Sloppy Christmas Jumper

Every year I make myself a Christmas jumper. I don't mean it has reindeer or snowmen on the front, or a nice nativity scene with the baby Jesus lying in a manger plastered across my stomach. It's a jumper I begin on Christmas day.

I rarely get to knit something for myself. Mostly I'm knitting samples, designing new things, or knitting socks for my sock hungry family ( we're funding research into where the second sock goes after you wash it). At Christmas I rebel. I take time to plan what I want, to research the yarn and pattern, to think about the style of garment I'd like and what I'm going to use it for (walking jumper, mooching about jumper, gardening jumper etc). I organise my stash in the hope that I can use the yarn from it (never happens of course, I'm saving my stash for the apocolypse. Not this one, the real one, where there are zombies and all the yarn shops have already been looted). 

This year I decided to use the fibre I'd inhereted from my Mum. I've been spinning it up and chain plying it into a chunky weight yarn since the first lockdown. I have masses of hand spun skeins now, and still masses of fibre to spin. Anyone who knew my Mum will be nodding their heads and chuckling to themselves at this point. 

a tiny portion of my Mum's fibre stash. There isn't a camera with a large enough lens!

Hand spun single 

Chain plied yarn

I've wanted a sloppy Joe for ages. My son asked me whether it was a good idea to wear a pizza, although I've translated that into a polite phrase (the words he used aren't fit to be repeated and yes, I did threaten to wash his mouth out). Apparently sloppy Joe is now a pizza flavour. When I was his age it was a slouchy, sloppy jumper of indeterminate shape, which you could curl up in and feel like you were being hugged. In my case I wanted to knit a hug from my Mum. 

The beginnings of my knitted hug

I always write notes as I'm going along if I'm making it up myself. I've translated my notes into a sort of recipe below, in case you want to make your own Sloppy Christmas Jumper. 

Sloppy Christmas Jumper Recipe

Front view (no snowmen in sight!)

Back view (no snowmen hiding back here either)

Side view (obviously) 

©Jen Best 2020 

This is a recipe rather than a pattern. You need a few simple measurements and a little maths. Your tension needs to be the same as mine so please swatch and adjust your needle size accordingly. This jumper is designed to be worn with about 10cm positive ease. You can try this jumper on as you work, to check hem and arm length. It is knitted in the round from the hem up to the arm, then worked back and forth in separate sections for the back and front panels. The shoulder seams are grafted using Kitchener stitch (you can cast off and stitch the shoulders if you prefer but grafting means there are no seams). The sleeves are worked by picking up stitches around the sleeve edge and knitting down towards the cuff in the round.

Tension: 12 stitch x 14 rows in stocking stitch over 10cm squared. I used 6.5mm circular needles on a 100cm cable to get this gauge, you will need to swatch as your tension may not be the same as mine.

You will need: circular needles for body with a 80-100cm cord depending on how many stitches you cast on, and 40cm or dpns in the same size for the sleeves (or long cable if you prefer to work using the magic loop technique for knitting small circumferences in the round); chunky hand spun yarn (a rough guide for amounts is below); long ribbon or stitch holders; stitch marker; yarn needle for grafting and weaving in ends.

Measure your body following the guide below. The formula will work out the number of stitches you need to cast on for your jumper. The length of body and sleeves is measured in centimetres, and you can double check by trying your jumper on as you go.

Measurements in cm for recipe: write your measurements on the dotted lines. The colour coded letters should help your find the correct place to put them in the pattern.

Underarm to hem: A ……………

Underarm to top of shoulder: B ………….

Bust circumference (around widest part): C ………….

Wrist to middle of bicep: D ……….

Formula for working out cast on stitches:  C ……. \ 10 x 12 + 12 = number of cast on stitches: E ……..

Rough guide to yarn amounts based on bust measurement plus 10cm. I would recommend getting more than you need, as this is a very rough guide and will depend on how long you want your jumper, and your sleeve length.

92cm – 650m chunky yarn

102cm – 720m chunky yarn

112cm – 800m chunky yarn

122cm – 900m chunky yarn

132cm – 1050m chunky yarn

142cm – 1150m chunky yarn

152cm – 1400m chunky yarn


K2tog tbl – knit 2 stitches together through the back loop, gives a left leaning decrease.

K2tog – knit 2 stitches together, gives a right leaning decrease.


Cast on E ……… stitches. Join to work in the round being careful not to twist.

Knit 2 rounds

Purl 1 round

Repeat the last 3 rounds twice more

Work in stocking stitch (knit every round) until work measures A ……….cm from the cast on.

Divide stitches in half for front and back, making sure to have an even number at front and an even number at back. If your division gives you an odd number of stitches put the extra stitch at the front (for example 170 stitches would divide into 85 stitches. I would put 84 stitches at the back and 86 stitches at the front).

Knit front stitches and place on holder.

Work backwards and forwards from now on.


Knit half the back stitches, place a marker, knit remaining half of the back stitches

Continue in stocking stitch on remaining back stitches for B ……. cm from divide, slipping the marker as you work.

End after a wrong side row. Make a note of how many rows you work so you can match them for the front.

Knit to 10 stitches before the marker and place these stitches on a stitch holder, cast off 20 stitches in knit, removing the stitch marker as you work, knit remaining back stitches and place on holder. Make a note of how many stitches you cast off so you can match them for the front shoulder.


Work on remaining front stitches. Knit half the front stitches, place marker, knit remaining half of the front stitches.

Continue in stocking stitch on remaining front stitches for 10cm from divide, slipping the marker as you work (if you want a higher or lower V neck this is where you need to alter things. Work more rows for a higher neckline and less rows for a lower neck line). End after a wrong side row.

Divide for V neck

Knit to marker and leave stitches on a holder. Drop the marker at this point.

On the remaining front stitches:

K1, K2tog tbl, Knit to end


Repeat last 2 rows until the same number of stitches remain as the corresponding back shoulder.

Continue in stocking stitch until work measures the same as the back (count the rows to be accurate). Leave a very long tail for grafting shoulders together.

Join yarn to remaining stitches with right side facing you.

Knit to last 3 stitches, K2tog, K1


Repeat last 2 rows until same amount of stitches remain as the corresponding back shoulder remain.

Continue in stocking stitch until work measures the same as the back. Leave a very long tail for grafting shoulders together.

Graft back and front corresponding shoulders together. Alternatively you can cast the shoulders off in knit and back stitch them together.

Grafting (Kitchener Stitch)

Line the stitches up so they are parallel with each other. Thread the tail onto a yarn needle.  Hold the needles together in your left hand and the wool needle in your right hand.  When making the stitches try to match the tension of your knitted stitches. It’s better to be too loose and tighten the stitches at the end, than pull too tight.  Kitchener stitch is essentially grafting two sets of live stitches together with another row of stitches created by the yarn needle, giving a seamless join.

Step 1: Pass the wool needle knitwise through the back stitch.

Step 2: Pass the wool needle purlwise through the front stitch.

Step 3: Pass the wool needle purlwise through the back stitch. Take the stitch off the needle.

Step 4: Pass the wool needle knitwise through the back stitch.

Step 5: Pass the wool needle knitwise through the front stitch. Take the stitch off the needle.

Repeat step 2 to 5 until all the stitches are grafted. 


Beginning at the bottom of the armhole, pick up evenly around armhole, 2 stitches for every 3 rows of body. Place a stitch marker at the start of the round. It’s neater to pick up the inside leg of the last stitch in the row.

Work in stocking stitch until the cuff.

Knit 4 rounds

Round 5 is the decrease round

Knit to last 2 stitches, slip 2 stitches knitwise, remove marker, K1, pass slipped stitches over, replace marker (new start of round).

Repeat the last 5 rounds until work measures D …… cm from picked up stitches.


Purl 1 round

Knit 2 rounds

Repeat last 3 rounds twice more.

Cast off in knit.

Work the opposite sleeve in the same way.

Weave in tails and block lightly. If you have a slight hole under the arm then use the tail from picking up the stitches to close the hole up before weaving it in.

PDF of pattern



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