Sweater 101 – Raglans

If you are new to knitting sweaters, the sheer amount of choice out there can be daunting. Where to begin?

I’ll tell you. That is, I am going to talk a bit about the different styles, knit in pieces or in the round and will try to explain the good, the bad and no uglies.

Let’s start with the Raglan sweater. Any kind of sweater that has the sleeves attached diagonally to the front and back are called Raglan sweaters. They can be knit in pieces, from the bottom up or from the top down.

When knitting a Raglan sweater from the top down, there are usually only two little seams at the underarm to sew. If you do not like sewing pieces together, this one is for you. Knitting them bottom up is almost as good, however, while knitting top down you can try your sweater on to see if the length of the body and sleeves are the perfect length, whereas when knitting bottom up you just follow the measurements of the pattern. It is of course possible to adjust the length bottom up also.

As with all sweaters, seams add structure to the sweater. If you choose to knit the sleeves a different color than the body – Baseball Tee style, for example – you are going to have to knit your sweater in pieces, seam it and finish it off with a collar.

Stripes are easily added when knitting raglans in the round, both top down and bottom up make it easy to align the stripes of the sleeves with the stripes of the body – if so wanted.

When knitting a Raglan sweater, no matter how, you are going to have to pay a bit of attention to either increases or decreases. Stitch markers make this easy for sweaters knit in the round. If you are new to the Raglan sweater, have a look at the schematic in the pattern, make yourself familiar with the construction and what the different parts of a sweater are called.

You most probably will find talk of ‘neck’, ‘yoke’, ‘sleeves’ and ‘body’. The neck is straightforward, the yoke is the part with all the increases/decreases. Body and sleeves are also easily assigned.

Some Raglan sweaters have the same neckline on front and back – those are very easy to knit in the round. Sweaters with a deeper front neckline (be it crew, round or v) are worked back and forth before completion of the neckline, after that you’ll join for knitting in the round. Some patterns add short rows on the yoke, others rely on the increases only. When knitting bottom up, you knit the body in the round first up to where the yoke begins, knit the two sleeves and join the three pieces together to knit the yoke with the according decreases. If the front neckline is deeper, you are going to knit back and forth after starting it – which essentially means that bottom up is worked like top down just in the opposite order. If you are knitting a cardigan, the wole body and yoke part is knit back and forth, of couse, only the sleeves are knit in the round up to yoke.

I especially like knitting raglans in one piece for babies and kids. No bulky seams to be seen and no hassle with small pieces to sew together.

As with a lot of things in knitting, this style is a question of personal preference – some like it, others don’t. Find out by knitting one!

Happy Knitting, as ever!

– Mona

3 thoughts on “Sweater 101 – Raglans

  1. cheryl says:

    Thank you Mona…teaching myself how to knit for 3 yrs …thought I would start with a baby sweater…you ladies are the best.

  2. Jennifer Keane Mackinnon says:

    Hi there, I have a question about a sample I saw in your store. It is called Endless Wrap by Blue Sky Fibres, and on the circular tag, it said I needed two skeins of Woolstok to make it. I bought the two skeins and (eventually) brought them home to Calgary. I have since looked up the pattern on Ravelry, and it is much bigger than the one in store. Can you please tell me how you modified the pattern in order to make the size you made? I think it would look great under a jean jacket.

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