A cardigan with rows perpendicular to the standard cardi rows. Normal to the norm, one might say.
There are two versions of this sweater: a boxy plain version for toddlers, and a shapely collared version for women. Both are made on the same principle. Rows start at one cuff and go to the hem; raglan shaping makes the shoulders. Each row is thus shaped like an "L". You start knitting at the right center front and work your way around the body, decreasing and increasing to shape the arms, to end up at the left center front.
When first I designed this sweater, I wasn't sure if it would work. Halfway through knitting my proof-of-concept sweater, I was convinced it wouldn't work: the shape was just too weird and didn't look anything like a sweater. When it was time to graft the proof-of-concept, I became a convert. It works!
I don't like to use patterns that give me stitch-by-stitch directions. I would rather read patterns which give sizing and guidelines. If you like more detailed instruction, you are encouraged to make the toddler version first in the size listed. The technique readily translates to other sizes and shapes.
Toddler version, size 18mos:
- Araucania Nature Cotton in white, 3 skeins (105yds, 100g / skein)
- Koigu in Color 114, 2 skeins (176 yds, 50g / skein)
- Smooth cotton waste yarn, about 5 yds
- Peace fleece buttons (or similar): 5 (or as you prefer).
- A stitch marker (if you want)
The two yarns are held together for the entire garment.
Gauge: 14 sts per 4", on size 8 needles. This makes a firm sweater suitable for a spring jacket. Larger needles and looser gauge will make a lightweight garment suitable for warm weather romping; you'll probably want to make a smaller size if you do that.
Adult version, size Women's XL:
- Noro Transitions in purple/blue colorway, 7.5 skeins (7 for no collar option)
- Smooth cotton waste yarn, about 10 yards
- Pewter buttons: 6 (or as you prefer)
- A stitch marker (if you want)
It is trivial to change yarns to a more readily available one. Gauge: as recommended for yarn on size 10.5 needles.
You will need to know the following basic techniques; feel free to substitute in any technique with similar results.
- A double decrease which does not lean OR how to work a matched pair of decreases. I use *slip 1, k2tog, psso* in knit rows (and the counterpart in purl rows).
- A double increase which does not lean OR how to work a matched pair of increases. I use *k1 from the row beneath left, k2, k1 from the row beneath right*
- Short rows. I use the wrap-and-turn technique, and knit the wrap with the wrapped stitch in the following row.
- k1p1 3-needle bind-off OR kitchener stitch. k1p1 3-needle bind-off leaves a decorative seam and is more structural than kitchener. Kitchener is invisible. I like them both.
- Provisional cast-on
- Icord bind-off. I use a 3-stitch icord bind off.
- Button band making. I use a simple yo buttonhole and find buttons to match.
- A non-curling stitch. I use garter stitch on the toddler sweater and seed st on the adult version. Because of the construction of the cardi, ribbing looks more like ridges.
Find your gauge with your yarn and needles. Wear a shirt that fits you well. Have a friend measure from your shoulder point to your wrist (or where-ever you want the sleeve to fall). Have a friend measure from your shoulder seam, over your nipple, to your hip (or where-ever you want the hem to fall). Have a friend measure from your armscye at the armpit to your wrist, being careful not to get too close to your armpit (or else the sleeves will be too tight). Convert all measurements to stitches.
Using provisional cast-on, cast on your sleeve stitches. Cast on one stitch to mark the decreases and place a marker. Cast on your body stitches.
Subtract the number of stitches in your underarm measurement from the number of stitches in your sleeve measurement. (At 4 sts/", you get a number like 20.) You will work this many rows in the following pattern:
- Even rows: Work 5 sts in non-curling stitch (like seed stitch). Work stockinette until marker. Double decrease. Work stockinette until 5 sts remain. Work 5 sts in non-curling stitch.
- Odd rows: As even rows, but do not decrease.
Work 2 rows plain stockinette, then an equal number of rows in the following pattern, until you have the same number of stitches that you originally cast on:
- Even rows: Work 5 sts in non-curling stitch (like seed stitch). Work stockinette until marker. Double increase. Work stockinette until 5 sts remain. Work 5 sts in non-curling stitch.
- Odd rows: As even rows, but do not increase.
You have made most of one arm. Work one row on waste yarn, and then make another arm, exactly the same.
You may want to add some short rows to improve the fit. I usually do 4 short rows evenly spaced along the underarm (to make the armpit bigger and the cuff smaller). For an adult, it is good to do a short row from an inch below the waist to the hem every 6 rows or so; toddlers don't have hips to need the extra room. It's also nice to give busty adults more room in the chest, and therefore work some short rows from 2" above the waist to above the breast. However you decide to work your short rows, write it down so that you can do it a second time.
Pick out the waste yarn and provisional cast-on and separate the two pieces. Choose one to work first. In patt, work the sleeve sts from the front of the sleeve, starting at the cuff. Provisionally CO 5 sts. Work the sleeve sts from the back of the sleeve, starting at the shoulder. You should have 2*(# sleeve sts) + 5 sts on needles.
- Round 1: non-curling sts 5, K (# sleeve sts - 6), double decrease, k1, double decrease, K (# sleeve sts -6), reversible sts 5.
- Round 2: non-curling sts 5, purl until 5 rem, reversible sts 5.
- Round 3: k1p1 3-needle bind-off, or kitchener.
Do the same for the other sleeve.
Make shoulders (optional):
Adults may appreciate a little extra width at the shoulders. Toddlers don't much care. Pick a sleeve to work first. The sleeve part is finished, but there are live body sts on the front and back of the piece, plus five extra sts in the middle where you finished the arm. Work a few rows in stockinette, remembering to work the first and last 5 sts of every row in a non-curling st.
Do the same for the other part.
Have a friend measure around your bust, and divide the measurement by 2. Measure the width of one sleeve-body combo at the armpit (measure the other to make sure they match). Subtract. This is how many inches across your back panel will be. Convert the number into stitches for your back panel. Make sure it is an odd number.
Designate a front and a back side of each sleeve if you haven't already. Work the back body stitches of one piece, starting at the hem, and add a marker. Cast on the number of stitches for your back panel, and add a marker. Work the back body stitches of the other piece, starting at the shoulder.
Work the following pattern until only 3 sts rem of the top of your back panel:
- Even rows: non-curling 5 sts, k until marker, double decrease, k until marker, double decrease, k until 5 rem, non-curling 5 sts.
- Odd rows: non-curling 5 sts, p until 5 rem, non-curling 5 sts
Do a k1p1 3-needle bind-off or kitchener to close the back.
You may want to put in some short rows at the butt or at the shoulder blades. If so, do so.
Go ahead. Try it on. Notice how the fronts don't quite meet in the middle, and how the neck is wide. You will fix that now.
You have live sts from the fronts on both sides, the 5 sts you cast on at each shoulder, and the top of the back panel. Put them all on the needles.
Decide how wide you want your neck opening to be, and what kind of collar you want. For a toddler, I chose a simple v-neck. For an adult, I chose a shawl collar.
Work stockinette (with non-curling hems) until the top opening is as wide as you want the neck to be. Be sure to add short rows for breasts, if your intended recipient has them.
For a simple v-neck, work the sts in the front of the sweater on both sides until the sides meet in the middle. Add a button band.
For a shawl collar, contine to work the neck sts without decreasing until the fronts meet and overlap for a button band. You may want to add some short rows at the neck to make the collar wider without making the button band wider.
Weave in ends. Sew on buttons. Block if you want to.
Detailed instructions for toddler version
Using waste yarn and provisional cast on, cast on 81 sts. Mark center stitch. Designate one end of the stitches as the "hem" end and the other as the "cuff" end. Starting at the hem end, there are 41 stitches for the body (the last one of which is marked), and 40 stitches for the arm.
Row 1 (RS): straight
Row 2 (WS): decrease
Row 3 & 4: straight
Row 5: decrease
Row 6 & 7: straight
Row 8: decrease
Row 9: straight
Repeat rows 8 and 9 until 65 sts remain. End at the hem.
Work underarm, starting at the hem:
Row 1 (short row, RS): k5, k until 1 st before mark, decrease, k15. Wrap next stitch, turn work.
Row 2 (WS): p until 5 sts rem. k5.
Row 3 (short row, RS): k5, k until 1 st before mark, decrease, k10. Wrap next stitch, turn work.
Row 4 (WS): p until 5 sts rem. k5.
Row 5 (short row, RS): k5, k until 1 st before mark, decrease, k5. Wrap next stitch, turn work.
Row 6 (WS): p until 5 sts rem. k5.
Row 7 & 8: straight. 59 sts remain.
Row 9 (short row, RS): k5, k until 1 st before mark, increase, k4. Wrap next stitch, turn work.
Row 10 (WS): p until 5 sts rem. k5.
Row 11 (short row, RS): k5, k until 1 st before mark, increase, k9. Wrap next stitch, turn work.
Row 12 (WS): p until 5 sts rem. k5.
Row 13 (short row, RS): k5, k until 1 st before mark, increase, k14. Wrap next stitch, turn work.
Row 14 (WS): p until 5 sts rem. k5. 65 sts again.
Work decrease rows in reverse order, increasing instead of decreasing. 81 sts again. End at the hem. You have nearly completed one sleeve and half the body.
k41 (the body stitches), then k40 (the arm stitches) with waste yarn. Place arm stitches on holder. Work 5 hem sts in garter and all other body stitches in stockinette for 14 rows, ending at the hem. Place waste yarn stitches back on needle. You now have 41 body stitches in pattern yarn and 40 arm stitches in waste yarn: 81 stitches total.
Work second half:
Work the decrease rows again. Then work the underarm rows and the increase rows again. You have completed most of both sleeves and the body.
Your sweater does not look very sweater-like. Your arms are stitched together with one row of waste yarn, and it's hard to identify which part goes where. Have faith! This next part will make the shape clear.
Pick up the stitches from either side of the waste yarn on the arms. Take out the waste yarn. Refer to folding guide to fold the sweater appropriately. Work 6 rows on each sleeve, then graft front and back of each sleeve together.
For the front, work 8 rows on each side. Odd rows: work 5 hem sts in garter, then stockinette until 3 sts remain. K2tog (or p2tog in a purl row), k1 (or p1 in a purl row). Even rows: work 5 hem sts in garter, and all others in stockinette.
You now have two live edges at the center front. If you wanted a pullover, you could graft them together and be done. For a cardigan, you need to make a button band. For button bands, the side with the buttons determines which gender you're making the garment for: boys have buttons on the right, and girls on the left. Both sides of the band are started at the hem and move to the neck.
Make the button hole side first. Starting on the RS at the hem,
Row 1: k4, wrap and turn
Row 2: k4
Row 3: k3, Do not wrap, turn.
Row 4: k3
Row 5: k2, wrap, turn
Row 6: k2
Row 7: k1, wrap, turn
Row 8-13: repeat rows 2-7 in reverse order. You have now turned the corner in garter stitch, leaving a small hole for the button.
Row 14 (RS): k4, k2tog, bring yarn to front, turn
Row 15 (WS): k5
Repeat rows 14 and 15 until 9 sts remain, inserting buttonholes as necessary.
Repeat rows 1-13 to turn the top corner and make the top buttonhole.
Graft remaining 9 sts together.
Row 1 (RS): k2, cast off 2, k2tog, bring yarn to front, turn
Row 2 (WS): k2, cast on 3, k2
Row 3 (RS): k1, k2tog, k2, k2tog, bring yarn to front, turn
Make the button side as the buttonhole side, with the following exception: Row 3: k3, wrap, turn. Do not make other buttonholes; sew buttons to match where holes would go.