Sweater weather has returned! OK, and it’s gone away again … because we live in D.C. and that’s how we roll here. But it’ll be back! It always comes back. And fall, after all, does inevitably turn into winter. So in light of that — and our fall knit-a-long — I wondered what everyone’s favorite sweaters were. So the question of the month is:
Raglan or pieced? Which is your favorite sweater type? Why? And what’s your favorite sweater — the one that fits the best, knitted up the easiest or just goes with everything?
I’m still a sweater newbie, with only two sweaters under my belt. Both were seamless raglans (one a top down cardigan and one bottom up pullover) but I do want to try a pieced sweater sometime soon!
My favorite sweater of the two, my Feathernest Raglan, is the perfect blend of a great fit and neutral color that goes with everything. While I’m not quite sure why, I’m always drawn more to pullovers. I think they just fit into my wardrobe better.
While I love the speed of a top-down raglan, ultimately I prefer a set-in sleeve. Every raglan sweater I’ve ever made continues to “grow” each time I wear it; there are no seams to maintain the sweater’s integrity, and gravity eventually takes its toll. A seamed sweater is a stronger sweater!
Top-down raglan is my all time favorite. I love that I can try it on as I go and customize it how I like. Shorter, longer, more or less ease has never been a problem for me with the top-down raglan construction. One of my favorite patterns is the Garter Yoke Cardigan.
I love garter stitch and the design starts with a garter yoke that I have knit up in Noro Silk Garden and Freia Ombre Worsted and coordinated solid stockinette body. My next sweater, another top-down, will be the Nanook.
I had to think about this a bit. In theory, I tend to agree with Amy Herzog, who promotes seamed pieced sweaters. But then when I thought about my most successful sweaters, I realized that the best ones were knit either from fingering weight yarn OR non-superwash worsted weight. The fingering weight sweaters (two Paulies and one Westbourne) all top down raglans and they all fit well and have held up well. There are two worsted weight sweaters: Nanook, knit from a Cormo mix I got 10 years ago, and the first sweater I knit in 2004 after a 30-year hiatus from knitting. That one is knit from Manos in a pattern that’s so old it’s not even on Ravelry.
So, I thought about this a lot — I’ve made quite a few sweaters (from newborn to adult size) over the years. For fit, nothing beats a pieced sweater. Even a newer knitter can make custom changes (e.g., arm hole depth, back width different from front width, etc.) that make the sweater truly fit you, the knitter. Top-down raglans are a breeze to knit (and contiguous sleeves are a great variation on the top-down theme) but the math to adjust fit is more complicated.
However, for one-piece knits the most fun for me is a bottom-up yoke (like this Keith Moon by Kate Davies). Not only is everything knit in one piece, because the sleeves are attached at the yoke join once you get to the end of the neckline you are good and truly done.
I choose option C: neither. Raglans are fun knitting. They work up fast and tend to be straight forward patterns, great for knitters of all levels. The only problem is that raglans in anything heavier than fingering weight leave me looking like I have sad, oddly bulky armpits. No one wants that. Pieced sweaters are great — easily customizable, greater structural integrity, super portable. They’re also a great way for me to knit pieces of a project, only to walk away when something shinier or more pressing comes along. I can’t wear a left front on its own, you know?
Instead I’m all about contiguous construction for top-down sweaters (check out Neon by Joji, it will blow your mind) and cardigans knit flat with picked up sleeves for bottom ups (most recently Cosy (me) and Audrey in Unst, but really almost any Gudrun Johnson cardigan will do it). It’s the best of both worlds: shoulder fit like a set-in sleeve with the ease of knitting one piece of fabric. Oh, and they fit well. Sold.