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Son Of A.R.A.N. Project

Part 8: Picking Up & Knitting the Back

Copyright 1999 Janet Szabo. All rights reserved.

I hope that you have looked at your swatch, measured some cables and groups of cables, and have an idea of how you want the final design to look. In most cases, it shouldn't be too much different from the swatch you've already done.

Before we pick up the stitches along the edges of the saddles, we need to do two things:

  1. We need to count the number of rows in the saddle. My saddles, which are 6" long, have 40 rows each. You don't need to have 40 rows -- you just need to know how many rows you do have.

  2. I am placing the back neck opening over the Aran Honeycomb and the Little Twist Cables to either side of it. If I count those stitches, I see that I will need to cast on 6 + 2 + 40 + 2 + 6 = 56 stitches for the back of the neck. Does everyone see how I got that number? There are 6 sts in each Little Twist Cable, 40 Aran Honeycomb sts, and 2 purl sts between each of the cable patterns.

Now I need to determine how many stitches remain to one side (again, I'm using my sweater as an example here). There are:

for a total of 43 stitches to either side of the back neck opening. The total number of stitches in the back of my sweater at this point (remember, we will be adding stitches below the armhole) is 43 + 56 + 43, or 142.

Forget what you have learned about picking up stitches along an edge for a moment (you know, the "3 sts to every 4 rows" rule, or whatever variation you learned). It doesn't apply in this situation because the cable patterns tend to draw in. If you pick up 3 sts in every 4 rows, you might get an unsightly puckering along the edge of the saddle. I say that if you need to, it's fine to pick up one stitch in every row. Sometimes the math works out that way -- you need to pick up exactly as many stitches as you have rows in your saddle. Lucky you! -- you have one less thing to worry about. :-))

What if you need to pick up 35 stitches in 40 rows, or some such thing? Well, if I divide 40 by 5, I get 8, and if I divide 35 by 5, I get 7, so I will be picking up 7 sts, skipping one (the 8th one), then picking up 7 again. My ratio will be 7 sts in every 8 rows. It won't work out so elegantly every time, so you may fudge if you need to. Trust me -- no one will be able to tell.

What if you need to pick up more stitches than you have rows? This happens occasionally, and it has an easy fix. Simply pick up as many stitches as you have rows, and then, on the first row of the pattern (which will be a wrong-side row), increase to the correct number of stitches.

If you remember, I had 40 rows on my saddles. I can either pick up 40 stitches, then increase 3 to accomodate those extra 3 sts, or I can add 3 more rows to my saddles. I think I'll just make the increases.

So, sit down and pick up the first saddle (they're identical, so it doesn't matter which one you use first). Position it such that the stitches on the holder are to the right, and the stitches at the cast-on edge are to the left. Begin at the right-hand side, and pick up stitches along the edge of the saddle in whatever ratio is right for you. Remember, we put that single knit stitch at the edge, so pick up one full stitch in from the edge -- the Little Twist Cable should flow nicely along that edge when you have finished picking up stitches.

When you reach the neck edge, cast on however many stitches you need for the back neck opening (I'm going to cast on 56 sts for my sweater). You may use a regular cast on, or some type of provisional cast on which leaves the loops open for you to pick up later to knit the neckband. It's your choice.

When you have finished casting on for the neck opening, pick up the other saddle. Position it such that the cast-on edge is to the right and the stitches on the holder are to the left. Pick up along the edge of this saddle in the same way in which you did the first saddle. Voila! It's done.

Now you will be knitting back-and-forth for the desired depth of the armhole. I like my armholes to be 10" deep. Remember to measure from the center of the saddle, not from the pick-up edge. When the back is done, we will proceed to the front.

Those of you who are doing the sport weight version of the SOA need to know about the trellis pattern -- if you want it to be mirror-imaged on either side of the Aran Honeycomb, you need to begin the trellis pattern with row 1 on one side of the Honeycomb, and begin with row 8 (halfway up the chart) on the other side of the Honeycomb. You don't have to mirror-image them, BTW, but if it drives you nuts not to, that's how you do it.

Did I miss anything?


Q & A:

Are the cast-on edges of the saddles at the neck edge?  I'd hate to find out that
I had this backwards after I'd knit the front and back.  I'm thinking that we'll
pick up the stitches from the holders and continue the pattern down the sleeve. 

Yes, you have it right. You should have put the stitches of the saddles on holders when the saddles were the correct length; that way, those stitches will be sitting there waiting to be picked up when we pick up and knit the sleeve down. Does that give you a better picture?


Last Updated: May 14, 1999
Page maintained by: Esther S. Bozak, ebozak@cs.oswego.edu
URL: http://www.cs.oswego.edu/~ebozak/knit/soa/part8.html