How To Knit Neckline – Round Shape Hack

round neckline

What a relief! We’ve all experienced it, knitting a neck hole – it seems impossible to get the desired shape: either it is a square or way too triangular. I’ve been there. And then I figured out a way to do it.

I rarely follow ready-made patterns. This is a lesson on how to knit a neck hole for beginners. Imagine that you are given a task to create a cardigan with an open-work pattern and round neck hole (crew neckline). If your knowledge of knitting does not go beyond basic stitches, you might have some problems. You will learn basic principles and apply in your own designs. Let’s try to figure it out.

Spoiler alert: How to shape a round neck in knitting hack revealed in step 6 where I explain how to decrease!

Basic measurements for a round neckline knitting

For a round neckline, we need two basic measurements–the width (diameter) and depth (radius) of the neck hole. Measure neck circumference at the base of the neck. For example, let’s take the measure of my neck circumference = 34 cm. The depth of the neck is measured vertically from the highest point of the shoulder on the neck down to the desired level. Basically, it is radius. Minimum range starts at 7-8 cm (2.75 – 3.15 inches). Also, we need knitting gauge. First, we measure in cm (or inches), later convert into stitches and rows.

How big neck hole should be?

(Head+Neck circumference)/2 = neck hole circumference. (56cm+34cm)/2=45cm (17.7’’) – this is the absolute minimum for ready neckline together with finishing edges. If you want bigger neckline, you can add more to this number. Or, get your favorite sweater and measure ready neck hole. After getting these measurements, real fun part starts!
round neck hole calculation

How to decrease at the neckline?

We shape the neckline by making a series of decreases in a particular pattern.

Knitting Tip! Before you start neckline, my advice is to add a lifeline. If something goes wrong, you can safely unravel to where you started neckline.


Knitting Front Neckline

1. Count stitches for neckline opening and desired height in rows. 

Let’s say I have calculated 41 stitches wide and 24 rows in height. 

2. Leave in the middle NOT LESS than 1/3 of the neckline stitches. 

41 divided by 3 is 13.6. BUT I left 17 stitches which is NOT LESS than a third stitches, because I have a repeat pattern and I had to adjust the number in order to keep pattern. If it is stockinette I would leave at least 15 stitches. Hope it makes sense!

3. Split those stitches in 2 for each side.

41-17=24 (we want to get this number even, because we will split in half later. Adjust stitch count in 2nd step where I had to leave it at 17st)

24/2=12 stitches for each side. 

4. Split in 3 equal parts stitches on each side. If there is remainder, leave a bigger number closer to the middle.

12/3=4. We have three groups of 4 stitches. I don’t have a reminder. 

5. Split in groups of 3, 2 and 1. You can play around the stitches to fit the pattern and number of rows.

In my case, I split in the following way: 3-3-2-1-1-1-1. (12 stitches in total). 

Front neckline’s height is 24 rows. When I decrease 7 times, I will knit 14 rows.

6. Knit without decreasing the rest of the rows.

In the previous step, I knit only 14 rows. I need 10 more rows. I knit straight, no decreases.

This is a crucial moment in shaping round neckline. We must knit at least a few rows straight. This is the knitting hack! 

In the pictures below, I illustrate all the steps above. If you don’t knit straight part, you will end up with boat shape neck design. 

round neckline decreases
round versus boat neck

Back neck shaping

  1. Count stitches for neckline opening and desired height in rows. 41 stitches and 8 rows in height. 
  2. Leave in the middle AROUND 1/2 of the neckline stitches. I left 23 stitches. 
  3. Divide the rest of the stitches by 2 for each side. 41-23=18 stitches. 18/2=9 stitches per side. 
  4. Split in 3 equal parts stitches on each side. If there is remainder, leave a bigger number closer to the back middle. I have 3-3-3. 
  5. Split stitches on one side in groups of 3, 2 and 1. In my case, 3-3-2-1.

You can play around the stitches to fit the pattern and number of rows.

In back neck shaping you don’t need straight part.

round neck hole

You can play with decrease distribution using graph paper. Or, use a computer software. All the calculations I draw in Stitch Fiddle. It is free for most basic stuff.

Knitting chart

YouTube – Round Neck Hole 

In the video, I show how to shape neckline using short rows. Also, explaining round neck hole shaping in lace pattern and things to consider when it is not plain stockinette.

Knitting Neckline Finishing

When you are working with a garment that has a round neckline, it is important to know the best ways to finish it. There are a couple of different options that we can use.


  •  After shaping round neckline, pick up missing stitches from the straight part of the neck hole;
  • If your pattern is for a garment with a crew neck, you won’t need to knit a collar;
  • Knit a collar in ribbing;
  • Knit rolled edge neckline.


In fact, the round neck is one of the most popular cut nowadays, both for men and women. It has a unique beauty of its own and it can look simply stunning in practically any style of clothing.

There is no need to be afraid to experiment and try something new. Learn some basics of knitting, or at least the basics of how to make a knit round neckline—and then you can get creative with it.

You might like:

How to knit armholes

Fitted sleeve knitting tutorial

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