what i did: afterthought underarm gusset


I mentioned in my post about the Fiddlehead Yoke cardigan that I’d added a wee gusset to the underarm instead of simply grafting the live stitches together:

Check out my sweet armpit!

So, here’s what I did. You know how when you graft underarm stitches together, you usually want to pick up an extra stitch in each “corner” so as to not have holes? Well, to make the gusset, I did something slightly different with those extra stitches. I started by putting one set (I think it was “bottom”/body set, but it truly doesn’t matter) of live stitches on a needle, and joining yarn to knit.

Row 1: Knit across those stitches, picking up an extra stitch from the corner at the end of the row.
Row 2: Turn the work, slip the first stitch, and purl across, picking up an extra stitch from the corner at the end of the row.
Rows 3 and 4: Turn again, slip the first stitch, and repeat Rows 1 and 2 a second time. Leave the resulting 12 stitches “live”.

I went from having 8 stitches held at the underarm to having 12 of them, and a slight “wedge”-shaped bit of fabric. Then I did Rows 1-4 again on the other set of live underarm stitches, so that I had 2 matching sets of 12 live stitches, and I kitchenered THOSE stitches together. The result was a little “bubble” of stitches that looks slightly odd when the sweater lies flat, but tucks away beautifully when the sweater is worn, giving me the ability to lift my arm up high without a lot of pulling!

Showing off my armpit

I thank my former obsession with ganseys for giving me the idea of a gusset, though on a gansey the gusset is definitely worked as part of the pattern, not as an afterthought. For Fiddlehead Yoke, if I had knit the yoke just a bit looser, so that the underarm join was a bit below my actual armpit, I wouldn’t have needed the gusset at all…but I wanted a very close-fitting sleeve opening and a close-fitting yoke, and realized after the fact that if I simply joined the live stitches at the underarm, my sleeve opening would simply be TOO snug. This let me “fix” it without undoing the whole yoke, and I got a sweater fit that I’m super duper happy with. I don’t know if this would be a useful trick for anyone but me…I have kind of freakishly broad shoulders but thin arms, and I’m also flat-chested but with a really big ribcage (compared to the rest of my petite frame), so getting proportions to work for me in a way that results in a well-fitted sweater is always an adventure.