or knit wise? Many thanks in advance!

    • November 30, 2020 11:14 pm

      Hi – I personally prefer in pattern for this one, but there is no wrong answer!

  5. Robyn Badtke permalink
    October 21, 2020 7:03 pm

    On the sharp decrease for the sleeves to the cuff I’m confused. How do I go from 60 sts to 30 with k2,k2 tog. That would decrease to 40 sts not 30. Please advise

    • October 22, 2020 1:20 pm

      Hi Robyn – The instruction is to k2, then [k2tog] around – so you are decreasing to 30 sts.

  6. Elaine Sainz permalink
    August 9, 2020 9:24 am

    Hi! I’m confused on where to begin the short rows. On the medium it says: Short Row 1 (RS): K62. Do I begin knitting at BOR? If so, increase will be on one side. Please let me know. Love your work!

    • August 10, 2020 12:17 pm

      The short rows are worked symmetrically over the marker, you will need both rows 1 and 2 to see the symmetry.

  7. Kathryn permalink
    July 24, 2020 1:51 am

    When casting on you use 6 mm is the rest of the sweater also knitted in 6 mm and only the edging uses 4.5 mm thanks

  8. Dany permalink
    July 4, 2020 7:12 am

    I have a question about needles for the sleeves. You say that smaller sizes should use DPN but larger sizes can use a 16” circular. I’m knitting a size small, which is squarely in the middle of the range of all sizes. Would it be best for me to use DPN or 16” circular?

    • July 6, 2020 9:43 am

      Hi Dany – I think it will be pretty stretched on the 16″ circular, I think you’ll want to go with the DPNs

      • Dany permalink
        July 15, 2020 7:40 am

        Thank you! I switched over to my DPNs right away and am cranking through the sleeves. The tip to avoid holes at the underarms is fantastic — thanks again.

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