By far the most common question I get on Ravelry is “how did you make the Wicked cardigan?” And when Leslie pointed out that this week marks Fred Rogers’ 80th birthday? Well, in the interest of promoting Cardigan Love, I finally sat down to write out some instructions.
As I began, I realized that it might also be useful to have a much more basic tutorial for turning a raglan pullover into a cardigan. And while I get that those of you asking crave specific directions, seriously, you don’t need them. Just split the front of any pullover pattern down the middle, slap on some button bands, and you’ve got a cardigan. Do it! Show that pullover who’s boss.
But if that doesn’t quite explain it for you, there’s a general tutorial below for how to take a top-down raglan pullover and trick it out cardigan-style, followed by a more specific explanation of what I did to convert the Wicked pattern.
cardiganizing a top-down raglan
THE THINKY PART:
First, you might want to familiarize yourself with how raglan cardigans are built. Check out Laura’s “easy and top-down” pattern. Basically, instead of knitting in the round, you’re going to knit back and forth, from center-front to center-front.
Then look at the original pullover pattern you’re working with. What kind of collar does it have? What stitch patterns does it include? (If it involves stranded colorwork or another technique that should really be knit in the round, you’ll want to ignore this tutorial altogether, and make a steek down the center to cut later on — check out Stefanie’s steeked raglan cardigan for instructions.)
Now choose a stitch pattern for your button bands that works with the rest of the sweater.
- Will the stitch pattern be knit vertically, top-to-bottom, like the sweater is? (choose option B below)
- Or should it be knit horizontally along the edge of the sweater fronts? (choose option A below)
THE ACTUAL KNITTING:
Cast on for the collar. DO NOT JOIN. Instead, knit back and forth in the collar’s stitch pattern. (On the wrong side, remember to stay in pattern — K the K stitches and P the P stitches as they appear.)
When you’ve finished the collar, knit the body and raglan increases as the pattern directs, continuing to knit back and forth instead of in the round. Separate and knit the sleeves as directed.
When you’ve finished the rest of the body, pick up stitches vertically along one edge of the sweater front for the buttonhole band. In order to prevent ruffling, a good rule is to pick up 2 new stitches for every 3 rows of vertical knitting (i.e. PU1, PU1, skip 1). Knit the buttonhole band in the stitch pattern you’ve chosen. When your band is half the desired width, insert buttonholes at regular intervals. Continue in pattern until the band reaches desired width. Cast off. Pick up the same number of stitches on the other side for the button band, and repeat, skipping the buttonholes.
If you prefer a vertical button band, cast on extra stitches for the button bands at the beginning, on each side of the center-front. Complete one row as directed and, as you work the next row, place the button-band stitches on holders or scrap yarn while you work on the collar and body. If you’re choosing this method, you may want to slip the first stitch of each row of the body to create a nice selvage edge.
Once you’ve finished the body, reattach the yarn and knit the set-aside stitches in your chosen stitch pattern until the band is slightly shorter (I usually go with about 3/4″, depending on the gauge of the knitting and length of the sweater) than the length of the body, working buttonholes at regular intervals down the center of one of the bands. Baste the bands in place, and use a mattress stitch or whip stitch to attach them.
For the Wicked cardigan, I wanted to have a big piece of zombie stockinette to knit on during movies and such, so I also put the stitches for the patterned front panels on holders, and worked them at the end.
Block! Sew on buttons! Wear! Enjoy!
(worsted version, no pocket)
Cast on as directed for your size. DO NOT JOIN.
Knit the collar in crossover pattern as directed, knitting back and forth instead of in the round, until the collar measures 2″ from cast-on edge, ending with a wrong-side row.
On the next row, knit the first 16 stitches in crossover pattern. Place these stitches on a holder or scrap yarn. Continue to knit in stockinette, working raglan increases as directed, until there 16 left. Place these last 16 stitches on a holder or scrap yarn. Turn. Slip the first stitch knitwise, and purl to end of round. Work in stockinette stitch, following increases as directed, slipping the first stitch of each row.
Continue to follow pattern for sleeves and waist shaping.
When your cardigan is 2″ shorter than desired length, set aside the body and return to the stitches that are on hold beneath the collar. Using double pointed needles, reattach yarn and continue to knit the first set of 16 stitches in the crossover pattern, until the panels are the same length or very slightly (about 1/4-1/2″) shorter than the sweater body, ending with a wrong-side row. Do not cast off. Place the live stitches on holders or scrap yarn. Baste the patterned panels to the edge of the stockinette body. Using a mattress or whip stitch, attach them to the body. Repeat with the second set of 16 stitches.
Slip the 32 live stitches onto the long circular you are using for the sweater body, with 16 stitches on each side of the sweater front. Resuming the crossover pattern where you left off on the two panel pieces, knit back and forth in crossover pattern around the entire sweater body for two inches. Cast off.
With your long circular needle, pick up stitches along one cast-on edge of the sweater front, picking up 2 stitches for every 3 rows of vertical knitting (PU1, PU1, skip 1). Knit back and forth in garter stitch. After two garter ridges, work yarn-over buttonholes (YO, K2TOG) at regular intervals on the next right-side row. Bind off after a total of 4 garter ridges. Repeat on the other side of the sweater front, without buttonholes.
Block your sweater and sew on 3/8″ buttons.