I’m designing a sweater according to Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Raglan Sweater. I grabbed the Yellow Sweater from my daughter’s closet that I bought recently to take my starting measurements.

An alternate method I could have used would have been to measure my daughter (exact measurement) and then chosen a style of ease (ease) and added them together to get my measurement (finished measurement).

Two reasons why I used the Yellow Sweater route is because my design and the Yellow Sweater share in common the raglan shaping and because the knit fabric I have in mind, although knit up in sport weight, behaves or lays similar to the Yellow Sweater. There’s a hidden third reason that the Yellow Sweater currently fits but also has the right amount of room for growth without being too big. This solved the tough decisions about ease  in one fell swoop.


  1. Choose a sweater that is similar in overall shape to the one that you’re creating if possible, e.g. raglan/ raglan, set in sleeve/ set in sleeve, A-line/ A-line etc.
  2. Choose a sweater that is similar in fabric drape e.g. slouchy, flow-y, crisp, firm, etc
  3. Choose a sweater that is similar in gape e.g. wrinkle revealing, body hugging, tummy hiding, blanket covering.


Measuring the hem.

Measuring the middle to assess any waist shaping.

The most important measurement, the underarm (bust).

I uncovered a surprise! The Yellow Sweater is an inverted A-line shape. Three inches are increased gradually from hem to the underarm.

The neck opening.

I began measuring the neck from the outer edges of the ribbing and not the inside edge because I planned to add a ribbed edge in my design similar to the Yellow Sweater. However, even though the measurement gets taken, the yoke and neck opening doesn’t have to be finalized until after the body and sleeves have been created.

In my case, half way through knitting up the body, I decided to put in a V-neck shaping and will be using this neck opening measurement to calculate how many rows to place my decreases.

Measuring the cuff and the upper arm of the sleeve.

This concludes the horizontal measurements for my sweater.

Horizontal measurements at a Glance

  1. Hem
  2. Waist
  3. Underarm/ bust
  4. Neck opening
  5. Cuff
  6. Upper arm


Measuring the length of the sleeve from cuff to upper arm.

Measuring the neck depth.

This measurement may be useful when I add short rows in the back. I can assess how many short rows I might want to put in compared to the front neck edge.


There should be one last measurement that I forgot to take. Can you guess what I missed?

The body vertical measurement from the hem up to the shoulder!

Vertical Measurements at a Glance

  1. Sleeve length
  2. Neck opening length
  3. Body length

My measuring session is complete.


A sweater schematic is a diagram of the sweater with measurements.

(Right Page) I began with a sketch of my idea. I added fair isle across the shoulders and had to consider a set in sleeve or a raglan as I had originally started with.

(Left Page) By this time, I had already swatched a couple of stitch ideas and picked one. I played with a simple fair isle to envision the shoulders.

In my Knitting Journal, I drew out the basic shape of a raglan sweater.

Then, I plugged in the measurements from the Yellow Sweater.

I’m not decided about the neck shaping yet but I diagrammed the crew-neck measurements for reference.


I needed to take my stitch and row gauge.

(Left Upper Journal) Is my calculations for my Stitch and Row Gauge. Plus, my calculations for the body cast on stitches.

Peculiar Case: This stitch posed several surprising choices as the material could easily stretch 1″. Do I measure the ‘stretch’ or the ‘at rest version’?

I pulled out the Yellow Sweater to confer fit and drape ideas. I held, stretched and fondled the swatch a good deal to get to know the fabric. Pulling the fabric out allowed the hourglasses to pop a little more and I could achieve this by changing my body measurements by 1″ minus hem, waist and armhole measurements.

In the end I decided against it because I figured the 1″ stretch was inherent growing room. The stitch looked pretty ‘at rest’ and even more beautiful ‘stretched’. The practical side of me won this creative decision as my daughter is three and a half and the sweater is going in a classic design. She can enjoy the sweater for longer.

I took my stitch gauge by the ‘at rest’ version.


A lot of design choices are left open ended in my knitting journal. I haven’t firmed up the style of armhole or the neck. But these creative decisions have made the knitting up of the body plenty interesting.

The organic process of designing is happening while I’m engaged with the knitting. I decided against the fair isle over the shoulders with this lace stitch pattern because I feel like the simplicity is letting the beauty of the stitch speak for itself.

I also am pretty certain I’m going to make the neck into a V-neck.

The armhole is still up in the air. I suppose I have sleeve knitting before I have to decide.

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