[ SOA Project Index ] [ Esther's Knitting Page ]

Son Of A.R.A.N. Project

Part 9b: Neckline Option #2, Worsted Weight Version

Copyright 1999 Janet Szabo. All rights reserved.

OPTION 2: Yes, I hear you saying "Why do we need two options, if the front can be done just like the back?" Well, I like choices, for one thing. The reason I offer this option is because it is a tad more refined; it will give you the more traditional "crew neck" shape to the neck opening.

When you knit a sweater from the bottom up and decide to make a crew neck, you bind off or place on a holder a portion of the center front neck stitches, and decrease the remaining stitches at the sides of the neckline. Once the neck shaping has been completed, you knit even to the shoulder to give the neckline the proper "drop." Over the years I have figured out that I like my crew neck opening to "drop" between 3-4" from the shoulder.

We're coming at this from the opposite direction, however. Instead of removing stitches for the neck opening by decreasing or binding them off, we need to add stitches as we work our way down. I do this by casting on an additional stitch at the neck edge. It works out to casting on an additional stitch every other row (at the end of one row, you're at the neck edge, at the end of the next row, you're at the shoulder edge).

Casting on the additional stitches isn't all that hard; the tricky part is working them into the design correctly. Charting the increased stitches is a must for me; I rely on that visual aid to help me. I'm going to post the chart I'm using on the SOA page, so you can see how I add the increased stitches, and how I work them into the design.

I started by printing out the same charts I used for working the back. Knowing that

  1. this sweater has saddles which are going to add about 1 1/2" of "drop" to my neckline and that

  2. working 16 rows will give me another 2" of drop,
I planned to make row 16 the row where I cast on stitches for the base of the neck opening. If you look carefully, you'll also see that by casting on stitches at row 16, I am casting on stitches in the last row of the 8-row repeat of the Aran Honeycomb pattern. Why does this matter? Because rows 17 and 18 are the same as rows 1 and 2 of the chart, and my Aran Honeycomb pattern will start at the same point in the pattern repeat on both the front and back of my sweater. It's a niggling detail, but one that is important to the design.

I used a green marker to draw "stairsteps" showing the cast-on stitches and how they work into the chart. The right and left sides of the chart will differ slightly. On the right side, we are adding stitches at the beginning of wrong-side rows. On the left side, we are adding stitches at the beginning of right-side rows. This causes the right and left sides of the neckline to be off by one row. On the right side, I'm adding a total of 8 stitches (8 "stairsteps"); on the left side, I am only adding 7 stitches. That 8th stitch on the left side gets added to the stitches that I cast on at the base of the neck opening on row 16. You'll also note that I split the 2 purl stitches between the Little Twist Cable and the Right Twist; one of the gets picked up when I pick up the stitches along the edge of the saddle, and one gets cast on as I work the neck opening. There isn't any particular reason I do that, in case you're wondering. It just seems to work out that way.

Right saddle: Start with the right saddle (your right as you are wearing the sweater). Pick up the stitches just as you did for the back side of the saddle. Turn and cast on an additional stitch (we are at the neck edge). Work across to the shoulder, then back to the neck edge. Turn, and cast on another stitch. You'll see that we are adding cast-on stitches at the beginning of each wrong-side row.

The thing to remember is that as you cast on these additional stitches, you not only have to work them as the correct stitches, you also have to start working cable crosses as soon as you have enough stitches. If you look at the chart for my SOA, you'll see that I am adding stitches to the Little Twist Cable pattern. I don't wait until I've cast on all six stitches of that cable pattern to begin working the crosses, though; I'll start working crosses as soon as I have three or four stitches. By the time I reach row 10 of the neckline chart, I should have enough stitches to make the cross on half the cable.

NOTE: You may have to experiment if you don't think you have enough stitches to make a complete cross; one thing Claudia noted in the original A.R.A.N. pattern is that it's possible to make a cross even if you don't have the total number of stitches. For example, if you need to make a 3-over-3 cross but you only have 5 stitches, you can make a 3-over-2 cross and no one will know there are only 2 stitches behind the 3 stitches. It's a personal pet peeve of mine to see a cable suddenly stop and continue on in plain stockinette stitches to the shoulder, so I try to preserve the cable crossings at all costs.

Continue to add stitches until you are ready to cast on for the base of the neckline (on my chart, that is at row 16). You should end having just knit a wrong-side row. STOP, place these stitches on a holder, and turn your attention to the other saddle.

Left saddle: Pick up stitches as you did on the back. At the end of your pick-up row, however, you will be at the shoulder edge. Work back to the neck edge, then turn and cast on additional stitch. Continue to work back and forth, adding an additional stitch at each neck edge just as you did for the other side of the neck opening. End having worked a wrong-side row (row 15 on my chart).

Go back to the other side of the neck opening. Pick up or join your yarn, knit across the front right side, cast on stitches for the center neck opening (I will be casting on a total of 35 stitches), then knit across the stitches of the left front. You can now continue knitting just as you did for the back.

I haven't forgotten you cardigan knitters. If you read the post about knitting the neckline using Option #1, you'll note that I said you would have to split the front panel. The same thing applies here. You follow the directions as given above, with two changes:

  1. On the right side of the sweater (your right as you are wearing it), you will need to cast on half the Aran Honeycomb stitches at the beginning of Row 15 (remember, on that side of the sweater, we're casting on stitches at the beginning of wrong-side rows). Then you'll have to knit across those cast-on stitches and the remainder of row 15. From there you can continue working the sweater. It's also a good idea to cast on one additional stitch at the front opening edge to serve as a selvedge stitch for picking up the front band.

  2. On the left side of the sweater, you will need to cast on the other half of the Aran Honeycomb stitches (plus one more stitch as a selvedge stitch) at the beginning of Row 16.

Coming next, instructions for the sport weight version necklines.

Janet Szabo

Q & A:

Did I read the info wrong?  Is option #1 a higher neckline?  Am I right in
picking up the stitches and then working 8 rows before casting on the
entire amount for the front?....I chose to knit the buttonhole band in
seed stitch as I go along.  So I cast on 8 extra stitches to the band. 
Obviously it's a cardigan.  I put it on around my neck and it feels right
so far.  I won't have much room for a neckband but I will prefer a closer
neckline than a baggy one.  Should have enough room for about 3/4" 
neckband. Does it sound like I'm on the right track?
Stephanie replies: Here's what I understood from Janet's post. I, too, started Option #1 and then paused to read #2 to make sure I was making the right choice.

Option #1 will have a rectangular appearing neckline that would have a ribbed neckline and essentially look like a crew neck. There are some variations here...like what I did was pick up the saddle edges and independently knit 8 rows of the chart before I cast on the neck front stitches. This way the neck will be about 1 inch lower in the front than in the back.

Option #2 allows you to shape your neckline in a more rounded way; gradually adding the stitches as you work down to the center front.

I'm making a pullover not a cardigan so there we differ.

I'm jumping in to clarify for you as much as for myself. Janet, is this correct?

Janet answers: Yes, Stephanie, you're correct. Option #2 is a little bit lower than Option #1 -- actually, there are three options, if you decide to do option #1 but not add any extra rows to lower the neckline. Overkill -- it's my specialty. :-))

If we wanted a lower neckline, could we knit more than 8 rows???  

Yes, you can. The important thing, though, is to make sure that you don't cast on for the base of the neck opening at a place in the Aran Honeycomb pattern such that you have half a repeat there. Am I making this point clear enough? If you want to add more rows to lower the neckline even further, it will probably have to be done as a multiple of 8 (so, 8 rows or 16 rows). Right under your chin is a major focal point in an Aran sweater. You need to make sure you're not chopping your repeat in half.

I'm now trying to visualize where the neckline will hit me on my neck...
right now it's 3 inches from mid-saddle to end of Row 8. Once I add the
ribbing (say 1 inch) then it will only be a 2 inch drop...  

Candy had a good suggestion, to try the sweater on an see how it looks. Actually, Barbara Walker advocates doing this frequently in her book Knitting From the Top.

I do have a favor to ask of Janet.  If you do decide to do the sleeves
next, would you also be able to give us an idea (or instructions) on how
you plan on doing the neck line?  I find that I get a better sleeve fit if
I finish the neck before I do the sleeves as the finished neck tends to
"pull in/up" the sweater a bit so the sleeves need to be longer than I
first think. 

This is a good observation; thanks for pointing it out. Indeed, Barbara Walker suggests stopping and knitting the neckband just as soon as enough of the body is done to allow it. I've been looking at mine and thinking about how I want to finish it. I've been thinking that instead of doing the ribbing at the bottom, I might knit a "skirt" and have the body be straight, with no bottom ribbing to pull it in. I don't need to match the bottom ribbing to the neck ribbing, so what I've considered is picking up and knitting a simple 1 x 1 ribbing, but twisting the knit stitches on every other round. I like the look of that particular ribbing. But I leave the neckline finish completely up to you. 1 x 1 ribbing, 2 x 2 ribbing, a seed stitch collar, crocheted edging -- all of these are accetable finishes.

If you decide to go ahead and do the neck ribbing, be aware that the Aran Honeycomb pattern pulls in a lot; you can pick up "one stitch in each stitch" because it is a horizontal edge, but you'll need to decrease by about one-third to one-half the number of ribbing stitches under that Aran Honeycomb on the first round of ribbing. If you have 40 Aran Honeycomb stitches and you pick up 40 neckband stitches there, decrease down to 30 or 20 (I'm hedging because I won't know for sure how many to decrease until I do mine). I work the first round (where I decrease) after picking up as a straight knit round. It hides the decreases and will snuggle right in to the ribbing so no one will no it's there.


Last Updated: July 19, 1999
Page maintained by: Esther S. Bozak, ebozak@cs.oswego.edu
URL: http://www.cs.oswego.edu/~ebozak/knit/soa/part9b.html