Evaluating raglan patterns

I've talked before about evaluating patterns (in fact, there's a whole 3-part article series that's coming soon), but today let's dig into raglans.

Is it size inclusive?

My first check is always to see if a pattern is size inclusive. At a minimum, I expect the pattern to be sized to fit a full bust of 30-60 inches. But when I'm evaluating raglans, I also look to see what's on the schematic.

Offering patterns that are labeled for the full size range doesn't mean they are actually well-graded to FIT those sizes.

Raglans have a bit of a unique construction. The stitches at the top of the sleeve, at the neckline, contribute to the front and back neck depth. Because the sleeve sits evenly on the top of the shoulder, half of that width goes to the front, and half to the back.

By adding that height to the raglan depth (the number of rows worked from the very top to the split for the arms), we arrive at yoke depth. This yoke depth will change across the range, but it shouldn't change by much.

As I evaluate the schematic to see if the pattern is size inclusive, I'm looking mostly at the yoke depth and the neck width. I grade for a 28" up to a 66-70" bust, and across that range, our armhole depth doesn't change much more than 3.5" or so. If a pattern has a yoke depth that's 5" in the lowest size and 12" in the largest size? That's a big red flag.

Likewise, our necks only vary about 3". If the neckline on the pattern changes much more than that, I know there are bigger cracks under the foundation.

Note: Schematic not available? Ask for it. You deserve the dimensions of the thing you're going to make before you buy it. You get that when you invest $5 in clearance fast fashion, and you should get it when you're contemplating investing dozens of hours, money for a pattern, and yarn.

Check the neck 

As you're evaluating a pattern, check the schematic and make sure you have adequate clearance in the front neck depth.

How much depth is enough? Only you know what you like. I recommend holding a measuring tape to your inner neck point (where the neck meets the shoulder, halfway between front and back) and measuring straight down to where you'd like your neck to be. Add an inch to that for trim (that's pretty standard).

If that's too much fuss, a standard high crew neck is around 3-3.5", and a scoop is usually around 5".

Classic LBD is a V-neck, so you know you'll have clearance for the front of your neck.

Don't forget the back neck!

Our necks are round, which means that we need a little scoop out of the back for our necks too. Because the shoulders in our raglans contribute depth to both the front and the back, we don't usually need to work back neck shaping. You know I have a caveat though!

There are two times when we need to evaluate the back neck depth to make sure we'll have enough room. 1) If you are knitting a small size, your designer may have overlooked how shallow the back neck will be as a result of your narrower top sleeve, and 2) designs that have very narrow top sleeves for all sizes may not have enough depth across the board.

Most knitters will be comfortable if they have at least 1" of back neck depth.

To stay on, it's got to be body shaped

I don't like a tight knit. But I also don't want it slumping off my shoulders. If a top is loose in the neck, the underarm, the bicep, and the bust, it's going to be sloshing around.

I generally look for about an inch under the arm and a back neck that's less than 60% of my cross shoulder (Classic LBD is graded to be about 50%). If I start with a pattern that's graded to fit with those rules in mind, I know that if I add the bust darts I need I'll be able to get a good fit.

Jen, wearing a light beige tee version of her Classic LBD knitting design, smiles at the camera. She sits on a couch, holding a mug and smiling at the camera.
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