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Claudia Krisniski
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Here is a Percentage Raglan Sweater written in chatty format for you to follow along with and see how it works on your needles.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Copyright 1999-2020 by Claudia Krisniski. This pattern may be used by individuals for personal use and
charity knitting only. It can be distributed to and shared with others as long as it remains fully intact,
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notice. It may not be sold, used to produce items for sale,
or used in a compilation or archive of any kind without the

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Betsi's Raglan Sweater

 #1...Percentage Sweaters

My sweet youngest daughter (who I just left at school) eyed a sweater in Walmarts yesterday that she HAD to have. Well, of course, I have to make it for her.

 A denim blue tweedy wool in stockinette stitch with a thin pale blue stripe in the crew neck. That's it. That's it? No fair isle fancy pattern stitches? Aw.......MOMMM!!!!!!!!!!!! Just a plain sweater is all I'll ever wear.


 So, I played the "do you like this yarn?" game for two hours last night ( a benefit of having a yarn shop in your house!!) and she settled on denim blue Wool Tweed from Crystal Palace.....and a baby blue from Brown Sheep for that all important stripe in the collar (my one point of design interest <g>).


 EZ's analysis work found that for MOST sweaters, one could easily show the following relationships (expressed in percentages of the "K" number, which I will explain)

 K = 100% K = number of inches ( or stitches !) of fabric measured around the body of the sweater (circumference)

 90%K = inches ( or stitches) around in ribbing

 33% K = inches (or stitches) around the top of the sleeve (just at the armhole beginning)

 20% K = inches ( or stitches) around cuff

 133% = inches (or stitches) around 1st round of yoke

40% K = inches (or stitches) around neck

 That's it! Those are all the numbers you need to know to get started.


 I will work up my gauge swatch this afternoon and start writing up the pattern. If there is any interest, I will be glad to post this info to the list as I knit through Betsi's Sweater......Let me warn you...I tend to deviate alot from the original formula based on my whims <g>, but I can remind you when I am doing that.

 #2...Change of yarn

 For those of you who remember, I had written that I was planning to knit a raglan sweater for my 13 year old, and would be posting the pattern for those who would like to knit such a garment along with me. The first attempt was aborted by said child who disliked the yarn she had picked out once it was knitted (sigh), and I needed time to rediscover the JOYS of knitting to please someone else. With the flush of the Thanksgiving holiday in sight, I have decided I have the Good Will to attempt it again.

 I am also teaching a class in the same subject, and will include some of the progress reports of the students there. The class is small (3) and the knitters are widely varied in their experience (makes the best classes!). One woman is a DRIVEN new knitter who has 5 sweaters going right is a I-will-finish-this-project-before-I-move-on knitter who has made only one sweater before, and the third is a dyslexic knitter who can only learn by watching me. A slice of the real world.

 PERCENTAGE RAGLAN SWEATERS are one of the easiest sweaters to figure out and knit. The standard yoke decreasing that one finds in commercially available patterns doesn't always fit, and when you design your own pattern such as I
will be doing, you can very easily adjust that measurement. There are a few patterns on the market that are circular raglans that a lot of seasoned knitters have probably knit.....Patons has a booklet of Top Down sweaters, and
Leisure Arts has published, and just republished, Seamless Raglans. Both those sweaters are knit from the neck down, in the round, and have been circulating for years. My mother knit many of the LA sweaters for me when I was a wee one,
and has enjoyed being gifted with the newly redone version of that booklet. For those of you have have knit a hundred of these, it might be fun to follow along and see the sweater unfold with a custom yoke depth.

 I will refer to Elizabeth Zimmerman frequently. She is The Beginning of Knitting for me.....and her Percentage Sweater is the basis of the following pattern.

 So, tomorrow I will post some numbers to get started with. For today.....if anyone is interested in knitting along with me and wants to drop me a note......I would enjoy hearing from you.

 FIRST ASSIGNMENT: find a sweater that fits you well, in the yarn weight you think you want to knit, and measure the thing. It's the best way to start.

# 3...Ribbings, increases, body

 Well, Betsi's sweater is off and knitting <g>

 I did the ribbing and 4 " of the body yesterday, and here's how I went about it........


 This raglan sweater for my daughter is based on Elizabeth Zimmermann's percentage system. That charming lady went and figured out the correlations existing in traditional museum-found sweaters, and translated them into a "system" for writing out the dimensions of a sweater...and the pattern to go with it.

 Since this is coming out of my head (BUT will be noted in my knitting notebook), I may deviate a bit from EZ's actual percentage formula...I have done so many sweaters this way and read of the variations inherent in the formula, that my actual numbers may differ slightly from the originals. Mea culpa...and read through with an open mind.

 EZ's analysis work found that for MOST sweaters, one could easily show the following relationships (expressed in percentages of the "K" number, which I will explain)

 K = 100% K = number of inches ( or stitches !) of fabric measured around the body of the sweater (circumference)

 90%K = inches ( or stitches) around in ribbing

 33% K = inches (or stitches) around the top of the sleeve (just at the armhole beginning)

 20% K = inches ( or stitches) around cuff

 133% = inches (or stitches) around 1st round of yoke

40% K = inches (or stitches) around neck

 25% K = inches of raglan (yoke) depth

 That's it! Those are all the numbers you need to know to get started.


 I very much like Brown Sheep's PRAIRIE SILKS yarn, and lo and behold, they have made the right shade of blue for Betsi. I worked up a gauge swatch with 20 sts and found that my # 7 needle gave me 4.25 sts=1". OK.

 I measured Betsi's sweaters and found that she most liked the ones that measure 44" around. So, I have my "K" number......44". When I translate that into stitches......I find that 44" x 4.25 sts = 187. Well, I like even numbers so the ribbing will work out, and so I changed that to 188.

 Well, it's my sweater so I can do what I want to, right?

 Now...EZ likes to cast on 90%K sts for the ribbing, but Betsi doesn't like anything normal <g>, and wants her ribbing to hang straight. So, I will cast on 95% of K for the ribbing....or 178 sts. I used a # 5 needle since ribbing sts have a tendency to look bigger than body sts, and the smaller needle will help even that out.

 At that point I needed to increase the sts to my "K" number.....and I saw that I needed 188-178 = 10 more sts to get there, so I increased as follows:

 178 / 10 = 17.8.......after every 17.8 st I need to add 1.

 This is silly

 After every 18th st I add one st.

 That gives me a group of 19 sts.....which I then repeat for 9 times which equals 171 sts....leaving me 16 sts before the end of my round.....after which I increase the last time = 188 sts.

 Then I took my larger needle and commenced knitting around in stockinette stitch for the body. Until I get to the underarm (side seam measurement) I have pure and simple knitting hours ahead of me.....time to go off into a no-brain thinkless zone and commune with the fiber and the click of my Addi Turbos. I suspect I will be at the underarm by Saturday or Sunday.

 Claudia knitting at Countrywool

# 4 Sleeves

Betsi's Raglan Sweater is finished to the underarm area, and I am ready to begin the sleeves. Betsi decided that a 16" side measurement was the way to go............either that or 25"!!! Well, I'm not into making a tunic for a 13 year old <g>, so I'm ready to move on with the pattern. (She'd probably change her mind at some point anyway......)

 If we go back and look at our EZ percentage sweater system, we find that we need to cast on 20%K for the sleeve cuffs.....for me that will be 20% x 188 or 37.6 we'll make that an even number (ribbing!) of 38.

 I will use a needle 2 sizes smaller for the ribbing (in this case, I will use a # 5), and cast on 38 sts and knit in the round for 2.5 ", which is Betsi's desired cuff length.

 I am using Casein double pointed needles in place of my beloved bamboo......I think they are softer and I am in a softer knitting mood. This PRAIRIE SILKS yarn in Baht Blue is SO SILKY.


 After the cuff is done, it is customary to full the sleeve out a bit. I like to add 6 sts in this next round....2 increases per needle each a third of the way across each needle.....and I really like to increases with the LIFTED INCREASE which is almost invisible (one knits into the stitch of the row below). So after the increase round, I have 44 sts.

 Our EZ percentage sweater suggests that the top of the sleeve have 33%K sts on it. Well, if you are a slender person and like your sweaters to fit closely, this is a good goal. If you are like me and my chunky family (can we say CHOCOLATE and COOKIES?) we like to shoot for sleeves that are a bit oversized at 40%K.

 So, 40% x 188 is 76 sts.

 I have to get from 44 sts to 76 sts in a smooth line, while knitting up my sleeve in the round.

 First of all, I will need to drag out my # 7 double points for a few rounds......or my 12" circular # 7 Addi Turbo needle. This will get me through the next 2 inches of my knitting, until I increase enough sts to fit around my 16" circular # 7 needle.

 OK....I'm ready.

 The easiest way to manage increases here, is to mark the first st of your round as the CENTER SEAM STITCH. You will make your increases in the stitch BEFORE and the stitch AFTER this marked stitch. Again, I like LIFTED INCREASES.

 So, knit around for 3 (or 4) rounds......increase 2 sts in the fourth round
Knit around for 3 (or 4) rounds more, increase 2 sts in the fourth round'
Continue in this manner until you have your 33% or 40%K number. Knit evenly on that number of sts until you achieve your arm length (measured from the cast on edge of the cuff)

 This method works for mostly everyone UNLESS you have very short arms.

 In that case.........

 Figure out your row gauge from your sweater
.........figure out how many rounds you will need to knit to achieve your arm length (don't forget to add in the already done cuff!)
.........figure out how many sts you need to increase
........divide them by two
........divide that number into the number of rounds you need to do will USUALLY get a fraction...round that down to the lower number your increases on these rounds

# 5...Joining the Body and the Sleeves to create the Yoke

Well, before we actually start this, I have a story to tell.......
I had finished off Betsi's sleeves and was ready to join them to the body a few days ago, when I decided to just check the lengths on her......Well, as she took a look at them she said....."Mom...these are NOT the sleeves of the sweater I liked!" No, says I? No........the sleeves she liked had no ribbing at the cuff (but they didn't roll) and were very wide.......the straight leg pants idea. Sigh. So, because I want her to wear this sweater, I ripped out the sleeves and cast on again.........with 33% K stitches, worked 2 rounds of ribbing, changed to larger needles and began my increasing as per the percentage idea until I reached 40%, and made these WIDE sleeves for her. She is happy. They will droop down and get in her way all the time, so she won't be able to actually DO any work while wearing the sweater.....a junior high fashion necessity.

 At any join the body and the sleeves, one has to first mark off the underarm stitches and capture them on holders of some sort. My preferred style is lengths of waste yarn, as per EZ. So, cut 4 ...12" lengths, get out a darning needle , take your sweater parts and go somewhere where you can count in peace.

 The underarm areas will need 8% of your K number of sts at 4 places as the underarm area of each the underarm area of each side of the body. My K number is 188, so 8% K = 15.

 I will mark 15 sts in four places by running my waste yarn through each spot, tying the yarn ends in a knot, then slipping them off the needle they have been on.

 To find the spots on the body to mark......take your K number, divide by 2, then subtract your 8% number.....the resulting number will be the BODY FRONT OR BACK number, which in my case will work out as:
188/2 = 94.........94 - 15 = 79.

 You can leave the underarm sts that are halfway round the body on the big needle until you knit to them on the joining round..........since they are clearly marked, you can simply slide them off at that point.

 Now the first round of yoke knitting will require me to knit (in this order)
sleeve stitches from first sleeve (in my case....76 - underarm sts on holder [15] = 61)
body front sts = 79
sleeve sts from second sleeve = 61
body back sts = 79

 So....a total of 280 sts will be worked. These sts will be worked on the body are in essence adding the sleeves sts to the body sts already there on that needle.

 If you have never done this before, it helps to pin the sleeves to the body at the underarm areas. I use large stitch holder clips to do so....matching the underarm sts on holders, right sides together.

 Remember to mark the beginning of your round...which will be the back left shoulder. It doesn't matter much, really, which is the back of the sweater and which is the front, but I like to be consistent from this point on, so I get a clear picture in my head of how the sweater will sit on the body. This helps once we get to the short row neck. SO>..........mark the front with a bright piece of something so you can always find it.

# 6...Yoke Calculations and Shaping with Decreases


 When we last left our sweater, it was all assembled and ready for the yoke to begin.
There are 280 sts on my yoke needle.

 I need to mark 4 decrease points clearly. These 4 points will become the Raglan Line and are the most noticeable thing about these sweaters....the line runs from the underarm in a diagonal direction to the neck.

 The 4 points are easy to find.......simply mark the first and last stitch of each sleeve. Be sure to have your beginning-of-the-round marker in a different color so you know where you are. The decreases will happen just BEFORE and AFTER each marker. our custom fitting yoke decisions will come into play. Before we start this deep do you want yours' to be? The 25%K number that EZ uses works fine for most sweaters, but those of us who are making very wide (or very narrow) sweaters may find ourselves with too much or too little yoke depth. So, we will break down this decreasing process into its smallest components and customize our fit.

 When I go to measure my existing knitting, I find my row gauge to be 6 rounds=1". When I look at Betsi's well fitting sweater, I find the yoke depth to be 8.5". With some simple math, I find that I will need to knit for 8.5inches X 6 rows/inch = 51 rounds. Since I will be putting a 1.5" crew-collar on this sweater, I really will have only 51 rounds - 9 rounds (6x1.5) to work with. So.......42 rounds.

 My 40% neck opening will require 40% K sts or 40% x 188 sts = 75.2....I like 76 sts.

 So...I have to go from 280 sts to 76 sts in 42 rounds of knitting: 280-76 = 204 sts to reduce.

 Raglan decreases happen in groups of 8 sts/round. 204/8 = 25.5. Oh no.....not an even number. I will have to add or subtract more sts to the neck to make this an even number. I will choose to add 4 my neck is now 80 sts, and the yoke decrease becomes 280-80=200, which IS divisible by 8.......200/8 = 25.

 All right. Here we are. We have to work 25 rounds of decrease into 42 rounds.

 There are a couple of real neat math tricks one can use to figure out how to evenly distribute these rounds. I choose a hands-on method that involves a sheet of paper, a pencil, and a good eraser <g>.

 It is a customary rule that yoke decreasing looks best when the MOST decreasing takes place closer to the neck than the underarms (that's how we are built). Write down rounds 1-42. Mark decrease rounds with a "D". Start at round 42 (the neck), and mark each preceding round with a "D" for half of your 25-rounds-of-decrease, (I will mark the next 13 rounds) then mark every other round until you hit round 2 (your next round of knitting). Count your decrease rounds and make sure there are 25 of them....adjust the ones in the middle until you have the right balance.

OK.....we have a list of decrease rounds and an idea of where to put them. Now about the decreases?


 I very much like the look of the following style of decreasing, so I'll use this method:

 .....THREE STITCH SEAM: *k 2 tog, k marked stitch, ssk*

 ssk is.....slip one stitch as if to knit, slip the next stitch as if to purl.....put the point of the left needle into the FRONTS of both sts together.....yarn around the back needle and knit them off.

 So...proceed up the yoke until you are 2 inches shy of your final measurement (which will put you roughly at round 30). At that point, we will put in some short rows to raise the back of the neck, providing a proper fit on the shoulders.

 # 7...Neck shaping, Collar and Finishing

 Well, the end of January brings with it the last of the postings for this pattern. Betsi's sweater has been finished, and she is wearing it! For those of you reading this for the first time, late last Fall I began to knit and write about a sweater for my daughter, that I have composed using EZ's raglan sweater percentage method. It has been fun to share the progress (and pitfalls!) with you all, and many folks have dropped me a note as they are working on some raglan patterns of their own.

So, here is the last set of instructions......

 FIRST......a KEY to help you with my instructions to this point......

* *= repeat directions between * * until end of row/round.
ssk=slip, slip, knit=slip first st as if to k, slip the 2nd st as if to p, put point of left
needle into fronts of those 2 sts, k both tog.
srw=short row wrap= slip next st, bring working yarn to opposite side of work, slip at back to left hand needle, put working yarn back to where it started.


 When we last left our sweater, we were at Round 30, and we need to do something about shaping the neck, so that the sweater sits properly on the shoulders. The answer is to work some short rows across the BACK of the sweater, causing more fabric to congregate there and not at the front of the neck. To do this, proceed as follows:

Short Row Neck Shaping: Find 13 sts at center front of sweater. Mark them by placing markers to define them. Slip sts, from the beginning of the rnd, until you reach the left front (left side of YOUR neck front if you were wearing the sweater) side of these marked stitches..... Tie your working yarn to the base of the last st before the marker, SRW the first st of the marked sts (left side of your neck front) using this yarn, turn and work around on the INSIDE of the neck in pattern (which will be an even round: but remember to REVERSE which sts you do to stay in pattern) until you come to the other side (right side) of the neck front. SRW the last st before the marker on the right front side of neck, turn and work around the OUTSIDE of the neck in pattern (which will be an odd round). You will proceed in this manner, remembering to decrease around the marked stitches of your raglan decreasing line as needed:

Outside: work in pattern to 2 sts before last wrapped st, SRW, turn
Inside: work in pattern to 2 sts before last wrapped st, SRW, turn.

 Continue neck shaping and raglan decreasing until neck measures about 2-3" (from center front sts), ending after an inside row is completed.

 Count your stitches. Decrease a few more stitches, if needed, to achieve NECK STITCHES (in my case, that is 80) by working another outside round, decreasing evenly as you go.

 Collar: Begin working on all sts, in-the-round, for neck, using the smaller 16" needle.Work to desired depth. A nice ribbing stitch to use is *k1,p1*, repeating around. Betsi decided to have a stripe in her collar, so after working 3 rounds of *k1,p1* in main color, I added r rounds of contrasting color as follows: 1 round of knit, and then 1 round of *k1,p1*. As I returned to the main color, my first round was knit, and the next few rounds were *k1,p1*. Bind off loosely, with larger needle. Graft underarms together. Darn in ends.

 We are done!!!!!!!

 Keep knitting :)  

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