Throughout this season, we’re reposting some of our favorite columns by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, previously featured in our Weekly Stitch newsletter.
When knitting cardigans, you are making two fronts that are reversed and mirror images of each other. The armholes are on opposite sides of your knitting as is the neck shaping.
The neck and armhole edges are at their logical, respective places. When you are knitting the right side of the piece, you are looking at the reverse of how it will be worn. With the right side of the work facing the public, hold the left or right front up against you. This is the easiest way to tell which is the armhole edge and which is the neck edge if you get confused.
Almost all cardigan patterns will give you exact instructions for knitting one front; the instructions for the other front will usually tell you to knit it the same way, but reverse shaping. This can seem like a cryptic instruction intended to confuse you, but it avoids pattern errors (like one side being written one way and then the other side being written differently).
To reverse the shaping, work the shaping at the opposite end from where you worked it for the first front. The armhole shaping and decreases must be at opposite ends so that when it's sewn together, you will have one armhole on the left and one on the right. The neck shaping must be on the inside of both pieces, where it would logically be.