Hi everyone, I hope you all had a good week swatching and choosing the perfect yarn! This week we're going to get started knitting the yoke, and I'm going to talk a little bit about how a top-down raglan garment is constructed and why it's one of my absolute favorite methods of knitting a sweater -- with minimal finishing, the ability to try on as you go, and no fiddling with pesky sleeve caps to get them to fit into armholes!
This type of sweater starts with the stitches cast-on for the neckline, and then all parts of the sweater (both fronts, back and sleeves) grow out from these stitches. If you've ever had issues with sleeves not fitting correctly into armholes, a raglan is for you! The top of the sleeves form part of the neck, which is why it isn't really possible to make a sleeveless raglan garment. Usually the sweater grows outwards at four points around the body (these will be the points that you place your markers), so every two rounds you will increase 8 stitches, one either side of each marker. In this pattern, a yarn over increase is used. I decided I wanted a less lacy look, so I chose to do a make 1 increase instead. You could also do a knit front-and-back increase if you prefer.
As your piece grows, you will notice the shape of your yoke beginning to form into a kind of rectangle. As it gets larger, you can try it on by draping it over your shoulders. It may be a little difficult to do this with your cardi still on the needle, so you can slip the stitches off of the needle and onto some waste yarn while you do this. When it's big enough to reach your underarms, it's time to move onto the section in your pattern marked "Divide For Body" -- we'll get to this next week.
Traditionally in raglan garments, the sleeve increases and body increases happen at the same rate. Of course, we're not all standard measurements, so what if you try your cardi on and the body fits but the sleeves are still too small, or vice versa? Well, on the next increase round, just increase on the sleeves or the body (whichever segment needs more fabric) and skip the increases on the other parts. If you are doing yarn over increases as in the pattern and want to continue for decorative purposes, just do a K2tog before or after your YO. This will cancel out the increase, but still keep in pattern.
I notice a few of you are interested in doing an all-over lace pattern for the body of your sweater. When making the yoke of your raglan garment, you will have a different number of stitches every two rows, but you will still need to make sure that your lace stays in pattern. In a lace pattern, every YO has a corresponding decrease, an SSK or K2tog, usually. Even though your sweater is growing with each row, you will have to make sure that every YO has its partner decrease. If you don't yet have enough stitches to make both the YO and its decrease, just work those stitches in stockinette until the next increase row.
I decided to do panels of cable patterns in my cardi. Down the center of the back I'm doing the Hourglass Cable. You'll notice that there are 16 stitches in this particular cable pattern, but since cables tend to stand out better on a purl background I added two stitches in reverse stockinette stitch on either side of those center 16 stitches. You can mark where to begin your panels with stitch markers if you find it helpful. Try to use different colored stitch markers from your increase markers though, so you don't get confused!
I also decided to put a simpler cable down the edge of both fronts. If you are doing a pattern close to the edge of the cardi, do it at least a couple of stitches in from the edge, because you will actually be using that edge stitch to pick up for the front bands.
So I hope you can all get started knitting the yoke and trying on as you go for a perfect fit! Next week, we'll talk about the next step of dividing for the body, and how to further refine the fit of our sweater by adding waist shaping. Happy Knitting, everyone!