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Archive for February 17th, 2011


Saturday Morning Hoodie Knit-Along, Part 4: The Nature of a Raglan

February 17th, 2011

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This certainly was a good week for me to work on two sleeves that are both identical and symmetrical.  It is that time of the year I find myself at college swimming meets for my daughter, which gives me time to enjoy watching her swim and also work on a great take-along projects–like sleeves to the Saturday Morning Hoodie!

Whenever I finish knitting the fronts and back for a cardigan, I think about how I can work another part of the sweater before I sew in the sleeves.  If I could have started the hood at home while my sleeves-in-progress were in my knitting bag, I might have done that but…this is a “raglan” sweater, which means that the top edge of the sleeves are part of the neck.  In raglan sweaters, there are no shoulder seams just the diagonal seams that connect the sleeves to the back on one side and a front on the other.  So, I have to complete the sleeves and sew them to the fronts and back before I can work on the hood.

One question I always ask myself when making a sweater is whether the length of the sleeves will be long enough.  I have longer arms than most, and usually I have to add an inch or more to a pattern.  For a cardigan that does have shoulder seams, I have my knitting students (as well as myself) sew up the shoulder seams and try on the sweater before they start the sleeves.  Then we can measure how long the sleeves for their sweater should be.  But for this raglan, there is another easy way to if you need to make the sleeve longer or shorter.  Remember that the reason that raglan sleeves look so long is because they are knitted all the way up to the neck.

If you look at all the schematics for all sizes of the Saturday Morning Hoodie, you can see that the length of the raglan itself is the same on the sleeves, back, and raglan edge of the fronts.  Looking again at all the sizes, I see all the total length of the sleeves are 2″ more than the total length of the back.  So, if you have already made your back the length called for in the pattern, just hold up that back to yourself (as if it were the sleeve) with the top up to the neckline.  When I did this, I could see that a couple more inches in length would be just right – so I kept the sleeves the same length as called for in the pattern.  If you do want to shorten or lengthen the sleeves, then you only have to add or subtract length before you work your raglan shaping.

After I worked the sleeves, I lightly blocked them like my back and fronts and using detachable markers, I have attached one of my sleeves to the front and the back.

I always use markers when sewing up any seams and just work from “marker to marker.”  This makes finishing a little less daunting and I won’t have to worry about one side ending up longer than the other.

I sewed together the stitches that were bound off for the underarms by sewing stitch to stitch as shown below:

But for sewing up the raglans, I use the “mattress stitch” (below), sewing together the “bars” of the stitches.

I also always sew up my raglans with the right side facing me and since I worked my raglan decreases a stitch in from the edge, it makes for a much neater and easier seam to work!

Now, I will just sew in that other sleeve and then I’ll be able to pick up stitches and start the hood!
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