Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Knitting the Top-Down Raglan Cardigan, Part Three

We are in the middle of a bunch of information to help with knitting the Figheadh Fundamental Top-Down Cardigans, especially the women's version. These little tutorials will help you with any of the Fundamental Top-Down Cardigans, and there are versions for anyone in the family, even babies!

In this installment, we are discussing the sleeve knitting.

When the body of the cardigan is complete... will use your 16" circular needle to begin the sleeves. 
First, slip all the stitches from scrap yarn to the 16" circular, as in the picture above.

Pick up half (or nearly half) the underarm stitches from the body at the first of this round. Since this sweater I am knitting is the size 36 with bulky yarn, I only have two stitches to pick up here, and you can see them lurking up there behind the right-hand needle tip.

From there I knit across all the sleeve stitches, picked up one more stitch at the end of the round from the body, placed a marker, and knit the sleeve from there in the round. I did not add any extra stitches to the pickup to close holes. The stitches are so loose on this bulky version that I wanted to go a different route. You can see in the above picture that I do have a couple of holes and loose spots here.

So I turned the work to the wrong side, tightened up the stitches in those spots, and used the yarn end to work some duplicate stitching to further close up the holes. This looks good enough for me.

I am also working up another cardigan in size 34 with a sport weight yarn on size 4 (3.5 mm) needles using the 6-stitch gauge version in the pattern. I wanted to show you some differences. Above you see the sleeve stitches on the 16" circular ready for me to pick up the underarm stitches.

The picture above shows how I joined my new yarn and picked up the leftmost three stitches from the body underarm using my handy tool with a pick at one end and a crochet hook at the other (I love this thing!)

Then in the picture above you see that I slid those three stitches to my working needle, picked up two extra stitches from the gap between the stitches just picked up and the sleeve stitches waiting on the other end of the circular, and knit the first sleeve stitch. The first of those two extra stitches was picked up from the stitch below the third (the last) stitch picked up from the body. The second of the two extra stitches was picked up from the bar (or running thread) between the picked up stitches and the first of the sleeve stitches. This will sufficiently close the hole wanting to form there. When picking up and knitting these extra stitches, it is essential to twist them by knitting into their backs (sounds menacing).

After I knit across all the sleeve stitches I did the same at the other end, as seen above. I picked up an extra stitch from the bar between the last sleeve stitch and the body stitches. Then I picked up the second extra stitch from the stitch below where I planned to pick up the first of the three body stitches remaining at the underarm. Next I picked up stitches from the remaining three body stitches, placed a marker and knit the next round. In that round I decreased the extra stitches by working k2, ssk, k2tog, knit to last 6 stitches, ssk, k2tog, k2. That brings me back to my requisite 94 stitches for the sleeve at pickup.

After knitting a couple more rounds, you can see in the picture above that this made the underarm join nice and tidy with no holes. That means I have nothing to do in this area when the knitting is complete except weave in a couple of yarn ends. Good news!

Before we're done with this installment, I want to address some possible confusion in the pattern.

 When you arrive at the sleeve shaping you are told to "Work the dec to leave one knit stitch on each side of the marker by working ssk, k1 before the marker and k1, k2tog after the marker." If you are used to working your decreases at the beginning and end of one round, this instruction sounds funny. However, here's the sense of it. I always work my sleeve decreases by starting with the "ssk, k1" at the end of the previous round and the "k1, k2tog" immediately after it. In other words, if the pattern tells me to decrease every sixth round, I work ssk, k1 at the end of the fifth round and k1, k2tog at the first of the sixth round, but only on the first decrease. Afterward each decrease is worked every sixth round (or fourth round, etc.--you get the gist). I find that the decreases lie more in line with one another if worked this way. Lets have a look.

The lower orange marker in the picture above shows the decreases worked closer to one another. If you look to either side of the marker, which lies between the two decrease stitches, you can see the ssk to the right and the k2tog to the left. The ones at the upper orange marker show the difference it makes when you work the "k1, k2tog" decrease at the first of a round and the "ssk, k1" decrease at the end of that same round. The ssk sits higher on the right of the marker than does the k2tog below it on the left. This is why I like working the ssk at the end of the previous round instead of at the end of the same round as the k2tog.

I so hope that these little details will help you with your cardigan project!
I'll be back in part four with some insights about working your button bands and collar. 

Se ya soon!

Note: Bulky sweater is knit using Cascade Eco Wool, color #9008 and the finer gauge one is knit with Schaefer Nichole in the Julia Child colorway.

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