Aran sweaters knitted in the round?

I'm planning my next project and wondered whether any of you guys have good experiences of knitting aran sweaters in the round?

A traditional aran is made in 4 pieces (front, back and sleeves), but I'm wondering whether they'd work on circular needles, working the yoke back-and-forth like a gansey but working the sleeves in the round from the cuff up.

Mostly I want to have as little seaming as possible (it's the part of a sweater that I dread) and partly because I love my Knit Pick Options circular needles so much.

I guess my questions are:

  • Do more complex cables work well if knitted in the same direction (ie. round-and-round, rather than back-and-forth)?
  • Might the change from circular knitting to back-and-forth cause an obvious change in texture?

I've been musing over this project for a while, and spent the evening with books of cable stitches deciding which motifs would suit my personal preferences. I may begin a tension swatch of the motifs to work out my gauge tomorrow night... it'll be an excuse not to have to weave in the ends of the yoked sweater I've just finished. Photos of that once I've actually got round to finishing it.

Many thanks in advance for your views.


ronhuber's picture

Knitting an Aran in the round is much easier than knitting back and forth because the knitting is in front of you and you don't have to peer over the needle to see where you are. I never knit the yoke back and forth. I usually connect the sleeves to the body and do a raglan which fits so well as an Aran or I cast on some steek stitches and cut those when it is ready to sew the sleeves in. If you can get your head around it, no one can tell whether the cable is knitted back and forth or round and round. If you do knit back and forth at the yoke the only difference you will see is in your frustration level as you ask yourself why would I want to knit an Aran from the back.

It's easy to work in the round and if it has raglan sleeves you just knit these in the round and join them in where you have cast off stitches at the underarm part of the sweater. This means the only seaming you have to do is a little bit under the arms. Knitting in the round makes no difference to the shape of the cables. If you don't like seaming and are not ready for steeks this is the way to go. Best of British!

Asplund's picture

I've knitted an Aran sweater changing from back-and-forth to circular knitting, and you can't see any difference. There's a picture here if you're interested:
(I knitted the four pieces separately and joined them to knit the yoke because I wanted raglan cables instead of raglan seams.) I could see one advantage knitting cable patterns back-and-forth: it's easier to keep track of where you are in the pattern when all cables are made right side rows and all wrong side rows are simply k on k and p on p.

Britisher's picture

Wow, you guys are so helpful. I really appreciate your thoughts. I'm a big fan of raglan sleeves and knitting in the round, so the suggestions would work for me, though remembering which rows are the "wrong site" can be tricky - I've done a raglan with a single cable up the front, and I'm sure a couple of rows were miscounted as I went along.

Now I need to decide whether I want to do a 'proper' drop-shoulder with set-in sleeves, or a super Raglan, like the one Asplund showed - man, this example is just superb, thanks for sharing it.

Asplund's picture

I just thought of a method I've used to keep track of right and wrong sides when knitting in the round:
A moss stitch panel (or similar as long as it's simple and based on k and p) somewhere. I think they look nice framing cables too.
Thanks for the compliment on my sweater!

gardenguy42's picture

The first month's project in Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Knitter's Almanac" is an aran sweater knit in the round. It actually has straight sleeves that are sewn in to cut steeks after the fact. Two short steeks for sleeves would be a good first-time learning experience. Good luck with your project!

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Britisher's picture

Many thanks for that. I haven't gotten round to the Knitter's Almanac yet, but handy to know. Was wondering about steeks, but it wouldn't be my preferred option, I guess I'm in the "never sew what you could knit" school. Put it down to my relative inexperience.