This post is step #4 of the Love Note Tutorial series. Other posts in this series include:
- Yarn choice and sizing: How to choose a fabulous yarn combination and find the right size for you.
- Construction: An overview of the process and how the sweater is constructed.
- Yoke: How to work the provisional cast-on, lace pattern, and raglan increases.
- Body and sleeves (this post): Creating the high-low hem and picking up the sleeves.
- Neckline: How to pick up stitches from the unzipped, provisional cast-on, plus tips for ensuring the perfect fit.
- 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.
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.
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.)
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.
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!
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).
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.
Just the neckline and finishing to go! The next step in this series is the neckline. Head there now!