The Great Underarm Divide Part II!

Posted by on Jun 11, 2010 in Blog, Underarm Divide Part 2 |

So after my recent photo tutorial on 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”!
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.

The above picture shows that 1st stitch actually picked up and knitted

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).






Now in my opinion, there’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!


  1. Delica
    June 30, 2010

    Another good tutorial! I like your way of closing the gap. I always fixed the gap afterwards, but I like the ease and immediacy of your method better. Would you consider putting a link to your tutorials on the sidebar?

  2. Anonymous
    July 1, 2010

    Hey, your Crocus is on Ravelry's "This Week in Ravelry" under "Queue It – Stripes." Very cool!

  3. Elizabeth
    July 2, 2010

    I'm glad you like the tutorial–good idea to put links on the sidebar-I'll work on that.

    And I'm so excited my Crocus pattern is on Ravelry's "Queue it"! She put together a really nice spread and I was so flattered to be a part of it.

  4. Anonymous
    June 24, 2011

    I'm loving your patterns–thanks! I think, however, that I'm either transferring the stitches to the scrap yarn backwards or picking them up backwards as I can see almost a seam on my sleeve. Are there any tricks you can suggest?

  5. Elizabeth
    June 24, 2011

    Hi There!
    When you transfer the stitches onto the scrap yarn, do so by inserting the tapestry needle (with threaded scrap yarn) as if to purl into the stitch, and then transfer. This will help make sure that the stitch is in the right position when you transfer it back to the needle.
    Hope that helps!


  6. glamoursmiles
    July 27, 2011

    you've made this so easy for me to resolve this problem I frequently have!!! Thanks.

  7. Anonymous
    October 27, 2011


    I am just starting to knit the sleeves and had no idea how to join the yarn. What a blessing to find you on a google search. Your instructions are wonderful. I am eager to put them into practice. Thank you, thank you.

  8. Emma McKenny
    June 13, 2016

    Phew! I am knitting my first top down sweater for my daughter and was very relieved to find your excellent tutorial ! Thank you for making it so clear !

    • Nancy campion
      November 22, 2016

      Great tutorial I’m just ready to do sleeves in a my first top down sweater your directions are great and very clear thanks

      • Elizabeth
        December 6, 2016

        Thanks so much!

  9. Dee
    September 15, 2017

    Are there any videos you can recommend that show how to do this? I’m having a difficult time following the pictures.


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