Raglan, raglan, raglan, – sigh

I am still in the planning mode for the ‘great cardigan project’ – or less pompously, me trying to design a cardigan.  I have finally got the technique for starting the whole thing off – I know it’s a pretty basic skill but I don’t want to have to add a button band/edge at the end so have been experimenting with various inclusive ‘starts’.  Then of course I have to add the raglan increases – it’s top down in case you hadn’t realised. What is there to decide? So many things – you really wouldn’t believe it.

How to work the increases?  Make 1 left or right is the obvious one, but it’s worth investigating knit into front and back of a stitch.  Then there is a simple yarn over?  Do I want holes along the raglan – I think these can look good but this is planned for worsted/aran wool, so do I want holes at all?  As this is for raglan increases they will mostly be to add two additional stitches for each raglan ‘seam’, so what about a double increase such as make 2.  I didn’t even know of the existence of this so have never tried it.  There is also the option of knit 1, yarn over, knit 1 into one stitch. I like this increase but again you get a hole  – but it will be in the centre of the increase and so might look good as a bit of detail?

Then there are the rows where there is an increase for the body but not for the sleeve – how will a single increase work with the double increase?

Along with the increase technique there is also the issue of the stitches on either side of the increase. These can make a big difference to the look of a garment.  It’s much easier to create an interesting effect on the raglan if it is being worked from the bottom up – but I don’t want to do that. 

Baron Raglan - photo taken in 1855 showing his sleeve with a missing arm.
Baron Raglan with his sleeve

As part of the research for this post I found a photo of Field Marshal Fitzroy Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan, from 1855. He lost an arm at the Battle of Waterloo and had his tailor make coats for his using raglan sleeves – though he doesn’t seem to be wearing one here. Perhaps he was unaware that the name of his sleeve was going to be longer lasting than his military exploits!

So essentially I’m fiddling about working increases appraising them critically, and then ripping them back again before I settle on a set of final decisions.  I have the shape the pattern and the numbers done, I just need to convince myself of the right bits of detail.  I do not want to sit looking at it after 2 skeins of working, screw my nose up and think ‘nah’.

So, I am still undecided – sigh. 


  1. Love a cardi and not adverse to a raglan sleeve but doesn’t old Somerset the raglan baron look stuffy. He had a sleeve named after him – that should at least raise a smile 😂


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