Let's Steek! Sleeve Separation and Knitting the Body

Welcome back! This is a long one, so buckle up. 

It’s time to separate for the sleeves, but before I do so, I like to check for yoke fit. I've knit enough sweaters this style that I know the depth I prefer-- this one is a bit on the deeper side but well within my range. I'm not nearly as fussy about knitwear fit as I am with sewing-- as long as it's not too small, it's FINE.


TIME FOR SLEEVE SEPARATION! This is one of those Mathy Parts so for the math averse, I do apologize, but MATHS ARE MAGIC. There, I said it.


 As I mentioned a few posts ago, this pattern considers the center back the beginning of round. I moved that to the center front (on the left side of the cardigan, after the steek is worked), so I need to take that into account when I’m dividing for the sleeves so I don’t end up with sleeves sprouting out of weird places. That would be a problem.

 A pattern will give you the total stitch count after the yoke is complete. It will also tell you how many sleeve stitches to put on hold before knitting the body. Here are the formulas I use to calculate how to make this happen.


Step 1: Total stitch count after the yoke is complete  – total number of sleeve stitches= Total number of body stitches

Step 2: We’ve got the sleeve numbers out of the way, so now it’s time to figure out the front and back body stitch counts.

Total number of body stitches (from Step 1) ÷ 2Front and back body stitch counts

 Step 3: Remember that we’re literally going to literally cut the center front of the garment, so in order to account for this in the sleeve division instructions, we’ll need to divide the front body stitches in half.

Total number of front stitches (from Step 2) ÷ 2 = Center front left and right stitch counts


Sometimes (like for my size in this pattern) you’ll end up with an odd number for the front and back body stitch counts. If this is the case, you want to add a stitch to the front  stitch count and subtract a stitch from the back stitch count so you can have an even number of stitches for the front left and front right. 


We have NUMBERS! I like to check my work before I get knitting, so I usually write all of this out.


  • Knit (number from Step 3), place next (sleeve stitches from pattern) on hold, cast on (number of underarm stitches from pattern).
  •  Knit (number from step 2)
  •  Place next (sleeve stitches from pattern) on hold, cast on (number of underarm stitches from pattern), knit (number from step 3) to end of round.


The numbers should all add up to the body stitch count provided in the pattern.

And then you divide for sleeves (the pattern will tell you how to do this).


After sleeve division, it’s just a lot of VERY FUN colorwork knitting. Don’t forget to take breaks and stretch your hands and wrists and elbows! (Says someone who has what the doctor calls tennis elbow but we all know it’s *really* “knitter’s elbow”).




This pattern provides two body length options, and I went with the cropped version. As I was nearing the end of the chart, I realized that it was going to be just a little shorter than I preferred (I did go down a needle size from the pattern), so I added another colorwork motif. I used a motif from Alice Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting.

Here's what it looks like on the actual sweater. I love it!


 You can also see how the steek is working up-- see the pixilated stitches in the middle?


Next time we’ll bind off the steek, finish the bottom ribbing, and start the sleeves. I’m going to admit I’m a little nervous about the sleeves—super small circumference colorwork in this many colors seems….less than fun, plus I’ll have to contend with the decreases and maintaining the pattern. It’s all doable and it will be TOTALLY WORTH IT.


I had to order more of the purple and green yarn- is it even a sweater that uses stash if you don’t have to order more yarn?



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