Instructions for Knitting Men's Cardigan Sweaters

Written by susanne koenig
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Instructions for Knitting Men's Cardigan Sweaters
Measuring is key for getting a man's cardigan right -- the first time. (Tay Jnr/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Cardigans serve as wonderful gifts for the men in your life, especially cardigans which can come in handy on slightly chilly days. Knitting a cardigan for a man isn't as difficult as you might think, but it does take some planning. Measure your friend to make sure you are getting the right fit and be prepared to knit a large swatch to make sure that your gauge is exactly right so your gift will be cherished for years to come.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Needles
  • Yarn
  • Gauge measure

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  1. 1

    Measure your friend. Take measurements across the back of the shoulders at their widest point, the top of the shoulders, the length of the arm, the length of the waist, the chest and the wrists. Measure the waist from side to side only for an accurate measurement of the back segment and from the waist the armpit. Write all lengths down. Measure the tummy if it's noticeably bigger than the waist, otherwise, you will have a cardigan that doesn't fit when buttoned.

  2. 2

    Knit a swatch. Cast on at least twenty stitches and knit a swatch at least four inches tall. Measure your gauge, counting each stitch per inch horizontally and vertically. Write down in your notes how much it takes to make an inch both ways.

  3. 3

    Multiply the number of stitches per inch by the number of inches you need from your side-to-side measurement across the back waist, and cast on that amount. To determine the amount of stitches you need, take the measurement and add two inches for an extra inch on each side. This will make the cardigan roomy enough to wear comfortably.

  4. 4

    Add an extra inch onto your cast on if you want a tight ribbing to begin with and switch to smaller-sized needles. This will make a tighter ribbing. Knit about two inches high and then change back to your regular needles. Decrease the extra inch if you like by knitting two together at the end of the first couple of rows -- you'll have to consult your gauge to see how many stitches this will take. Repeat this method for all other cast ons, including the sleeves.

  5. 5

    Knit the sweater's back until you get to the length you've recorded for the waist to armpit measurement. Decrease one inch on each side for the sleeve setting if you want off-shoulder seams, which is recommended and by far the easiest method. Knit until you get to the top of the shoulders. Slip the stitches onto a stitch holder and prepare to cast on for the front.

  6. 6

    Take the largest measurement and add 1 to 1.5 inches extra for the overlap that will come with the buttoned front. Switch to smaller needles for a tighter rib. Bind off four stitches for every button hole. When you come back across the four bound-off stitches, make four and continue across the row. You will have a nice, neat button hole. Knit each side until you get about four inches short of the neck, then decrease at least two stitches at the end of the facing sides for a neck hole. Knit to the top and slip onto stitch holders.

  7. 7

    Start your sleeves. Cast on the number of stitches required for the largest measurement of the arm plus one for extra room. Again, switch to lower needles if you plan on having ribbing. Knit the ribbing for at least 3 inches and continue until you get to the top of the arm. Bind off.

  8. 8

    Pin and sew your sweater together. Start with the two sides and then add in the sleeves, turning the cardigan inside out. Pick up stitches along the neck if you would like to have a ribbed edging. Again, use smaller sized needles (circulars are best for necks) and bind off when you are done.

  9. 9

    Sew on your buttons and block your sweater. Steaming with an iron and pinning onto a carpet or other soft surface until it sets is ideal.

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