Therefore I would like to introduce you to some design variations of knit pullovers today.
All these designs can be knitted from the top down and require little to no sewing. I like top-down pullover the best because you can try them on while knitting.
However, this blog entry does not contain any knitting instructions, it is basically meant to give you an overview of the different designs and their rough working methods (for the knitting method “from top to bottom”). Something that was absolutely missing when I started knitting a few years ago.
For each design form there are, of course, also different ways of proceeding, countless adjustments and optimisations, sleeve & collar shapes, special subtleties, as well as many other tips and tricks. I’m just trying to describe here how I roughly approach my pullover designs, without claiming that my approaches are the only right one! 😉
The classic pullover, it can be worked from casual or very figure-hugging fit.
The upper back is knitted down to the armholes. For the front stitches are picked up at each shoulder of the back. Depending on the neckline shape, the front is knitted separately to a certain depth and then new stitches are cast on in the middle to join the two front pieces. The front is then also knitted down to the armholes. New stitches are cast on under the arms and the front and back are joined together (the chest circumference is measured here). Knit the body in the round till the desired length is reached. The sleeves are knitted separately and sewn in later, or knitted in directly using short rows (= no sewing).
The basic design pullover, it does not fit very well, but is suitable for e.g. oversize pullover and easy to knit.
For this design, there are already enough stitches picked up at the beginning that the back piece extends far beyond the width of the back and drops down along the shoulders. It is knitted down to the armholes, which are usually deeper than in the other designs. For the front, stitches are picked up along the shoulders of the back just like for the pullover with set-in sleeves (for each shoulder separately) and after some inches/centimetres – depending on the shape of the neckline – new stitches are cast on in the middle to join the front pieces together. Then it is also knitted down to the armholes. The body is then worked if necessary with extra stitches under the arm, but usually without any further increases or decreases and bound off when the desired pullover length is reached. For the sleeves, stitches are picked up along the armholes and finished by knitting in the round.
The rather sporty looking pullover.
Cast on stitches for the neckline and join in the round. Divide the stitches for the front, the sleeves and the back according to the desired look/style. At each transition from the front and back to both sleeves (the 4 raglan lines) stitches are increased while you knit down to the armholes. At armhole level, cast on new stitches under the arm until the desired chest and upper arm circumference is reached. The stitches for the sleeves are placed on hold at the same round as the new stitches under the arms are casted on. Then the body is knitted in the round till the desired length is reached. The stitches for the sleeves are placed back on the needle, new stitches from the newly cast on stitches for the body are picked up under the arms and the sleeves are then finished by knitting in the round.
The rather “cute” pullover, or the pullover shape that is often used for e.g. lace- and slip stitch, as well as fair isle patterns, as here the knitting is done in the round throughout and the even increases can be integrated well into the pattern or are hardly noticeable.
Cast on stitches for the neckline and join in the round. Then evenly increase until you reach the desired armhole depth. You are working a “circle with a hole in the middle” (hole = neckline). As with the raglan, the stitches for the sleeves are placed on hold at the desired armhole depth. Cast on new stitches under the arms and finish the body by knitting in the round. Then the sleeve stitches are placed back on the needle, … (see Raglan)
A somewhat more special pullover shape whose style/look is very changeable due to the pattern and/or e.g. the number of yarn colours used. However, it usually always looks a little sportier than, for example, the classic pullover with set-in sleeves. Saddle shoulders are known from training jackets.
There are several options here:
Variant 1 & 2:
At first knit the saddles, these are knitted “crosswise”. Cast on as many stitches until the saddle width is reached and knit in the length until the desired shoulder width is reached, do this for the left and the right saddle. Both saddles are knitted from the neckline to the shoulders.
continue with variant 1:
If you want to knit the upper sleeves at the same time (in rounds), leave the stitches from both saddles on the respective needle (the side with the open stitches always faces the shoulder, i.e. outwards). Pick up stitches along one side of the first saddle and add stitches by casting on new ones for the neckline. Then pick up stitches along the corresponding side of the second saddle and knit the remaining “working/open” stitches of the second saddle. Repeat this process for the other side of the pullover, so that the pullover can be knitted in the round down to the armholes with even increases* at the sleeves. Place the sleeve stitches on hold and cast on new stitches under the arms. (*Please note: the stitches you cast on under the arm are also part of the sleeve and should therefore be included in the calculation of the upper arm circumference and the number of increases for the sleeves). Finish the body by knitting in the round. Place the stitches for the sleeves that have been placed on hold back on the needle, pick up new stitches for the sleeves from the newly cast on “underarm” stitches and finish the sleeves.
continue with variant 2:
If you want to knit the sleeves directly in by using short rows later, place the stitches of both saddles on a stitch holder or scrap yarn. (The stitches that have been placed on hold point to the shoulder, i.e. outwards.) Now pick up stitches along one side of the first saddle, cast on new stitches for the neckline and then pick up stitches along the corresponding side of the second saddle (= back). Knit the back piece down to the armholes. Now do the same on the other side (= front) and knit this down to the armholes, too. Pick up new stitches under the arms and finish the body in the round. From the newly cast on “underarm” stitches of the body pick up new stitches for the sleeves. Then pick up stitches along the sides (armholes) of the front/back. Get the “placed on hold” stitches of the saddle back onto the needle and pick up more stitches along the side of the back/front (depending on the sleeve – left or right – pick up stitches from the front or back first). Join the stitches for the sleeves in the round. Knit the sleeves directly in using short rows and then finish them by knitting in the round.
Knit the front and back separately down to the armholes, but be aware there is still the saddle that has to be taken into consideration for the armhole depth, as this length (= width of the saddles) is going to be added later. Then front and back are joined by newly cast on stitches under the arms and the body is finsihed in the round. The sleeves are knitted separately and have the saddle added to the top of the sleeve caps. By sewing in the sleeves, the saddles join the front and back at the shoulders.
In principle, these pullover design variations can of course also be knitted from the bottom up, but for this you just have to change your thinking a little and swap the increases and decreases. For example, the stitches under the arms are not casted on, but bound off.
However, when you knit form the bottom up it is not possible to check the fit by trying on the unfinished pullover, especially at the chest and shoulder area, this might be a risk. So if you are not necessarily standard in these “body-areas”, you should rather use this option for pullover that are in the “oversized” range or where the fit does not matter at all. 😉