Knitting a basic V-neck sweater is no more difficult than any other neckline, such as crew neck, it just takes a bit more preparation. V-neck sweaters require a few simple calculations prior to knitting and a bit of design work. The sweater described in this article is for a top-down, stockinette V-neck pullover knitted in the round, with raglan sleeves. Experienced knitters will be able to adjust their knitting to make the sweater in pieces, add different stitch patterns, change the sleeve type, or convert to a cardigan.
Take measurements. Measure the recipient of the sweater carefully to determine the sizing of the garment. Important measurements to take are the back of the neck, shoulder width, armhole depth, bust/chest, waist, hips, arm length and wrist width.
Knit a gauge swatch. If you are not working from a pattern, this step is critical. Knitting a gauge swatch will tell you how many stitches you get per inch and per row and will help you determine the number of stitches to cast on.
Determine your cast-on. Multiply the desired width of your neck opening (taken from the back of the neck measurement) by the number of stitches per inch you got in your gauge swatch. For instance, a 6-inch neck opening, multiplied by four stitches per inch, will garner 24 stitches. You will also need to calculate the number of stitches needed for the tops of the sleeves. This is generally a third of the number needed for the neck opening, so in this instance it will be eight stitches. There are two sleeves, so it will be 16 stitches total. The initial cast on will be 24 stitches for the neck, plus 16 stitches for the sleeves, and two stitches for either side of the front of the V-neck for a total of 44 stitches.
Cast-on and knit. On the first row (right side or RS), knit two stitches, place a stitch marker, knit 16 stitches, place marker, knit 24 stitches, place marker, knit 16 stitches, place marker, knit final two stitches. Purl the next row (wrong side, or WS) On the following RS row, increase on either side of each stitch marker. Use whichever increase method you prefer. Do not join for knitting in the round at this point.
Continue to increase. After the first few rows, you will need to begin to shape the V-neck. Increase one stitch at the beginning and end of each RS row, which will bring the total number of increased stitches per row to 10. You may continue to increase on every row, or examine the measurements of the garment and determine which rows you will need to increase. For deeper Vs, increase every third or fourth row, for shallower Vs, increase every other row. Increase until the back and the front sections of the sweater have the same number of stitches. Join in the round at this point. If you need to cast on a few stitches at the front of either side, do so at this time.
Knit until you reach the armholes. When knitting from the top down, you can try on the sweater as it is in progress to check the fit. When you have reached the arm hole depth you desire, knit the front section until you reach the stitch markers for the right sleeve, place all of the right sleeve stitches on waste yarn or stitch holders and cast on half the number of stitches you will need to reach your bust or chest measurement. You can determine this by counting the number of stitches that make up the back of the sweater and divide by your gauge.
For instance, if you have 120 stitches, your gauge is four stitches per inch, so you will have 30 inches across the back. If you need to increase to 36 inches for the bust, you will need to cast on for an additional three inches, in this case, 12 stitches. Continue to knit across the back of the sweater until you reach the marker for the left sleeve, and repeat as for the right sleeve, including casting on an additional 12 stitches.
Finish the body of the sweater. If desired, you may decrease for waist shaping a few inches below the bust and increase again for the hips. Continue knitting until you have reached the desired length of your sweater.
Finish knitting the arms. Place the sleeve stitches on needles (double-pointed, magic loop or other knitting-in-the-round techniques) and pick up the number of stitches you cast on for the bust line; for this example, you would need to pick up 12 stitches. Knit until you have reached your desired sleeve length. Repeat for the other sleeve.
Weave in ends and finish. Using a tapestry needle, weave in all loose ends. Block your sweater if desired, to help the garment retain a memory of its shape.
Things You'll Need
- Circular knitting needles
- Stitch markers
- Measuring tape
- Tapestry needle
Stockinette has a tendency to curl. Consider adding ribbing at the edges to prevent the hems from rolling.
- “Custom Knits”; Wendy Bernard; 2008
- “Knitwear Design Workshop”; Shirley Paden; 2010
- Stockinette has a tendency to curl. Consider adding ribbing at the edges to prevent the hems from rolling.
Based in New York City, Virginia Watson has been writing and editing professionally since 2004. Her work has appeared in magazines including "The Roanoker Magazine," "Blue Ridge Country," "Pinnacle Living" and the award-winning "Virginia State Travel Guide." Watson holds a Master of Arts in philosophy of education from Virginia Polytechnic and State University.