The idea for this sweater came from something I saw in a magazine, the “Meandrous Tunic”, (by Jill Wright in Creative Knitting, Spring 2014, page 62). For my usual reasons, I did not want to follow a pattern, but I really liked the look of this sweater, and wanted to give making one like it a try.
This was my attempt.
To start – Measurements: I knitted a square with my chosen yarn and needles and got my gauge, then figured out how many stitches to cast on by measuring the number of inches I wanted the sleeve to be around my wrist and calculating. (Here is my post on how to calculate your needed number of stitches using your gauge and your measurements.)
I measured the number of inches around various parts of my arm (wrist, lower arm, elbow, upper arm and shoulder), leaving a little extra room with the tape measure so the sleeve wouldn’t be very tight. Calculating as stated above with these measurements told me how many stitches I’d need for each part of the arm. I also measured vertically from where I wanted the top sideways part to stop at the front, over the shoulder, and down to where I wanted it to end at the back. (In my case this was 18 inches, and this was the widest I would need my arm and chest tube to be.) You also need to know how many inches across you’ll want the neck hole and the hole for the chest (measure around you under the arms to get that measurement all the way around yourself, half of that is the length of the opening for the chest – again, remember to leave a little extra room if you don’t want it tight.)
This photo shows the wrist where I started on the right side, it is open from about the elbow to the wrist because I wanted a smaller circle than my circular needles could pull off so I joined as soon as I could so that at least some of it would be seamed already. I started with my appropriate number of stitches at the wrist, then increased as I went up to get to the next needed number of stitches, (I increased at the ends and beginnings of the rows until I joined them into a circle, and kept my increases there after joining). I always increased under the arm to make the increases less obvious later. Under your arm will be where you put your hole for the chest. I put a marker here for reference. In this spot, under the arm, is the part that will go across the chest, so you have to plan your stitch pattern choice accordingly. I wanted something twisty, but easy, so I chose this one which looks like a cable, but isn’t, and interspersed other random choices of garter, knits, purls and rib. You may want to choose stitch patterns that look nice and flowy when worked longways. You will want something that doesn’t curl at the wrists. I had two of the flowy cable looking pattern going the entire length of the sleeve, positioned near the top of the arm, and I added another flowy one to each side once there was enough room after the increases for the upper arm. (Stitch references below.) (See the shoulder cap section for another tip on choosing your stitch patterns.)
Essentially, you make a tube, but you need to put the neck and chest holes in the right places. You don’t even need to increase up the arm if you don’t want to, you can have sleeves that are widely open at the wrist, and this would just be straight tubes.
I added shoulder caps. If you want to do your cap like this one, it will be helpful for you to choose stitch patterns with a lot of space in between to make this easier. For example, I only have the flowy twisty thing that looks like a cable, and I have 4 of them. So when I turn around and go backwards to do the shoulder cap, I don’t ever have to turn around mid pattern. I have random knits and purls between the flowy parts, so I always turned around in those.
Here is my diagram which has most of my measurements on it, and the round thing on the right shows how I made the shoulder caps. If you are looking at your circular with all of the stitches on it, you are looking at that circle, and the thing at the bottom of the drawing represents the marker where the bottom seam of the arm is. The arrows show how I added rows to the top of the shoulder gradually leaving off the ends of the rows under the arm so there was less cloth there. This was confusing enough that I did the whole thing in one sitting, not something I might know where I was if I went back to it later (unless you keep really detailed notes). I followed this diagram twice. You can’t really read what’s written under the circle, but in general, it shows that I was on row 9 of my pattern, did that about 7/8 way around the sleeve (where the innermost arrow makes a U turn), then turned around and went back doing row 10, and stopped about 1/4 of the way from the beginning, etc., keep following the arrows in this fashion, and keep following your stitch pattern and keep notes on what part of it is done. As you can see by the drawing, I didn’t do row 9 on the last eighth of the circle until I got done with the whole thing. Yarn wrap: Each time I changed direction, I took the next stitch that I wasn’t working off the needle and laid the yarn on the other side of it, then put it back on the needle. This yarn wrap helped to prevent holes everywhere I turned around. The yarn wrap kind of looks like a purl, so you might want to turn around in a place that isn’t a knit stitch. Follow the arrows, turning around in places near the arrows that look ok with your stitch pattern (exactness not needed). The last arrow goes all the way around and back to the marker. I did this circular pattern two whole times to achieve the shoulder cap you see.
The photo below this diagram shows a completed shoulder cap. The yellow marker shows the beginning before any of the cap was worked. Its a pretty shallow cap, but its enough to prevent too much sweater bulging under the arms, which you can sometimes get if there are no caps.
My stitch patterns weren’t all on the same row after the shoulder cap. To deal with this I used 2 torn pieces of a post-it note to stick to my stitch chart, torn very small so I had only the sticking part, with writing on them telling me which one went with which place.
After the shoulder cap is done, you are at the armpit, (where your marker is), so here is where you want to split it in two to divide for the chest. You will want some cloth over the shoulder, so you would go a few more inches before you split for the neck hole on the opposite side. Here is what it will look like on your needles after you split for the chest hole and the neck hole. You will then be working back and forth on both pieces instead of in the round. I attached a second piece of yarn from another ball so I could work both back and forth at the same time. I wanted to be absolutely sure they were the same length, so this ensured that. I turned a few of the stitches at the edge of the neck hole into garter stitch to prevent curling and make a nice edge.
Below is what it looks like after the chest and neck hole are done. I had closed the neck hole off a long time ago in this photo. I measured and figured I wanted 3 to 3 1/2 inches over each shoulder, and the length of the neck hole to be 9-10 inches. 10 + 3 +3 =16 inches. I needed the chest hole to be 18 inches across, and I wanted 16 inches from shoulder to shoulder. So, that is a 2 inch difference. (Going under the arms adds an extra inch on each side.) What I wound up doing was making over the shoulders a little longer, then shooting for the 18 inch chest hole to make sure that was big enough to not be tight. The important thing is to keep the neck hole in the middle and make things equal over each shoulder. You can hold it up to yourself as you work and see how its going, and that’s what I did. I checked my measurements with a tape measure, but I also just held it up to me once in awhile and made decisions based on what I saw.
I closed the chest hole by going back to knitting in the round. You get to cut the second yarn ball off at this point (and that’s always a relief!) Then just work the next sleeve the same way you did the first one. Start with the shoulder cap, same as whatever you did before, then go down the sleeve decreasing along the under the arm.
Here’s the whole top of the sweater completed, you can see the hole for the chest and the neck. I’ve seamed one arm from elbow to wrist but I still need to do the other one.
Here is where you will be when you start the body. I used my gauge and inch calculations to figure out how many stitches I would need to pick up. I went around the hole for the body of the sweater, picking up every stitch and this wound up being a lot more stitches than that. I decreased crazily (under the arms where it would be hidden) to get down to my ideal number. I don’t think it is noticeable at all that I did that. I figured it would be better than leaving stitches off during pick up and maybe getting holes. Tip: Pick-up is easier if you jab the needle into a stitch, then knit one through it, and make the first row as you pick up. Pick-up loops tend to be a bit tight and harder to work if you have a needle full of only pick-up loops.
After pick up on a big circular needle (same size for everything), I then I did a stitch pattern of knit/ purl alternating, a few knit rows, then another row of knit/purl to make a decorative line across the chest. Then it was smooth sailing, nothing but stockinette I could do in the dark during tv! I decreased a little to get to my measurement for the waist, but not much, only 4 stitches, I was going for a straighter sweater. I increased to the appropriate number of stitches for the hips before starting the pattern at the waist. Getting the increases out of the way kept me from having to figure out how to keep the counts right for increasing during patterns.
A few more decorative stitch patterns (see below) for the waist and border (to prevent curling), and a couple of rows of white after I ran out of peach yarn and still wanted it a tad longer. All done!
Idea for format of sweater: “Meandrous Tunic” by Jill Wright, Creative Knitting magazine, pg. 62.
Stitch Patterns: The New Knitting Stitch Library. Lesley Stanfield. Quarto Publishing, London. 1992. ISBN:1-57990-027-5. Flowy cable looking stitch: #196, pg.126. Stitch at waist: #95, pg. 62 (only row 3-19 with only the symbols on the left side). Border at bottom edge: #284, pg.165 (only the bottom half of the design. For this I was working from the top down on the sweater, but these rows made the same pattern no matter whether they were worked from top down or bottom up.)
Yarn and needles: Size 9 needles. Vanna’s Choice yarn by Lionbrand, color: Soft Pink.