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Welcome to the Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along! Let’s Get Started!

February 23rd, 2012

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Each season we host a knit- or crochet-along, a virtual event in which yarncrafters come together here online to work on one pattern together, share their experiences, and to learn together. There’s no need to sign up; simply follow along with the blog posts at your own pace as you knit your sweater.

Hi, my name is Lauren, I work at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, the Lion Brand flagship store and education center, in New York City. In addition to working on the sales floor, I teach knitting classes, and for the next several weeks, I’m going to be your knit-along host!

For this knit-along, the project we’ll be working on together is the Simple Raglan Cardi. However, we won’t just be making the pattern as-is, as we’ve done for previous knit-alongs. Instead, I’m going to be giving you ideas on how you can use the basic pattern as a starting point for your own design! We’re going to customize this project just for you! This is particularly exciting for me, as I don’t think I’ve ever knit a sweater without making at least a couple of changes to the written pattern.

Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along BadgeThe first thing we’ll need to do is choose a size. You’ll notice that underneath where the pattern says “Size”, it says “Finished Chest.” This is the actual measurement of the garment, which is a much more accurate way to pick a size than just choosing based on the small, medium, large tags. After all, when shopping at clothing stores, I’m sure we’ve all been one size in one store and a completely different size in the next! If you’re not sure of your measurements, get a flexible tape measure and measure around the fullest part of the bust. You should also measure yourself wearing whatever you plan to where under your cardi as this can also affect the size that you will make.

I have a bust measurement of 34 inches, so I’ve chosen to make the size 35, as I want my sweater to be fitted but I also want to be able to draw breath. You don’t have to choose the size closest to your bust measurement. If you want an over-sized cardi, you can choose a size a few inches larger than your bust measurement, and if you want a very tight fitting sweater choose a couple of inches smaller.

But what if your size isn’t represented? Well, you can always add more stitches or take off some stitches based on the gauge of the pattern. If you’re not confident enough to do that, you could always try following the pattern as it is using a smaller yarn and needles for a smaller size and a thicker yarn and needles for a larger size. [Click here for a blog post that explains how this can be done.]

Next you’ll need to choose a yarn. The pattern suggests using Martha Stewart Crafts™ Cotton Hemp, which is a worsted weight yarn, so you’ll have plenty of choices if you wish to substitute. I want to use a soft, spring yarn, and most importantly, I want to be able to throw it in the wash with my other clothes, so I chose easy-care Cotton-Ease in the color Seaspray. Other good choices would be Vanna’s Choice, Wool-Ease, or you can add stripes to your design the easy way, by using Amazing!

Now we need to decide how much yarn to buy. If you are making no changes to the pattern, that’s easy enough to work out, since the pattern tells you how many balls in the Cotton Hemp are needed to make each size. Cotton Hemp contains 64 yards per ball, so just multiply 64 by the number of balls needed for your size and you have the number of yards needed.

Small Medium Large 1X 2X
Cotton-Ease 3 balls 3 balls 4 balls 4 balls 5 balls
Vanna’s Choice 3 balls 4 balls 4 balls 5 balls 6 balls
Wool-Ease 3 balls 3 balls 4 balls 4 balls 5 balls
Amazing 3 balls 4 balls 5 balls 6 balls 7 balls
Martha Stewart Crafts Cotton
Hemp (as in pattern)
7 balls 9 balls 10 balls 12 balls 15 balls
Approx. yardage 450 yards 575 yards 650 yards 775 yards 1000 yards

But what if you plan to make changes to the length, sleeve length or stitch pattern? Or all of the above, like me? I find the easiest way to make an estimate is to look at a few similar sweaters in the same weight of yarn in my size to see around how much yarn was used, then I throw in an extra ball just to be safe, because as everyone knows, you can never have too much yarn!

Now it’s swatching time! You will need to have some idea at this point of what stitch patterns you are going to use for your sweater. If you’re looking for inspiration try StitchFinder. Remember, whatever stitch pattern you use, you will need to be able to match the gauge in the pattern or your sweater will have different measurements. If you want to use an allover pattern for the body of your sweater, keep in mind that this raglan pattern is knit from the top down, and grows outwards in each row, which means you will have a different stitch count every couple of rows, so you may find it challenging to keep in pattern.

If you want to add a little interest to your design in a simpler way, you could try doing vertical panels of patterns down both fronts, so your stitch count in the panels will remain constant each time, even as the sweater grows. Since I’ve never seen a sweater pattern that couldn’t be improved by adding a few cables, I knit two swatches, one in the cable pattern that I plan to use and the other in stockinette stitch, which will be the main body pattern.

We know that we are aiming for a gauge of 17 stitches = 4 inches. So to knit my stockinette stitch swatch I actually cast on 23 stitches. This is because the larger the swatch the more accurate it will be and also because edge stitches can be a little loose, so I want to make sure I can start measuring at least 3 stitches in from the edge. Then I work in stockinette for about 4 inches and bind off my swatch.

Knit-Along Stockinette Swatch Knit-Along Cable Swatch

Afterwards, it is important to wash your swatch in the same manner you will wash the finished garment, as even with washable yarns, this can affect your gauge. If you’re using a machine washable yarn and it’s not laundry day, just fill up the sink with lukewarm water and swish your swatch around a bit to get it completely soaked, gently squeeze out the excess water, then lay it flat to dry. When its completely dry, you can now take an accurate measurement.

Since I have three edge stitches on each side I lay my ruler about half way up from my cast on edge, three stitches in from the side edge and count how many stitches across til I get to 4 inches. If you are getting less than 17 stitches across the 4 inches, you need to go down a needle size; if you are getting more, go up a size.

It’s important to check your row gauge in the same manner. However, if you don’t seem to be able to get both stitch and row gauge, use the needle size that gives you the correct stitch gauge, as it is easier to adjust the number of rows in your garment to get the correct length. I also do the same process for the cable panel I plan to use.

So everyone, get swatching! Next week, we’ll go over how a top-down raglan works, how to work the yoke, and the benefits of this type of construction, especially when it comes to adding your own design elements!

In the meantime, leave a comment and introduce yourself! Tell us who you are, where you’re from, and how you’d like to adjust this pattern to fit your own style!

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  • Ejgillem

    I’m in! I have been knitting for many years, but always for other people. This is for me. Can’t wait to find yarn and get started.

  • Angyl

    This is my first knit-along, and perhaps the first garment made for myself. I’m excited to make the pattern my own. I like the idea of a lacy front. Sounds very springy to me.

  • williams.sharon

    I agree with others that the neck of this cardi seems too large, and I would like to raise and tighten it up a bit. (It never gets THAT hot here in Calgary). I was also thinking of making the sleeves full length.

     Changed my mind about the pattern when I went to my local Michaels and they were SOLD OUT of Cotton-ease!  But I did find Paton’s Mosaic, which is a lively varigate in about the same weight as Cotton-ease. Mine stripes from yellow -orange through the rainbow to purple in bright, saturated hues. I chose a solid yellow-orange colour for the ribbing and found a package of bright buttons in 7 different colours that just goes with the yarn perfectly, so I will be making buttonholes in the front band.(I am an artist, and I think this sweater says it all!!!) I am so excited. If this goes well, I will do another one incorporating the lace another time, using all the suggestions given here.

  • williams.sharon

    Where can we post photos of our projects along the way?

    • Zontee

       Hi Sharon, you’ll notice that when you post a comment, there’s a little “+ Image” at the bottom of the text box. Click on it to add a photo. Hope that helps!

  • Nancy

    I have already cast on the neckline, and have finished about an inch of ribbing.  I’m using Caron’s “Simply Soft” from my stash – can’t afford any new yarn at the moment.  My problem is size, of course.  I measure 52″ at the bustline.  I’m making the largest (2X) size,  and since I usually have to drop at least one needle size to get gauge, I’m staying with the recommended sizes.  I want the sweater to be a little bigger around the body, because I live in the north woods and all sweaters must do more than just look pretty!  :-)  I will lengthen the sleeves a bit, though, to give a nod to the weather.  I do like the large neckline because it will be a sweet frame for a turtleneck or a pretty blouse!  Layering is everything up here – and it will also work in the few weeks of summer we do have!!

  • Nancy

    I know this is a Lion Brand site, but please help me – I have such a huge stash to use up.  Has anyone ever made this lovely little sweater using Malabrigo?  I have some gorgeous colors in that yarn, waiting to become something beautiful!!

    • beachkoz

      Malabrigo makes many yarns in many weights (i.e., worsted, organic cotton, angora, rios, etc.)  Which do you have?  If you need a stash slashing suggestion:  Send me some yarn!  :)

  • Karyn Settles

    I think I may try to knit along with you.  I made this pattern a while back in a cotton and think I want to do it in wool.  I’m very interested in finding out more about adding a lace or cable motif to the cardi and where I could put them.  I also will be lengthing the sleeves and body of the sweater.  I have some black wool so I’ll need to swatch a couple of cable and lace patterns to see how they look since sometimes cable patterns get lost in the color

  • williams.sharon

    Seamless Crazy Lace Cardigan AT HALF PRICE!!!! Sorry Lion Brand, but they scooped you :-) 

  • Danielle

    So, I went ahead and started the cardi. I’m on row 1 (size 37 1/2), and I’m having a problem. It says I should have 96 sts by the end of the row, and I do, but there are only instructions for 94 sts. What should I do with the last two stitches?

  • williams.sharon

    I need help please!! I knit and washed and dried my swatches -one using size 8 needles = 16 st/4″, the other is size 7 needles =18 st/4″. Which needle size should I use??? I am making the medium size.

    • beachkoz

      oh oh . . . I never thought about washing/drying swatches.  I hope my error will not result in total catastrophe.  I suppose it depends on how my yarn reacts when washed/dried.  Yikes.  I hate the learning curve. 

    • Zontee

       Hi Sharon, some people find that if they switch to a different material needle (bamboo, metal, plastic, etc.) it changes their gauge, so you could try swatching again with a size 7 or 8 needle in a different material and see if that changes things. You may also want to knit a larger swatch (which will give you more accuracy, since your gauge will vary quite a bit over the entire body of a sweater) and then wash/dry it. Hope that helps!

  • Becky

    Hi, I’m Becky from the UK and love the simple look of this cardigan so I think as this is my first top down cardigan I shall stick pretty much to the pattern in the first instance. If I love the finished garment then I like the idea f being able to play around with the design and seeing other peoples ideas. I have already completed my swatch, and couldn’t wait to cast on – now working on the yoke.

  • Ann

    I don’t knit anything that needs a fit…shawls, wraps, etc….I do want to try making this.  I am going to go with the Cotton Ease yarn.  I know I can do this and make it fit…I think I would want to make it longer…okay now to buy yarn! 

  • Anonymous

    Howdy! I’m Kim from Connecticut. I am currently a stay at home mom. I have just recently started knitting again. I have previously only made hats and scarves so I am looking forward to the challenge of making this cardi. I have also never done a KAL so it should be intersting!

  • Anonymous

    I went through my stash of cottons and found a variegated cotton from Bernat. I have a variegated in white, pink and orange and coral.  I also have a solid coral.  I plan to make the ribbing in the coral, the variegated down to the armhole in the basic pattern, then change to the fan and lace pattern, striping the two yarns.  At least that’s what’s going through my mind.  I will also use the fan and lace pattern to increase the sleeves to 3/4 at this same junction.  I have completed my swatch and am on gauge, I just need to wash it and remeasure.  Will keep you posted on my progress.

  • williams.sharon

    The model in the photo is SO THIN!! Most of us are not built like that (can I have an Amen?). Glad you posted the link to show the sweater on ‘real’ people!! Did they have to do any alterations to the fit for the general pattern, besides just adding the lace at the bottom?

    • Zontee

      Glad the link helped! No, both Michelle and Jodi just made the sweater as-is for their bust-size.

      • LdyM

        Where is the link please?

        • Zontee

           I had shared it in one of my comments. Click here to see the blog post. Hope that helps!

          • LdyM

            Thank you; it did help to see a couple on regular women.  Post more please!

          • Zontee

            If you’re on Ravelry (the free online community for yarncrafters), you can search for the pattern (Simple Raglan Cardi or the similar pattern in Recycled Cotton, Weekend Retreat Cardi) and then click on “projects” to see the actual projects that people have made with those patterns. Hope that helps!

      • Jodie

        Yep, I just used the pattern as is for my bust size (inserted some lace details to tie in with the yarn over increases) and since I put the sleeves on waste yarn have been able to try it on as I am going.  It’s a great fit!  I am happy with the results so far.  I am just finishing up the first sleeve. 

        Thank you Lion Brand!  I have been knitting for a looong time but this is my first KAL and I am enjoying this.


    • LdyM

      How do I find this link?  Thanks.

  • Parkers1

    I started a top down cardi class about a year ago.  I was not happy with the color of yarn I picked or the way the cardi looked after I started.  I ripped out all I had done and reballed the yarn.  I really like this pattern and am going to try it with the same yarn.  I am excited about joining the KAL

  • LisaE

    I am wondering what you all think about making the ribbing opne color and the biosy another?  For example, black ribbing with a cream body?

    • williams.sharon

      That is what I am going to do. Bought some teal and some yellow orange -don’t know which will look best. Now trying to figure out if I should cast on with the contrast, or just begin after the ribbing, and then pick up the stitches and put the neck band on at the same time as the button band…. Any suggestions?

      • LisaE

        well, if I don’t follow the pattern I tend to get messed up, so I would start with the contrast yarn and work down and then change to the main color when I get to the body.  I am lovin’ your color combo by the way.   Sorry to everyone I posted twice, just getting used to how the comments are being posted.  Thanks!

        • williams.sharon

          Good idea!! I hadn’t thought of that -duh!

  • LisaE

    What do you all think about two toned, using one color for the ribbing and another color for the body.  Maybe black ribbing with a cream colored body?

  • Anonymous

    Hi from Cranbrook BC Canada. I am looking forward to this knit along. I have a nice cotton and silk blend and have made adjustment for the slightly different gauge. I am going to do the rib in a purple and the main body in taupe. I am not sure if I will do a different stitch. I am quite fond the the stockinette look. I am considering a lacy pattern on  the bottom though similar to the yellow cardi in the photo. Have fun everyone!

  • Wendi Moore

    I’m Wendi from Portland, OR, and I love to knit.  I’ve made top down sweaters for my daughter, but not one for myself.  I would like to do 3/4 length sleeves instead of short sleeves.  I’m using a beautiful navy soft yarn and I might add some small cables to the front panels.  Not sure yet.  I’m doing 3/4 length sleeves because the summers here in the Pacific Northwest are still a little chilly, and this will be a summer sweater.  If it turns out well, I might do another in another color.

  • Craftygirl

    I’ve made this pattern twice.  Once, exactly as the pattern indicates, and once with self-striping yarn for the body, solid ribbing, longer sleeves and length, and addiing a large button at the top.  Both came out great.  This is a very versatile pattern and I’d like to try it with an open eyelet design.  So many options, so little time.  This is a great pattern for anyone, any age.

  • Shirlmac

    Hi thanks for help with stitch markers, have used them now, but when I had knit a few lines and got into the pattern I discarded them as I find they get in the way’ I am from the UK and this is my first KAL and am really enjoying it. Love all the comments 

  • Mariarametta

    Hi, A 10.5 needle will make my gauge I need so do I keep that needle for the larger one I need and use a 10 for the smaller needle. Please advise. thanks

  • Sara Gilbert

    Think this will be a fun project.  Love doing top down sweaters. I learned to make them many years ago when I learned to knit.  I made my daughter’s Barbie sweaters.  It was a great way to learn the technique.Have my yarn, swatch, and am ready to start.

  • Patty McD

    I am thinking about doing the Pointelle lace stitch in panels down each front.  But if we are knittng it top down, wouldn’t that reverse the lace stitch.  Should we knit the lace opposite as written?

    • Jodie

      Patty,  I’ve decided to insert a lace panel down each front also.  I am using what is called a Dutch Lace pattern.  And since it’s top down I should reverse the pattern but have decided not to becasue I like the way it looks upside down. But if I didn’t I would reverse the pattern. It’s worked over four rows.  So, in that case I work the rows 4,3,2,1.  

      Happy Knitting,


      • Patty McD

         Hi Jodie, after I did my lace swatch and turned it upside down, I think it does look good upside down, but ….that’s not the look I want.  It’s worked over 6 rows, with rows 2, 4 & 6 the same (on the wrong side), so I’ve re-written the rows as: 5, (2), 3, (4), 1 (6). 

        • Jodie

          Patty,   By any chance is your lace pattern graphed?  If so regraphing it by turning the other graph upside down may provide a visual that could be very helpful. Am I right in assuming your odd rows are purl?  What’s the name of your stitch pattern? 

            I added a diamond to the back of my cardigan and even though I’ve done them in lace patterns before the larger size I needed for the back of my cardigan was throwing me off when it came to the decreasing rows.  When I looked at a graph and sized it accordingly I finally go it.    

           Sorry it took me so long to reply.  I have really been enjoying this project.

            What yarn are you using?

  • Pingback: Custom Simple Raglan Cardi Knit-Along Week #2: Knitting the Yoke | Lion Brand Notebook()

  • Plaiddragon

    I had to wait for someone for a few hours, so I cast on my sweater and got started.  I have about four inches of stockinette so far, and I am really pleased at how friendly the pattern is.  My only concern is that the 29inch needle is not going to comfortably hold all the stitches (I am long from shoulders to underarm, so I will be doing extra rows before the sleeves).  I see a newly-purchased 40inch needle in my immediate future.

  • williams.sharon


    • beachkoz

      I saw this email, and I like the sweater pattern (very similar to our KAL), but I thought there was a fee, and I can barely afford this project.  

      • williams.sharon

        Hi Beachkoz: I know what you mean, but the class is on sale for 50% off, and if it makes the difference between making a sweater that fits, versus one that doesn’t, it is worth it IMHO. There is a ton about how to make a sweater that fits your precise measurements in the class, as well as all the lace stuff.

  • Ann

    I have cast one and did the neck ribbing….now I have about 2 inches of the ss on the needles….wish I had longer needles than 29 inches so I could stretch it out and see how it fits/looks….I sure hope it turns out!  I love the pattern and so far no problems, but …….it’ll be good!:)


    Sunday evening, northern Minnesota.

    Hi, gals.  I am at a nasty  point.  I’ve begun the sweater, cast on the proper # of stitches for the 2X size.  I’m using Caron’s Simply Soft Shadows (light navy with a faint lighter thread mixed in once in a while .  I’ve finished 2 inches of ribbing  and about 2.5 inches of stockinette (love this yarn – so soft, of course!)  The pattern YARN says 16 sts./4 inches on a #8 needle to get gauge.   The pattern itself says the gauge is 17 sts/4 inches on a #7 needle.  Confusing right off the bat, I see.  Now the yarn I’m using is 17 sts/ 4 inches on a #8, but I’m getting 20 sts/4 inches!   Got all that?  If I continue with current yarn and instructions for 2X, I believe I’ll get a noticeably smaller sweater.  Somebody agree with me there, so I can go on.

    Okay –  I actually measure 52 inches, so I want to make a size 3X.  Now don’t go away, please!!  Originally thought if I went up to a size 8 needle (one size larger than pattern specified, I’d get a little bigger sweater.  Not happening.  So I’m thinking of ripping out back to the ribbing, which is salvageable.  So – –

    First of all, has anyone done the instruction changes for the basic pattern for a size 3X? 

    Next, I have some marvelous green/deep blue Malabrigo worsted that knits 4-5 spi (that would be 16-20 sts/4 inches) on needles size 7-9.  I’m getting more interested in doing this with Malabrigo as I type.

    Not a big fan of swatching, but I can see the benefit if I do this now with the Malabrigo.  Only problem is – what gauge am I trying to get?  If I get the gauge as in the pattern and use the recommended number of stitches for the size 2X, my sweater will be too small.  I definitely need to cover the big “ladies” that God blessed me with. 

    If I keep up with the Simply Soft I will get a sweater that’s too small for me but would be about right for my daughter, who lives in France.  But she’s gotten more than she should have the past few years, and it’s time for me to have something nice and new!!

    Now I have upsized a few sweater patternss in the past, and will do this one if need be. Takes quite a while, though.  So I thought I’d ask first if anyone has done it for this sweet one.  I do so want to make it!

    Don’t know how things will post here, but I am:

    Nancy Reed (Austin High School, Chicago)  on Facebook

    chicagoboots(AT sign) on google mail

    geminiknitter on Ravelry 


    4 March 2012

    Hi, KAL managers.  I do not get the email updates for this KAL – what have I done wrong? 

    Also, pursuant to my long email about gauge, if I go to a #9 or #10 needle with the Malabrigo yarn and use the stitch counts for the size 2X, might that give me a 3X size?  Frustrating, this gauge business – always!!

    • Sara Gilbert

       Nancy, I’m waiting for an answer too, to your problem.  I’m using Caron simply soft too.  My swatch came out fine, but when I got started on my sweater with #7 needles I’m now getting 20 sts. to 4″. And I’m wondering what to do.Sounds like we both have about the same amount done.


    I have no answer to my gauge question, so I’ve moved to another approach.  I have such a huge stash that I can’t afford to buy any more yarn, as much as I’d like to do this in Cotton Ease.  Maybe next time.
    Anyway.  I have lots of Malabrigo, and now I’m thinking of using some of that.  I’ve done a small swatch, and have about 18 stitches to 4 inches, on a size 10 needle.  Pattern advises 17 st/4 inches.  I’m getting 1 extra stitch every 4 inches.  That sounds like an extra 12 inches, for instance, around the chest.  Yippee!  I want it bigger than a 2X (2X = 48 inches? – – – but I digress). 

    Please tell me that I can do this sweater, have it fit me (a 3X) and love it!!   :^)   I have lots of yarn……and it wasn’t cheap.  And it was blooming – sticking together! – as I wound the first skein!  I must use it!

  • Pingback: Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along Week 3: Adding Waist Shaping | Lion Brand Notebook()

  • Anonymous

    I am joining in this KAL late! I have been swatching this week but can’t get gauge. Will start again tonight with a new needle. I seem to be a tight knitter and should probably always start at least one needle larger than the pattern calls for! Might save some time… I chose Vanna’s Choice in Dark Grey Heather. I think it will turn out pretty!! I have crocheted a few shrugs but never knitted a sweater before… 

  • beachkoz

    Everyone must be knitting like crazy, or on Spring Break.  No one is posting much.  Have we lost interest in our KAL already?

    • Zontee

       Hi beachkoz, it’s possible that most people are posting on the more recent knit-along blog posts (weeks 2 – 4). To view them, be sure to come to the main blog page ( on Thursdays or simply click on the “knit-along” category on the right-hand bar of the blog in order to see all the knit-along related posts. Hope that helps!

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  • Kimallison

    I got the nerve to start this sweater only because of the help available thru the KAL.  Funny thing is, I finished the sweater before I ever got around to figuring out how to join in the conversation!  If this actually shows up on the KAL site, I’ll have to take a picture of my sweater to share here.  I added a feather and fan pattern on the back and both sides of the front, keeping a few inches of stockinette on both sides between the patterned areas and a narrower stockinette section between the feather/fan and the front edges where the ribbing was added on.

    • Zontee

       We definitely hope you will share a photo! Once you start typing in the comment box, you’ll notice that there’s a “+ Image” button in the bottom left corner of the box. Click it to upload a photo from your computer. Hope that helps!