Posts Tagged ‘raglan’

Another night of destruction for Yarn Rascal. His second Gold Paw award in as many days.


He is truly nocturnal and I am losing the struggle to turn him into a normal dog. The time has come to let go, hope for the best, but be prepared for heaven only knows what, and let him develop as he will.

Last night he trashed my decorative silk flowers. The African Violet ones that I so carefully searched for in store after store because I wanted them to be realistic. We had quite a windstorm last night with heavy thunder and the wind must have knocked them out of their holders (little wicker baskets) and onto the floor where destructo dog found them and…well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty this morning.

On the positive side, his gastrointestinal tract still seems to be functioning normally.

Mom saw the doctor. It wasn’t one of her better days. Too boot, my parents’ car battery died and The Skipper had to go rescue them in the heat and humidity.

On the positive side some very good news. Two of the sweaters I tech edited are now available for sale.

knit baby sweater with stripes raglan shape

knit baby sweater with stripes raglan shape

It can be purchased here. When I knit the pattern I made some modifications as you can see when you compare my alterations with the original below.

Striped Jumper and Beret by Highland Crafters

Striped Jumper and Beret by Highland Crafters

It’s a fun sweater to knit and will be a mainstay in any child’s wardrobe. The pattern is easy to customize. The raglan shaping is classic and looks smart. The funky stripes and simple lace ribbing gives the sweater a playful look while keeping the knitter’s interest. I really loved working on this sweater. The pattern goes quickly. The neckline and hem are folded over and sewn. This is a wonderful feature as it reinforces the sweater at precisely the points where wear is most likely to occur.

When I look at this sweater I hear a child laughing, see it playing, running and jumping and enjoying life. Check it out. Striped Jumper and Beret by Highland Crafters.

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The weekend was productive. Although I am having the devil’s time with the yarn and getting gauge, I’ve managed to finish the back and front. Want to see the back?

raglan back baby sweater

No, it doesn’t say nautical, but I think its say contemporary. While I like the feel of the yarn, and I love the stitch definition, I am not liking the gauge issues with this yarn.

The yarn is Lima by Drops. A European yarn with a translation problem. The yarn band gives gauge as 21 sts and 28 rows = 4″ (10) cm on size 4 mm US 6 (British size 8) needles. I am not a loose knitter by any stretch of the imagination. When I was younger and still learning to knit I kept a small hammer by my side to tap the right needle through the stitch on the left needle. Yes, nothing says knitting like a little yarn, two needles and a hammer. Eventually, one of my grandmothers put me out of my misery and showed me how to knit a stitch that wouldn’t strangle the needle. I still have the little hammer, by the way. But back to the Drops yarn.The most I could get as gauge from a US size 6 needle was 18 sts. That was 3 sts less than the gauge on the yarn band and the gauge on the pattern.

Usually, because I am a tight knitter, I have to “size up” to get gauge, using a larger needle than called for. Now I found myself in the strange position of having to “size down” the needle. I got gauge with a 3.75 mm US 5 (British size 9) needle. I’d like to say and that was that and everybody scampered into the woods and lived happily ever after. But not quite.

I completed the back, adding 1″ (2.5) cm to the length to compensate for the intentionally rolled cast on edge that was making the sweater come in too short. Stitch definition looked great. The body looked a little wider than the 10.5″ (27) cm called for on the schematic, but hey, it’s a raglan and it’s striped. Stripes always make garments and the people wearing them look wider. It’s why I don’t wear them.

Onto the front. I knitted it up to the neckline while the “optical illusion” of wideness ate away at me. Not able to stand it anymore I took my handy tape measure, ran it from one side of the sweater to the other and surprise, surprise, surprise! It’s 11″ (28) cm wide and not an optical illusion. My brain immediately jumps in with “but when you seam it up….” Nice attempt at delusion, but when I seam a garment I lose maybe a half inch (1.5) cm not a whole inch (2.5) cm.

I checked my gauge again this time in various spots and viola the answer appeared.

rglan baby sweater 2

The stripes were not only alternating color, they were alternating in pattern too. The main color stripe was knit in stockinette stitch. The contrasting color stripes were knit in a pattern that included yarn overs across the row. Even though the yarn over was immediately followed by a decrease, the decrease was such that it didn’t pull the fabric in. And so the patterned stripes had a bit more expansion width-wise than the stockinette stitch stripes.

After mulling over a number of options, I decided to leave the anomaly in place. It is only an inch (1.5) cm and to try and off-set it would cause the sweater to become to small. Tonight I alter the front neck so the entire neckline becomes a funnel neck. Then I calculate and start knitting the sleeves. What could go wrong?

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Finally it’s time to start the decreases on the raglan sleeves for the imaginary baby sweater. A short recap. I increased from 34 stitches to 40 stitches (widest part of sleeve in schematic below) over 6.5″ (16.5) cm or 48 rows only 24 of which were RS rows and can be used as increase rows.

raglsn sleeve schematic

Now I need to decrease 40 sts to 6 sts over 4″ (10) cm or 30 rows of which only half, 15, are RS rows. All these numbers are now etched in granite, so to speak, because my imaginary sweater front and back have been completed, at least in my mind. The first thing I naturally want to do is panic. I can’t get 40 sts to 6 sts in 15 rows. Deep breaths, make a cup of tea.

Next grab a pencil, calculator and paper. It’s time for Knitting Math. The first problem I need to solve to calm my brain is make a dent in that number 40. The panicky little voice in my head keeps circling around the fact that 40 is so much larger than the 15 rows I have available for decreases. To ease it, I am going to take the 6 sts that will be left after all the decreases are done and subtract them from the 40. I now have 34 sts. The panic in the little voice goes down a notch.

The next number I need to subtract from that group of 34 sts is the number of stitches I originally bound off at the same point on the sweater body. My initial bind offs were two sts each side. 2 + 2 = 4. So 34 – 4 = 30. The panicky little voice disappears. 30 and 15 are numbers that play nicely together.

In order to evenly space the decreases along these rows I divide the number of RS rows available for decreases by the number of decreases. To find the number of decreases I need to divided the 30 sts by 2. Why 2? Because I am going to decrease 1 st at each end of the needle, which means each RS row I’ll be offing 2 sts. So 30 divided by 2 = 15.

To find the rate of evenly spaced decreases I divide the 15 RS rows by the 15 decreases and I get 1. That means I will decrease 1 st each end of needle every RS row 1 until 6 sts remain.

The knitting math I used to figure out the numbers on the baby sweater is the same math I would use on an adult sweater. Increases and decreases and the math that goes with them is the same whether it is for a wee one or an adult.

Here’s a tip I find helpful when making sweaters for a specific individual. Once I get the correct sizing I make a general schematic and plug in the numbers for the widths and lengths of the body and sleeves. I then file it. The next time I make a sweater for that individual, whether creating it from scratch or from a pattern I take out the file. Then all I need do is figure how many stitches and how many rows to get the widths and lengths I want. Once I know the math, I can adapt any pattern I want and so can you.

I hope this information helps. Have a good weekend.

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In the last post the sleeves of the sweater were behaving nicely. Below, the sleeve schematic for easy referral.

raglsn sleeve schematic

The beauty in the raglan design is, naturally, the raglans themselves. The raglans are the sloping armhole sides on the body (four in all) and the sloping sides of the sleeves as they decrease to the 1″ (2.5) cm top. The slopes are the focal point. They need to be neatly joined and to do that they need to be made correctly.

The raglan extends from under the arm up to the collar bone. It’s location and length place it in a prominent position. Sweatshirts often use this design.

The first suggestion for a neat raglan is to calculate for 2 selvedge stitches for each raglan including sleeves. One stitch on each side will be lost in seaming, which will leave one stitch on one side and one on the other making a nice raglan slope.

This next piece of advice is more like a rule than a suggestion. Raglan decreases and increases only occur on RS rows. All decreases and increases occur after knitting the 2 selvedge stitches at the beginning of a row and before working the 2 selvedge stitches at the end of a row. The decrease at the beginning of a row is an SSK, at the end it’s K2tog.

For the 6 month sleeve the cast on was 34 sts. Referring to the schematic, I need to increase to 40 sts. That’s 6 sts to be added. I need to add them while working the first 6.5″ (16.5) cm of the sleeve or 48 rows. But, I don’t really have 48 rows to chose from. Increasing on RS rows only means I have 24 RS rows or half the total number of rows, on which I can increase. Since the increases are worked in pairs (one each end of needle) I only need increase 3 times, or on 3 RS rows. While the numbers may seem small and insignificant, sloppy work in baby garments begets sloppy work in adult garments. As a designer and tech editor I treat baby garments with the same mathematical respect and eye for detail as I would an adult garment. If I am going to take the time to create something by hand I am going to do it to the best of my ability and knowledge.

Sleeve increases should gradually occur in a visually pleasing taper. To achieve this I divide the number of rows I have available for increases by the number of rows I need to perform an increase on. 24 divided by 3 = 8. Increase one st each end of needle on every 8th row 3 times. So far so good.

Now that I have the 40 sts needed it is time to shape the raglan by decreasing. I just reach the pinnacle and now I have to figure out how to come down. That’s why I like knitting. It is so much like life.

Friday, hiking back down Raglan Mountain.

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What rows are to length so stitches are to width. The width of a garment is measured in stitches in addition to inches and centimeters. The stitches per inch (2.5) cm for my imaginary raglan sweater are 5.5. Of course there can’t be a half stitch. Like rows, in reality I knit an entire row or I don’t. Same with a stitch. I need to knit a whole stitch, but the universe likes to play with me.

raglsn sleeve schematic

Above is the schematic of the imaginary raglan sleeve that includes rows, stitches, lengths, and widths. It’s the way my schematics look when all the information I need is filled in. The smallest size on this schematic is 6 months, then 12 months, then 18 months. I’m going to concentrate on the numbers for the 6 month old sleeve.

After drawing the sleeve shape, there are two items I can put on the schematic right away for they will not change. The short top of the raglan sleeve measures 1″ (2.5) cm which in math terms comes out to 5.5 sts. But I’ve been here before with the non-existent half sts so I know the number needs to be rounded up or down. What I know about that little 1″ top helps me make this decision. I know that half the sts in that 1″ become part of the front neck and half become part of the back neck. Since I try not to encourage migraines, I want an even number, a number easily divisible by 2.

Now this is a baby sweater. A baby’s head is much bigger than the body and I want to fit the sweater over that 17″ head. I also don’t want a tight fitting neckline on an infant. So I want the neck opening to be as large as I can make it while still fitting properly on the upper body of the baby. At this point it helps to have a magic wand that can be waved over the pattern and poof! the proper numbers appear. Unfortunately I don’t own one of those so it’s back to my calculator and my knowledge of baby measurements and how certain styles are suppose to fit. In the end, I choose to round up and make this 1″ out of 6 sts. It’s easily divisible by two. I pencil in the 1″ (2.5) cm and put 6 sts near the short top.

Next up is the sleeve width at the wrist. I refer to my schematic range charts located here. The wrist width for this size goes from 5.25″ / (13.5) cm to 5.5″ / (14) cm. I select a width size of 6 inches / 15cm at the wrist. That’s a half inch (1.25) cm larger than the biggest suggested wrist size, which is okay here. The wrist area is worked in ribbing. It will pull in.

Now I need to know how many stitches to cast on for the wrist. I multiply width by stitch gauge: 6″ x 5.5sts =33 sts for cast on. Since it is easier to work with even numbers I increase the cast on by one 1 to 34 sts. So I will work in 1 X 1 ribbing for 1″ / 2.5 cm or 8 rows. (Remember we increased the rib row of the sweater body to 8 rows also).

Since the next part deals with the raglans and other migraine triggers, I think I’ll end here while everything looks positive.

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Lengths are important figures. They define the size of the armhole and the vertical span of the garment. They tell at what intervals to start and stop increases or decreases for bust and waist shaping, when to start neckline shaping, and how long sleeves should be. In addition to being measured in inches and centimeters, length is most importantly measured in rows by designers and tech editors. Yet knitters only think in terms of inches and centimeters when it comes to length. This is where the problem lies for knitters: length must be thought of in rows.

The marriage between me and my tape measure begins with the words, “Cont in patt until piece measures…” and I answer “I will.” And I do. I knit and then measure. Knit some more. Measure. Knit more. Measure. At this point the feeling I will never reach the required measurement settles over me. I am stressing. This is the reason why the word tension substitutes so nicely for the word gauge. With less than a quarter of an inch to go, infinitesimally less than 1 centimeter, I knit like mad. Stop. Measure. And still I need to knit one more maybe two more rows. Not until I reach the big UNTIL can the “death do ye part” happen where I am free…sort of…until “Cont in patt…” shows up again and restarts the ceremony.

As a designer and tech editor, I go through none of that angst. Why? Because I am dealing with rows. I have transferred all the inches and centimeter measurements into rows. No guess work on whether I am pulling the piece too much just to have it finally reach the “until” mark, no constant start and stop to measure, no anxiety build up till I’m about to scream.

While the number of rows per inch is important to all garments it is especially essential to the Raglan style. All four raglans must have the exact same number of rows in them to achieve a neat looking garment.

raglan sweater schematic

Above is my working schematic for an imaginary raglan baby sweater. I like to do my rough schematics by hand because it is easier for me to quickly change things as needed. When it is clear that the pattern will work, I’ll aggravate myself drawing it by computer.

In order to divorce my tape measure and reduce anxiety (I always say I knit for pleasure and relaxation) the first thing I need to do is approach the pattern like a designer or tech editor. I take the schematic and the row gauge (tension), a piece of paper, a pencil and a calculator (a cup of tea helps) and sitting in a comfortable chair I do the math.

The row gauge on this schematic is 7.5 rows per inch (2.5) cm. Lovely. Half rows in knitting don’t occur. It’s whole rows only. Note to self: I’ll be rounding off.

The next thing I look at are the measurements for the size I am interested in knitting. The schematic tells me it covers 3 sizes: 6, 12, 18 months. I’m choosing the 6 month one which is the smallest size.

The sweater is constructed bottom up so I’ll be starting at the ribbing. The length of the ribbing is one inch (2.5) cm. I know that the gauge (tension) is 7.5 rows per inch. I am already screwed.

Uhhhhh, not really.

I need to round.

Check written instructions. First side row is RS row. Body pattern begins on a RS row. Okay, using fingers count out RS, WS rows, 6th row is my thumb and a WS, 7th is RS—if I end it here the next row is WS. No good, body patt has to start RS so I can end it with either the 6th or 8th row.

Now it depends on a number of things, including the body patt whether I will end it one row short or long of 7 rows. But for this demo, I am going to work in ribbing for 8 rows. I make a note of this on my own little schematic.

The body patt is worked for 6″ (15) cm for the 6 month size before raglan shaping starts. 7.5 times 6″ gives me 45 rows. Glance at written pattern. Does raglan shaping begin with RS or WS row? It begins on RS row. So my 6″ will have to end with a WS row which means an even number. 45 is not an even number. Do I round up or down? Again this depends, but I rounded up once and I am going to do it again.

Remember babies grow faster lengthwise. A little long, and baby has more time to grow into it. I am going to work the body pattern for 46 rows. I make a note of this on my schematic.

The dreaded raglan shaping (Whoopeee!) My size is 4″ (10) cm. 7.5 times 4″ = 30. (YESSSSSSS!) Even number no rounding needed, do the Snoopy Happy Dance.

Now I need to check to see how different my number is from their number. For that I look at the measurement for the entire piece. For the size I am making it is 11″ (28) cm. 7.5 times 11 = 82.5 rows. Now I add up the number of rows I actually plan to work. 8 + 46 + 30 = 84 rows. Divide 84 rows by 7.5 = 11.2″. I am not far off at all. I am going with my row numbers. I have successfully divorced my tape measure!

This is really quite easy. If for some reason I can’t get the pattern’s called for row gauge, I substitute my row gauge and doing the same figuring I find how much I need to knit for the size I select. It doesn’t get much better than this.

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A productive weekend it wasn’t. I managed to rip back a good 20 rows on the Shetland Lace Baby Shawl. How many mistakes can be made on a simple, small lace pattern and garter stitch ground? I fear I am about to discover the answer.

The Skipper hates it when I rip back. It sets his teeth on edge faster than nails on a chalk board. Finally he asked me the question I was most dreading: How big is this thing going to be? Remember, this isn’t the first time I’ve ripped back, and knowing me it won’t be the last. But if I could say it was a 4 inch (10 cm ) project he would find it in him to go with the flow, or rather the herky-jerky two steps forward four steps back motion. I smiled to cover my angst, then dropped the bomb. 52 inches (132 cm). Kaboom!

When not painting trucks (yes, The Skipper built two more), or knitting and ripping back the Shetland Lace Shawl, or ice skating with Yarn Rascal, I have been in the weeds updating a vintage raglan sweater pattern. A nice looking raglan sweater is within everyone’s reach provided a few rules are followed. I was going to call them suggestions, but that word implies that if not followed things still might turn out alright. Nothing could be farther from the truth with these, so rules they shall be.

The first rule covers the raglan armhole. The raglan armhole is a full inch (2.5 cm) longer than the average armhole. If the chest size is 42 inches or greater the armhole becomes 2 inches (5 cm) longer than the normal armhole. Ignore this rule and the armpits end up level with the chin. Lately, I’ve seen a good deal of raglan baby sweaters that look exactly as I just described. The armhole needs to be made larger by at least one full inch (2.5 cm).

The second rule deals with upper arm width in the sleeve. Increase the width a full inch (1.25 to 2.5 cm) larger than a regular sleeve. Please note that the widest point of the sleeve is not at the top. As seen in the schematic below, the sleeve narrows at the top to 1 inch (2.5 cm) for babies and 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 cm) for adults. (A better and more complete schematic is coming.)

raglan schematic

The inch or so width at the top of the sleeve becomes part of the neck width calculation. Half the number of stitches gets added to the front neck depth and half to the back neck depth. Thus if the sleeve tops are 1 inch each that means 1 + 1 = 2 inches is added to the entire neck. 2 divided by 4 = .5 or a half inch from each sleeve top is given to the front and back neck measurements.

The third rule is the killer. The number of rows that make up the armholes on the front sides and the back sides of the body of the sweater must be the same number that makes up the sleeves as they decrease toward their tops. This is an absolute. No rounding off of numbers, no a little more here and a little less there. 15 rows on the body sides means 15 rows on the sleeves. X must equal X here. This rule can and has made me weep.

Another little mot is rule four. Raglan decreases are worked on RS rows only. Rule 3 + Rule 4 = migraine. The RS decreases must be worked at least 2 stitches in from each edge on sleeves and body. Two slevedge sts give a nice, neat raglan seam that runs from the base of the armhole up to the collarbone. The whole look of this style depends on that seam being neat and exactly matched on both sides.

Wednesday I hope to have a hand-drawn schematic and explain how width depends on sts and length depends on rows and why both inches / cm and st and row numbers should be included on a schematic.

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