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Knitting a Mandala Baby DK sweater from a schematic – part 2

by Cynthia MacDougall

I’m a firm believer that knitters have more power than they often use! Such is the case with my project for Mandala Baby DK that I started in yesterday’s post. In it, I took a schematic for a child’s sweater that calls for a different, heavier yarn, and bent it to the yarn I’m featuring in this series of posts – Mandala Baby DK.

Three balls of Mandala Baby DK are set out in a row on an ancient picnic table. Arendelle has pastel shades of blues, pinks and denims starting from the center to the outside edge, Unicorn Cloud starts with bold blues in the center, followed by lilac, pale, then medium pink, and white. Rainbow Falls starts with purple in the center with blue, green, yellow, orange and red radiating out to the outer edge of the cake.

Any of these 3 colorways would make a great child’s sweater, but I’m using Rainbow Falls, on the right.

In my last post, I showed how to calculate the stitches for the pattern using the anticipated gauge. I was very fortunate in that I achieved my gauge of 6 sts per inch [2.5cm], so I didn’t have to make any adjustments to the number of stitches I calculated for the sleeves and body pieces. Here’s where we left off:

The schematic for the sleeve-to-sleeve sweater has been modified by adding ribbing to the sleeves, making a slight change to the neckline, adding important pattern notes (how the body ribbing is added and breaking out the measurements for the length of the body and ribbing), the gauge for the sweater (in red ink) the number of stitches for each measurement (in blue ink), and labels for front and back.

The schematic has been mocked up with important notes and the number of stitches to achieve each measurement.

In this post, I continue from the underarm of the first sleeve. I’ll show you how I modified the neckline to match the changes I made in red lines on the diagram, how I marked off my increases on the sleeve so I could count the rows to the neckline shaping, and how to finish the sweater.

Row counts often aren’t important, but they are in this case: we need to know how many rows to put on each shoulder, and how many rows to knit above the sleeve shaping so that both sleeves match. I used a scrap of a contrasting color yarn (white in the photo) and wove it in as I knit the last increase row on the sleeve. I did this again when I cast on the stitches for the back, so I could count the rows between the top of the sleeve and the side of the neck opening. To place the strand, I put it between two stitches, then *knit the next stitch, put the white strand to the back, knit the next stitch, bring the white strand to the front, and repeat from *. If I forget, I can weave the “marker strand” in with a tapestry needle.

A sleeve with shades of blue is laid out on a white background. A strand of white yarn has been woven into the last row of the sleeve shaping, and another at the top of the sleeve to make row counting easy and ensure the other sleeve matches.

Short pieces of white scrap yarn have been placed at the top of the sleeve shaping and at the top of the sleeve.

Write this information on your diagram so you know how many rows to put on the other side of the neck and the top of the other sleeve, because symmetry in a garment is usually important.

At the neck, double-check your stitch count. A new yarn will be introduced here so both the front and back can continue while the neck opening is made. Decide whether you want to add the new yarn to the front or the back. With Mandala Baby DK, there’s apt to be a sudden change in color. You can decide to liven up the front of the sweater with that jolt or hide it on the back. My new ball of yarn had the green very close to the center, so I wound off the blue center section of the ball, and avoided any sudden color change without wasting a lot of yarn.

To add the new yarn on the front, k to the center stitch, join the new yarn and cast off the neck stitches. To add the new yarn to the back, k to the center st, cast off the neck sts and work to the end of the row. On the next row, p to the neck, and join the new yarn to the back.

To shape the neck edge, cast off the number of stitches for the first side, dec 1 st at the neck edge on the front and back sections on the next 3 RS rows, then work one additional dec on the front side only on the following RS row. (For my size, there are 9 rows from the neck opening cast off). Add another marker thread at the halfway point of the neck measurement (my neck measurement is 5½”, so I’ll place my marker thread at 2¾”.)

From this point on, this pattern mirrors itself. Work the front and back without further neck shaping for the same number of rows between the last decrease on the front and the marker thread. Inc. 1 st on the front neck on the next RS row, then increase on both front and back sections for the next 3 RS rows.

Purl the front to the neck, cast on the same number of sts that were cast off for the start of the neck, then purl the back sts. (Break yarns as needed.) The neck opening will look very big at this point, but once the stitches have been picked up and the ribbing made, it will work out. Working back down through the notes, work the rows for the shoulder – from the neck to the top edge of the front and back, then cast off the front and back sts to get back to the shoulder stitches. Work the same number of straight rows to the sleeve shaping, then decrease down to the sts above the ribbing. Work 5 rows straight and on the 6th row, dec to the number of ribbing sts. Work 2” of ribbing and cast off.

To finish the body, block the piece if desired and sew the sleeve and side seams.

Body ribbing

With a circular needle and RS facing, beg at the left seam and pick up 3 sts for every 4 rows around the bottom edge of the front and back. Work 2” in k1, p1 rib. Cast off all sts.


With dpns a size smaller than the needles used for the main sweater, start at the left-back of the neck. With RS facing, pick up along the cast-off edge 2 fewer sts than were cast off, 1 st for every dec on the curve of the neck, 3 sts for every 4 rows across the front neck edge, 1 st for every inc up the opposite curve of the neck, 2 fewer sts than the cast on edge, 1 st for every inc on the back neck shaping, 3 sts for every 4 rows across the back neck, and 1 st for each dec on the back neck shaping. (Make sure there are an even number of sts: if you have an odd number, add or subtract 1 st on the first round in an inconspicuous spot.) Work k1, p1 ribbing for 2 ¼” [5.2cm]. Change to larger needles and rib 2 rounds. Cast off loosely in pattern and stitch neckband down on the inside of the sweater. Weave in all ends.

Here’s my finished pattern, followed by a photo of the finished sweater.

The final, annotated schematic, including a diagram for the re-shaped neck.

I think you’ll agree that this sweater turned out really well!

The finished sweater is hanging on a wooden rack against a beige background. The colors start on the left with orange ribbing on one sleeve, transferring to yellow, lime green, green, blue denim blue and purple across the body and down the other sleeve, with an orange neckband and red body ribbing.

Simple and bright, this child’s sweater is sure to please your average 3–4-year-old!

In my next and final post of this series, I offer tips for using Mandala Baby DK with a solid yarn to create some great effects. Join me!

This is part 4 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 3: Knitting a Mandala Baby DK sweater from a schematic

Go to part 5: In knitting, considering complementary colors for Mandala Baby DK


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