Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Wrath of Raglan

War: a necessary evil — but in its wake necessity gives birth to innovation. Canned food kept French troops alive during the Napoleonic Wars (1795). The Pacific War (1945) gave us Japanese transistor radio technology. And of course The Vietnam War (1975) gave us Vietnamese restaurants.

FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, the 1st Baron Raglan (September 30, 1788 – June 28, 1855) was a promising young soldier who rose through the ranks to become an infamous British General. As a younger man Baron Raglan lost his right arm at the Battle of Waterloo, after which he assumed a long secretarial career with the military. Later in his career he was promoted to Field Marshal, but his promotion would become his great undoing. In 1852 Lord Raglan was appointed to lead England through a winter campaign in the Crimea, he was 64. He was a well respected man but It soon became obvious to his comrades that he lacked the ability to coherently command his troops.

As the campaign progressed camp conditions grew unsanitary and food rations ran low. Although Lord Raglan fought well at Alma and Inkerman he is notably blamed for his tragic failure in the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava. Lord Raglan's lack of tactical skill brought certain defeat on his weary British soldiers as they charged into the Russians. This legendary blunder made a bitter enemy of his long-time friend Lieutenant-General James Brudenell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan. But that’s another sweater story. In the summer of 1855 Lord Raglan succumed to dysentery at the age of 67 while at battle.

From Dirty Ashes Arose a Smokin' Sweater



After loosing his right arm at Waterloo, Lord Raglan's tailor created a new style of over coat. The innovative sleeves taper from the body and converged diagonally at 45 degrees towards the neck. The shoulderless construction of his coat made dressing much easier for a less-able man. A thought, shouldn't his tailor have designed a one-armed coat? Lord Raglan later outfitted his own troops with pullover sweaters that used the same signature sleeve design.
Raglan sweaters have an easy-going appeal that I like. I find the raglan construction is easier to design and it takes less time to make than other traditional men's sweaters. They can be knit down from the collar, knit upwards and joined at the sleeves or made as separate components to be sewn together. The raglan sweater has a few variations: Square-back, Half-raglan, and Saddle Shoulder to name a few. I don’t care much for its homely stepchild the Yoke Neck Sweater (inset right, from the film “Ordinary People”).

I made this raglan from different left over yarns. I’m never really sure if I like this one. It rides on the border of being a Bill Cosby sweater, but it’s a good exploration of texture, color and different gauges. I made it with a selection of left over yarns in varying weights: Reynolds Rapture, bronze (silk/wool) and Brown Sheep, walnut, charcoal, brown heather (cashmere/wool). I actually thought I had more Rapture yarn until I was about a third way down the sweater. I called the distributor in Boston, but they didn’t have the same dye-lot number, and someone on E-bay only had two skeins of bronze to sell. End of story, I frogged another sweater to make up the difference. Overall I think the colors go well together.



Here’s my buddy Tyler showing off with his bass. The thumb holes on the sleeves make playing out on a cold night a warm experience, especially when your audience consists of two people texting each other. omg rufkm :-( rotflmao oao



This sweater is knit from the collar down on #4 circular needles, then switched to #8 for the upper body keeping the "scale" pattern that runs down the neck into the shoulder seams. The wide mock-turtle collar is turned for more stability. I started the ribbing high on the body on a #6 needle for a better fit to the body and arms. These photos were taken by Doug Todd in Freddy’s Backroom here in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

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