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Dear Ann,

I’m really enjoying banging out a Daytripper Cardigan. Tuesday’s mid-knitalong Zoom party was so fun. We covered a lot of ground, including my loose ways with gauge (I feel seen! and judged!)—but we mostly kept the focus on the moment in the Daytripper Cardigan where we are instructed to “divide for sleeves and body.”  (The recording of Tuesday’s Zoom is here.)

If you’ve never done it before, “divide for sleeves and body” can sound kind of ominous, like a sort of thing the grownup knitters know how to do.

In reality, though, it’s a simple matter of doing exactly as the pattern instructs, step by step, taking care not to get in your own way by overthinking or looking too far ahead.

How to Divide for Sleeves and Body

First, let’s orient ourselves. Where are we?

The instruction to divide for sleeves and body comes after we’ve completed something major: the colorwork yoke. Milestone achieved: pat yourself on the back!

After an increase round or two, and a few short rows to make the back fit nicely, the shoulders of the cardigan are complete, and it’s time to divide the 175–279 stitches on your needles into separate sections for the sleeves and the body.

This makes sense: if you just kept going without dividing for sleeves and body, you’d end up with a poncho instead of a cardigan.

The steps are simple. Just follow the pattern, step by step.

Tip: If you haven’t done it already, go through the instructions and circle the numbers that correspond to the size you are making—I will refer to each of those numbers as X in this tutorial. The X numbers for your size are critical to getting the two cardigan fronts, the two sleeves, and the back of the cardigan to be the right size. Mary Jane Mucklestone figured this all out for us, so listen up!

Now follow the pattern. It will go like this.

Step 1: After knitting the three steek stitches that start each round, knit X stitches for the left front.

The yarn is Léttlopi. My colors are: (MC) Mimosa), (A) Royal Fuchsia, (B) Heaven Blue, (C) Pink, (D) White, (E) Pink, and (F) Pine Green.

Step 2: Place the next X stitches on waste yarn for the left sleeve. Tip: I usually use a smooth cotton yarn for holding stitches, and I believe I should get extra credit for how nicely I color-coordinated waste yarn with the cardigan here.

Step 3: Using the backwards loop method, cast on X stitches onto the right needle for the underarm.

Step 4: Knit X stitches for the back of the cardigan.

You just carry on knitting on the back stitches, without missing a beat.

Step 5: Place the next X stitches on waste yarn for the right sleeve. Tip: Make sure this is the same number you put on waste yarn for the left sleeve. I do a lot of repeat counting, out of an abundance of caution and a desire to make all the numbers come out right the first time.

Step 6: Using the backwards loop method, cast on X stitches onto the right needle for the underarm. Tip: Make sure this is the same number you cast on for the left sleeve. Yes I’m paranoid!

Step 7: Knit to the marker that precedes the steek stitches, for the right front. Tip: Make sure the number of stitches is the same as for the left front.

That’s it! You’ve arrived back at the steek, and you’ve separated for sleeves and body.

By magic, or seeming magic, the sleeves are now sitting idle on waste yarn, waiting until you’re ready to knit them, and the needles are holding only the body stitches of the cardigan.

Off you go, on the race to the bottom of the body! Whee!

Why This Is Cool

My first sweaters were knit in flat pieces that were seamed together. I still like knitting sweaters that way, but the knit-flat-in-pieces method doesn’t require three-dimensional thinking—the sweater doesn’t come together into three dimensions until you seam it.

The first time I divided a top-down sweater for sleeves and body, and cast on those underarm stitches, it hit me right between the eyes: wow! This is how we make a flat sleeve into a tube that can accommodate a human arm.

It’s pretty cool, and I’m proud of myself every time I do it.




  • This doesn’t sound scary at all after reading this…: OH MY STARS KAY I, really BELIEVE I could do this now!! For so long I’ve knit simple rectangles and Frankensteined them into a garment ~ always fearful of the math required or not thinking I could understand a written pattern (forget about charts that cause my brain to gyrate!!) Yes yes yes I’m going to add this to my favorite patterns pile!! THANX for making this crystal clear for this older and long time knitter.

    • What is the yarn and colors….I am in love with the colors

      • The yarn and colors are listed as the photo text for the first photo of her yoke.

      • Hi all,

        Thanks for the yarn love, here you go:

        The yarn is Léttlopi. My colors are: (MC) Mimosa), (A) Royal Fuchsia, (B) Heaven Blue, (C) Pink, (D) White, (E) Pink, and (F) Pine Green.

        Mimosa is sold out but there is more on the way!


      • Question re the yoke, how are increases made ?

        • There are several increase rounds, the increase is always a Make 1 Left.

      • I was just going to say that about the colors. Wow!

        • I was going to say the same thing, love the colors. I’m always amazed at how well some people can put together colors.

  • Me too-loving that color combination!!

  • Are you going to felt the steek?

    • Yes! Can’t wait!

  • The colors the colors ohmygod the colors.
    I mean, I spent entirely too much time examining Stephen West patterns on ravelry yesterday and but then still THIS. My little eyes were poppin’!

    • Oh, and also thanks for posting the video, I might actually watch it today, now that you popped a teaser about your gauge – you’re the only other person I know who knits as loosely as I do.

      • Also loose and proud! I rarely reach for needles larger than US 2, for any project or yarn. When I began knitting, I thought this meant I was doing something wrong. I always went down 3-4 needle sizes from any pattern-suggested needle size. Once I learned it’s not wrong, just a fact each knitter needs to learn about themselves, I’ve wished patterns would never suggest needle size – the suggestion is meaningless and it confuses new knitters. Patterns could list a gauge and say nothing more than ‘swatch to find the needle size that gives you correct gauge’. Because ultimately, that is what every single knitter must do.

      • Yes, I am one of the loose ladies, too! 😉

      • It’s a gift! The few, the proud, the loose knitters!

  • wow kay!! i cant say enough about your colors…I ABSOLUTLY LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, THEM. cant wait to see the finished product. great job!!!!!!!

  • As a devoted magic looper, I just put those sleeves on interchangeable cables and then that eliminates a step at the end (and an excuse for my process knitter self to skip sleeve island and go to the next shiny object project).

  • I just watched the Zoom regarding dividing up for sleeves and body but my question is in regards to that needle felting tool and brushy thing that seems to go on the the underneath portion. Where do you get that sort of thing? Thanks and your colors are lovely!

  • Your colors are the ultimate. I so want to do this but Shetland and I don’t agree.

    • It’s not Shetland wool, but from Icelandic sheep. I bought a sweater in Iceland once, and the shopkeeper recommended rinsing it in hair conditioner to counter the itch. It helped! Might help with Shetland wool too… I haven’t tried that yet.

  • That makes everything look so much easier! Thank you!

  • I missed Tuesday’s Zoom call so just watched it and thought folks might like to know that if you click on the link other MDK calls are available to watch. There’s the Kiki rug steek call for anyone who might be nervous about the steek.
    Btw, I had tickets to see Fran Lebowitz on Tuesday and she was fabulous.

  • This is AMAZING! I’m knitting a sweater right now and I’m very close to the dreaded DIVIDE FOR SLEEVES AND BODY, but after this I see it is….easy! Wow! Thank you! (And I have to knit this cardigan, I have to.)

  • I often put the body on a holder and take care of the sleeves first—they’re easier without a body to flip around.

  • Yes, I agree with the many compliments on the color combination. My problem is with the backward loop CO, I have trouble keeping this neat without big holes.

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