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Part 3 – Easy Top-Down Raglan Knitalong

August 26, 2010

Hi Spud & Chloë Friends,

Well, I am back and even better Wendy is back with some great advice for Steps 8 and 9 of our knitalong. The photo above is from Wendy and she is sharing the start of her boat neck raglan. Check out her sketch. She will look so gorgeous in the Chipmunk colorway. I can’t wait to see the finished sweater on her.

Please read below! Here is what Wendy has to say about her boat neck AND suggestions for all of us for the next step:

Wendy: Here is my completed neckline for the boat neck. I cast on 100 sts for the boat neck (which won’t be that boat-neck-ish, just wide) and worked 2×2 rib in the round for about 2 inches. Then, I separated the sleeve/back/sleeve/front into 16/34/16/34 stitch sections.

I will increase (kfb) on each side of each marker every other round, which means that I will add a total of 8 sts every other round. I will measure the raglan line, including some of the 2” of neckline until I “think” it might fit, while keeping track of the numbers of each portion. I don’t want my sleeves to be more than 12 – 13” around, and I am aiming for about 35” body circumference.

The way I will control these measurements is to know how many goal stitches I need and if I have to, do fewer increases on the sleeves than on the front/back sections. I will also plan on separating the sleeves from the Body sections before I reach that magic 35” circumference (front/back together). I will do this because I want to add stitches under the arms to improve the fit. I will probably try to end my Body increases when the two pieces together equal about 33” or thereabouts and will add about 6 sts under each arm. Not only does adding the underarm stitches improve the fit, it also keeps you from having too deep of an armhole and will control the circumference of the upper arms, something that a lot of people don’t like when making a raglan.

We shall see if it goes the way I want it to! Trying on as you go usually changes your initial plans a little, which is just fine.

BTW: I LOVE this yarn. I hope to use more of it in the future.

Susan: Please note that all of the basic steps for this knitalong are from Wendy Bernard’s book, Custom Knits, pp. 154-155! It is a wonderful sweater knitting book with loads of patterns and information.

Okay, so before we even start the next steps to separate the sleeves and work on the body, you need to figure out the bust measurement and the sleeve measurement you want for your sweater.

For example:

Grape Jelly Raglan: My bust measurement is 36 inches

TC’s Raglan: a 30 inch bust measurement

Now, I keep getting asked about what “ease” means. Here is a quick explanation.

Negative ease – having the measurement of the garment smaller than the actual body measurement so the garment has to stretch a bit to fit, with negative ease you will have a tighter fitting garment. It will be more body-skimming. Wendy makes all of her garments with at least 1 inch negative ease.

0 (zero) ease – having the measurement of the garment the same as the actual body measurement so the garment fits right to the body.

Positive ease – having the measurement  of the garment bigger than the actual body measurement so the garment is loose fitting.

You can decide how you would like your sweater to fit. I ended up having 2 inches of negative ease according to my stitch counts for the bust measurement.

Also, just as Wendy said above, I didn’t want my sleeves to go any larger than a 12-13 inch circumference. You need to figure out what would be an ideal upper arm measurement for you. The desired number of stitches for the sleeves will depend on if you like more of a fitted sleeve or a looser sleeve.

With these measurements for the sleeves and bust you need to multiply the number of inches by the stitches per inch.

For example:

Grape Jelly Raglan (with 2 inches negative ease for the bust measurement I subtracted 2 inches from my bust measurement): 34 inches x 5 stitches per inch = 170 stitches

Note: The 34 inch bust measurement is to fit my 36 inch bust.

170 stitches is the number of stitches I need for the body of my sweater.

TC’s Raglan: 30 inches x 5 stitches per inch = 150 stitches

150 stitches is the number of stitches for the body of TC’s Raglan.

Upper Arm measurement:

You want to have a number of inches in mind for the sleeve measurement and number of stitches that you will need to fit your upper arms.

*An important note from Wendy: When you cast on sts for underarms in Steps 8 and 9, not only will it add to BODY circumference, but the sleeve circumference as well, because you will pick up stitches there when working sleeves, although you can reduce that number by a bit. Make sure you take this additional sleeve width when you are figuring out your sleeve circumference and the number to cast on under the arms.

Grape Jelly Raglan: 12 inches x 5 stitches per inch = 60 stitches

60 stitches is the number of stitches for the sleeve.

TC’s Raglan: 10 inches x 5 stitches per inch = 50 stitches

50 stitches is the number of stitches for the sleeve.

Important Note: After you have read Wendy’s suggestions, above, for ways to modify the sleeve and body stitch numbers and keeping in mind that you will be casting on stitches at the underarms to compensate for any added width you need at this point for the sleeve and bust circumference AND that you are at the point where your sweater measures to about 1 inch below your underarms when you try it on, you can move on to Steps 8 and 9.

Steps 8 and 9 combined:

Count the number of stitches for the front, back, and both sleeves.

For example:

Grape Jelly Raglan:

Front and Back = 80 stitches each or 160 stitches total

Sleeves = 60 stitches each

TC’s Raglan = yet to be determined – I will fill in later tonight or tomorrow!

Now, I know that I want my body stitches to be 170 stitches and I have 160 stitches. To get to 170 stitches I will be casting on 5 stitches using the backwards loop method under each arm as I work the first round of the body. You will need to figure out the number of stitches you will need to cast on under the arms (you may not need to add any stitches at the underarms).

Wendy suggests that you can add anywhere from 1-6 inches at the underarms by casting on stitches to achieve the bust measurement you desire. This gives you a lot of flexibility. Right now the Grape Jelly Raglan has 160 stitches, which is 32 inches. I want to add 10 stitches or 5 stitches at each underarm to achieve 170 stitches for the bust measurement of 34 inches.

Figure out how many stitches you will need to cast on at each underarm to achieve your desired bust measurement and continue as follows:

Next round: Starting at the detachable stitch marker (leave it there) and at start of the left sleeve (remove the rest of the stitch markers as you work this round), place the sleeve stitches on a cut length of scrap yarn, using the backwards loop method cast on the desired number of stitches for the underarm, work across the back stitches to the right sleeve, place the sleeve stitches on a cut length of scrap yarn, cast on the desired number of stitches for the underarm, work across the front stitches. This completes the first Body round. Continue working on these stitches, ignoring the sleeve stitches, for the rest of the body of the sweater.

For example:

Grape Jelly Raglan: Place 60 stitches from the left sleeve on scrap yarn, cast on 5 stitches, knit across the 80 back stitches, place the 60 stitches from the right sleeve on scrap yarn, cast on 5 stitches, knit across the 80 front stitches. (170 stitches total are now on the needle)

Place a stitch marker at the center of each underarm. This will be helpful if you decide to add waist shaping as you work down the body.

Continue to work the body section, knitting every round, until you reach the desired length minus any edging length you are planning to add, and trying on the sweater as you go.

For example:

Grape Jelly Raglan: Work to 13.5 inches below the underarm. (I added 1 inch of garter edging at the bottom.)

Grape Jelly Raglan edging: 8 rounds garter stitch beginning with a purl round as follows:

Round 1: purl

Rnd 2: knit

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 four times total. Bind off loosely.

TC’s Raglan: body length and edging to be determined!

Important Note: For the Grape Jelly Raglan I did not do any waist shaping. Wendy is going to give waist shaping tips tomorrow!! I’ll be back with her information when it comes in.

I am leaving you today with a group of photos of the Blue Sky Alpacas/Spud & Chloë staff! These wonderful women are joining right in the knitalong with us!! I love that so much. This photo is in the beautiful and cozy Blue Sky/S&C headquarters. Aren’t they the cutest ever? Now you will understand why I love working with them so much. They are just plain fun!!

For all of their modification details, and there are many, please join them for frequent knitalong updates on the Blue Sky Alpacas Facebook page which you can find right here. On the photo album on Facebook each of these four ladies describes what they are doing to make their raglan fit them. I love it.

Colleen is working away. She is good with numbers (mostly the money kind of numbers) so this project will be a breeze for her! She is the resident sock knitter so a sweater will be a good change-up for Colleen.

Nice stitches, Colleen. Love the Popsicle colorway.

Karen is working away in the gorgeous colorway, Moonlight.

This blue will look so pretty on her.

Merri is my constant partner in crime so it is good to see her working in Firecracker! That’s perfection.

Merri is a master of design and has helped me with my math once or twice. This is going to be smooth sailing for her. I think she is going 3/4 length sleeves.

Val is my Oprah and I am her Gail. We decided this yesterday. She is the voice behind the Blue Sky Facebook page in case you wanted to know.

I think Val is making a cardigan if I remember correctly. She is using the Grape Jelly colorway.

Okay, I’ll be back soon. Good luck!


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