How to knit a cardigan sweater

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How to knit a cardigan sweater
Knitting a cardigan sweater is simple when you follow these steps. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Knitting a cardigan sweater may seem challenging, but you can produce a beautiful, well-fitting handmade garment. This cardigan is seamless, requiring minimal finishing, which means it is ready to wear almost as soon as you finish knitting. Make a few simple calculations to ensure that your cardigan sweater will fit you exactly the way you want it to.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • 1,000 to 2,000 yards of yarn, depending on desired size
  • Set of circular knitting needles
  • Set of double-pointed knitting needles
  • Stitch markers
  • Waste yarn or stitch holders
  • Tapestry needle
  • Buttons

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Using a tape measure, find your chest measurement in inches. Record this measurement.

    How to knit a cardigan sweater
    Taking accurate measurements ensures a perfect fit. (tape measure image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Knit a gauge swatch using the recommended needle size for your chosen yarn—a crucial step in determining how your finished cardigan will fit. To knit a swatch, cast on 40 stitches by making a backwards loop in your yarn for each stitch and placing it on your needle. Knit back and forth in stockinet stitch (knitting on the right side or the side of the garment that will face out, purling on the wrong side, or the side that will face in) for 4 inches. Cast off your stitches by knitting two stitches, then passing the first stitch over the second and dropping it off the needle.

  3. 3

    Carefully measure your swatch using a tape measure. Record the number of stitches per inch (measuring horizontally) and rows per inch (measuring vertically).

  4. 4

    Determine the number of stitches to cast on for your cardigan by multiplying your gauge (number of stitches per inch) by the chest measurement you recorded in Step 1.

  1. 1

    Loosely cast on the appropriate number of stitches, adding four extra stitches at the beginning of the row and four at the end (eight stitches total). These stitches will comprise the right and left button bands.

  2. 2

    Work back and forth in two-by-two ribbing (knit two stitches, purl two stitches) for one inch.

  3. 3

    At the beginning of the next row, form the first buttonhole by knitting two stitches, binding off one stitch, then continuing to work in pattern across the row. On the next row, cast on one stitch over the stitch you bound off. Continue knitting in ribbing for another inch.

  4. 4

    Switch to stockinet stitch, and continue knitting your cardigan to the desired body length, continuing to place buttonholes at regular intervals.

  5. 5

    Place the body of the sweater on waste yarn or spare needles, and set aside.

  1. 1

    Determine the number of stitches to cast on for the sleeves by calculating 20 to 25 per cent of the number of body stitches.

  2. 2

    Using your double-pointed needles, cast on the appropriate number of stitches and join the work to knit around in a circle, taking care not to twist stitches. Place a stitch marker at the beginning of the round.

  3. 3

    Knit in two-by-two ribbing for 1 inch.

  4. 4

    Begin knitting in stockinet stitch (knit every row), and increase two stitches on either side of the stitch marker every fifth round until you reach your desired sleeve width.

  5. 5

    Knit in stockinet stitch until you reach your desired sleeve length.

  6. 6

    Place your sleeve on waste yarn, and set aside.

  7. 7

    Make a second sleeve in the same manner.

  1. 1

    Calculate 10 per cent of your initial number of body stitches to determine the correct number of underarm stitches.

  2. 2

    Continuing in stockinet stitch, knit to the left underarm. Place half the total number of underarm stitches on waste yarn.

  3. 3

    Place an equal number of the left sleeve stitches on waste yarn, and continue knitting across the remainder of the sleeve stitches, joining the left sleeve to the body.

  4. 4

    Knit to the next underarm, and repeat Step 3 for the right sleeve.

  5. 5

    Knit back and forth in stockinet stitch for 4 inches, continuing to knit buttonholes as before.

  1. 1

    On the next row, begin decreasing stitches by knitting two stitches (K2) and then knitting the following two stitches together (K2Tog). Repeat this process across the entire row.

  2. 2

    Work in stockinet stitch for 2.75 inches.

  3. 3

    Continue decreasing stitches by knitting 1 stitch (K1) and knitting the next two stitches together (K2Tog). Repeat this across the entire row.

  4. 4

    Work in stockinet stitch for 2 inches.

  5. 5

    Finish decreasing stitches by knitting one stitch (K1), then knitting the next two stitches together (K2Tog), then knitting the following two stitches together as well. (K2Tog). Continue across the entire row.

  1. 1

    Knit back and forth in two-by-two ribbing for one inch.

  2. 2

    Cast off all stitches loosely.

  3. 3

    Using your tapestry needle, weave in all loose ends.

  4. 4

    Sew on your buttons.

  1. 1

    Graft the underarm stitches together using the Kitchener stitch. Place each set of live stitches on its own needle. Hold the two needles parallel to each other.

  2. 2

    Thread your tapestry needle with at least 10 inches of yarn.

  3. 3

    Beginning with the first stitch on the top needle, insert the tapestry needle into that stitch from front to back, as if to knit. Making sure the working yarn stays below the parallel needles, insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the bottom needle from back to front, as if to purl.

  4. 4

    Next, insert the tapestry needle into the bottom stitch as if to knit. Pull the yarn through, and slip that stitch off the needle. Insert the tapestry needle into the next stitch on the bottom needle as if to purl, but do not slip that stitch off the needle.

  5. 5

    Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch on the top needle as if to purl. Pull the yarn through and slip that stitch off the needle. Insert the tapestry needle into the next stitch on the top needle as if to knit, but do not slip that stitch off the needle. Repeat Step 4 and Step 5 until you have worked all stitches.

Tips and warnings

  • You may wish to adjust the number of cast-on stitches depending on your desired fit. For a relaxed fit, add 1 to 3 inches to your actual chest measurement. For a more fitted look, use the actual measurement or subtract 1 inch.
  • You may adjust the width of the button bands by increasing or decreasing the number of designated button band stitches added when you cast on.
  • You may wish to mark the placement of the button bands with two stitch markers.

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