Tag Archives: top down sweater

Doing the Splits

It’s been nice, giving myself a break from all my “big” knitting.  I’ve given up on finishing my brother’s wedding blanket before his wedding next weekend (unless my kid suddenly decides he doesn’t need my attention, there’s no way I’m getting it done in the next 7 days), and I’m between work knitting assignments.

Which means I’ve been leisurely knitting away at my fun little Flax Light for the kiddo.

And I just passed my favorite part of a top-down sweater- the “split for sleeves” part.

It’s a simple little phrase, barely even a sentence, but it’s so fun.  (Especially when I’m just following a pattern and I don’t have to do any math!)  It’s that point where your project turns from a weird funnel-thing into an honest-to-goodness sweater.  It’s like magic.  (And it doesn’t hurt that suddenly you reduce your stitch count by a good third or more, which means the next section starts going really quickly.)

And I know it’s silly, but I love picking scrap yarn to hold my sleeve stitches.  I like a yarn that contrasts but still “goes.”  I kind of love this yellow scrap yarn with the red- the it really picks up the little yellow tweedy nupps from the red yarn.  It’s to the point where I’m half-considering adding a yellow stripe to this sweater, 90s-style.IMG_1793.JPG

What’s your favorite part of a sweater?  Casting on? Binding off? Sleeve island?

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?

 

Casting On- The Provisional Cast On

I want to introduce you to my friend, the provisional cast-on.  It’s a nifty little technique that can be completely invaluable.  It lets you cast on (and knit), then come back and knit in the other direction.  The finished product is insanely stretchy and totally unnoticeable.  It’s perfect for top-down sweaters (so you can knit the entire sweater, then knit the collar).  It’s also great for lace shawls and scarves, where you don’t want an unsightly cast-on edge.

So, how do you do it?

Grab some scrap yarn and a largeish crochet hook and chain several stitches more than you want to cast on.  Don’t worry about making the crochet look pretty, it’s all going to be removed before you finish the garment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, use your knitting needle to pick up and knit one stitch in each chain.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKeep going until you have the number of stitches that your pattern calls for.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, just knit your pattern as you normally would.  Ignore the ugly neon green crochet stitches at the collar of your sweater, they will be gone soon enough.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere comes the cool part.  Carefully undo the crocheted chain one stitch at a time (or a few stitches at a time).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd slip your needle into the newly freed stitches.  (In knitter’s lingo, these are now “live stitches.”)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKeep going, until you’ve picked up all the live stitches.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow you’re ready to keep going.  Join your yarn and start knitting the other direction!

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