EZ Seamless Raglan Knit-along #1

posted in: knitting | 25

Thanks, everyone, who has signed up for the Elizabeth Zimmermann seamless Raglan knitalong. I am very excited by all the participants this year. Knitting together and learning from each other and getting new ideas from others is what this is all about. While I have knitted seven or eight of these sweaters I am still learning, so this is self-help rather than instruction. If in doubt Elizabeth herself will guide you through her lovely book Knitting without Tears.

I hope you have worked out your gauge by now – instruction were provided last week. 

Today we are going to discuss colour and stripes.

Here are some designer items for you to consider.

What do we see? Actually on the whole we have exciting and very novel approaches to colour combining, differential widths of stripe and a few interesting details. Have a look at some well-known fashion houses – many of them have some nice striped jerseys at the moment. You may also notice how terribly expensive these items are, reflecting small runs and an exclusive look. But, ladies, our sweaters will be even more exclusive. We are making made-to-measure one offs. And we have the wonderful advantage of chosing colours that harmonise with our colouring.

Colours that suit your colouring

Apart from a couple of muted colourways I have gone for fairly bright examples here as they tend to suit me better than deeps or lights. Think about choosing a set of colours which go your colouring. If you have black hair maybe choose deep colours, with a few brights thrown in. If you have warm colouring what about greens and orange? And if you have light colouring look for subtle, gentle light colours that almost blend as you knit them. The Pringle monochrome is a nice sweater with its shading from light at the base to deepest green near the face. I would have reversed this arrangement so you have the deeper colour around the hips/waist and the lighter colours over the bust and nearer the face, but if you have a large bust you may want to have the deeper shades at the top.

Colours that work with your wardrobe

A striped sweater is a real wardrobe staple as it can go with so many things. When you choose your colours you can introduce colours you wear often – your best neutrals for example – denim blues, grey, black or brown. Or if you like a contrast with your mainly blue wardrobe include pinks, yellow or orange. For me green is a colour I am a bit low on, so I am going towards green this time.

One of my previous seamless Raglan striped sweaters features neutral colours – greys and beige, with a little light pink, lemon and white. This has proved to be a very nice, versatile item. The shades also harmonise well with my hair that includes  beige, blonde and grey and silver. Although I generally like to wear colour in my jumpers this neutral colour scheme is a keeper and I am surprised that it is often complemented. I think it is quiet but a bit different – and compared to a plain grey or beige sweater it does have a bit of excitement.


I made one in gray cashmere (you can see this is a try on picture as the underarms are not yet sewn and it is paired with running shorts…). I actually lengthened this with ribbing later on, but you can see how one colour can work well with stripes. I really like wearing this sweater as the cashmere yarn is so very soft it feels marvellous and warm.

Grey #EZRaglanKAL

My third version is much more colourful. I used whatever I had for this one, with grey and beige playing their part. It includes quite a few blues and greens, deeper reds and purple too, so it works well with lots of my skirts, especially a deep red corduroy one I have, and navy.

Stronger colours

I also made a couple of these with an ombre look which might appeal to you. This is easily achieved by using an variegated yarn, or just doing slightly more subtle stripes. The bright pink was a plain yarn, and the rest of the jersey uses the variegated yarn. I have a small amount of the bright pink left and am thinking of using this up with my green yarns this time.

Elizabeth Zimmerman raglan
Zimmermann raglan sweater

What colours to mix together

While I have made suggestions on tending to stick to one colour scheme, there is also the issue of how you balance and blend colours together. I like to mix neutrals in. I find colour after colour can be a bit tiring, whereas when you add some neutrals it helps the colourful colours along. Some neutrals can really make other colours stand out – particularly if you chose white or black consistently. Helene is planning on brights against black, and recently Helen used rainbow colours against white. These are both the most effective backdrops for the clear colours. But if your colours are a bit softer or mixed then grey or beige will be easier. My stronger colour jumper above has beige, grey, and a few pastel colours in.

Using what you have

And then there is economy and using up what you have. I was sort of following this principle with all my jerseys so far, but when I was buying I had this idea in my mind. I think you can mix just about any colour with any colour, but if you stick with one palette eg deeper, or cool, or muted colours, you will get a harmonious look. In my stronger colour jumper all the shades I have are cool (with a blue undertone), or they are neutrals which go with anything.

Stripe size and placement

I tend to stick to two to six rows. This means my stripes are fairly narrow, but also varied. You can do this too, or use larger stripes, or stick to smaller ones. Generally if you are larger you will suit a bigger stripe, and vice versa. If you are making for a child or a man, bear scale in mind. Also look at what the designers have done. I would steer clear of an obvious pattern like four rows of navy, followed by four rows of white, ad nauseam. This will look like RTW and is more boring to knit. BUT the choice is yours, of course.

How to join your colours

This is a tricky one. I have tried all the techniques and I do get a bit of looseness around the interchange. In the end I do the simplest thing and knot the two colours together. The other method seems to be to knit one or more stitches that include both colours. I don’t have a brilliant solution here, so I will wait to see if anyone can suggest a better method.

The issue of “jogs” will irritate some of you. The method that Helene showed me involves slipping the first stitch on the second row of the new colour. I think this is very neat and you could try this. Personally I don’t care about jogs.

What colours are you planning to use? Any colour, sizing or gauge questions?

And any tips on joining your yarns?


25 Responses

  1. Kerry

    Thank you for the handy reference guide and colour options as well as all those great photos. Your greys and beiges jumper is very pleasing and soothing to the eye while your brighter striped jumpers (love that bright pink!) require more brain activity, I think. Isn’t it fantastic that you have such a range of ‘bespoke’ (this is a family joke as so many things are labelled ‘bespoke’ these days) jumpers to choose from depending on your mood and what you’re wearing. Since you have nudged me back to knitting, I have noticed very few people wear hand knitted items these days. I wonder why that is? It’s certainly very therapeutic. And I feel like I’m still being useful when I’m watching my favourite tv shows.

    I suspect my jumper is going to be dull. I have bought fresh supplies form the Bendigo Woollen Mills on a recent trip and decided on a very dark blue with a lighter shade as contrast. I might insert pockets for a bit of interest if I’m brave enough!

    • fabrickated

      Ah pockets! That would be an interesting challenge. Mrs Z does have some advice on that. And plain or subdued colours is not boring especially if those are the colours you enjoy wearing. My love of brighter colours will occasionally burst through, but please don’t mind me…!

  2. Elaine Sabin-Simpson

    Love that green stripe combo…pity I find knitting a chore [unless there’s a nice interesting complicated pattern to follow, quite the opposite of your EZ ethos it seems!
    I think you’re all knitwits lol

  3. Hélène

    Your collection of jumpers is impressive, Kate, and I love your inspiration board. Thanks for pointing out that the stripes do look better in varied widths, as I was about to align them in a very systematic way. For this one, I will start with a provisional cast-on row, something I had neglected to do with my first EZ yoke sweater! I like the idea to be able to adjust the length of the body at the very end.

  4. Michele

    Thanks for the inspiration! My book is arriving today from amazon.ca and I have been scouring the internet shops for yarn. I am definitely leaning towards an ombré look, subtle stripes if you will. I am also fortunate to live in a town that has two lovely yarn shops that I shall visit this weekend.

    • fabrickated

      I think subtle stripes can be wonderful Michele. For the version I did for my husband I used two very similar yarns and the gentle delicate stripes (one row of each) is quite beautiful.

  5. Sue Newth

    Fabulous jumpers and I do love the pale one with your hair colour. I have a mix of colours in the beige, natural ,taupe grey shades, all of varying amounts. After studying your jumpers the rows of stripes seem to be complete so it seems to me that you stop with a colour if you can’t finish the row. Also can someone please tell me what “jogs ” are.? Looking forward to starting. 🙂

    • fabrickated

      Yes, Sew, I change at the beginning of the round. I guess you don’t have to! Why not try just continuing on? It might be nice, especially if the colour change is on the subtle side. Jogs are what happens when you do a striped item in the round – a little step up as you change at the beginning of round marker. The method suggested by Helene is that you rectify this as described above and careful blocking at the end. I guess it depends on how much something like this bothers you, or how particular you are. I am so looking forward to watching your progress – I think neutrals can be very nice and interesting especially if you play with light and shade. Maybe just throw in a bit of orange or red for good luck!

  6. Sue

    Thank you for this very interesting post. I have already frogged my jumper four times and number five is now coming up as I’ve made several of the mistakes pointed out by you! I have had a good rummage in my yarn stash and now have more colours which I’ve organised so that all yarns have the same wpi (wraps per inch) so I don’t have to do another gauge. Fingers crossed that I’m on the final version now! I shall be varying my stripe widths but will have to document them as I really don’t like it when the sleeves don’t match the body, although one of your inspiration photos has almost plain sleeves so I might consider this too.

    • fabrickated

      Oh gosh Sue – such is the price of our art. I am going out on a limb with my variety weights of yarn, but I think it will be OK so long as the needle size is the same. But compared to you, Helene and many other perfectionists I usually wing it, bodge and hope for the best. I was impressed by the way you made your sleeves follow the body on the yoke sweater. I like both sleeves the same but beyond that I am not too concerned. I have kept the lower sleeve plain a few times, especially if I am short of yarn for the stripes. I guess it depends on what you have got as much as the effect you are trying for.

  7. Hila

    I have been reading my Knitting Without tears book and calculated my gauge. I am hoping to cast on tonight (Sunday). I have enough red left over from my recent sweater to make stripes with the purple. I dont think I will worry about jogging with this one. Beautiful inspiration sweaters that had me chomping at the bit to go buy more yarn. Hila.x

    • fabrickated

      There are some very nice striped sweaters out there, although I always recall the rainbow sweaters of the 1970s worn by hippy girls and archaeologists. Red and purple is such an exciting combination. I shall be keen to see how you get on.

  8. Michelle

    I was going to be boring and use just one yarn throughout but the examples of striped sweaters are very tempting. I might try two shades of the same colour (which may mask the jogs a little) and I’ll probably try varying the width of the stripes, too. I’m still dithering over the colour; possibly turquoise, which seems to be a colour that suits my grey/silver hair.
    My third EZyoke jumper is languishing in a heap on the floor, with just the neckline to go. It fits, but there isn’t as much ‘give’ as in the other two I made. I used a wool blend before, but this last one was pure Shetland. It’s lovely wool but has knitted up to quite a firm fabric. I hadn’t taken the differing yarn composition into account and probably should have gone up a needle size. Lesson learned!
    Looking forward to joining in with everyone – you’ve really started something with your knit-a-longs, Kate!

    • fabrickated

      Sorry to hear you didn’t manage to finish your third EZyoke jumper…and that is interesting about the yarn being a little too tense for the style. Anyway you can always come back to it with a bigger needle if that is how you decide to go. Two shades of turquoise sounds very nice and flattering for cool, light, bright colouring. It is one of those universal colours that seems to suit most people. I would love to see more turquoise around. I like wearing it with brown, navy, green, red and beige.

  9. Courtney

    Hello! I found your blog via Hélène’s instagram. Seeing all your sweaters is inspiring. I have a pile of black, gray, and navy bits of leftover yarn that I’d love to see put to good use. I’d also love to have the confidence to work without a pattern. I’m going to swatch and join in. My yarns are fingering weight, so I may not progress very quickly, but I’m looking forward to the process.

    • fabrickated

      Welcome Courtney. So nice to have you involved in the knitalong. I think deep neutrals will be lovely together and very wearable. If you have any brights or lighter neutrals they would woke well too and add more interest. It depends how subtle or exciting you want it to be. I think working without a formal pattern (knit 3, yo, pearl into the back of the stitch etc) can be nerve wracking. This way is so much easier. I think you will love it. My ombre version is four ply which I think is the same as fingering – it did take a little longer but it does give a finer finish, especially with the really small (one round) stripes.

  10. Kim Hood

    Wonderful inspiration pictures. I’m going to be using up stash so have to work out the best way to do that now. I’m waiting for my book to arrive but can make a start with the information you’ve given.

    • fabrickated

      Good news Kim. I wonder what colours you have in your stash and how you will combine them. As you say you don’t absolutely need the book, but I think it is a great investment.

  11. Carole Jones

    I’m still working on my gauge – as per the ‘Kn without Trs’ book – and am experiencing some problems. Some of the yarns are different ‘makes’, but they were shop-bought to go together (the original project was a crocheted ‘Greek-isle colours’ beach bag), yet have turned out to be slightly different thicknesses. So … I probably need to see how things look when I first knit the stripes together. This sort of difference didn’t cause problems when I knitted a massive, stash-bust, woolly jumper over winter: but then I was only planning to wear it when slobbing around the house. So … I may have to buy more orange yarn.
    Otherwise, my knitting of the squares looks good, so far. I took my measurements from a mixture of ‘me’ and the old, summer, cotton knit-top that was my inspiration. NB This has a feature which I may try out on my finished top: adding little cotton, patch pockets. However, will have to wait and see how it looks.
    Expect me to drag behind everyone else, as I’m a slow knitter, I only knit in the evenings if watching (non-subtitled) TV, and I am supposed to be finishing a Fair Isle jumper!

  12. helen

    Thanks for the inspiration. I was struggling to picture what I wanted. I’ve now ordered my yarn but not sure it will arrive in time for any weekend knitting.
    I spend ages browsing the love knitting website, changing my mind about quality and colour, but finally made a decision.
    I did look in my bag of left over DK but nothing was shouting out at me.

    I never finished the rainbow stripe jumper. Which I sort of regret but working on 3mm needles was taking for ever, I wasn’t happy with the cotton yarn I’d chosen so the sleeves and 2/3 of the front are sitting in a bag. And I remember it was too big….

    I have some unspent Amazon vouchers received at Xmas and I’m going to treat myself to a set of interchangeable Addi click circular needles.

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