2: Who or What’s a Raglan?

(Woodwardia from Ready Set Raglan)

Welcome to the second post in our ‘Twelve Weeks of Raglan’ blog series! Let’s talk about what the term ‘raglan pullover’ means, and the history of the word ‘raglan’ in the knitwear world!

Typically, the word ‘raglan’ describes a type of sleeve which diagonally extends from the neckband (around the centre of the collarbone or shoulder blade, depending if you’re looking at the front or the back!) down under the armpit. This style of pullover lends itself to many different construction methods, for example working flat in pieces, or working bottom-up in the round. However, our favourite method is knitting in the round from the top down, increasing until you get to your maximum number of stitches at which point you’ll put the sleeve stitches on hold. Then you’ll knit straight down in the round until the desired length is reached. Stitches are picked up for the sleeves and neckline and worked as per pattern instructions. And there you have it!

Enter Ready Set Raglan! We decided to have some fun with this minimal-fuss-and-few-ends-to-weave-in style by adding decorative increases, and experimenting with different yarns, colour combinations, and colourwork techniques! Our raglan pullover collection is designed to empower the new to intermediate knitter to experiment and grow in confidence within these raglan pullover pattern blueprints, and to provide the experienced knitter with a compendium of patterns to return to again and again.

(Grainne from Ready Set Raglan)

The raglan sleeve style was first developed by the tailor of FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, also known as the first Baron Raglan. Lord Raglan lost his right arm in the Crimean War and his tailor designed the diagonal armhole seam to afford him greater movement and ease of dressing. This was around 1855, but the style become popular in knitwear fashion just before World War I, and was seen in other styles of clothing throughout the twentieth century, such as sportswear (baseball t-shirts are a great example)!

Although a raglan seam is used in all the pullovers within Ready Set Raglan, we debated whether we should use the term in the title at all. This may seem counter intuitive, but we think it is important to consider the weight of knitting terms. Lord Raglan epitomises everything that’s wrong with empire and his actions in the Crimean War are directly opposed to Pom Pom’s values. However, we came to the conclusion that ‘raglan’ is the term widely recognisable and is associated with a popular pullover style which brings such joy, despite the term’s history. If we renamed this style of sleeve, would people understand us? And would we erase a history that needed wider acknowledgement?

(Cyren from Ready Set Raglan)

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