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Today’s Little Lesson is a double-header of tips and assistance for the Simple Swoncho by Karida Collins. This delightfully comfy garment is a brilliant project for a newer knitter looking to grow their skills and tackle a sweater for the first time. You can do it! 

Tracker Keeper

First up, I’m going to run through my tips for keeping track of things as you work the yoke. 

The key to keeping track of a set of increases like this is to look for the repeats. The key numbers are as follows: The cable panel repeats over 16 rounds, and the shape yoke increases repeat over 4 rounds. (This means that for each repeat of the cable panel, the shape yoke section is worked 4 times.)

I set up a table.

And here is the Simple Swoncho Table ready to download and print!

To boost paper and pencil tracking, I also use colored stitch markers, so there is one color at each end of the sleeve stitches, and a different color at each end of the body stitches. Extra tip: Color in the headings of the columns in the table to match the stitch markers, to reinforce the reminder that the increases will be happening between those markers.

Read your knitting

A table can really be helpful as you’re learning the rhythm of increases and cable motifs at the start of a Simple Swoncho. So can knitting a good chunk in a first sitting.

Once you get in the swing of yarnover increases and cables, you’re ready to leave the table—being able to read your knitting is a game-changer.

When you can recognize a yarn over on your needles, figuring out where you are is easier!

photos by ©Jesse Wild

Here’s how a yarn over looks on the RS (top) and on the WS (bottom). Notice how it sits sort of diagonally across the needles? And there’s no “purl bump” at the base of the stitch on the wrong side.

If you pick up your Simple Swoncho and can’t remember which round you last worked, the first thing to do is to inspect the first stitch in both the sleeves and body. If they are both yarn overs (sitting diagonally as in the photo above), then your last round was a Shape Yoke Round 1. If only the body has a yarn over as the first stitch (and not the sleeves) then your last round was a Shape Yoke Round 3.

Next thing to be able to recognize is a stitch that was a yarn over 2 rounds ago (so an increase round and then a plain round have both been worked). The first stitch on the left needle in the image below shows a yarn over that has been knitted. You can clearly see the hole created by the yarn over sitting below the needle, and the stitch on the needle has been knitted so it has a purl bump at the base on the WS.

Photo by ©Jesse Wild

Look again at the first stitch on your sleeves and on your body sections. If you have just completed a Shape Yoke Round 2, both the sleeves and body sections will start with a stitch that looks like the one above. The yarn over hole is just below the needle tip. However, if you have just completed a Shape Yoke Round 4, only the body sections will start with a stitch that looks like that.

Ta da! You can now correctly identify which Shape Yoke Round was the last one you worked. This is 95% of the work in this section. 

Is this a cable round?

As described in the pattern and noted in the table above, cables always happen on Shape Yoke Round 3, but they only happen on one in four of those rounds. If you haven’t worked any cables yet, and you are ready to work Shape Yoke Round 3, then the answer is yes, you do need to cable!

Once you have started working cables it is easier than you might imagine to work out by reading your knitting whether or not you should be doing that once-every-16-rounds cable. Use the sleeve increase yarn over holes to keep track. Those holes are really handy!

If you are ready to work Shape Yoke Round 3 and you think it might be time to work cables, but you’re not sure:

  • Find a cable panel next to the sleeves.
  • Put your finger on the last cable cross you worked.
  • Count how many yarn over holes there are, on the adjacent sleeve section, after the cable cross. 
  • If you are ready to cable, there will be FOUR yarn over holes after that last cable cross.
there are four YO increases per cable on the sleeve side of the raglans

Time to split

Once you’ve completed your yoke increases, it’s time to split the body from the sleeves. Again, this is a process that can seem a bit odd the first time you do it, but it isn’t inherently difficult, and if you take each step at a time, you’ll be wearing your Swoncho before you know it.

To tackle this section of the pattern you will need some waste yarn and a tapestry needle, or 4 stitch holders. My preference is for waste yarn as it doesn’t impede my progress on the rest of the knitting, and scrunches up nicely in my project bag. If you prefer stitch holders, that’s totally grand, and you will need to use 2 holders for each sleeve, so that you can fold the sleeve to get the ends of the body sections close to each other.

An Ickle wee Swoncho for the demo—thanks, Jim!

The video below will take you through each stage of the splitting process. It shows you how to set aside the sleeve stitches on waste yarn, how to join the two sides of the body back into the round, how to return the sleeve stitches to your needles and get going on them, and even demonstrates how to close the gaps at the underarms once your body and sleeves are complete. Everything you need for splitting success!

Video notes: If you are watching on YouTube, you can hover over the time bar to see the different sections of the video, which is handy if there’s a particular thing you want to re-watch. The video also has subtitles which you can display by clicking on the CC button.

Karida Collins has done such an amazing job of designing this huge hug of a sweater. It’s the perfect garment for throwing on to go outside on a chilly autumn day, or just to cozy up indoors in winter. I hope that the hints and tips in this post will set you on the path to Swoncho success.

This Could Come in Handy
Here’s how to save this article in your MDK account with one click. And for a playlist of Field Guide No. 18 Little Lessons videos by Jen Arnall-Culliford, tap over here.

About The Author

We think Jen Arnall-Culliford is flat-out brilliant. Jen is one of the knitting world’s superb technical editors and teachers, and the star of the tutorial videos.

Cheerful. Cool headed. Supersmart. To take lessons from Jen ups our knitting game, every time.


  • I love the table, thanks for making it printable!

  • I am knitting a garment and cabling for the first time with the swoncho. Finishing the ribbing at the bottom of the swoncho body now and then on to the sleeves. I had no idea how to handle those and could see there was going to be a gap where they joined the body. Thanks so much for the video, Jen! What perfect timing! I lived in Shrewsbury, Shropshire for three years. Now I know what “Mind the gap” really means!

  • This is so perfect. I have just done the set up rows and am now a bit confused. This should really help.

  • I’m fast approaching the “divide arms from body” point and LOVING this pattern! Thanks for the timely tips!

  • When I have to hold stitches on a holder – such as sleeves – I put them on the cheapest satinish ribbon.
    When you need to put them back on your needles, the tip of your needles just glide across the ribbon.
    I use 1/8” to 1/4” depending one the weight of the yarn.

  • I loved this pattern and did it mostly as written. I did add some short rows to the bottom back hem and I think I would lower the neckline and raise the back next time as it sits a little high at the front for me. It’s still amazingly snuggly on the cold nights we are currently having here in Western Australia!

  • I keep telling people, technology is our friend. Knit Companion let’s me set up exactly the repeats and reminders for tracking where I am and what needs to be done on each row. I really encourage people to try it.

    • I absolutely love Knit Companion! Even for a pattern that has little going on, I can highlight where I am or make a note at the bottom about what I need to do, exactly, next time I pick up the project. For following a chart it’s a dream! Being able to keep notes on hand on multiple projects is great.

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