I love observant and astute readers! I was actually thinking to myself, how many of my readers will question my claim of a top-down seamless raglan that, well, has a detachable front flap? Call my bluff and incompleteness? (the sweater in question is this one, of course)
A few picked up on the unusual construction. TracyKM (who knew me through the about.com forum back when I didn’t even know how to purl) commented, “Okay, I get there’s no seams, but Pico. doesn’t have button openings… so how’d you do it? Separate balls? Back and forth?” and Vanessa wrote, “how did you do the button openings on the top dow raglan? steeking?”
Very observant, you two ;).
I want to share the construction of this sweater with you because raglans are so easy to knit seamlessly, no matter the variation on the traditional theme. I actually don’t particularly love knitting adult sweaters in the round/seamlessly (my reasons are not arbitrary and possibly deserve their own post), but baby sweaters are a different story. When you’ve got just a handful of stitches, and two get eaten up by seams, there’s bulk and unsightliness and general cringing on my part.
I’m writing this explanation for knitters who are experienced in top-down raglan construction, just to show how a variation can be accomplished. For basic instruction, you may wish to consult Knitting from the Top.
You start out by casting on the stitches for the back and the tops of the sleeves only (deep pink), plus a few stitches on either side of the (yet to be knit) front, so you aren’t increasing right on the edge. Knitting from the top down, and working back and forth, you increase along the raglan seams to create the yoke.
I don’t limit myself to increasing the same number of stitches for the front/back as for the sleeves – sometimes the desired finished dimensions cannot be accomplished by such simple mathematics. In the case of LL’s sweater, for example, the back was increased from 23 to 47 sts (a total of 24 sts) but the sleeves started with 19 and ended with 35 sts (a total of 16 sts increased). Treat each section as its own entity, increasing evenly no matter what’s happening in the neighboring one, and it will look just fine at the end. Keep in mind the total desired raglan length to determine the frequency of increasing.
Once the yoke is completed, place the sleeve sts on a length of yarn (light green). A few stitches get cast on in the armpit (deep pink). This is the raglan equivalent of binding off about an inch at the start of sleeve cap and armhole shaping, and is partially responsible for eliminating batwings, my pet peeve of all pet peeves. I know the little deep pink dash looks all weird sticking out in mid-air, but that’s actually where the stitches end up.
Now, for the fun part: provisionally cast-on (forest green) the stitches which will form the front. The number is equal to the stitches you have in the back section, minus the few stitches you’ve already got framing the sleeves. Join the whole thing in the round. It will look like a full back, two little cap sleeves, and a very risqué front.
Knit in the round to the hem to complete the body. Come back to the held sleeve sts, and when joining in the round, pick up a few stitches right on top of the armpit stitches (deep pink). Knit to the cuffs.
To complete the front, undo the provisional cast-on, and working back and forth, mimic the back shaping by working at the same rate, but making decreases instead of increases. Bind off (blue) when the front is completed. I placed the buttonholes in the trim, so you don’t even have to think about that at this point ;).
Simple, isn’t it?
Karma correctly identified that it was her blog where I originally saw this cute design. She also pointed out that I placed buttons on both raglan seams, while the designer intended them only along one (click on the link to her blog to see what I mean).
Oops! I admit I didn’t read the instructions, and obviously didn’t look at the photo too closely. However, seeing the sweater as it was intended, I shook my head in agreement – it, too, can be accomplished seamlessly from the top-down! Think about it for a second… simple, isn’t it? Cast on for the entire neckline, but don’t join in the round, work back and forth creating the yoke, then join in the round while casting on a few armpit stitches, and that’s that!
P.S. Of course you can also knit the yoke as I described, then separately knit the front from the top down to the point where I had the provisional cast on, and then join the whole thing in the round to complete the body. Why not?!?