If you are like me then you adore top down knitted jumpers and cardigans.
Knitted in one piece.
Seamless look to the finished garment.
And with so many designs out there you do not have to compromise on style either.
But I do have one nagging problem with them. The sleeves.
I’ve not yet come across a top down jumper or cardigan, that does have sleeves, which asks you to knit the sleeves first.
And this presents me with a problem.
You see you knit the pretty yoke. Then you put the sleeve stitches on a needle holder or some spare yarn. You work your way down the body and cast off at the hem. Then you join the arm stitches in the round and work the sleeve, and repeat this for the other arm. Done.
But those sleeves. They have to be done in the round.
I despise this. It is awkward.
Constantly turning your work. The body getting in the way. The strain on your hands with the needles so close. Ugh!
And I despise magic loop. Sorry. It’s true. Me and magic loop are not friends.
So when I came across a photo the other day (sorry I don’t recall where I saw it – might have been Pinterest) I was thrilled to see something that is pure genius!
It was a top down cardigan and the knitter had moved the steps of the traditional top down method around.
They had knitted the yoke. Can’t really miss that.
They had separated the fronts, sleeves, and back.
Then they had knitted the sleeves. Flat.
Followed after by the body.
Yes they would have had to adjust a couple of things for the sleeves (which I’ll mention below).
Yes they had to do a little sewing (under the arm which no one sees anyway).
But they got to avoid the hours of tedious knitting in the round!
So I tried it on my next knitting project. The Puerperium Cardigan. You can see this in the photo below. This shows the project after knitting the sleeves – flat – but before working the body as written in the pattern.
If you want to replicate this in your top down knitting, I have only two points that you need to consider:
1. Any extra stitches added under the arm must be split evenly on either side when knitting each arm. If you need to add 4 stitches in the round, you add two stitches either side when flat.
2. You will need to add one extra stitch (in addition to those in point 1) on either side. This is your seam allowance when you sew the sleeves up at the end.
And that is it.
This magic tip has now changed the way I do top down jumpers and cardigans. I will no longer always have short sleeved projects!