Friday, July 15, 2011

Top-Down (Sweater) Experience Needed

     I have made very few top-down sweaters.  I made a couple of these little baby sweaters, which are top-down, when I taught a knitting class on them.  This is Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Baby Sweater on Two Needles" from her lovely little book Knitter's Almanac.
      If you are a modern sweater knitter, it is quite likely that you make only  top-down sweaters.  I would not blame you for that.  You can probably name all of the 99 reasons why they are better to make than the knitted-in-pieces, from-the-bottom-up, and then seamed sweaters.  The most common of these reasons would be: "few or no seams" and "you can try it on as you go".
     When I admit to other knitters that I have made almost no top-down sweaters, I am always asked why.  The best, and truest, answer is that I have never sought out that type of pattern.  I began making sweaters around age 12, and I learned how to sew (all kinds of clothes) at about the same time.  I do not mind seams.  I have always thought of seams as a necessary part of garment construction.  And I like the results that I get.
     But I am an aspiring designer now.  And I find myself thinking that there is currently a great (sometimes obsessive) interest in top-down, seamless construction.  So I do plan now to knit some of these styles, and see what I can learn from them.  I find that there are two categories...

     The first is a yoke or raglan at top, knitted down until it is divided into three tubes: body and two sleeves.  This would not teach me much, as I have made many a three-tube and then on up to a yoke or raglan top (bottom-up and almost seamless).  The next photo is a fairly recent bottom-up and almost seamless, Fair Isle, which once had a front steek and now has a front zipper.

     It is the other category that I could learn from.  These often start with a provisional cast-on, and involve picking up stitches here and there.  I feel that if I just make one of these, maybe I can begin to think of sweaters that are knit in different directions.  In my next post I will talk about two top-down cardigan patterns that I recently downloaded.  (I have already started one of them with my Handwerks So-Soft DK!) 


  1. I am not a top down sweather knitter either - although I have made a few. I prefer the structure of the pieced sweater. I think it fits me better. And I don't mind seams.

  2. My one and only sweater was top down no seams - I think I need to try a pieced one soon. Having sewn a lot of clothes that construction really makes sense to me. I LOVE that Handwerks yarn you are using - fantastic feel and color.