For those of us who have not knit a lot of sweaters – or knit them successfully – the raglan top-down style may be the easiest.
I’ve begun knitting the Warm-Up Sweater which is a free pattern (link to pattern below) of this style and is offered by Espace Tricot. This company is really wonderful about sharing free knitting patterns of all kinds.
See the Espace Tricot designer page at Ravelry.
Anatomy of a Raglan Sweater
A raglan sweater is known for the increases done along the sleeve and shoulder area that dips down toward the underarm. You can see these stitches, that make a “line” on either side of the front. They are also on the back. The raglan style looks like four sections put together, but it is knit round and round. The knitting expands outward around the yoke and creates room for the sleeves.
This sweater pattern has a simple “knit through the back loop” increase but some sweaters do a pretty little cable or decorative area at these increases which looks very nice.
A raglan is usually knit from the top down which makes it nice because it can be tried on as it is being knit – or at least pulled over the head. Raglans are usually pullovers but can also be cardigans.
What You Need to Know to Knit This Pattern
The Warm-up pattern – get it at Ravelry – begins with a cast-on at the neck. A few rows of a twisted rib is done and then some short rows. I love that this free pattern includes short rows. See my photo to see how the short rows raised the back of the neck. Sweaters need this shaping to fit comfortably. It is surprising to me that some designers, who sell sweater patterns, do not include short rows in their sweaters!
After that we get into the raglan increases which take place on either side of the sleeve / shoulder areas.
When the correct length and stitch number is reached, the sleeves are put on hold while the body is knit down to the correct length. A bottom ribbing is done and bound off.
Then each sleeve will be knit. Stitches at the sleeve area will be picked up from the waste yarn and the sleeve will be knit down to the correct length. Decreases are spaced to taper the sleeve shape. Do the ribbing and bind-off. Weave in ends, wash and block, and you have a new, hand-made sweater!
Is The Warm-Up Sweater Good For Beginners?
If you are a beginner sweater knitter, you may enjoy knitting this pattern. If you are a total beginner knitter, you should try something easier – a shawl, scarf, or hat – first. In other words, this is not a pattern for an absolute beginner. I say this because there is a lot to learn if all you can do is knit a little. I have mentioned in the section above what this pattern entails.
For those who want to step up their knitting game from the simple stuff, and are thinking about knitting a sweater, this one is perfect. The directions are very clear with stitch counts along the way to make sure you are on track.
Read through all pages and highlight numbers for your size before beginning – or go row by row on a knitting app. Also, if you’ve never done them, learn about doing German Short Rows – marked as “work GSR” in the pattern. Purl Soho has a good video. Follow the directions, row by row, and you will be fine.
You may even learn new and useful techniques along the way!
A Little Sweater Knitting Advice
If you are new to sweater knitting, first be sure to check your gauge. Yes, you must. Keep the little swatch as a reference. It is not a waste of time. The gauge required is listed on the first page of the pattern and also on the Ravelry Warm-Up pattern page. For more on gauge see my post here.
A few knitters had trouble with the cast-on number of stitches being too small, or too tight around the neck. I had no trouble. I am knitting size 4 – or finished circumference bust size 49 inches. I used the Old Norwegian, aka German Twisted, cast on method, which is somewhat stretchy and had 68 stitches on my 16 inch circular needle. I suggest using this type of cast-on. See my page about different ways to cast on when knitting if you don’t know it.
My sweater is being knit in Icelandic Lettlopi wool. The Warm-Up is shown in worsted weight yarn, in solid colors with an option to do thin stripes. Of course you can use whatever yarn you want as long as you get gauge. I happened to have a lot of brown yarn and instead of doing a solid brown sweater, I opted to do wide stripes alternating the two browns.
Because my yarn is wool, I am doing a spit-splice every time I change colors or add a new skein of yarn. This is saving me from having to weave in many ends when the garment is finished.
I am having fun knitting this simple sweater. Now that I am beyond the raglan increases, it is mindless round and round knitting that can be done in the car or in front of the television. All I need to remember is to change colors when it’s time (I am knitting 12 rounds of each color), and measure for length.
The needles I have used are size 7 and 8, 16-inch circular. Size 8, 32-inch circular (for the body). Then I switched to a 9-inch circular down the sleeve and for the ribbing at the cuff. DPNs can also be used, but I really don’t like using those.
On the sleeves, I picked up and began knitting with the 16-inch circular and changed to the 9-inch circular toward the end of the sleeve. I knit the ribbing in size 7.
Because I did spit-splicing throughout when changing colors, I only had 6 ends to weave in – one under each arm, at the neck, body rib and sleeve ribs…. pretty awesome!
If this sweater turns out to fit me well, I plan to make more like it with possible modifications. I almost made a rolled collar on this one, so maybe I will do so next time.
For another time, some color-work could be added at the bottom near the cuffs on the body and sleeves. I’d go up a needle size to do that.
Now my striped sweater is drying. All I had leftover for yarn was two small skeins each of the dark and light brown. In all I used about 9 1/2 skeins, or approximately 1,031 yards.
I’ll try it on and get photos once it’s dry. Total knitting time was about a month and a half. See notes on my Warm-Up Sweater Ravelry page.
A final word. I’ve wasted money on some sweater patterns (from very popular designers) that had horrible directions – one I completely frogged when it was about 3/4 done! And one is pretty much unwearable.
This free sweater pattern is excellent, with good info and photos. I’ve knit other patterns by Espace Tricot and would love to shop with them, but they are in Canada and everything is more expensive. They are very kind and generous to offer us knitters such wonderful free patterns. Be sure to check out their store.