Knitting without a Pattern...a Technical Explanation

Technical photo of hood of Connor's Jersey.
This is a technical blog so apologies from the outset.

This is all about making a jersey without following a pattern.

In your mind you know the shape of the person for whom the jersey is intended. If it is a toddler, you add more width and length because if you keep feeding them, they grow.

If you are working from the bottom up, you are starting at the hips. If you are working top-down, you are starting at the neck. This jersey with a hood for Connor was started from the hips.

Jersey with body worked and overlap of opening packet in garter-stitch. Sleeves not yet cut open.
So, working in the round, I knew that the arm-hole depth and the front opening were going to be in the same round. The depth of the arm-holes is a third of the whole jersey. The remaining two-thirds are the body to the hips. At that crucial point where the arm-holes and the front opening are formed, I also added (by looped cast-on) 6 extra stitches at the base of the arm-hole. This is the seam-allowance for the steek.

Sleeve stitches are picked up in a straight line from shoulder seam to arm-hole pit.
The shoulders are formed by binding-off while stitching two stitches together from the matched seams together. Working from the shoulder to the neck, the last cast-off stitch at the end is placed on the needle at the neck and with the front stitches become the neck-line. Leave the steek allowance stitches out of the shoulder seam. These are being held by stitch-markers in the above photo -3 in each stitch-marker.

Just before you form the shoulder seams,pick up the stitches to form the sleeves. 

Use a circular needle smaller than the one you knitted the body with. Pick up the outer loop of the "V" shape in the knit stitch and pick up at a rate of 2 out of every 3 stitches for 8ply.

Arm-hole stitches picked up right down to pit of the arm-hole. Extra cast-on stitches for steek allowance are easily seen here.
With the 6 stitches held in 2 stitch-markers (3 in each one), you can imagine a centre line down the middle of this "U" shape.Cut the knitted work from the cast-on edge where the extra steek stitches were added right up to the shoulder. You will have already shuffled stitches around to create the neck-line, capturing the last cast-off stitch from the shoulder seam. Leave the steek allowance stitches to lie flat against your sleeve opening. They can be sewn down later with extra wool through the stitch loops when the sleeve is finished.

Personally, am still not sure about what to do with steek allowances as they can add bulk where you don't need. I usually trim with scissors and hand-sew the raw edges with sewing thread.

 Hood made by continuing from the neck up and increasing along a vertical mid-point in the back of the hood. 

Make hood working increases evenly along a central point in the back of the hood. Hood should be at least the same length as arm-hole from pit to shoulder.

Join top of hood together the same way as the shoulders using a two-needle bind-off. The garter stitch will not make a neat join this way. You can perform a Kitchener stitch join if you wish. Again, you will have a last cast-off stitch from the bind-off to deal with so sew it neatly with spare wool into the seam and bury the end of the wool.

Sleeve started showing decreases.
Work the sleeves as socks using DPNs. Do the maths and work out the rate at which you are reducing stitches to achieve a cuff. Generally it is 2 stitches every four rounds. Use balanced decreases which lean into the central decrease line (k2tog-kpsso).

The only photo I have of the finished garment.

Work the cuffs the same depth as the ribbing at the start. As a rule, the sleeves are the same length from the arm-hole pit to the end of the jersey, in other words, two thirds of the jersey body. 

I worked two button-holes into the garter-stitch edge; these I reinforced with sewing thread.

The jersey was made with re-cycled wool from a previous outlandish experiment. The wool was hand-spun and dyed by me. I was never happy with the unevenness of the dye but it was too good not to be used again.

A two year old is warm and parents are grateful.

Fiona MacBride

Tin Shed Yarns. sketches on the Three Thirds Rule For Jerseys is here....