Spud says (the blog)

Part 1: Easy Top-Down Raglan Knitalong

Part 1: Easy Top-Down Raglan Knitalong

Welcome! This is a knitalong to create your own custom fit raglan pullover sweater! I will be posting the recipe in parts as we work up our sweaters. At the end I will post this knitalong version of the recipe as one of the free patterns on the sidebar. You can join in any time. Please join me on the Friends of Spud & Chloë Ravelry group to post photos, chat and share our progress.

Click here for the forum thread!

Click here for the Easy Top-Down Raglan Ravelry Project Page!

You can also leave comments here on the blog, of course.

To get started today we are taking your back neck measurement and doing some simple math to determine the number of stitches to cast on. That will cover steps 1-6 out of 10 steps total. Steps 1-6 are not difficult (just take them one by one) but I have to say after these initial steps the rest of the sweater is incredibly simple.

Size: Made to fit you!

Yarn: Spud & Chloë Sweater (55% superwash wool, 45% organic cotton; 100 grams/160 yards)

Bust measurement in inches – number of skeins of Spud & Chloë Sweater:
32 inches – 5 skeins
34 inches – 5 skeins
36 inches – 6 skeins (This is the sample size that fits me perfectly!)
38 inches – 6 skeins
40 inches – 6 skeins
42 inches – 6 skeins
44 inches – 7 skeins
46 inches – 8 skeins
48 inches – 8 skeins
50 inches – 8 skeins
52 inches – 8 skeins
54 inches – 9 skeins

Needles: US size 7 circular needles, 24-inch and a set of 4 double-pointed needles OR the correct size to obtain gauge

Gauge: 5 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch
Tape measure
Yarn needle
Stitch Markers
k  knit
p  purl
k2tog knit 2 stitches together
ssk slip 2 stitches separately as if to knit, knit the 2 slipped stitches together through the back of the loop
sm slip marker
kfb knit in the front and back of a stitch
pm  place marker
Let’s Get Started!
Note: I will refer to the Grape Jelly Raglan as an example and TC’s Raglan throughout the knitalong. The Grape Jelly Raglan is the finished sample I made to fit me (36-inch bust) and TC’s Raglan is the sweater I am making with the knitalong. TC is an average size 11-year-old.
Important note: All of this basic information to make this raglan pullover sweater can be found in Wendy Bernard’s book, Custom Knits, on pp. 154-155.

Step 1: The first measurement you need to take to determine the number of stitches you are going to cast on is the back of your neck. Do not include your shoulders in this measurement.
Grape Jelly Raglan: My back of neck actual measurement: 5 inches
TC’s Raglan: TC’s back of neck actual measurement: 4 inches
Measuring TCs back of neck

Measuring TC's back of neck

I measured TC’s neck for this step but I just measured my own back of neck for the Grape Jelly raglan. You don’t need someone else to take this measurement.
Now, you can vary this measurement depending on how big or wide you would like your sweater neck opening to be. The other thing to remember is that we are adding a garter stitch edging to the neck opening and that needs to be taken into consideration. For my sample I added 1 extra inch to my back of neck measurement to start. Wendy says that the average woman’s back of neck measurement is between 5 and 6 inches.
For example:
Grape Jelly Raglan: Starting measurement: 5 + 1 (extra inch added for edging) = 6 inches
TC’s Raglan: Starting measurement: 4 + 1 (extra inch added for edging) = 5 inches
Step 2:
Multiply the number of inches for the starting measurement by the stitch gauge per inch which is 5.
For example:
Grape Jelly Raglan: 6 x 5 = 30
TC’s Raglan: 5 x 5 = 25 (rounded up to 26)
*Wendy suggests that if you end up with an odd number that you should round up to an even number.
This is the number of back stitches.
Step 3:
We are going to figure out how many stitches we need for the tops of the sleeves.
Take the back stitches number from step 2 and divide it by 3.
For example:
Grape Jelly Raglan: 30 divided by 3 = 10
TC’s Raglan: 26 divided by 3 = 8.6 or 8 (I am rounding down to keep this number even)
This number is the sleeve top number. You will have 2 sleeve tops.
Now we have the back stitches number and the sleeve top number.
For example:
Grape Jelly Raglan: back stitches = 30; sleeve top stitches = 10
TC’s Raglan: back stitches = 26; sleeve top stitches = 8
Step 4:
To find out the number of stitches to cast on you will use the back stitches number and the sleeve top number for both sleeves. You will add 1 stitch to each end for each front.
For example:
Grape Jelly Raglan: 1 (front) + 10 (sleeve top) + 30 (back) +10 (sleeve top) + 1 (front) = 52 stitches (number to cast on)
1+10+30+10+1 = 52 stitches
TC’s Raglan: 1 (front) + 8 (sleeve top) + 26 (back) + 8 (sleeve top) + 1 (front) = 44 stitches (number to cast on)
1+8+26+8+1 = 44 stitches
Using your circular needle cast on as follows:
1 st, pm, sleeve top number, pm, back number, pm, sleeve top number, pm, 1 st
For example:
Grape Jelly Raglan cast on: 1, pm, 10, pm, 30, pm, 10, pm, 1
TC’s Raglan cast on: 1, pm, 8, pm, 26, pm, 8, pm, 1
Step 5:
You will be increasing using a kfb (knit into the front and back of the stitch) on each stitch before and after each of the 4 stitch markers.
Work the first 2 rows as follows:
Row 1 (right side row): kfb, sm, kfb, knit to 1 stitch before the next marker, kfb, sm, kfb, knit to 1 stitch before the next marker, kfb, sm, kfb, knit to 1 stitch before the next marker, kfb, sm, kfb
Row 2 (wrong side row): purl
Step 6:
You will continue repeating rows 1 and 2 in Step 5 AND at the same time begin increasing for the neckline by using a kfb in the first and last stitch of every right side row. Every right side row will increase 10 stitches as follows:
Next and every right side row: kfb, (knit to 1 stitch before the first marker, kfb, sm, kfb) repeat 4 times total, knit to the last stitch, kfb (increase 10 stitches)
Next and every wrong side row: purl
Continue working right side rows by kfb in the first and last stitch and increasing with a kfb in each stitch on both sides of the stitch markers (10 stitches increased) and purling the wrong side rows until the garment measures to the bottom of your throat. Wendy recommends that this length will be between 2 or 3 inches.
For example:
Grape Jelly Raglan: worked to measure 3 inches
TC’s Raglan: to be determined (I will share as I go!)
I am heading off to cast on for TC’s cardigan!
Yay! I am so excited to get this going. I will be back soon with some words of wisdom to add from Wendy. She is going to make a boatneck sweater (thus she will have a wider starting measurement) out of Sweater in the Chipmunk colorway right along with us. As soon as I hear from Wendy I will pass on her words of wisdom to you.

65 Responses to “Part 1: Easy Top-Down Raglan Knitalong”

  1. August 22, 2010 at 4:43 pm Sarah says:

    Okay, so what if we wanted to do a ribbed opening? (And ribbed cuffs, etc.) I know it would stretch, but I am unsure…


    • August 22, 2010 at 4:50 pm sanderson says:

      you can add a ribbed edging on the neck opening when we pick up the stitches for the neck edging, as you work on the body you could add a ribbed edging at the bottom and the same for the sleeves, no problem.

      you would start the same for a ribbed edging as you would for the garter edging.

      • August 22, 2010 at 7:10 pm Sarah says:

        Okay, great, thanks! One more question – and this is I guess an opinion on your part…would you make the neck opening larger because the ribbing will be more “condensed” looking? One of my pet peeves is when I get one of those standard men’s t-shirts that they print up for events and the neck holes are so small. I always look like my head is hatching out of it.

        • August 22, 2010 at 7:37 pm sanderson says:

          I made a pretty generous neck opening on my sweater and I don’t think it would matter much if it was ribbed edging or garter edging.

          • August 23, 2010 at 12:53 am Sarah says:


  2. August 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm Lindsey says:

    We are not working in the round yet, right?

    • August 22, 2010 at 5:11 pm sanderson says:

      Right! Back and forth in rows. We will join in step 7 and then work in the round for the rest of the sweater.

  3. August 22, 2010 at 7:32 pm christina says:

    I want to make a mens version for my boyfriend. the same calculations should apply, right? I want to surprise him with the finished so I won’t be able to have him try it on as I go. any suggestion about the length for that first 3 inch chunk for a mans version?
    thank you for doing this! I might actually finish if we do it this way!

    • August 22, 2010 at 7:36 pm sanderson says:

      I am going to defer this one to Wendy but I think the same calculations would apply. I am not sure about the 3 inches, maybe add an inch? Let’s see what Wendy says about this though.

  4. August 22, 2010 at 9:40 pm Wendy H says:

    I thought it might be fun to do the sleeves in a different color and 3/4 length (kind of like a baseball jersey). Do you think this is possible? It seems to me that if I change colors for the sleeves, they will not be attached to the rest of the sweater. What do you think?

    • August 22, 2010 at 10:05 pm sanderson says:

      sure it’s possible! the sleeves will be attached if you change colors, you just start knitting with the new color and keep on going. no problem.

  5. August 22, 2010 at 9:45 pm Kelly says:

    So, I want to do this for a baby. I’m going to try. I won’t see the baby until Tuesday though. I’m sure I can do this. I love top down raglans but the baby ones always have necks that are either too big or too small. We’ll see how it goes. Knitting is a process……and if all else fails…frog it!

    • August 22, 2010 at 10:03 pm sanderson says:

      ooooh fun! and fast! can’t wait to see the baby version.

    • September 17, 2010 at 2:34 pm Lila says:

      I am also making one for a baby. How is yours coming along so far? Did you make it exactly as described or with modifications?

  6. August 22, 2010 at 10:45 pm Kim says:

    Is it ok to start early and not wait until tomorrow?

    • August 23, 2010 at 7:20 am sanderson says:


  7. August 23, 2010 at 12:14 am Shelley Thumma says:

    oh man! I wish I had my yarn! maybe I’ll practice with some other yarn….lol!

  8. August 23, 2010 at 12:17 am Wendy says:

    if you’re making a man’s version, since their back-neck measurement will be wider, then the other items on the sweater will also be affected, or follow suit. Men aren’t that much different than women except for their arm length and the length of their torsos…if they are taller than you. Otherwise, their sweaters measure similarly. If you have questions on that sort of thing Google Standards & Guidelines in Knitting and you will see for yourself the charts that the designers have to go by when writing patterns.

    Remember though, that they will want to have more “ease” in their sweater and a deeper armhole depth. They will probably want more “ease” everywhere else. If you’re worried about that initial 3″ area, if he’s a bigger person than you and likes his sweaters roomy, then by all means, add an inch or so.

    • August 23, 2010 at 7:21 am sanderson says:

      Good to know.

  9. August 23, 2010 at 5:41 am Lucy says:

    I’m knitting with Watermelon. Onto the 6th row now.

    • August 23, 2010 at 7:21 am sanderson says:

      go lucy!!! you can do it:)

  10. August 23, 2010 at 10:46 am Flora says:

    quick question, if I wanted to make my opening 16″ across (for an off the shoulder kind of look) would I apply the same calculations as above to determine the cast on number?

    • August 23, 2010 at 10:50 am sanderson says:

      I am going to defer this question to Wendy. I’ll be back……

    • August 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm sanderson says:

      Hi Flora,
      Here is Wendy’s response to your question on the 16 inch neckline:

      As far as the answer to her question, I would follow the same procedure for number of sts, cast on and work a few rounds to see how it goes. She might have to make adjustments. I figured out the regular raglan recipe that you’re following, but whenever I do boat necks, I tend to “back into” the sleeve numbers by goal circumferences mathematically. It takes a lot of math and figuring out row gauge and all that, so to keep things as simple as possible, try using the current formula and see how it goes.

      Hope that helps!

      • August 23, 2010 at 4:17 pm Flora says:

        thanks so much Wendy and Susan. I’m going to try it tonight. cheers!

  11. August 23, 2010 at 11:31 am Susan says:

    Oh, I’m in! My first KAL, exciting. I’ve had to order my yarn, as Stitcher’s Crossing didn’t have the color I wanted in stock, so I’ll be a bit behind. Can’t wait for it to arrive and do my swatch (something I don’t do for socks!). Thanks, Suzy.

    Susan in Madison

  12. August 23, 2010 at 11:47 am LInda says:

    My yarn is on it’s way too :( I have a question similar to the question about the man’s sweater. As the bust size goes up … do you think that initial 3 inch length should go up too? For instance, in your 36in bust sweater there is 3 inches, for a 48 or 50 inch bust sweater would it be the same?

    Linda in Vermont

    • August 23, 2010 at 11:59 am sanderson says:

      That 3 inch length will determine the depth of your neckline. If you want a larger scoop you could make it longer. My scoop of the neckline is generous at 3 inches. Wendy suggests that most of these measurements are between 2 and 3 inches and that it reaches the bottom of your throat.

  13. August 23, 2010 at 11:54 am DebbieD says:

    This is gonna be my first KAL where knitting a sweater is involved… I have been avoiding because I thought it is hard.
    You have me determined to try it…but I think I will need
    all the help I can get…
    Let me see if I am right… the recipe looks like what I need
    and I cannot use wool so I bought I Love This Yarn from Hobby Lobby. I bought 4 skeins because this skein yields more yarns.
    Is that ok?

    DPNs and I aren’t friends so I am wondering if two circs will work for the sleeves?

    I am going home this evening to cast on. Let me see if I have it right… Cast on and knit row 1 and 2… how far should I go?
    My head is churning with a lot of ideas I could do if I am successful… Can I follow this pattern and add design like two or three stripes for the sleeves and adding somethign like sailboat on front?
    Thanks so much Susan for doing this KAL.

    • August 23, 2010 at 12:04 pm sanderson says:

      Gauge is what’s important. I don’t know anything about that yarn so I can’t say specifically.

      yes, you can use 2 circs. i will be sharing how to use dpns on here.

      the recipe says to work to 2 or 3 inches or to the bottom of your throat as you wrap the neckline around your neck. My example is 3 inches.

  14. August 23, 2010 at 10:44 pm MarieAnge says:

    Ok, I’m going to try and take the plunge. Just need to finish something first.
    I was hesitant about knitting a sweater for me since I rarely wear sweaters and I already have a gorgeous sweater knit by my mil who was an incredible knitter.

    So at this point, I want to knit the sweater for my nephews who are pretty similar in build to TC. So I’m going to assume that the measurements for TC would work for them as well? They are 11 and 12 respectively and both have the slim body of pre-teen boys.
    No insult to TC! She is an absolutely lovely young lady! and so patient and appreciative as well :) It’s always a pleasure to knit things for someone who loves receiving them and uses them.


  15. August 24, 2010 at 9:04 am Connie says:

    I am excited! I have joined the knit along and started yesterday. Making the first one just like Susan made so here I go. Am anxious to see the finished product already and hope it fits.

  16. August 24, 2010 at 6:20 pm Kathleen says:

    Just a quick (and maybe silly) question about measuring the bust…is it done while just wearing your fancy bra or with clothes on? I just want to make sure I get the right number.

    • August 24, 2010 at 7:20 pm sanderson says:

      I always just measure with my clothes on (nothing heavy) and my not so fancy bra on. lol.

      Love that!

      I think you want to get a measurement that is close to how you normally are. I usually have a t-shirt type shirt on under my sweaters (and my not so fancy bra) so that is how I measure.

      Good question:)

  17. August 24, 2010 at 8:12 pm Kathleen says:

    I always wear a t-shirt under my sweaters too, so I’ll measure in my no so fancy bra and t-shirt too. LOL!

    Thanks, Susan! :)

    • August 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm sanderson says:

      I don’t know why but I love the “fancy bra” comment. It keeps making me laugh! You made my night.

    • August 24, 2010 at 10:22 pm sanderson says:

      Best question ever in my opinion:)

  18. August 25, 2010 at 10:59 am Janet Walters says:

    I would love to make this sweater for my husband who has a Dowager’s hump so everything he puts on always ends up short in the back. Does anyone know how to make the adjustment for this condition???


    • August 25, 2010 at 11:20 am sanderson says:

      I am thinking some short rows where the hump is would compensate. I’ll check around for an answer and get back to you.

  19. August 25, 2010 at 11:25 am Janet Walters says:

    Thankyou so much! I appreciate any suggestions. I’m a fairly elementary knitter – have just graduated to hats from “variations of a rectangle” and this looked like something I could tackle. I would love for my first sweater to be for my husband.

    • August 25, 2010 at 12:09 pm sanderson says:

      First off, your sentiment for knitting a sweater to fit your husband is incredibly sweet:)

      Here is one response I received from Merri at the Spud & Chloë office:

      I might recommend short rows under the armpits or just plain old increases on the side, perhaps, so that the back would be wider. She needs to measure of course, the widest part, than the narrowest part of his back and adjust stitches accordingly.

      She suggests as well that you might want to go to a local yarn shop so they may be better able to help you in person with your measurements. Are you able to do that?

    • August 25, 2010 at 2:52 pm sanderson says:

      Here is a response from Wendy to answer your question:
      Wendy: She should add short rows in the back section. Here is a link. She shouldn’t add them in the middle of the sweater like the one shown in the example, she can add them at the upper back section only.


      There are many other online articles on this subject, too. Just Google adding short rows for sweaters.

  20. August 26, 2010 at 12:45 am Val says:

    This looks great. Never knitted from the neck down before.
    Will have to order yarb from the States so will be later starting.

  21. August 26, 2010 at 9:41 am Jan says:

    Thanks so much, Knitters! I’m so new to this – never did a short row before so I’m eager to try this. I appreciate all the suggestions and will be going to a local yarn store for help soon!

  22. August 26, 2010 at 10:01 pm Rita Ann says:

    I am new at this. When you say “increase 10 stitches” is that one at each end or ten on each end?

    • August 26, 2010 at 10:03 pm sanderson says:

      1 in the first and last stitch and 8 flanking each stitch marker for a total of 10 increased stitches.

    • August 27, 2010 at 2:48 am Carol says:

      Hi RitaAnn; “increase 10 stitches” means 10 total over the entire round (or row). Kfb in the first stitch [1] , knit to the stitch before the marker and kfb [2], slip the marker, and kfb in that first stitch[3rd increase]; knit to the stitch before the next marker and Kfb [4th increase], slip marker and kfb [5th increase]….see how it goes? keep going and remember to Kfb in the last stitch [10th increase]. Then purl all the way back, with no increases. Then do it again! Fun, eh? It’s fun to watch it grow.
      THANKS to Susan for a great KAL and my first sweater, too!

      • August 28, 2010 at 1:36 pm Rita Ann says:

        Thank you so much. Now I get it :-)

  23. August 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm Leslee Sinclair says:

    Can you do this without working in the round?

    • August 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm sanderson says:

      I suppose you could but you would have to do some figuring out about where you want your seams to be.

  24. September 11, 2010 at 1:46 pm LINDA says:

    I love this. I will be starting my sweater today.

  25. September 19, 2010 at 1:32 am Katherine says:

    Just got started today and loving it! I have made only one sweater previously and this is much more fun. I love knitting in the round and the whole knit-a-long process.

  26. September 28, 2010 at 4:29 pm Lucy says:

    I’m starting one of these. Great instructions, thanks. I am doing alternating two-row stripes for my raglan. Should I start the stripes right at the start, or not until I join in the round? I’m worried that starting them right at the start somehow will look ‘off’ once the join has been done.

    • September 28, 2010 at 4:35 pm sanderson says:

      I started the stripes right away. It’s up to you!

      • September 29, 2010 at 8:29 am Lucy says:


  27. October 6, 2010 at 11:11 pm Deb says:

    I just tried to cast on 52 stitches and with KFB before and after each markers and I got 60. Your instruction says I should get 10 more stitches each row. What am I doing wrong?
    Your assistance is appreciated. Thanks.

    • October 7, 2010 at 6:53 am sanderson says:

      It sounds like you missed the first and last stitch increase in each row in addition to the stitches flanking the stitch markers.

  28. October 7, 2010 at 8:07 am Deb says:

    Thanks Susan for the help. I will try and do the first and last stitch. Hopefully no more problems so I can continue with my sweater. Thanks again!

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