Tag Archives: knitter’s handy book of top-down sweaters

Smaller and Smaller

I’ve been complaining about my dwindling stash for a while now, but I’m still making it work. Sure, I don’t really have enough of my usual favorite yarns to make full sweaters or afghans or shawls (my go-to projects), but I do have weird remnants of odd weights of yarn.

For example, I found 2.5 balls of yarn at the back of a drawer the other day. It’s chocolate brown, super-bulky, extra soft (and clearly ready to pill if you look at it wrong). I think it’s Knit Picks’ Biggo, but I could be wrong- the tags were lost years ago and I can’t remember what I bought it for. It’s not really enough for even a scarf, much less a full-on sweater or a blanket (which would have been my project of choice if I had more of it).

I estimated the yardage, based on the yarn weight and the ounces I had and figured I should have just enough for the smallest kids’ size in my favorite Top-Down Sweater book. I cast on and got to work on a raglan with a Henley collar (one of my favorite boy-styles, and so easy to do- you just start making a cardigan, then cast on a couple extra stitches at the front and start working in the round).

It’s looking good so far- I’ve made it most of the way through the body, and even went to the trouble of finishing the neck. I’ve only got one more skein of yarn, so I think I’m going to make the sleeves next, so that I’m sure I have enough to finish them off properly, before finishing the body. My theory, anyway, is that a body can be an inch or two short without looking too wild, but sleeves have to be long enough. (Is that my baggage from being a very long-limbed teenager who had a whole wardrobe of accidental highwaters and inadvertent 3/4-length shirts? Perhaps.)

I know, I know, another yarn-chicken semi-improvised sweater. Will I learn?


No, I will not.

Fingers crossed that I’ve got enough yarn for this bad boy.

Also, fingers crossed that it ends up fitting the kid. It’s looking a little small right now, but it should block up pretty big, if I trust the swatch. I suppose if it doesn’t work for the kid, I can always save it for next year (or the year later) when the baby gets big enough… I knew there was a practical reason to have a second kid- more opportunity for my knits to get worn!

How’s your stash holding up?

Book Worm

I’ve been thinking and planning and dreaming about the sweater I’m going to make with my big blue skein of yarn from Lopez Island.

I’ve decided I want it to be a cardigan, probably a V-neck, and, I think, a raglan. Like I said the other day, I’m planning on making this into a cropped sweater, but I’m not sure on how long I want my sleeves to be (at least long enough to cover the short sleeves of a couple favorite dresses).  Maybe 3/4 sleeves, or even long sleeves (if I have enough yarn).

All this together (raglan, a short body, and not being sure about the sleeves) screams “top-down sweater.” If I do the sweater top-down, I can try it on as I go, and keep going until I am happy with the length.  And when I make a top-down sweater, there is no other book to look to but Ann Budd’s “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you’re even a little interested in making your own sweater designs, grab a copy of this book.  In it, Ann Budd has done all the math to make virtually any sweater you want.  (She’s worked out 4 different styles of sweater, both cardigan and pullover, with v-necks and crew-necks in virtually any size and with nearly any yarn.)  Just find your gauge, decide your size and follow along.  You can follow the patterns as written for a super-classic sweater, or add cables, bobbles, lace or whatever else you like to create something really special.

Any time I decide to make myself a sweater and don’t feel like following an honest-to-goodness pattern or doing my own math, I turn to Ann Budd’s book.  (And, since I’m working with limited yarn on this sweater, I can make the body of the sweater, then work the sleeves until I run out of yarn! No waste and no guessing!)

I’ve got my basic sweater plan now it’s time for the fun stuff… the decorations!  The autumn rain is beginning to fall in Seattle, so I think I’m feeling some cables coming on.  But, this yarn is super-chunky, so I don’t want to make the sweater too heavily-cabled, or it will end up making me look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  So, maybe I want to add a little lace, too.

Just like how I have a go-to sweater construction book, I have a go-to stitch pattern book.  But here’s the thing; I don’t even know its name.

It’s a Japanese stitch dictionary that I found at a grocery store in Seattle’s International District.  It’s got hundreds of gorgeous knit stitches in every style- cables, lace, textures.  It’s to die for.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you have a Japanese book store by you, totally see if you can find one of these books (I’m pretty sure it is from a series-I’ve seen other similar books elsewhere).  Or, if you search for Japanese knitting books on Amazon, you’ll find something like it.

Inside, it’s full of page after page of swatches, accompanied by surprisingly understandable charts.  I don’t read a word of Japanese, and I use it all the time!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking through the book, I think I’ve settled on this pattern- how pretty would that lace look down the back of a sweater at an over-sized gauge?

Now I’m itching to start knitting!

What knitting books are your go-to favorites?


Pattern Spotlight: The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters

I don’t know if y’all remember my Persistence Sweater (the green one with cabled sleeves) from this summer, but I made it based on a pattern from Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters.  It’s a super cool book if you’re interested in designing your own sweaters, but still want someone to hold your hand a little bit while you do it.

12KN02The book is based on the idea of constructing a sweater, starting by casting on at the neck and working your way down the body and arms.  This allows you to try on your sweater as you go, to see how it’s fitting, and if you need to change anything while you work.  It’s really great, especially if you are a self-doubting, frogging and reknitting knitter like me.

She includes a few complete patterns for sweaters which are pretty, simple, and classic with interesting little details.  But, the golden part of this book are the tables.  The glorious, glorious tables!  I know I’m a bit of a data geek, but, come on.  They’re amazing.  Pages and pages of really comprehensive, and totally useful tables.

She includes basic outlines on how to do four different shoulder styles, as well as instructions on how to do several different necklines, cardigans and pull-over variations, long sleeves, and short.  And everything is written for 15 sizes and at 5 different gauges (that’s where the tables come in-she’s done all the math for you already!).

So, basically she lets you pick out your design elements from her buffet of knitterly goodness, add in a few decorative touches of your own, and before you know it, you’ll have a one-of a kind, custom-designed, hand-knit sweater.  Amazing!

Of course, if you’re a brand-new knitter, the charts and tables might be a bit intimidating, but this book is seriously worth taking a look at.  (Also, it’s quite a big book, because of all the great tables, so it might be a “knitting at home” project, instead of a traveling one.)  If you have a sweater swimming around in your head that you haven’t found a pattern for, give this book a shot, it might be just what you’re looking for.

Going with the Flow

Peggy Sue is dead.  (Not the person, the cardigan.)  I tried to fix it.  I wanted the pattern to work so much!  But, alas, it was not meant to be.  I started off with the wrong gauge (I knew this was going to happen.  I took a swatch and everything.  I’m just dumb.), and didn’t compensate accordingly.  My sweater was turning out much too small.  I got all the way to the armpits (it’s a top-down sweater) before I realized the error of my ways.

I ripped it out, and tried again on bigger needles, but the fabric just didn’t look right.  This time I only got halfway through the shoulders (thank goodness). I ripped it out again.

Then I got pissed and threw it in a corner of my craft closet.  It sat there for a while gathering dust while I sulked.

Now, I’m knitting up my pretty blue yarn again.  It’s still going to be a girly blue cardigan, but this time I’m sort of making my own pattern.  I’m using my new favorite sweater book, the Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters.  It’s a Seamless Yoke Cardigan, based in part on her Feather and Fan Flare sweater.  It’s at a nice fine gauge (or at least fine compared to sweaters I’ve made before).  I like to make my sweaters with chunky yarn and big needles, but I wanted this sweater to turn out a little fancier and girlier than my usual projects).  But, instead of the fussy little cables on Peggy Sue, I’m using decorative increases and garter ridges around the yoke, hem and cuffs.  And, since it’s a yoke sweater, not a raglan, I think it will be more flattering on me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe funny thing is, though, that now that I’ve got it growing on my needles, I really like the contrast between the red yarn of my provisional cast-on and the pale aqua blue.  It’s making me think that I want to use red or maroon buttons on the sweater.  Which is ridiculous, since the whole point of making this sweater in the first place was to use my pretty blue buttons.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut, I suppose that takes me back to my original point: It’s important to stay flexible when you’re knitting.  It’s so easy to get bogged down in the details, and keep slogging through a project that you no longer love, or something that you figure out won’t work for you.  And, it’s so hard to abandon a project that you’ve poured hours and hours of your life into. But, it’s so much more satisfying (and fun!) to make something that you love than to slave away, determined to finish the project as you planned in the beginning.  Just because you start on a project, doesn’t mean that it’s the one you have to finish.

How have you had to be flexible when you work on a project?