top of page

Your raglan sweater needs front neck shaping

Updated: Jul 11, 2022

I've seen some fun raglan patterns out recently, and some of them are missing front neck shaping. Let's talk about why front neck shaping is critical, how it's created, and what to do if it's missing.

Do I need front neck shaping?

The neckline ends up above the collarbones, drawing a tight line across the neck. Testers note that they've blocked the neckline aggressively. The colorwork ends on a solid repeat all the way across the top, uninterrupted by the curve of a neckline. The pattern notes don’t list short rows as a technique, and the schematic doesn’t show a difference between the front and back. uh oh.

In order to fit you well, your handknit sweaters need to make room for the front of your neck.

Front neck, back neck, and the angle of the neck

Our necks don’t sprout from the center of our shoulders. They come out towards the front of our bodies, at an angle. We need to scoop out some fabric to make room for them, or our necklines will rub against the front of our necks, and they will pull forward and be generally quite uncomfortable.

Not convinced? Take a t-shirt from your closet and put it on backward. Can you feel the problem?

Here, I'm showing a scoop neck drop shoulder sweater, Local Meadow. I've chosen this one because it really illustrates the relationship between the front and back of our neck. You can see that my head sits in front of the middle of the shoulders and the back of the base of the neck is much higher than the front. This is a scoop neck so there's tons of room for the front neck, but you can see that if the front depth didn't have this shaping, this would be a comfortable sweater.

Side note: what if you're knitting a turtleneck?

Even collared sweaters, such as cowl necks or a turtleneck, need to have front neck shaping. If we're going to add a tube of fabric for the neck, we still need to make sure that the tube comes out of the body at an angle that's consistent with the angle of the neck as it leaves the shoulders. Typically, those sweaters will have a classic crew neck.

How do you make room for the front of the neck?