Jerry knitalong part 2: that weirdo cast-on

Once you’ve chosen yarn for your Jerry, the Handsome introduction has all the information you’ll need to choose a size and select your custom options. You can adjust the sleeve length or add body shaping (A-line, V-line, or X-line).

For my Jerry, I chose a size with about 3” / 7.5cm positive ease. I’ll be using the custom sleeve length and X-line shaping calculators.

Remember that, if you use custom calculators that make your Jerry longer or larger than the pattern version, you may need more yarn than the pattern estimate. Make sure you have enough yarn!

Adjusting body length

The book doesn't include instructions for custom body length, but it can be lengthened quite easily. Just add length to the body by working extra rows after/above the last buttonhole, before/below the underarm shaping. This will lower the v-neck by whatever length you add, but it's a high V to begin with, so unless you're lengthening by several inches, that shouldn't be a problem. And if you have to add more than a couple of inches, you can just throw in an additional buttonhole. (Shortening the body length would be more difficult, but still possible for adventurous types -- you'd just have to recalculate the button spacing.)

To calculate out how much length to add to the sweater body, use the formula below. Measure your desired Total Body Length as instructed in the Handsome Introduction; the other figures can be found in the Jerry schematic.

lengthen Jerry body.png

casting on: the fine and fiddly details

Okay, I expect this is the first of many times I will say sorry-not-sorry for a fiddly detail on the Jerry sweater.

But I think taking extra care with the details is truly worth it for Jerry, and sets this design apart from other handknit sweaters. In the end, all of that patience and attention to finishing means you end up with an heirloom-quality sweater that looks really, really good.

That said, the cast-on is one place where I’ll tell you how to cut some corners if you so choose.

For Jerry, I've used a pretty cool cast-on for 2x1 (K2, P1) rib. Starting with an alternate cable cast-on, you cast on 25% more stitches than you actually need. Then, on Row 1, you 1) rearrange the stitches so that the knits and purls are in the correct order and 2) decrease those extra stitches away. The result is a fabulously flexible edge that blends nicely into the 2x1 rib.

JERRY edges.jpg

Below is a step-by-step photo tutorial for this cast-on. If it’s not your thing, please feel free to substitute the flexible cast-on method of your choice. I’d recommend a German Twisted / Old Norwegian cast-on. In fact, if you’re using custom body shaping, the custom instructions for the Back and Fronts will tell you to use the German Twisted / Old Norwegian method, since your new numbers may not work with the 2x1 cast-on.

If you choose to use this weirdo cast-on method — and I hope you will — here’s the step-by-step explanation of what the pattern instructions are asking you to do.

the initial cast-on stitches

First, the instructions tell you to use an alternate cable cast-on -- a cable cast-on that alternates between knit and purl stitches. Here's what that looks like on the Left Front piece, which also uses a regular cable cast-on for the stockinette buttonband. (The Handsome appendix includes written instructions for the cable cast-ons, but if you prefer video tutorials, I've linked to some good ones in the text above.)

After the initial cast-on stitches of the Left Front

After the initial cast-on stitches of the Left Front


Row 1 and the c2k1p2tog

You'll begin Row 1 by knitting the first two stitches. And then you're ready to work the first c2k1p2tog -- cross 2, knit 1, purl 2 together.

jerry CO 2.png

Written instructions for c2k1p2tog are in the Special Techniques section of the Jerry pattern, but here's what it looks like on the needles.

jerry CO 3.png
jerry CO 4.png
jerry CO 5.png
jerry CO 6.png

Congratulations! You've swapped the first two stitches on the LH needle, crossing the second (knit) stitch over in front of the first (purl stitch). Now, on your RH needle, you have one selvage stitch and the first K of your K2, P1 rib pattern. The next stitches to be worked on your LH needle are: knit stitch (the second K of your K2, P1 rib), purl stitch, purl stitch. In the next step, you'll knit 1, then work those two purl stitches together.

jerry CO 6.png

Rib on!

If you're working the Back or a Sleeve, you'll keep chugging along with [k1, c2k1p2tog] until you've decreased half of the purl stitches and rearranged everything into (K2, P1) order. Then you'll just continue to work the cuff/band in 2x1 ribbing as you would with any other cast-on.

If you're working on one of the Front pieces, you're also dealing with the Stockinette buttonband, which is worked on an a different, larger circular needle. Here's what that looks like after several rows.

jerry CO 8.png

Again, it's fiddly! But worth it! And you only have to juggle the two different needles until the bottom ribbed band is complete -- the rest of the Fronts are worked on just the larger needle.


Once you've completed the ribbed bottom band of the Back and Fronts, you'll work them in stockinette as written, adding any body shaping from the custom calculator. (I'll write up a separate post about the construction of the Back and Front pieces.)

Starting a New Skein (with spit!)

Finally — and I'm doing this for every single knitalong in this series — I want to enthusiastically promote the felted join (aka the spit splice) as a method for joining new lengths of yarn. If you’re working with any yarn that has a large percentage of non-washable wool, this is an awesome way to avoid weaving in ends and I LOVE IT SO HARD. There are instructions in Handsome for working a felted join, but here’s a quick video tutorial from VeryPink Knits, for the visual learners. She shows the method I like best, which includes removing half of the plies on each end, so that the joined area isn't any fatter than the rest of the strand.

Next up, we'll talk about the construction of the Back and Fronts, and how it all fits together.

Don't hesitate to ask any questions in the Ravelry Handsome group! And please share your swatches and pieces and challenges and success there too. #HandsomeKnitting #JerryKAL #ManSweaters