Time to talk about yoke sizing, but first: You can see my sweater now has its neck ribbing. You can do this anytime, and most patterns tell you to do it at the end, but I like now. Now is good. As previously noted, if I am not completely in love with my neck, I want to know that while it’s not a big deal to rip it out and do it over. So after knitting about an inch past the join, I picked up stitches all the way around and ribbed k1/p1 for 1.5 inches. Do whatever rib multiple and depth you like, and bind off very loosely or you won’t be able to get it over your head! I might wind up redoing mine after I see how it blocks out. Should have used an even smaller needle than I did, but I’m content with the neck shaping so it’s safe to carry on.
(I’m not going to do a whole picking-up-stitches tutorial here, but I recommend this video. Pick up one stitch through the center of every cast-on stitch — both the original ones and the additionals at the front — and for figuring out where to pick up along the sloping sides of the front neck, this diagram might help. I like the one in Pam Allen’s Knitting for Dummies. Make sure your total stitch count is the correct multiple for your ribbing.)
ARM AND CHEST DIMENSIONS
So back to the question of how long we carry on with our raglan increasing. Before we get too far into our yoke, we have to decide, generally, what shape our sweater is going to be. Will it be fitted and shapely? Wide and slouchy? Somewhere in between? The other thing I won’t go into detail about is taking measurements and calculating ease, but if you’re a seasoned sweater knitter or seamstress, you’ll know what you want your bust and upper arm dimensions to be. For everyone else, I recommend measuring a sweater (or shirt or sweatshirt) that fits like you want this sweater to fit. Lay it flat, measure across an upper arm, and double that to get the circumference. Same for the chest — measure where the arms meet the body, then double it. I have 10-inch upper arms and a 35-inch bust. For this sweater, I want 2 inches of ease, which means 12-inch sleeves and a 37-inch bust. NOTE: I’ve also paused here to retake gauge measurements from my actual sweater in progress — no need to assume parity with our swatch anymore, when we’ve got several inches of the real thing to measure from. At my actual working gauge of 3.5 stitches per inch, that means I’ll need 42 stitches for each arm (12 inches x 3.5 stitches per inch), and about 130 stitches (rounding from 129.5) for the body — front and back combined.
However, I’m not going to increase all the way to those numbers, because some of those stitches are going to be cast on at the underarm, just like we cast on stitches at the neck to form a circle. Elizabeth Zimmermann’s rule of thumb is that each underarm is 8% of your total body stitches, which in my equation would be about 10 stitches. I find 2 or 2.5 inches is a good underarm width for me. (Here’s an idea: Measure your armpit!) I’m going to cast on 8 stitches for each underarm.
Now we have to think a tiny bit. At the point where I stopped to do my calculations (indicated by the yellow lifeline in the top photo), I had 28 stitches in each sleeve section, and 48 each in the front and back. (Remember that I have 2 stitches trapped in the center of each raglan. When I go to divide up my stitches into sleeves and body, I’m going to opt to split those right down the middle. So I need to count 1 stitch from each seam as a sleeve stitch, and 1 stitch from each seam as a body stitch.) If I want 42 stitches in each arm, and 8 of them will be cast on, that means I’ll keep increasing until I have 34 stitches per arm. When we increase — 8 stitches per increase round, across 4 sections of the sweater — we add 2 stitches per section. I have 28 sleeve sts and want 34 — that’s 6 more sts — so I only need to increase the sleeves 3 more times! (Good thing I stopped to do my math when I did.) Likewise, if I take my target of 130 body sts, subtract the 16 that will be cast on (2 underarms at 8 sts each), and divide by two, that’s 57 sts each for the front and back. I began with an even number of front/back sts, and we increase in pairs, so I need to round that 57 to 58. I currently have 48, so I need 10 more, that means increasing the front and back sections 5 times more.
So I now know I’m going to increase all 4 sections 3 more times, then I’ll stop increasing in the sleeves and only increase the front and back 2 more times after that. At that point, I’ll have my desired 34 stitches in each sleeve, and 58 stitches each in the front and back.
But before we resume knitting, we need to think about armhole depth, which is also the finished depth of our yoke. You might very well want your sweater to have “zero ease” (meaning the sweater’s chest and yours are the exact same size) but you always want some ease in the armhole depth. Measure diagonally from neck to underarm — running your measuring tape from wherever the top of your raglan seam will hit you down to your underarm — and take that lower measurement from about an inch or two below your actual underarm. That’s how long you want your raglan seam to be. I’m aiming for around 9.5 or 10 inches. (I’ll try it on when I’m in the neighborhood and decide for sure.) For the sake of discussion, let’s say 9.5 inches, and I’m working at 5 rows per inch — that’s a total of 48 rounds of knitting. To increase my sleeves from the original 8 to 34, increasing at a rate of 2 stitches every other round, I’ll be done increasing in only 26 rounds — or about half my yoke depth. If you’re working at a finer gauge and/or making a smaller sweater, it’ll take you more of your yoke rounds to reach your target stitch counts. But regardless, if you’ll reach your counts at any point before your yoke is long enough to come down to your underarms, you’ll simply stop increasing and work even for the remainder of the yoke. But keep those raglan markers in place.
As for me, because I’m reaching my increase goals when I’m only about halfway to my armpit, I’ve spaced the last few out — working them, instead of every other round, after 3, then 4, then 5 rounds. So they sort of fade out rather than stopping abruptly. You can see my completed yoke below (and on Ravelry).
If anyone’s knitting along in real time, stop when your yoke reaches your desired armhole depth. Next week, we’ll talk about separating the sleeves and body. It’s all downhill from here!
POSTS IN THIS SERIES: [Favorite it on Ravelry]
Introduction / Part 1: Casting on and marking raglans / Part 2: Raglans and neck shaping / Part 3: Finishing the neck and yoke / Part 4: Separating the sleeves and body / Part 5: The art of sweater shaping / Prologue: The possibilities are endless