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What Is Top-Down Raglan Shoulder Shaping?

This guest post is brought to you by Carol Feller, instructor of the popular Craftsy classes Sweater Surgery, Celtic Cables and Short Rows. Her new self-published book, Among Stones, has 10 patterns that range from sweaters right though to socks, scarfs and hats. It’s available either in printed or electronic format.

One lucky reader will win a FREE copy of Carol’s new book, Among Stones. To enter, just head here by Thursday, September 26, 2013. Then, comment on this blog post on what item you think you would wear most from this book. We’ll select a winner at random on September 27, 2013.

Cover of Carol Feller's Book Among Stones

Photo via Joseph Feller

The patterns in Among Stones are all designed to be enjoyable to knit and great to wear. They are the kind of knits that I want to wear every day, a key focal point to add interest but otherwise not too fussy!

One of my favorite construction methods is top-down raglan. This type of shoulder construction is very forgiving and easy to modify. You can change the type of increases or change the rate of increases to modify the sweater easily to your body.

So what is top-down raglan shoulder shaping?

As the name implies, it is worked from the top starting at the neckline. You cast on enough stitches for the back of the neck and the top of the shoulders and perhaps also for the front of the garment. Sometimes the shaping for the front is worked after you start, increasing to form a gentle curve around the front of the neck.

After the cast on, you mark each raglan seam line, which is at each side of the sleeve left and right, giving you 4 raglan seam lines in total. Now, you will work an increase at each side of those seam lines every other row. If you are working flat, then you will have those increases every right side row and if you are working in the round, the increases will be every other round. You continue working those increases until you have the correct depth for your yoke (the upper body section of your garment) and enough stitches for your body and sleeve.

Do keep in mind that the final step of the raglan construction is to cast on stitches across the underarm area. Because of this, you will have a little less body and sleeve stitches at the bottom of the raglan then the total you need.

So what if you want to modify your raglan? The two main modifications you can make are to the increase type and to the yoke depth and width.

First, let’s take a look at the increase type.

Carol Feller Modeling Brown SweaterCarol Feller in Stone Archway Modeling White Sweater

Dacite (left) and Dolomite (right); Photos via Joseph Feller

  • Dacite and Dolomite both use a simple increase type, kfb. With this method, you’re just knitting into the front and back of the same stitch and it creates a series of “bars” that run down either side of your raglan shoulder seam.

Carol Feller Leaning Against Stones, Modeling Blue SweaterGabbro; Photo via Joseph Feller

  • Liathite, Liathite Jr and Gabbro all use M1R and M1L increases. This type of increase is subtler. You are lifting the bar of yarn between the stitches from either the front or back and then twisting the stitch to prevent a hole. The directional slant of this increase is very slight, but by changing the number of stitches between the increases you can create different seam effects also.

Do you have an increase preference?

If you like one more than another, then just swap them out! Are you unsure of your preference? Then why don’t you work a little swatch with the different increase types and with different number of stitches between them to see what you like? Take a look at the different pattern photos to see how they create different effects along the seam line.

The other change you can make is to the depth and width of the raglan.

Do you want to create a deeper raglan? The easiest way of doing this is to work a few rows after your increases without any shaping. This way, you don’t add to the size of the garment, just to the length of the yoke. You can also add in the rows between the increase rows toward the end of the yoke. In other words, for the last few increases, instead of working them every RS row, you could work them every other RS row to space them further out.

Perhaps you want to create a larger sleeve and body? In this case, you can add more increase rows or even more underarm stitches. If you don’t want to add any depth to the yoke, then maybe you can add an increase row within a row of the pattern that isn’t being increased.

Do you want a wider back of neck? Then you can cast on more stitches at the neck and work less increase rows so that you don’t also increase your body and sleeve size.

As you can see, there are lots of ways big and small to modify your raglan shoulder shaping. Just think them through and see if they will have any impact on the rest of the garment. Have fun working your raglan shaping!

If you want to see what other knitters are working on and how they are making the garments their own, check out the Stolen Stitches group.

Click here to enter the giveaway and then answer the question below in the comments for a chance to win!

What item do you think you would wear most from Carol’s book Among Stones?

About Carol Feller

Carol Feller’s patterns for men, women, and children are widely published in books and magazines, including Twist Collective, Interweave Knits, Knitting in the Sun (Wiley, 2009) and Knitty. Carol blogs on and can also be found on Twitter (@stolenstitches), and Facebook (carol.feller). She lives in Cork, Ireland, with her husband, four sons, and a large dog. Her first book, Contemporary Irish Knits, was published by Wiley in August 2011.


To learn more about this book, follow along for the rest of the blog tour:
4th of October Ann Kingstone
17th of October Rachel Coopey
21st of October Woolly Wormhead
24th of October Ruth Garcia-Alcantud
28th of October Aplayfulday



I love the Dolomite, but – knowing me – the simple streamlined look of the Gabbro would probably be my most likely pick for wearing. 🙂


I love Liathite! It’s perfect!

Carolyn H

It’s hard to choose just one but I think my favourite is Dolomite.


Liathite is my favorite from this book – I love cables.


I love the sweater on the cover! That would be what I would make first.

Colleen Donnelly

Gabbro – I just love the details with the overall simplicity of the look.


Liathite looks like a classic, wear everyday, type sweater.


I would definitely wear Liathite most often. It’s a gorgeous cardigan.


I would wear the Tourmalite shawl the most.


I would like to try knitting the “Grabbo” pattern first. Have always loved the fit of raglan sleeves and have not tried knitting a pattern with this of sleeve yet.


The “Dacite” immediately caught my interest. I love the look of versatility it has: I can see it worn casually or dressed up. It would be a privilege to win this!

Cassie H

Gabbro would be my choice to knit. I love your patterns-I’ve enjoyed your short rows class and love the Celtic Cables sweater I recently finished- I can’t wait to wear it this winter. I picked up two of your other patterns-Gillian and Siesta and purchased yarn for both-can’t wait to work them up. You’re patterns are inspiring-thanks!

Glana Ricci

Dacite is my favorite!


Living in Florida, I would have to say the shawl although the other designs look wonderful too.


I probably would make a Gabro first. I love the lovely lacy details and their placement makes for a very flattering shape. It seems also to be the perfect make to wear in autumn when the weather is just starting to cool down but is still too warm for a winter jumper.

Sue Foster

I would like to try Dolomite . I believe it would be a sweater that would be envied by my friends.


It’s Grabbo for me. The simplicity of the front contrasts with the lace stitches at the side. I definitely want to knit this.

Laa la

I do like the Gabbro it would be great for work, warm and practical.

Jennifer R.

I love all of the designs, but the Gabbro pullover is by far my favorite!


Ooooh! The Gabbro I like the most! Especially the sides!


I am really drawn to the classic lines of the Liathite. The cables are lovely.

Janet Knabel

Love the over sweater. That is awesome! Can’t wait to start!


Because of Ms. Feller and her designs, I. Purchase her KAL and her sweater class. She is amazingly talented and enjoyable to listen to while learning so much from a talented artist! I will purchase her third (for me.) Sweater surgery class at lunch today!

I need to start gathering her books too! I am in love with her designs!

Gabbro would for sure be my go to swearter in multiple yarns to wear from fall through spring.

Thank you to Ms. Feller and Craftsy for bringing this beautiful woman into my life!

Have a craftsy day!


While I like the Dacite cardigan, I would be much more likely to finish the Serpentinite scarf. I especially like the feature of the beaded ring to help it stay on!

Patricia Dubois Dudley

Wow…I love the use of a different stitch and the irregular bottom of the Gabbro. This simple ornamental touch on a lithe, basic sweater is for me. The strong, simple attractive frame of the collar on the cardigan on the cover speaks to me as well and might be the most worn. Then the lines of the Liathite create a graceful chic, relaxed figure.


Dacite – hands down! I’m so ready for Fall and I can’t wait to wear drapey cardigans and hand knit socks.


The Dacite is my first choice. It’s lovely & looks like it could easily become the sweater I grab at anytime of the day. I can’t wait for this book to come out, my fingers are itching to get started.


Wow…beautiful sweaters….dacite….


Liathite- it’s perfect!


Dolomite looks COOL!


I like the Gabbro concept – subtle but classy. I also like the cover cardi and would probably make that first.

Diana S.

I would most definitely wear the Pyrite socks!!! I love unique socks and wearing them!!


The Dacite it what grabbed my attention first. I am always cold and tend to always have a big sweater with me. I think I would eventually make all the items in this book. I love her style.


Gabbro is my choice to knit first from this lovely book .


Dacite! It’s beautiful


I think I’d get the most use from the Dacite, but I like them all. Good photographer too 🙂


Love the cover sweater, but I’d like to see all of them. Also love the knits in her first book.


Been looking for a raglan sleeve jacket sweater pattern! And the Dacite is perfect!




Gabbro is super beautiful!!
but I find all of them really nice
Although M1L and and M1R are not my favorite increasing method I would give them a chance if I win 😀


Dacite would be an everyday staple one would always grab on your way out the door. I love it. Knit this first.

Barbara Fleischman

I want to make and wear “Gabbro”. I love the look of simplicity and yet mastery with the unconventional lace medallions. I love casual pullovers that are gracefully fitted. It is a good combination of the yarn used and how the pattern shows it off.


Very difficult to decide which one of all those beatiful garments I’d prefered but Dacite looks lovely plus is a nice project for Autum!


I like Dolomite.

Heather Laura

The Gabbro catches my eye first. I like the details around the hem and the little spot at the neckline.

Bette Millar

Your new book looks wonderful……hard to choose a favorite for sure; but believe it would be the Dolomite! Thanks


The Liathite looks so cozy, it’s definitely my favorite.

Karen C.

Really hard to choose a favorite. Beautiful patterns, awesome photography. Dacite is so cute and something I would definately grab to wear. Lialhite, is really special. Love the cables, hood and zipper. Gabbro is a comfy sweater, very appealing. I’ve enjoyed 2 of your Craftsy classes, you are a great instructor. Wishing you great success.

Martha M.

I like the Gabbro. It’s a sweater I could wear to work. And I’ll bet its looks good in cotton.

Mrs H

I would wear Liathite the most, it is simply beautiful…


Gabbro. It is simple and stylish.


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