Picking up stitches for sleeves and necklines can be daunting and met with hours of frustration. With a few helpful hints, and a little planning, the task is not so intimidating. Basically, you need to first, calculate the number of stitches needed to be picked up, and then space them evenly around your opening as you work.
I am ready to knit the sleeves on my husband’s gansey sweater. Using Beth Brown-Rensil’s book, Knitting Ganseys, and her formulas, I calculated the number of stitches to pick up for each armhole. She lays out three methods of calculating the required stitches for each sleeve. The most simplest method, multiplies the circumference of the armhole, measured in inches, by the stitch gauge.
circumference of armhole x stitch gauge = total number of stitches to pick up
In my case, the circumference of the armhole measured 18 inches with a stitch gauge of 5. I did have a gusset knit at the underarm, but I did not include those stitches in my circumference because they will be decreased and eliminated as I knit the sleeve.
18 inches x 5 stitches/inch = 90 stitches to be picked up
Vogue Knitting has a nice article called “Picking Up Stitches” with illustrations which show you how to pick up stitches on a horizontal edge and a vertical edge. They also have helpful hints on how to mark your edge so that you space your stitches evenly to prevent puckering or stretching. I also found this video on You Tube which quickly explains how you find and pick up the stitches with your needle as you work.
For more tutorials on knitting gansey sweaters, you may enjoy reading the following: