Elizabeth Zimmermann Seamless Raglan Knit-along #4

posted in: knitting | 21

The weather is so wonderful in the UK at the moment. I used up one my lovely Japanese fabrics to make a little light summer dress. This tried and tested Butterick pattern has featured on the blog many times and both Esme and I have several versions. Everyone needs a one piece dress and I have never been able to buy one in a shop as my top half is at least one dress size smaller than my bottom half. The Nani Iro fabric is based on a water colour painting and I just love the ethereal colours and strong turquoise detailing. Of course, as ever, I didn’t have enough fabric (1.5m, when 2.20m was specified) The dress is cut with the selvedge running across, rather than down, the fabric; the sleeve facings are cut on the bias, and the facings were made out of what was left. The double gauze is very nice to wear in this hot weather.

Butterick 4386
Butterick 4386

Nick and I spent a really great day in Blockley, Gloucestershire. Historically it was a major centre for silk production, although now it is just a very beautiful place with wonderful walks nearby. And horses.

Back to our knitalong!

Where are you now?  Sue is miles ahead with both sleeves done, and Mags has got the ribbing done. So a range of achievements. Have you managed to finish your bodice yet? This is where we were aiming to be today. If not, don’t worry. The overall pace is relaxed and I will feature the finished jerseys in two hits – those finishing with me, and those finishing a little later.

Bodice seamless knitting
EZ seamless raglan: Bodice done

But I am going to assume you have done the bodice and you are going to start on the sleeves. If you have already done the EZ colourful yoke sweater I don’t need to tell you what to do. This is the same as before. 

I can’t really improve on those instructions so please have a look at the older post. The key idea is to divide your overall number of bodice stitches by 5 to get the quantity of stitches for the wrist, to increase two stitches every fourth row, until you get to your bodice stitch number divided by 3, and then knit to the required length and then stop.

One thing I have found, but it may be me, is that I prefer to increase every sixth row. This makes a slightly more slender sleeve, and you will probably be increasing almost to the end.

Also I am going to say one thing that you may like to think about.

When you get to making the raglan “seams” – actually where you do the decreases, you may find that the jumper goes almost to a point at the neckline, as the sleeve stitches get used up in the decreases more rapidly than the bodice (as they have less stitches).  I have been thinking of increasing the sleeves just a bit more than Mrs Zimmermann specifies in order to have marginally more width at the shoulder point. I am not recommending a new percentage – say 50% of the first number rather than 33%. But if you want slightly more than 33% I would say that might improve the look. It is up to you! Also, in passing, I will mention that Mrs Z also includes a saddle shoulder look which I tried once and failed with, but I might be able to tackle that now I am more experienced. Maybe that is the project for another Knitalong – maybe next year. There is a nice one on pointy pointy sticks blog. 

Anyway let’s get back to the raglan that we are knitting! I am obviously having problems with my concentration at the moment. Here is a view from the house.  This year our swan pair have six cygnets which is a joy to behold.

Swan pair and six cygnets
Swan lake

This week we will try to do both sleeves. With stripes I feel the sleeves should match each other. Personally I don’t mind if they don’t match the bodice line by line, stripe by stripe. If you are short of colours you could do your sleeves in one plain colour. Courtney of @blackyarns has made beautiful sleeves in her main colour (black) but with a band of stripes. It is going to be wonderful. Another idea is to use a block of colour from the wrist to the elbow, as this can look effective, and may help with over-striping! But I am going for very srtipey!

You may remember I am a “magic loop” knitter. If you haven’t tried this before I really recommend it as you can make your narrow tubes (sleeves) with the same circular needles as you used for the wide tube (bodice). Zimmermann never mentions this method so I am not sure she knew it. But we do and it is magic. So let yourself go and do it. I had one go with dpns and found it much harder. But of course use your preferred method to make a seamless sleeve. Let us all know how you are getting on and I will see you next week.


21 Responses

  1. Mags

    Love your colours and that pop of pink. At my pace I think I’ll be in a group of my own, but I’m enjoying it and I love the baby cashmino it will be so warm, just slow!

  2. Shelagh

    As I’m knitting a baby jumper I’m managing to keep pace for once! I have gone for non-matching stripes fory sleeves because I’m loving the freedom of changing colour when I fancy it.

  3. Michelle

    The water colour fabric is beautiful. Wonderful colours.

    I think that knitting random stripes has pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is probably a good thing but has been bizarrely challenging for me. Which colour next? How many rows? However I have finally done the body section and actually really like the randomness of it.
    Sleeves. I tried magic loop for the first time on the other KAL. I had to persevere to begin with but I am a convert. It’s a great technique. I don’t think I can cope with random stripes, though, so the sleeves will be planned rather than spontaneous.
    I love the variety of interpretation on this KAL and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s finshed sweaters. It’s a very supportive way of creating.

    • fabrickated

      I agree that the stripes element has been the most interesting, especially seeing all the variations. What we are prepared to make (and wear) is pretty closely related to our willingness to experiment, take risks, learn, etc, so as you say it can challenge our comfort zone. I worry as much as the next person about getting the right colour, shape, size of stripe etc…

  4. Sue

    I agree totally about having more rows between the increases on the sleeves. I didn’t do this and I’m really sorry, but totally NOT frogging again! My sleeves are a bit baggy for my arms, but I shall learn to live with them. I did decrease the shoulders to nothing as per EZ, and again, your idea of extra increases is rather good. However, I don’t mind the point. I totally agree that sleeves should match each other, but love the idea of colour blocking. I did briefly consider this but couldn’t visualise it with my colours, so I am stripes all the way!

  5. Catherine

    Could you make more increases across the front and back panels and fewer on the sleeve heads to keep the raglan lines going in a more traditional shape? I think some of the examples on Ravelry with the raglan seams pointing towards the ears are weird-looking.

    BTW, I’m lurking on this KAL which I stumbled on several weeks after it started and thought I’d also make a striped EZ raglan since I’ve had Knitting Without Tears since the 1970s and have made a number of the seamless yoked sweaters in the distant past. I’m using Jamieson’s Spindrift, a fairly fine Shetland wool, in shades of purple/black/cream and I’ve done the body and am working on the sleeves now. I found the sleeve increases EZ recommends made my sleeves too wide too fast so I ripped out the first one and started again with the increases every 8 rows, which is working better with my row gauge of 9 rows/inch.

    • fabrickated

      Thanks for joining in, even if you have been lurking Catherine. If you mean could you decrease more on the fronts than the sleeves then yes, I think you could. I will mention that as an option when we do the decreases, next week. Your colour scheme sounds lovely.

  6. Karen

    I will be in Mags group or the one behind, so not at the sleeves yet but I was thinking, can you do both sleeves at the same time? Sock style. I’ve only knitted two pairs of socks so far and not actually had ago at knitting two at a time. I like the idea of matching sleeves but I’m not great at counting rows probably why the EZ approach is right up my street. If I did them together, I could keep the sleeves matching, while still randomly changing colour. Would I just end up in an extreme tangle?

    Beautiful dress. I have the same drama, opposite shape, Top heavy but also short, a kind of upside down pear. I find it very difficult to buy a dress, which is why I dug out my old sewing machine in the first place, the start of the path which eventually led me back to knitting. I’ve still not got to a dress yet. Partly because my skills are still basic but also because I probably still haven’t actually worked out what will style willl work, skills and shape. X

    • fabrickated

      I have wondered about doing two sleeves at once Karen. When I have done a seamed sweater this made perfect sense. But I can’t conceive of it with magic loop. I suspect it would be a hot mess, and probably impossible.

      I am sure you will make good progress now. The sleeves are very portable, but you do need to carry two around so you can get the pattern the same. Alternatively just mix it up, or do plain sleeves?

  7. ceci

    Love the gauze dress – as we seem to have moved into full on summer weather here (heat index of 106 predicted for today…..). And the colors in the stripes really sing! As a winter only knitter, I’m spectating only on the KAL, but am enjoying completely.


  8. Kim Hood

    Sleeves knitted first but I’ve started the body now so I should collide with your progress soon. Knitting random stripes is fun, but whilst I weighed my yarn and suspect there’s loads I have anxiety issues about the stripe going to post towards the end when I have to use whatever remains. Probably totally unnecessary.

    • fabrickated

      Good to hear. I have my sleeves done and am just joining things up and writing next week’s post at the same time. I have loads of yarn this time and I could probably create matching leggings, scarf or skirt! But I am usually short of materials and slightly panicked…

  9. Anita Steiner

    The dress and the sweater look both lovely. We had rather cool weather over the last weekend and until Wednesday. Now we are back to around 30° C again. The swans and cygnets look lovely, we do not have any in Basel.


  10. helen

    I’m probably a week behind. I’m up to about 10″ in body length, I need to get to 15″ to the armhole point.
    I’ll take note on the comment about making the sleeves slimmer. I’ll probably knit on DPN as I have’t mastered the magic loop. DPNs work fine for me but it is slower. I think I will challenge myself to learn magic loop one day!
    I did treat myself to the Addi interchangable needle set and I think they are fab. I did have the right size Pony quality needles but Addi are so much better.

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