I’m not sure that I’ve ever knit a raglan cardigan, though I do love raglan pullovers. Designer Jessica McDonald knit a couple of them and then was distressed to discover that they quickly became misshapen while wearing, to the point that they wouldn’t stay on her shoulders properly and eventually became unwearable.
Being a clever knitter, she wanted to figure out what the problem was and how she could counteract it to knit the raglan-seamed cardigan of her dreams. The long version of the story is documented in a post on her blog.
The problem is in how raglan cardigans are built. When knitting from the top down, all the weight of the sweater rests on a handful of stitches: usually just one or two each for the fronts, a stitch for each raglan seam, and a handful of stitches that go across the back of the neck.
Because of the weight of the sweater pulling on that small framework, it can easily stretch when you wear it, leading to shoulders that, well, don’t stay on your shoulders.
Part of the solution is in the design of the sweater itself, but if you’re knitting a raglan cardigan from someone else’s design, the main thing you can do to make your sweater wear better is to make your cast on tighter than usual so that it won’t stretch as much.
You can also look for designs that are worked in pieces, because having physical sewn in seams gives your project more structure. Cardigans with buttons that you wear buttoned up should act more like raglan pullovers, too, so that might also help.
If you’re looking for some fun cardigan patterns, check out this roundup of summer cardigans I did a few years ago (I’m working on a cozy cardigan roundup, too, so be on the lookout!).
[Photo: Jessica McDonald Designs.]