Raglan Sleeve Freedom

Have you ever checked the measurement of your arms? Does the sleeve of every sweater you knit come out correctly for you? Is that stopping you from knitting for yourself?20180809_112733

We use the bust measurement to choose a sweater size to knit but does that mean that the corresponding sleeve is going to fit also? As I age I find I need larger sleeves than many patterns will give me, especially if the pattern is written by someone younger and smaller. If you are busty you may find that you need a narrower sleeve than the pattern is going to give you. If you are plus sized you definitely need to check your arm size against the schematic to check the fit.

What if … we didn’t use the raglan lines to define our sleeve size?

I’m working on an ANY GAUGE Top Down Raglan Pullover and it occurred to me that I could place the sleeve inside the raglan lines for a smaller sleeve or I could extend the sleeve stitches outside the raglan lines on either side for a larger sleeve. Why Not? Who said I have to pay attention to those lines anyway!

At the Great Divide if I want a smaller sleeve (in red) I could put less stitches on spare yarn inside the raglan markers. That would leave me with a couple of stitches on either side of the smaller sleeve that would be transferred to the Body.

smaller sleeve schematic

My first prototype sweater for the Any Gauge Raglan has a very large sleeve as defined by the raglan lines. I was able to get the right sleeve size for myself by placing fewer stitches on spare yarn. There are 2 stitches of the sleeve on either side that I didn’t need. My sleeve is 1″/2.5cm smaller than the sleeve the raglan lines would have given me.20180806_101458

If I wanted a larger sleeve than the raglan lines would indicate, I could add in a couple of Body stitches on either side and use them for my sleeves. Now, of course, your Body has fewer stitches.



You can see that you might need to consider the sleeves, wider or narrower, as you work down towards the bottom of the yoke. At the bottom of the yoke you would have to have ALL the stitches you need for the Body of your sweater and the Sleeves on your needle, irregardless of where the raglan lines fall.

If you need a wider sleeve you would need to work extra increase rows (rounds) to add stitches to the whole yoke (still increasing at the raglan lines as usual) so that once you put your wider sleeve stitches on spare yarn you will have the correct number of Body stitches left.

If you need a narrower sleeve you would work to less stitches at the bottom of the yoke because you are going to move the extra sleeve stitches you don’t need to your Body.

If the raglan lines don’t dictate your exact sleeve size then you could work a raglan sweater to your exact measurements. Would that be KNITTING FREEDOM or what?!

What do you think? Would this give you a better fitting sleeve and sweater?


SHARE this with your sweater knitting friends. A good fit is always important.

ANY GAUGE and GAUGE-FREE patterns by Deb

Cabin Fever Patterns on Ravelry

Deb on instagram



Author: debgemmellmods

I'm a Knitter. The capital K means every day, everywhere. I'm co-owner of Cabin Fever with my sister Lyn. We have published over 100 patterns and 11 books. I'm also working on a new set of patterns for Any Gauge knitting. Dive into your stash and cast on for a Top Down sweater that fits, or an accessory to use up those odd balls of yarn.

3 thoughts on “Raglan Sleeve Freedom”

  1. KNITTING FREEDOM certainly deserves to be in caps, yes that’s exactly where we, Knitters or knitters, all want to get. I so appreciate the work you put into this. And to almost feel the way your brain works is such a revelation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I’m having a lot of fun with this idea. But I’m afraid not even I know how my brain works!! I’m just glad it still does.


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