Joining sweater parts at the underarm: Here comes the fun!

How to join sweater pieces at the underarm

I don’t know why I’ve been waiting for someone to have photos of this process, when I’ve got my world-class illustration skills to draw on! (This #fringeandfriendsknitalong has it all, people.) Ok, these may not be award-winning illos, but hopefully they’re good enough for our purposes here today, which is to talk about how to join your Amanda cardigan at the underarms. Granted, I’ve only been looking at sweater patterns for a few years, but this is actually the first one I’ve seen with this kind of construction. Typically (in my experience), a sweater that is joined at the underarms and worked seamlessly upward from there has been worked seamlessly up to that point as well. Meaning, the body would be knitted in one piece and the sleeves knitted in the round, so you’re joining three pieces instead of five. (Which is how our lovely panelist Jaime is knitting her Amanda.) Nevertheless, in this case — if you’re knitting Amanda as written — you’ve got five pieces to join at the underarms. You’ve bound off underarm stitches at the underarm edge of each piece and now it’s time to clothesline them all together in order to work the yoke in one piece. And that’s literally all it is: Whether you’ve got the pieces on five needles or holders or waste yarn, the pattern has you simply slip all of the stitches onto one long circular needle so that they line up, obviously, in the position in which they go together. I’ve drawn it two ways, above and below, in case one makes more sense to you than the other.

If your yarn is still attached to your right front, you’re good to go. Otherwise, you’ll simply attach a new ball of yarn and knit your raglan setup row all the way across these pieces — one long row — at which point they are united into one beautiful, flappy piece of fabric. Each of the joints (where the front meets the sleeve, the sleeve meets the back, etc.) is the starting point for a raglan seam. You’ll place a marker, as indicated in the pattern, at each of these four positions, and you’ll be decreasing at those markers to create the raglan “seams” and shaping. So your rows will get progressively shorter as you go. [UPDATE! @wendlandcd posted a pic overnight showing what this all looks like once the yoke is complete. So awesome!] For my money, the yoke is the funnest part of a sweater — it’s where all the action is, and where this fabric takes on the shape of a sweater! Which is one argument in favor of bottom-up sweaters: You have the yoke to look forward to when working the sleeves and body, rather than (with top-down) doing the funnest part first, with so much knitting left to do.

Speaking of arguments in favor of things, here’s another in favor of knitting this sweater in pieces. Bottom-up may mean saving the best part for last, but I really hate knitting the first few rows after the join with a seamless bottom-up sweater. I find it super stressful — to me and to the sweater — trying to get around the bend of circular sleeves in those early rows. Maybe I’m being fooled by my simplistic drawings, but I feel like that’s going to be a non-issue with these flat pieces.

I’d love to hear thoughts on that from those who’ve done it already!

How to join sweater pieces at the underarm

. . .

UPDATE #2: After this post went up on Thursday morning, Simone/@waldorfmanufaktur commented that she was ready to join her pieces, and this morning she posted the most amazing photo, and gave me permission to use it. So here it is in living color, the five pieces joined into one:

Joining sweater parts at the underarm: Here comes the fun!

Unlike my scribbles, here you can actually see the bound-off underarm stitches, which get seamed closed once the sides and sleeves are seamed together. Thanks, Simone!

Next week we’ll talk about neck shaping! Woohoo.


PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: WIP of the Week, week 5


27 thoughts on “Joining sweater parts at the underarm: Here comes the fun!

  1. Great timing–I just did this for the first time last week with a child’s sweater I’m knitting called Dorothy. My sense is that once I get past the floppy stage it will be easy, but not yet. Thanks for the diagrams –very helpful!

  2. I know exactly what you mean. I pull some of the cord out from my circs for those first several rows so that those corner stitches lie flat. Well, it’s a bit hard to explain!

  3. Much as I hate to say ….. I prefer to knit the sweater ALL AT ONE TIME. I get easily bored and have just discovered that knitting from the neck down just removes all that extra stuff that has to be done. If I feel the underarm will b a little loose, I cast on an extra stitch at both ends of the ‘cast-on stitch number.’ This allows me to k2tog at each end of the next ‘connecting row’ and to keep that k2tog stitch with the regular (non-cast-on stitches) stitches. It leaves you with a ‘strong’ stitch to work from. Your sweater is a really beautiful one – especially if someone looks for errors!

  4. I’ve never knit a sweater with the sleeves in the round like that but it does sound awful! This one was smooth sailing – EXCEPT! With all the pieces just floating around like that, I found it kind of hard to manage. That’s when I clipped the “seams” together with removable stitch markers so the sweater would take on more of a sweater shape when I was working the yoke. That also allowed me to see how the sweater fits so far! A very exciting moment. (Check my Instagram @wendlandcd for a bathroom selfie at that point)

    When I joined the pieces on to one circular needle, I thought I would need to get out my really long cable. I started that way but then found that I had way too much cable to work with (I think it was in the 50-60″ range). I switched back to the 32″ circular that I had been working with the whole time and was surprised to find out it all fit! Plus at this point you are decreasing the yoke every other round so it all fits even more nicely after a few rows.

    I recommend wine and Star Trek next generation for this point in the sweater.

    One other thing I’m curious about for others is how did you deal with the decreases at the honeycomb section? I found myself switching between just leaving them in straight stockinette and still trying to put a cable in there without having all 4 stitches to do it. Haha. It kind of looks funky in the areas I decreased, but I still like it. Maybe I’ll post a pic of that on IG tonight.


  5. How cool is this? I have JUSTED reached that point. Good timing, Karen ;-)
    Plus I also think that the yoke is the best part – although all those pieces are pretty heavy on the one needle…

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  7. I’ll add a “perfect timing” quote here, too! I’m lurking on the borders of this KAL, knitting Jared Flood’s Cobblestone instead of one from the master list (no cables, but hey, it’s my first sweater ever!). I’m close to the point of joining the sleeves to the body on the one circular needle, and this post and others’ comments are helping me plan for a step that looms larger in my imagination than it will when I actually execute it.

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  9. January 10, 2015. I am busting to know how this jersey finally came out as I would love to do this for my grand daughters.

  10. What is the pattern? Looks like it could be foe an American Girl doll judging by its size ratio to the floor. I am doing all kinds of AG knitting.

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  12. awesome! Thank you! I’ve been eyeballing a cardigan (always a great way to make a mess) but this helps a lot :)

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  15. muy interesante pero deberia explicarse el patron mas ampliamente para poder comprender mejor.

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