Shaping sweaters can be one of the more intimidating aspects of the craft for many knitters. However, what many people don't realise is that all shaping requires is a little bit of arithmetic. V-neck sweater shaping is a little more difficult, as it requires knitters to simultaneously increase at the neckline for the V shape, as well as increase for the sleeves and shoulder shaping. Top down V-necks knitted in the round are convenient ways to learn how to shape both a V neck and the bust, waist and hip lines of a sweater.
Take your measurements and knit a gauge swatch. For a well fitted sweater, you will need to know your exact measurements and the number of stitches per inch that you get with your chosen needle and yarn. Your gauge swatch should be at least 100 mm (4 inches) square to get the most accurate measurements. The swatch also will give you a hint of how your yarn will behave in a garment.
Calculate your initial cast-on. Determine how wide you would like the opening of the V-neck to be. Multiply the number of inches for the neckline by your gauge. For instance, if you want the neckline to be 380 mm (15 inches) (measured from the widest part of the V-neck opening around the back of the neck), and your gauge is five stitches per inch, your initial cast-on will be 75 stitches.
Begin knitting. Knit two stitches, place a marker, knit 17 stitches for the sleeve, place a marker, knit 37 stitches for the back, place a marker, knit 17 stitches for the other sleeve, place a marker, knit two. Purl one row. On the following row knit one, make one stitch, knit one, make one, slip the stitch marker, knit 17, slip stitch marker, make one, knit 37, make one, slip stitch marker, knit 17, slip stitch marker, make one, knit one, make one.
Continue increasing. Increase on right-side rows at the sleeves, every other row until you reach the underarm area. Increase at the beginning and end of the row at the neckline every third or fourth row, depending on how deep you want the V-neck to be. All increases, except for the neckline shaping, will be completed either immediately before or immediately after the stitch markers. V-neck shaping increases will always be immediately after the first stitch and immediately before the last stitch of increase rows.
Put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn. Knit until the first sleeve stitch marker, and using a tapestry needle, slip all the sleeve stitches onto waste yarn. Knit across the back stitches and repeat, putting the second sleeve on a separate piece of waste yarn. The sleeve stitches will be picked up and knitted after the body of the sweater is shaped and completed.
Count the number of stitches that are on your needles and divide by your gauge. For instance, if you have 175 stitches on your needles, and your gauge is five stitches per inch, your sweater will measure 890 mm (35 inches) across. Subtract this number from your bust measurement. If your bust is 940 mm (37 inches), you will need to increase by 50 mm (2 inches), or 10 stitches. On the following row, place a marker and cast on five stitches at each underarm section before continuing across each row. When you have increased enough stitches to join the V-neck, place a marker and join at the V for knitting in the round.
Continue knitting until just underneath the bust line. Begin decreasing for the waist. Subtract your waist measurement from your bust measurement to determine how many stitches you will need to decrease. If your waist is 790 mm (31 inches), you will need to decrease 150 mm (6 inches), or 30 stitches. The decrease will need to be spread evenly between the bust and the waist, so decrease one stitch at each underarm marker every two rows until you have reached the waist measurement.
Increase for the hips. Subtract your waist measurement from your hip measurement and multiply that number by your gauge. If your hips are 940 mm (37 inches), you will need to increase again by 30 stitches (reversing the math done for the waist decrease). Complete this by increasing at each side marker every two rows until you have reached your desired number of stitches. Continue knitting until you have reached the desired length of your sweater.