After my first underarm divide blog post about how to do the underarm divide for top-down raglans, there were some additional questions about how to then pick up stitches for the sleeves and what to do about the pesky little hole that appears at the underarm where you join the yarn. So here is “The Great Underarm Divide Part II”!
Note: I’ve updated this blog post in 2020 to include some videos! I have 2 videos that show you how to get started with the sleeves in a top-down raglan, either with DPN’s or the Magic Loop. These are specific for my Audrey’s Cardigan, but the techniques are the same regardless of which pattern you are doing:
Orignal Sleeve Tutorial:
Similar to the post part 1, I’m also using my pattern Crocus as an example. I’ve been knitting up a cotton-version in size M. This tutorial will go step-by-step through the “Sleeves” section of the pattern:
Direction: Transfer sleeve sts from scrap yarn onto US 8 16″ circular needles…
Once all the stitches have been transferred, this is what it will look like:
Look at the above picture – the stitches that are in between the two needle ends are the underarm stitches you cast on during the underarm divide. We’ll call them the underarm cast-on sts. They will now become the underside of the sleeve and we do this by picking up each stitch that was cast on. We will also pick up 1 stitch on either side of these stitches.
Direction: Join MC yarn at right side of underarm and pick up and k 1 st to the right of the cast on underarm sts…
So you will join the yarn (make sure to leave a decent length tail!) and pick up and knit 1 stitch that is to the right of the underarm cast-on sts. I tend to choose a stitch that looks “stable”, i.e, doesn’t look too stretched or loose.
Direction: …then pick up and k the 6 (8, 14, 18, 24) cast-on underarm sts, placing a marker after ½ of them have been picked up (the marker represents the beginning of the round)…
The above picture shows me picking up the first couple of underarm cast-on stitches
The above picture shows what it looks like after a few stitches have been picked up
Since I am knitting the M size (and there are 14 cast-on stitches), after I pick up 7 underarm cast-on sts, I place a marker
The above picture shows what it looks like after I pick up the remaining underarm cast-on sts
Direction: …then pick up and k 1 st to the left of the underarm cast-on sts
Same as you did with the first stitch, you’ll find a “stable” stitch that’s to the left of the underarm cast-on sts and you’ll pick up and knit it:
Direction: Joining for working in the round…
To join so you’ll be working in the round (not back and forth), you simply insert the right needle into the first stitch on the left:
Okay, now I will depart from the pattern and provide some tips. One issue with sleeves on top-down raglans is that a little hole is formed in the area when you originally joined the yarn and started picking up stitches for the sleeve. Here is how you can help this problem:
You’ll notice on the first official round of knitting the sleeve, when you get to the area where you first joined the yarn, it’s going to seem really loose. Here’s what I’m talking about:
The first thing you can do is that when you go to knit that stitch, give the tail of that stitch a good tug (it might help to even hold the tail while you knit the stitch). But even with tugging the tail and keeping it tight, you will still end up with this:
The above picture shows what it looks like after a couple of rows have been worked. Pesky damn hole.
Normally I will wait until the sweater is all done to address this hole, but for this tutorial purpose I have addressed it right away so you can see how I fix it. First, flip the work over so you’ll be working on the wrong side:
Second, find a crochet hook – the smaller the better. You will use this crochet hook to weave the tail through a stitch above the hole and then through a stitch below the hole (kind of like you’re grafting). You could also use a tapestry needle if you prefer.
Now in my opinion, ther’s no definitive way to do this – you kind of have to give it a try and see how it looks. Weave it through a couple of different directions – whatever works so that the hole is diminished.
Here is what is looks like when the tail has been weaved through a bunch of stitches:
Flip the work back over and check it out – if it doesn’t meet your standards then try it again. Because I’ve done quite a number of top-down raglans, I have the “hiding the hole” technique down pretty well, so here is how my underarm looked after:
There may be many other ways to prevent or fix the hole, but this is how I do it and I hope it helps some of you in your top-down sweater projects!