Cast on stitches at underarms and work body of sweater:
This is about what your sweater coat should look like at this stage.
The sleeves are completed and it is now time to put the live stitches from the body back on your needles and cast on some stitches for the underarms.
The first thing you need to do is measure how large your sweater is without casting on for underarms. This means you should measure your two front halves and the back. These numbers combined are how large the sweater is now.
Next, you will need to work out how big it should be. I think I want 6 inches [15cm] ease. This is because I want the sweater to drape like a coat, and coats tend to be bigger, and because the fabric is so thick the inside will be smaller than the outside. (thank you Elizabeth Zimmermann, see Knitter’s Almanac, unfortunately out of print). If your sweater is much smaller, i.e. child’s size, you may want to have slightly less ease (4-5 inches [10-12cm], but that is up to you.
Subtract how big your sweater is from how big you want it to be, this will give you how much you need to cast on for. Divide this amount by two for each underarm and multiply it my your gauge, this will give you the number of stitches to cast on under each arm.
Put all the live stitches onto a long needle (I think you will need a circular needle for this), which will fold the sleeves in half. If you find that you didn’t end one end in the right direction and you will not start your garter stitch on the same (right side or wrong side) row, work one row to make it even.
Starting at the beginning of the row of the stitches you have on your needle, work to the first sleeve, cast on the number of stitches you worked out in the previous step; repeat for the second underarm. You will now have enough stitches on your needle for the complete body of the sweater.
At this point you can decide to work straight until the end of the garment, in which case, you can bid farewell to my instructions, such as they are. Just keep going until you are happy, bind off, sew on your preferred method of closure, sew the sleeve seams, wash the sweater (if you are using old stash yarn and your sweater smells a little fusty), block/dry it, and enjoy.
I however, have decided that I want pockets, I know the original didn’t have any, but I want them and it’s my sweater. I also plan to add a few stitches for a little increased room for my hips and walking stride. If you want either of these things, work to the point at which these things would be appropriate and I will try to catch up to you as soon as I can.
My sweater without casting on at underarms is as follows:
(11 inches [28cm] x 2 fronts) + 23 inches [58cm] = 45 inches [114cm]
If you think back to the measurement stage, my bust with clothes is 38 inches [97cm]
45 inches [114cm] – (38 inches [97cm] + 6 inches [15cm]) = -1 inch [-2cm]
My sweater turned out to be big enough already, so I will just start knitting the body, but if you need any added under the arms, follow the directions here.
This is what my sweater looked like before I joined for and started working body:
This is what my sweater looked like after I worked a few rows and sewed the sleeve seams with mattress stitch:
I found that sewing the sleeve seams made the knitting easier, so I did that now, but that is a matter of preference.
If you added stitches under the arms, sew the beginnings of the sleeves to the underarm stitches, then sew the rest of the sleeve seam straight.