Holes under arms of raglan sweater

I am making the Flax sweater in men’s large.

Everything is working well. I am just now starting to do the sleeves. As directed, I placed the 58 stitches I had placed onto waste yarn onto 16” circ needle. I knit across these stitches to where I am picking up the 4 stitches from the body at the underarm, place marker, then pick up the next 4 stitches and joining. When I pick up the stitches, I am left with huge holes on either side of the picked up stitches. Is there a secret to picking up these stitches that I don't know?


Bill's picture

would it help to twist the stitch when you pick it up?

CLABBERS's picture

I will give that a try with the other arm, Bill. Thanks. For now, I knit on and will come back to tidy things up. Thanks for the suggestion. It's the one part of a raglan sweater that gives me trouble. Perhaps I should use a different method of adding the stitches. The pattern called for using the backward loop. What have you used?

Bill's picture

to add stitches I usually knit into the back and front of one stitch...or do a knitted cast on...you can fine that on youtube...

CLABBERS's picture

I'll give that a try, Bill. Thanks.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Bill made a great suggestion about looking for a different way to cast on the extra stitches when you put the sleeve stitches on hold. Backward loop is a bit too stretchy for that job. The knitted on version would be helpful because it will give some extra support and strength to an area that will get stretched and strained. Going to YouTube is a good resource for alternatives and instruction. Lots of luck.

ETA: Tallguy's tip about adding a couple of stitches to each side, then decreasing them away is also good. I often do that on my sock gussets and on the few sweaters I've knit - mainly raglan. I routinely do a triangular mini-gusset on mittens as well, where the thumb and palm join.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

CLABBERS's picture

Hi Joe,
Yes, I tried the adding of stitches to either side and it's just too loose. I will definitely try Bill's suggestion to tighten things up on the next sweater. Without ripping out the entire torso, I can't really try them on this sweater. I will add all the suggestions given to the pattern and give them a try next time. The sweater's only for me, so no biggie. I've gotten pretty good at hiding the holes after the fact. No one really gets too close to a man's armpit anyway, so it ends up being a moot point. Sigh.

colamanknits's picture

Not sure how to correct this. I know that when I knit my moms, when I attached the arms to the body, I just had to pull on the yarn tails that were coming off of the arms and the body of the sweater to tighten them up before I wove them in.

CLABBERS's picture

I think I can fix one of the holes that way, or at least almost. I ran into this same issue with another sweater I made. I think it's something that is inherent to raglans. The next time, when I add the extra stitches under the arm, I am going to pull those stitches significantly tighter. I may even use a needle a couple sizes smaller just for those stitches. I will go back and tighten things up after I am finished with a few inches of the arms. I hid the holes well with the other sweater, so I am fairly confident I can do the same with these...I hope!

CLABBERS's picture

I did the same thing, Calvin. That tidied things up a bit. Thanks!

Thunderhorse54's picture

Please let us know what works. I was just looking at that pattern that you sent me.

Tallguy's picture

Usually, when it comes time to put those sleeve stitches on hold, I put them on a waste yarn, or stitch holder. Then when you come to pick them up, you have live stitches waiting for you.

But the problem comes in because you have stitches pulling in two directions, much the same as you do on the gusset of a sock. There is that hole formed. We have various ways to fix that.

One thing that I found helpful is to pick up one extra stitch or more at both ends, if need be, and then decreasing it away on that row or the next. That little bit if extra yarn will help ease those tensions and fill in that hole.

When sewing shirts, there is a small diamond shape that is inserted to allow for more freedom of movement and prevent this pulling in all directions and risk tearing. It is called a gusset. In knitting, we will sometimes knit a small triangle as you get to the underarm area, and then pick up those stitches (which are now increased to more than those original four) and decrease them away with another triangle -- making a diamond shaped gusset.
see: http://anotherknittingblog.blogspot.ca/2007/08/anatomy-of-underarm-gusset.html
and http://knitoutlines.blogspot.ca/2010/05/unvented-underarm-gusset.html
and http://natknits.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/raglan-sweater-episode-3-working-up-the-body-armpit-gussets/

CLABBERS's picture

I'm not sure if I understand about putting the stitches on hold on waste yarn or stitch holder. They aren't really on hold, they are used the next round after joining for the torso rounds, which essentially makes the sweater 8 stitches wider beginning with the underarms. I have tried adding more stitches when I picked them up and that helped somewhat, but still holes. I will go back later and sew things up as I have done in the past. I always run into this problem. I'm getting creative on how to patch things after the fact, but there should be a better way to solve this dilemma. I can't be the only one who has this issue with raglan sleeves. I like the gusset suggestion, so that will go on my list of things to practice.

Thanks for the suggestions and the links.


SAPBrown's picture

I know I'm late to the party (as usual). I too noticed the holes you mentioned, when knitting my top down raglan. My solution was to cross the the stitches at each end of the under arm cast on with the first (or last) stitches from the body.

On the RS, I crossed the last front left body stitch over the first underarm stitch (left cross). And the last underarm stitch behind the first stitch from the back (right cross). Repeat for the other arm. Body stitch crossing over sleeve stitch.

Unfortunately I can't say if it worked. I used the tails to reinforce, tighten the holes before weaving them in.

I know not to useful on a completed sweater, but might be worth trying on your next top down raglan.


CLABBERS's picture

It's never too late to get good advice from friends. I am just finishing the first arm, so on the second arm, I will try your suggestion. I am adding it to the pattern notes after typing this to you. Thanks so much for the idea. I've gotten pretty good at going back and tidying things up after the fact, but avoid the holes completely would be a nice change.
Thanks for the help.