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Rainbow Cardigan Knitting Pattern {5 Sizes}

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In this pattern post, I want to share with you a very colourful rainbow cardigan knitting pattern.

This cardigan is really soft and comforting, due to the drape and fit.

It’s designed to make you smile and feel happy while wearing it!

Scroll down for the free pattern or you can purchase a printer-friendly ad-free PDF here.

knitted rainbow cardigan

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An Easy Level Knitting Pattern

This is an easy pattern for those of you who are advanced beginner level, and the techniques you will need to know are knit, purl, k2tog and ssk.

Using mainly knit and purl stitches, it will also introduce you to decreasing and shaping.

The cardigan features raglan sleeves, this means the sleeve extends in one piece fully to the collar, leaving a diagonal seam from the underarm to the collarbone.

Free rainbow cardigan knitting pattern

Why Is This Rainbow Cardigan So Easy To Knit?

  1. It uses only knit and purl stitches.
  2. It works up quickly as you will use 6.5mm (US 10.5) needles and bulky/chunky yarn.
  3. Has minimal shaping and a loose baggy fit.
  4. The shaping is clear and simple to understand.
  5. All of the pieces are knit flat (even though I used circular needles to accommodate the number of stitches).

rainbow cardigan

The Yarn I Used

I made the rainbow-striped sweater using a bulky weight (05) yarn – Paintbox Yarns Simply Chunky from Love Crafts.

This meant the sweater was knit up quite quickly on size 6.5mm (US 10.5) needles.

I selected an assortment of rainbow colours but used their Raspberry Pink which I had leftover in my stash as opposed to buying the more suitable Pansy Purple colour they have.

Any bulky weight yarn 05 (chunky) will be okay to use for this pattern.

back of the rainbow cardigan

Resources and tutorials you may find helpful in following this pattern:

This pattern is great for any advanced beginner knitters.

rainbow cardigan knitted

Make A Matching Dog Sweater

This rainbow cardigan is wonderful for wearing while walking your dog or when you are working from home to keep your spirits up.

There is a matching rainbow dog sweater knitting pattern available to make in three sizes: small, medium and large.

The dog sweater is knit in the same yarn and on the same size needles as this cardigan.

Get the free dog sweater knitting pattern here. (coming soon)

Shop the inexpensive printable PDF here.

You may also enjoy this oversized cotton comfort cardigan pattern and this chunky cardigan knitting pattern.

matching rainbow sweaters

Rainbow Cardigan Knitting Pattern

Purchase the inexpensive ad-free, PDF printable pattern in my shop here.

You may also be interested in making this cardigan in one colour only, you can find the pattern for that here – Cardigan Knitting Pattern.

Copyright Notes

The raglan cardigan knits up quickly in chunky/bulky yarn, and the simple design makes for a relaxing and enjoyable knit.

  • Please do not copy, sell, redistribute or republish this pattern. 
  • If you wish to share this pattern, link to the pattern page only.
  • You may sell items produced using this pattern.
  • Do NOT use the copyrighted photos for your product listing.
  • For the copyright T&C’s please read my Terms of Use.

Pattern Notes

The pattern is written for all sizes starting with the small size – with changes for different sizes listed in all necessary places.

To follow pattern more easily, circle or highlight all numbers pertaining to your size before beginning.

  • The cardigan is worked in 5 pieces: Back, 2 Fronts, and 2 Sleeves.
  • Each piece is worked in St st (k on RS, p on WS) from the lower edge upwards, beginning with a ribbed lower band.
  • The yarn colour is changed to make stripes.
  • A circular needle is used to accommodate the number of stitches.
  • Work back and forth on the circular needle as if working on straight needles.
  • When you see ‘work as established’ in the instructions, this means to continue in the current pattern stitch.
  • Work each colour in your given row count for your size.
  • You will have to count how many rows you are knitting in each colour, so you know when to change yarn colour – especially throughout the shaping.

Skill Level – Easy

Measurements + Size

*I am wearing the medium size in the photographs

The sizes – S / M / L / 1X + 2X

Finished Bust About – 36 (40, 42, 46) in.

Finished Length About 27 (28, 29, 30) in.

Row counts for each colour is as follows for each size:

  • S (27”) 15 rows in 3.5”
  • M (28”) 16 rows in 4”
  • L (29”) 17 rows in 4.2”
  • 1X/2X (30”) 18 rows in 4.5”

Gauge – 4 inches/10 cm = 12 stitches in 18 rows of stocking stitch.

The Supplies You Need…

Yarn

Paintbox Yarns Simply Chunky / 100% Acrylic, 100g (3.5oz), Chunky/Bulky/12 Ply.

  1. Rose Red – 313
  2. Blood Orange – 319
  3. Daffodil Yellow – 321
  4. Slate Green – 326
  5. Light Blue – 304
  6. Dolphin Blue – 336
  7. Raspberry Pink – 343

For the following sizes you will need approx:

  • Small – 1 x each colour 100g – (700g)
  • Medium – 1 x red/1 x orange 1.5 x each rem colour – (950g)
  • Large – 1 x red / 1 orange/ 2 x each rem colour – (1200g)
  • 1X – 2 x red / 2 x orange / 2.5 x each rem colour – (1650g)
  • 2X – 2 x red / 2 x orange / 3 x each rem colour – 100g (1900g)

Chunky/bulky/12 ply – yarn weight guide

Abbreviations / Knitting Abbreviations List

  • Beg = begin(ning)(s)
  • Cont = continue
  • K = knit
  • K2tog = knit 2 stitches together
  • M1 – Make one stitch
  • P = purl
  • PM = place marker
  • Rep = repeat
  • RS = right side
  • SSK – slip, slip, knit
  • SM – slip marker
  • St(s) = stitch(es)
  • St st = stockinette stitch
  • WS = wrong side

Stitch Explanations

  • M1 (make 1) An increase worked by lifting the horizontal strand lying between needles and placing it onto the left needle. Knit this new stitch through the back loop – 1 st increased.
  • ssk (slip, slip, knit) Slip next 2 sts as if to knit, one at a time, to right needle; insert left needle into fronts of these 2 sts and knit them together – 1 st decreased.

rainbow sweater knitRaglan Cardigan Pattern

  • Yarn A – Purple
  • Yarn B – Blue
  • Yarn C – Light Blue
  • Yarn D – Green
  • Yarn E – Yellow
  • Yarn F – Orange
  • Yarn G – Red

Back Piece

In Yarn A – cast on 63, (69, 75, 81), sts.

  • Row 1 (RS): P1, *K1, P1: rep from * to end of row.
  • Row 2 (WS): K the knit sts and P the purl sts to the end of the row.
  • Rep row 2 until the piece measures 2.5 inches from the CO edge, ending with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Beg with a (RS) K row and work in st st until the piece measures S (3.5”) M (4”) L (4.2”) 1X/2X (4.5”) from the cast-on edge, ending with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Change to Yarn B – cont to work in st st for S (3.5”) M (4”) L (4.2”) 1X/2X (4.5”) ending with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Change to Yarn C – cont to work in st st for S (3.5”) M (4”) L (4.2”) 1X/2X (4.5”) ending with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Change to Yarn D – cont to work in st st for S (3.5”) M (4”) L (4.2”) 1X/2X (4.5”) ending with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Change to Yarn E – cont in st st for (the small size will need to change to Yarn F after 3.5”of working in Yarn E – keep track of your colour row count) S (5”) M (3.5”) L (3.2”) 1X/2X (2.5”) ending with a WS row as the last row you work. (Piece should measure S (19) M (19.5) L (20) 1X/2X (20.5) inches from the cast-on edge).
  • Continue to change Yarn colours as you shape the armholes. (Change to Yarn F – keeping your colour row count/ then to Yarn G)

Shape the armholes

  • Row 1 (RS): Cast off 3, (5, 6, 8) sts, K to end of row. 60, (64, 69, 73) sts.
  • Row 2 (WS): Cast off 3, (5, 6, 8) sts, P to end of row. 57, (59, 63, 65) sts
  • Row 3 (RS): Decrease Row: K2, K2tog, K to last 4 sts, SSK, K2. 55, (57, 61, 63) sts.
  • Row 4 (WS): Purl
  • Rep rows 3 and 4 for 2, 4, 5, 6 more times – 51 (49, 51, 51) sts.
  • Changing Yarn colours and keeping colour row count – work rows 3 and 4 – for 14 (13, 13, 13) more times. 23, (23, 25, 25) sts
  • *You may work more rows in Yarn G if you reach your total row colour count and have more rows to work.
  • Cast off.

The back piece

Left Front

With Yarn A – Cast on 41 (45, 47, 51) sts

  • Row 1 (RS): *K1, P1: rep from * to last st K1 (edge).
    Row 2 (WS): K1 edge, K the knit sts and P the purl sts to the end of the row. Keeping the front edge st in garter st and rem sts in rib as established, work until rib measures the same length as the back rib, end with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Row 1 (RS): K to last 11 sts, pm work in rib as established to last st, K1.
  • Row 2 (WS): K1, work in rib as established to marker, sm, P to end of row.
  • Rep last 2 rows, slipping the marker as you work until the piece measures the same length as back to the first row of B stripe, end with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Change to Yarn B and cont as established until piece measures the same length as back to the first row of C stripe, end with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Change to Yarn C and cont as established, until the piece measures the same length as back to the first row of D stripe, end with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Change to Yarn D and cont as established, until the piece measures the same length as back to the first row of E stripe, end with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Change to Yarn E and work in pattern as established until piece measures the same length as back to armhole shaping, end with a WS row as the last row you work.

Shape Raglan Armhole and Front Edge

*Please note – that as you continue to shape the raglan armhole and front edge, you will continue to change yarn colour.

  • Row 1 (RS): Cast off 3 (5, 6, 8) st, K to marker, sm, work in rib as established to last st, K1 – 38, (40, 41, 43) sts.
  • Row 2 (WS): K1, work in rib to marker, sm, P to end of row.
  • Row 3 (RS) Decrease Row: K2, K2tog, K to 2 sts before marker, SSK, sm, work in rib to last st, K1 – 36, (38, 39, 41) sts.
  • Row 4 (WS): Rep row 2.
  • Row 5 (RS): K2, K2tog, K to marker, sm, work in rib to last st, K1 – 35, (37, 38, 40) sts.
  • Rep rows 2-5 for 6 (7, 7, 8) more times and at the same time when the piece measures the same length as the back first row of the orange stripe (Yarn F) – end with a WS row and change to Yarn F.
  • Change yarn colours (keeping your colour row count for Yarns F and G) – and work rows 4 and 5 for 3, (2, 3, 2) more times, then work row 4 one more time – 14sts.

Neck Extension (to be completed in Yarn G)

  • Row 1 (RS): cast off 3 sts, remove marker, work in rib to last st, K1. (11 sts)
  • Row 2 (WS): K1, work in rib to end of row.
  • Row 3 (RS): Work in rib to last st, K1.
  • Rep rows 2 and 3 until neck extension measures about 7 (7, 8, 8) inches.
  • Cast off.

The left frontRight Front

With Yarn A – cast on 41, (45, 47, 51) sts

  • Row 1 (RS): K1 (edge) *P1, K1; rep from * to end of row.
  • Row 2 (WS): Work in rib as established to last st, K1 (edge).
  • Keeping the front edge st in garter st and rem sts in rib as established, work until rib measures the same length as the back-piece rib (2.5 inches), end with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Row 1 (RS): K1, work in rib as established over the next 10 sts, pm, K to end of row.
  • Row 2 (WS): P to marker, sm, work in rib as established to last st, K1.
  • Rep last 2 rows, slipping marker as you come to it until the piece measures the same length as back to the first row of the stripe in Yarn B – end with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Change to Yarn B and cont to work in pattern as established until the piece measures the same length as back to the first row of C stripe, end with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Change to Yarn C and cont to work in pattern as established until the piece measures the same length as back to the first row of D stripe, end with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Change to Yarn D and cont to work in pattern as established until the piece measures the same length as back to the first row of E stripe, end with a WS row as the last row you work.
  • Change to Yarn E and work in pattern as established until piece measures the same length as back to armhole shaping, end with a RS row as the last row you work.

Shape Raglan Armhole and Front Edge

*Please note – that as you continue to shape the raglan armhole and front edge, you will continue to change yarn colour

  • Row 1 (WS): Cast off 3, (5, 6, 8) sts, P to marker, sm, work in rib to last st, K1 – 38, (40, 41, 43) sts.
  • Row 2 (RS) Decrease Row: K1, work in rib to marker, sm, K2tog, K to last 4 sts, SSK, K2 – 36 (38, 39, 41) sts.
  • Row 3 (WS): P to marker, sm, work in rib to last st.
  • Row 4 (RS): K1, work in rib to marker, sm, K to last 4 sts, SSK, K2 – 35, (37, 38, 40) sts.
  • Row 5 (WS): Rep row 3.
  • Rep rows 2-5 for 6, (7,7,7,8) more times – at the same time when the piece measures the same length as back to the first row of F stripe – end with a WS row and change to Yarn F.
  • Change yarn colours (keeping your colour row count for Yarns F and G) – and work rows 4 and 5 for 2, (1, 2, 1) more times, then rep row 4 once more. – 14 sts.

Neck Extension (to be completed in Yarn G)

  • Row 1 (WS): Cast off 3 sts, remove marker, work in rib to last st, K1. (11 sts)
  • Row 2 (RS): K1, work in rib to end of row.
  • Row 3 (WS): Work in rib to last st, K1.
  • Rep rows 2 and 3 until neck extension measures about 7, (7, 8, 8) inches.
  • Cast off.

The right frontSleeves

With Yarn A – Cast on 33, (35, 37, 41) sts

  • Row 1 (RS): P1, *K1, P1; rep from * to end of row.
  • Row 2 (WS) K the knit sts and P the purl sts to the end of the row.
  • Rep row 2 until piece measures about 2.5 inches from beg, end with a WS row as the last row you work.

Shape Sleeve

*Please note – as you shape the sleeves the yarn colours are changed at the same time. You need to work the same number of rows in each colour as you have for the back piece.

  • Row 1 (RS): Increase Row: K1, M1, K to last st, M1, K1 – 35 (37, 39, 43) sts
  • Beg with a WS (purl) row, work even in st-st for 5 (5, 3, 3) rows then rep row 1.
  • Rep last 6 (6, 4, 4) rows for 6, (8, 10, 11) more times. 49, (55, 61, 67) sts.
  • At the same time, change yarn colours when the colour measures the same length as the stripe on the back piece, ending with a WS row and change yarn colour.
  • Work even in st st until piece measures about 17, (17.5, 17.5, 18) inches from the cast-on edge at the same time changing yarn colours and keeping your colour row count for your size.

Shape Raglans

  • Row 1 (RS): Cast off 3, (5, 6, 8) sts, K to end of row. – 46, (50, 55, 59) sts
  • Row 2 (WS): Cast off 3, (5, 6, 8) sts, P to end of row. – 43, (45, 49, 51) sts
  • Row 3 (RS) Decrease Row: K2, K2tog, K to last 4 sts, SSK, K2. – 41, (43, 47, 49) sts
  • Row 4: Purl.
  • Rep rows 3 and 4 for 16, (17, 18, 19) more times.
  • At the same time, change yarn colours when the colour measures the same length as the stripe on the back piece, ending with a WS row and change yarn colour.
  • Cast off rem 9, (9, 11, 11) sts.

The sleevesFinishing

  • Sew sleeves to back and fronts along raglans.
  • Sew ends of neck extensions together, then sew long edge of extension to tops of sleeves and back neck.
  • Sew sleeve and side seams.
  • Weave in ends.

I love seeing your finished projects!

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7 Comments

  1. I absolutely LOVE this pattern!! I am always cold and have been looking for a cardigan that will go with everything. I love the style. AND esp the colors!! Thank-You for sharing this pattern with everyone!!

    1. Hello Chris, I’m so happy that you like the pattern, the sweater does have a really comfortable fit.
      I hope you enjoy making it and the dog sweater too!
      Happy knitting πŸ™‚
      Louise

  2. P.S. I also love that my buddy 🐢 will also look stylish!! Thanx, again!! πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

  3. When you say keep to colour count on the back shaping the arm holes when you go to do the orange colour f theirs only 6 rows so how do you make it add up to your number of rows.
    Thank you

    1. Hello Kayleigh,
      You only work the number of rows you need for your size for the final rows of the pattern in the last colour.
      It says in the pattern – You may work more rows in Yarn G if you reach your total row colour count and have more rows to work.
      The number of rows worked for that colour will vary for each size.
      It is important to count the rows of the stripes so that you can match them up on all of the cardigan panels.
      I hope that helps!
      Louise

  4. Do you have a version of this pattern that does not use bulky yarn; I would love to use some of my scrap yarn for this but it is not bulky. Thanks

    1. Hello Patti,
      I don’t have this pattern in lighter yarn weights.
      Only in bulky yarn – I like a quick knit!
      Happy knitting!
      Louise