Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Raglan Aran I Made

I thought I’d share a sweater I knitted a while ago, since I just got photos of it. I think I made the sweater the late 1990s, because I made it for my ex-husband, and I don’t think I’d put that much effort into a sweater for him if I knew at the time that he was unhappy in the marriage. You see lovely photos of my friend and singing companion, Bill, modeling the sweater, because the ex didn’t ever wear it (not that he didn’t like it, but he is a warm-blooded Irish fellow and never needs a sweater). Bill chills much more easily, so he is very happy to have something hand-knit and warm. And as a bonus, I get to see the sweater every so often! It all worked out fine. (This contrasts to a Kelly green sweater Aran-style sweater in a sport-weight yarn that I knit in the 1980s for a previous male companion, which I will never see again. I need to look through old photos to see if I took pictures of that one.)

This is one of my favorite things that I’ve made. I used all my favorite techniques: it’s a top-down raglan knit with no seams, and I used real naturally colored wool that I got in Ireland at a little shop in Galway that’s where the people who hand-knit sweaters for wealthy tourists come to bring in their products—I bought some of the wool they use for their sweaters. I also got to use my very favorite complex cable pattern, one that is so wide that you need plenty of stitches to get it to fit. The yarn was not “Aran” weight, but more of a sport/Shetland weight, so I could put lots of stitches on the needles. I also fit the center pattern down the sleeves, and adjusted the raglan shaping to let it go all the way up to the neck. I also like that I used a more interesting pattern than seed stitch on the sides (I guess it’s moss stitch). At the time I was a “thrower,” so seed stitch was a pain in the arm. (I think I switched knitting styles mainly because switching from knit to purl is so much easier with the yarn in my left hand.) I am really happy with the way the pattern on either side of the central motif is balanced. Its simplicity keeps the focus on the majorly complex center.

For sources, I used the Elizabeth Zimmerman Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns book, the one with the cables in it, and Knitting in the Old Way, by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. As I always did, I used Knitting from the Top, by Barbara J. Walker, to help plan the sweater’s construction. The planning is much of the fun of Aran-style sweaters, anyway. I really enjoy picking motifs, figuring out how to balance them, and seeing how I can make them fit the intended recipient. I do quite a few gauge swatches to make sure I don’t end up with something way too big or too small, since cables really affect gauge. This one worked, though!

It’s a little bulky where the arms meet the body, which is an issue with raglans in general, but it still looks really good on Bill. I’d like to make more sweaters like this, but there isn’t much weather in Texas for wearing really warm ones. This year we had a few weeks of good sweater weather, though, and I got out my felted silk garden raglan and good ole Mr. Greenjeans more than once!

I hope you enjoy this little diversion to focus on an oldie but goodie! I am glad my friend John Phelps, who also did many of our wedding photos, took the time to snap a few shots of Bill in the sweater one day when he wore it to church!


  1. That is just gorgeous!! How lucky that guy is!!

  2. I told you already on Flickr: this is a very beautiful sweater!

  3. When I am stressed out, I like to come to your blog and see all of your beautiful knitting. Today's post is downright inspiring.


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