Joining Sleeves in the Round

While I’m still working on my Sun-Ray Ribbed Jumper, I’m not progressing as fast as I did when I was home sick (with nothing else to do) vs. when I’m back at work.

Thanks for all of your well-wishes btw.  Felix and I are still coughing a bit, but I feel so much better than I did before, I may even start jogging again this week.  :)

Back to the Jumper…

I’ve been knitting the Sun-Ray Ribbed Jumper in the round, from the bottom up.  I always reference Ravelry when I begin any new patterns to see if there’s any errata or modifications that other folks did that may be worthwhile.

I prefer knitting in the round, but I saw that one lady on Ravelry, Aafke, even was able to join the sleeves while working in the round (ie no seaming) since this is a raglan-styled knit.  This intrigued me to no end and I set upon the task of joining in my sleeves to the body of the jumper, while working the yoke, all in the round.

Aafke only noted what rows that she joined in her sleeves – the same row where you cast off (or decrease) for the armholes.  But I had no idea how to go about such a task.

I did a Google search and found exactly what I needed along with this helpful diagram:

Image via Vogue Magazine
Image via Vogue Magazine

The stitches in red circles are the cast off stitches and the points where you join in the sleeves.

It’s really a simple idea but looks crazy to accomplish, well… to me it did.  You knit across the front bodice of your jumper, place a stitch marker then knit across the sleeves, all on the same circular needles.  Continue around the sleeve, across the back of the jumper, and across the other sleeve to the point where you started the row (on the bodice).

Diagram via Vogue Knitting

Like I said, it sounds easy enough, but it was a bit tricky to do since you’re dealing with extreme curves at either side of the sleeves.  I learnt my lesson quick and am knitting this on two sets of circular needles.

Here’s my sleeve on the left and the body of the jumper on the right.

I knit my sleeve in the round with double-pointed needles.  After knitting this second sleeve I proceeded to write out all the row-by-row directions so that I wouldn’t get mixed up.

On this pattern the ribbing on the sleeve is different from the ribbing pattern on the jumper.  So at each sleeve, I switch to a different set of directions, but re-writing them all on one piece of paper makes easy work of keeping it straight.

I took this photo after I worked a few rows.

I really had to figure out how to do this, and get my needles straight before I could stop to take some pictures for you.  (I didn’t want to lead you astray by showing you the ‘wrong’ way how to do this either.)

I have two sets of circular needles, each end stops around the mid-point of the sleeves.  And I have 4 stitch markers noting where I joined in the sleeves.

Before the ‘beginning of the round’ was at one underarm-side seam of the bodice.  When you join in sleeves, it’s much easier to use the ‘armpit’ marker (aka the new marker you placed when you began one sleeve) as the new ‘beginning of the round’ since that’s where my pattern changes.

Yes, I will be off by just one row, but it’s really not that big of deal in the long run, I doubt I’ll even notice at the end.  heh  The back of the jumper will have 1 more row than the front.


There are 4 stitches on the bodice underarm and another 4 stitches on the sleeve’s underarm that are not worked and were placed on a scrap piece of yarn.  This gap is what allows you to knit around the curve of the sleeve, since it provides some room to maneuver.

At the very end, I’ll have to connect these two sections together so that I don’t have huge holes.  There are many ways to do this so I’ll research a bit more when I get to it.  But I know you can graft them together, join them with a three-needle-bind-off, etc.

Detail Shot:

Do you see my row-by-row instructions I’ve written under the jumper?

The row count for the yoke of the body doesn’t match the row count for the sleeves, unfortunately.  At the end, I found that I had 4 rows, in excess, at the sleeves so I will just decrease them when it’s least inconspicuous.  If I’m feeling ambitious, I could always work those extra sleeve rows as short rows so that the body row count would stay the same while I’ve introduced some additional rows to the sleeves.

*Note*  I do realize this isn’t a full-out tutorial and may not fully understand my steps.  This is my first time doing such a task, but feel free to ask any questions if it’s not clear.

Hope you all had a nice weekend.  It finally felt like Spring in Chicago, which was so nice and lovely to open my windows for some fresh air again.

In: Knitting

Blogger for 6 years and counting, I am a passionate creator who loves to tinker.

Comments (21)

  1. Rachel April 8, 2013 — 11:47 AM

    I know the principal- primarily from working top down raglan cardigans etc :) Instead of ending up with extra rows on the sleeves, consider sneaking in an extra decrease or two mid sleeve in the final few rows…

  2. Cool! I’ve already made sun ray ribbing but if I made it again I think I’d give this a go. Thanks for showing us :)

  3. Maggie April 8, 2013 — 12:58 PM

    Wow! I am still a beginner in the knitting world, but I can’t wait until the day that this makes total sense to me ;) It looks great! And glad to hear that you are feeling better!

    1. Liz April 8, 2013 — 5:02 PM

      Hey Ms Maggie! Your comment tickled me, I love it. What are you currently working on knitting wise?

      1. Maggie April 9, 2013 — 9:37 PM

        I have been slaving over a simple scarf that was due last Christmas for my future brother-in-law! Ugh! I don’t know if it is because it is not a particularly exciting pattern or because it is not for me (which my money is on!), but it is taking me FOREVER :) I am so tempted to put it aside for awhile and knit something for myself instead.

  4. Ha. I’m typically usually exactly the opposite manner of deconstruction to turn seamless garments into piece-work. :-D Glutton for punishment and all that.

    I hope the fresh air helps to rid your system of the bug you’ve been battling.

    1. Liz April 8, 2013 — 5:01 PM

      Hey Michelle! I need to be like you and actually include some seams in my knitting. I’m don’t want to knit flat since I’m so much faster at knitting vs purling, but I know I should since the seams help with shape/support/stability. :| I just don’t wanna…

  5. You might be interested in taking a look at works by Elizabeth Zimmermann. Her Knitting Without Tears is particularly accessible IMO (once you are comfortable with knitting anyway). EZ was a big proponent of knitting in the round, and worked bottom-up (opposed to the top-down you see so often in modern patterns).

    1. Liz April 8, 2013 — 4:59 PM

      Thanks so much for the book info Michelle!

      I haven’t done quite as much reading and research on knitting techniques, as I have with sewing. I have a few knitting books in my arsenal but not as many as I know I should, given how much I knit.
      I’m adding it to my Amazon wish list right now as it’s nearing my birthday soon. :)

  6. wow – that is great! i knitted sleeves in the round for my kate davies deco cardie, but you have to pick up around the armholes and then knit the sleeve caps in short rows until you get to the underarm. i found the magic loop method (which i learnt on you tube videos) was really helpful for knitting the sleeves.

    1. Liz April 9, 2013 — 10:26 AM

      Hey Joanne! I mentioned it briefly, but my jumper is with a raglan style shoulder seam, not a traditional set-in sleeve. I’m not certain if you can do a traditional set in sleeve this same way, but it would be worth researching.

  7. Can’t you do a 3 needle bind-off with the stitches you placed on holders? You’ll have to make a kind of seam there anyway.

    1. Liz April 9, 2013 — 10:25 AM

      For sure, that’s one of the options I read about. I’ll probably do this route since I know how to do a three-needle bindoff, vs. the grafting stitches which I’ve never done before.

  8. Bridget April 9, 2013 — 12:12 PM

    That’s excellent, thanks! I made lopi sweaters years ago but couldn’t for the life of me remember how I joined the sleeves. I’m definitely going to use this technique when I make my next sweater. I HATE seaming pieces together…

  9. I hope you’re feeling better! The sweater is going to be so lovely, and what a genius way to join the sleeves! I’m going to mark that down for when I (eventually) get to that step :)

  10. Lidya September 8, 2013 — 11:24 AM

    Hey! Someone recommended your blog to me because of a struggle I am having with just this issue. I’m working on a sweater (mrs. Darcy cardigan from knits that fit) and I’m confused. She has you put the 8 underarm stitches on waste yarn similar to what you’re doing here. Then the pattern says to knit 32 stitches from the yarn holder. I have no idea how to get 32 stitches…is it increases? Can you help? Thanks!

    1. Liz September 8, 2013 — 1:56 PM

      Hey dearie, I just responded back to you via email. Hope I can be of some help to you.

  11. Be July 12, 2014 — 6:37 AM

    Hello Liz, your blog might well be my saviour! I have to adapt a raglan pattern so I can knit it in the round and am getting confused: the stitches you put on the yarn, as they the ones that are cast off? My pattern reads: “when front measures 51cms, cast off for armholes each side on every other row 4 sts 1 time, 2 sts 3 times, then cast off 1 st 9 times”. My understanding is that the 1st 9times is the raglan decrease, so that’s fine. But what about the cast off 4st 1 time and 2sts 3 times??? – are these the ones I put no a thread? And what do I do with them at the end?
    Thanks for your help!

    1. Liz July 14, 2014 — 11:44 AM

      Hey Be!

      I’m curious if you’re doing a top down or bottom up raglan. It seems it written as a bottom up, yes?

      Are you converting it to a top down in the round? Or adapting it to a bottom-up in the round?


      The “cast off for armholes – 4 stitches 1-time” is the underarm width area. You should be having the same # of stitches left over on the underpart of your sleeve to match with the top of the underarm on the body. I put these stitches on a spare thread & knit them up with a three-needle bindoff together in the end so I don’t have any holes.

      You can very well cast off these stitches, but you’ll still have to seam them up in the end. Either way is fine; it’s just a preference thing.

      I’m not certain why you do this each side, every other row. I’m used to doing 1 full set on each underarm. (like 8 stitches – depending on your yarn size of course). More stitches for fingering weight yarn, less stitches for worsted weight yarn.

      The “2 stitches 3 times” section is to get you to the raglan seam – since the raglan seam is a straight diagonal up from the armpit to your shoulder. You don’t put these stitches on your waste yarn – just the first set for your underarm width. You’ll be decreasing these (or casting off if you prefer).

      Construction wise:
      You have the flat underarm (4 sts 1x on every other row) – the fast decreases (2 sts 3x) – then the long diagonal raglan seam (1 sts 9x).

      Honestly, I don’t like casting off stitches at armholes. I prefer decreases instead; but again, this is a preference thing.

      Be sure to contact me again if you have more questions. Cheers!

  12. Calloo July 20, 2014 — 1:49 PM

    Thank you for putting this out on the interwebs! I’m starting a similar pattern and absolutely could not visualize how it was supposed to work. Now I have a better idea. Whew!

  13. Anne April 4, 2018 — 6:34 PM

    I am knitting a Ragland sweater in the round for my daughter. This is my first time knitting one in the round so I am somewhat confused about joining the sleeves. The pattern reads as follows: Place next 10 stitches on holder for under arm, removing marker, place 50 held sleeve stitches on left needle, and knit1, purl 2, knit 44. Do I slip those stitches directly onto the left needle? That needle has the other stitches that form the back of the sweater,or do I start to knit them to the needle. This is my seventh sweater but first time in the round. Thanks, AAnne

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