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Stripy – 3 – The Yoke

by ysoldateague September 28, 2007 7 min read

Stripy features a compound raglan adapted from the directions in Maggie Righetti’s Sweater Design In Plain English.The simple method of working a raglan – where you increase every second round until you have enough stitches to fit around the chest – can give a good fit, but in most cases does not result in the correct proportions for a perfect fit. With this method there are more calculations to do but you have much greater control over the proportions and can achieve a perfect fit for any size / figure using any gauge. The increases in this method do not form a straight diagonal line but more closely follow the shape of your body from neck to underarm with a line that is shallower from neck to shoulder and at the underarm and steeper from shoulder to underarm.


Make sure you have a note of your stitch and row gauge (per inch) and your measurements before beginning. If you haven’t read theprevious postsin this serious yet go back and read those first.

Remember that this is a guide, not a set of absolute rules. If you need to tweak things to get the fit you want go ahead. As Righetti wrote “juggling and adjusting are allowed and encouraged in designing raglans” (Sweater Design,294).
I wrote in the post on measuring that I would be writing about how to adjust the basic pattern to fit larger cup sizes. This will be covered in the next post but you still need to do the raglan calculations in this post first. Make sure you use your upper bust measurement (measured directly under the arms) as the chest measurement. The next post will be on how to add the extra stitches to accommodate the difference between this measurement and your full bust where they are needed. So you need to do the calculations in this post, but don’t cast on yet.

I’ve used my measurements and gauge as an example to make things clearer. I’ve used imperial measurements but you can use metric, just be consistent.

Calculating the number of stitches across the neck at front and back:

To get the number of stitches to across the neck I divided my shoulder to shoulder measurement by 2 and multiplied this by my stitch gauge. This can be any measurement you want to achieve the neckline you want. The neckline on my example is high and close fitting. To get an idea of the width you want try measuring an existing garment. Round to the nearest even whole number.

My neck sts = (shoulder measurement/2) x stitch gauge= (14/2) * 5.5 = 38.5 = 38 sts

Calculating the number of stitches across the chest at front and back:

For the number of stitches across the chest at front and back divide your bust circumference by 2 and multiply this number by your stitch gauge. Again round this to the nearest even whole number.

My chest sts = chest / 2 = 34/2 = 17 * 5.5 = 93.5 = 94 sts

Calculating the number of stitches that will be added over the yoke:

Work out the total number of stitches to add at either side between the neck and underarm by subtracting the neck sts from the chest sts and dividing the result by 2.

Sts to add = (94 – 38)/2 = 28 sts

Working out the yoke shaping:

Now you’re going to work out how to add those stitches over the number of rounds required to give your armhole depth.

You’ll begin by working a ribbed band with no increases. My ribbed neckband will be .5″ wide.From the neckband to level with the shoulder increases will be worked on every second round.

To get the number of rounds that increases will be worked at this rate subtract the neckband width from your shoulder depth and multiply this number by your row gauge. (If you have widened the neckline so that it will be lower than the base of your neck you should subtract the depth of the neckline too).

My (shoulder depth from collar bone to lowest point of shoulder – neckband width) x row gauge = (1.5 – .5) x 8 = 8 rows

Divide the number of rows by 2 to get the number of sts increased. 8/2 = 4

The number of remaining sts to add = 28-4 = 24 sts.

The raglan will be 1″ deeper than the actual body underarm depth to allow room for movement. Increases over this inch will also be worked every second round so for mine this will increase another 4 sts, leaving 20 sts to be added.

The rate of increase between the shoulder and underarm will depend on your measurements so you may need to do some trial and error to find the best rate. You can work the increases every 4th or 3rd round. You need to be left with a reasonable number of stitches to be cast on at the underarm (reasonable is rather difficult to define but you want at least .5″).

The number of rounds you have to work the increases over is your shoulder to underarm depth x row gauge.

My underarm depth x row gauge = 5.5 x 8 = 44 rounds.

Working increases every 4th round will increase 44 / 4 = 11 increases, this will leave 20-11=9 sts to cast on at the underarm. This would result in a total of over 3 inches at the underarm which I think is a little to many for my size.

Working increases every 3rd round will increase 44 / 3 = 14.67 or 45 / 3 = 15 increases. 20-15 = 5 sts to cast on at the underarm. This will be closer to 2 inches cast on at the underarm which I think is more appropriate. So I will increase every 3rd round 15 times (this will be 1 more rnd than is required but it’s not enough to matter).

Calculating the number of stitches to cast on:
The final yoke calculation is to work out the number of stitches to cast on. To work out the number of stitches to cast on for each sleeve multiply your upper arm circumference by your stitch gauge and subtract the total number of stitches added over the yoke from this.

My sleeve cast on stitches = (my upper arm circumference x 5.5) – (stitches to add x 2) = (12 x 5.5) – (28 x 2) = 66 – 56 = 10 cast on stitches.The total cast on = 2(sleeve cast on stitches) + 2(neck cast on stitches)

My cast on stitches = 2(10)+2(38)=20+76=96 sts.

Working the yoke:

You’re now ready to cast on. You may want to use a smaller needle to work the ribbed band than that used for the rest of the sweater. I used a 3.25mm needle for the ribbing and a 3.75mm needle for the rest of the sweater. To find the length of circular you need you can divide the total cast on stitches by your stitch gauge. You can squash lots of stitches onto a smaller needle but you want your stitches to be at least the circumference of the needle. I find 16″ circulars pretty awkward so I began the sweater using magic loop but use whatever method you prefer. Once you’ve increased enough stitches switch to a 24″ needle.

I used a tubular cast on for 1×1 rib and worked 2 rows back and forth before joining the round, placing a marker to mark the beginning of the round and working 4 more rounds until the band when stretched out as it would be when work was .5″ wide.

Once the ribbed band is complete switch to main needle size and place markers to mark where to increase as follows.

The beginning of the round will be at the right back shoulder. On the next round knit the sleeve cast on stitches and place a marker. The button band will be at the left front and the raglan increases will be worked on either side of the button band. I made the button band 6 stitches wide so I knit 32 stitches before placing the next marker (front neck stitches – 6 = 38-6=32). Then knit the button band, place another marker, knit the left sleeve stitches, place a marker and knit the remaining stitches of the round which should equal the neck cast on stitches. The button band stitches will be covered up eventually with false button placket so you can just work these stitches in stocking stitch.

I worked mirrored lifted increases. Work each increase round as follows:

K1, LLI, k to 1 st before marker, RLI, k1, slip marker, k1, LLI, k to 1 st before marker, RLI, k1, slip marker, k to marker, slip marker, k1, LLI, k to 1 st before marker, RLI, k1, slip marker, k1, LLI, k to 1 st before marker, RLI, k1.

To re-cap I will work the yoke increases by increasing every 2nd round 4 times, then every 3rd round 15 times, then every 2nd round 4 times. At this point I should have 84 stitches at the front and back and 56 stitches for each sleeve. After separating the sleeve stitches from the yoke I will cast on 5 x 2 = 10 stitches at each underarm. Make sure you have a note of when you will be working the increase round as calculated above.

Sorry for such a lengthy post without pictures, but I didn’t want to leave this any longer. I’m not sure how clear this is or whether it needs some illustrations so if you have any feedback or questions I’d really appreciate it if you let me know.

Next time: adjustments for larger cup sizes.
Read all posts in the Stripy series.


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