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Joining the Sleeves and Body on a Seamless Bottom Up Sweater

by ysoldateague October 02, 2014


When you’re knitting a bottom up sweater and reach the directions for ‘joining the body and sleeves’ do you find it difficult to visualise how the pieces fit together? If you lay the two sleeves and body out like the photo above you may find it easier to picture where the knitting is going next. A round will go across the back of the body, around one sleeve, across the front and around the second sleeve. The stitches that are lying against each other at the underarms are put ‘on hold’. They’ll eventually be seamed or bound off together. Since you aren’t Flat Stanley this spans your underarm from front to back in a comfortable, anatomically correct way. 

The photos above and below show the underarm stitches and are going to be ignored until the finishing steps of the sweater construction. 

On this sweater the EOR (end of round) is at the back left shoulder between the back and the sleeve. You start the round by adding in the sleeve, the underarm stitches are put on hold, and the working yarn has just finished the last stitch of the back. Sometimes you may be instructed to knit across the front of the body until x stitches before the underarm marker and then put the sleeve in. 

To add in a sleeve get the two needles ready. You might need to return the sleeve and / or body to the needle. If you only have one circular in the necessary size use that for the needle you’ll be working on to (usually in the body) and a slightly smaller one for the other. Use the needle in the body as the right needle tip and the needle in the sleeve as the left.

Place a marker on the right needle tip and then knit the first stitch of the sleeve onto the right needle, and continue knitting the sleeve stitches. 

When you get to the last stitch of the sleeve, place another marker and then knit the first live stitch from the body. The released sleeve needle can be used for the second one. 

In the photo below the EOR is at the top of the photo, the path of the knitting is across the top of the sleeve and then back to the body stitches. 

Join in the second sleeve in the same manner as the first. Depending on your needle length the stitches could be quite cramped together, below the sweater is on a 32″ / 80cm needle.

Underarm stitches on hold

Modified magic loop

It’s going to be difficult to knit all the way around the sleeve normally so I pulled out part of the cable half way round the sleeve. I’ll knit to there and then pull out the right needle tip and continue with the second half of the sleeve. After a few rounds, the knitting will be further from the join and easier to knit in the round.

Don’t forget to count your stitches before going any further. It’s shockingly easy to position one sleeve oddly towards the front or back – believe me!


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