Tag Archives: top-down

It Has Begun

I finally started my blue sweater- the one that I’m using my Knit Picks Provinicial Tweed for.  The one that I’ve been putting off, because I didn’t know precisely what I wanted to do with it.

Well, I still don’t know what I want to do with this sweater, but I’m not letting that stop me right now.

I do know a few things about my plan, however:

  1. I know my gauge.  I’m using my favorite US8s and they give me about 4.75-5 sts/inch.
  2. I know I want to make a pullover.
  3. I know I want to make a sweater with set-in sleeves.  (It’s been a hot minute since I did the whole set-in sleeves thing, and I want to give it a go again.)
  4. I know that I have a lot of yarn, so I should make something tunic-length or billowy to use up some yardage.
  5. I know that if I start from the top and work down, I’ll have time to figure out what I really want to do.

So that’s exactly what I’m doing.  I’ve started a top-down pullover with a crew neck and set-in sleeves, based on Ann Budd’s genius book, The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges.  I love this book, and find it’s an indispensable tool when designing my own sweaters whether they’re one-offs, just for me (like this sweater), or they’re turned into published patterns.  She walks you through making a simple sweater (that you can jazz up any way you like) with virtually any gauge and any size.  I like math more than your average person, but the amount of math that Ann must have done to write this book boggles my mind.

Anyway, enough fan-girling (though, you really should pick up this book if you’re interested in designing your own sweaters).

I started knitting, following the instructions for the appropriate size set-in sleeve pullover, and I’m currently a couple inches down from the armpits.  And now I’ve got to make some decisions.My original impulse was to pick a few points around the bustline (maybe two points on the front and two on the back, or maybe just at either side along the “seams”) and increase as I knit down, making an A-line sweater, something that fit nicely through the shoulders, then flared out below the arms, like this:But, now I’m not sure.  That shape seems a little girly for me.  I’m now thinking I might just make the sweater straight and let it get extra-long (maybe hip length or longer), then splitting the hem and working in a little extra length (like this sweater, but even longer).What do you think?  What would you do?  I’ve pushed off making this decision for long enough!

 

Christmas Post-Mortem: Another sweater

Guess what?!

I made another sweater.

I know, I’m a masochist.  (Or, maybe I really like making sweaters.)

This one was for my dad.  He’s a pretty classy guy- he wears a suit to work and if you see him in a sweater, it’s more likely he’d wear a thin, understated merino one from Nordstrom than something I’d knit (I do lean toward cables and bright colors, after all).

But he hasn’t gotten a sweater from me yet!  We can’t let that stand!

So, I got a big pile of Knit Picks’ Swish in Cobblestone, and broke out the “Knits for Everybody” book.  (I love a top-down raglan.)  I started making the sweater just as written- all stockinette all the time- but the smallish gauge and the simple pattern made me feel like I was knitting at a glacial pace.

So, I decided to add a little interest.

Stripes were out (Dad’s not a stripes guy), but I thought I could do a little texture.  I didn’t want to add any cables, since those can mess up your gauge, and I had already started knitting.

A little poking around on Ravelry, and I found Flaxsc-flax-08_medium1I liked the garter band down the sleeves (garter is my favorite).  So, I carefully ripped back a few stitches at either shoulder and re-knit them in garter.  And, because I love to embellish, I added garter panels down both sides of the body, too.img_4407The sweater turned out pretty well, and (I think) pretty classy, which is not something I usually strive for.

(Ollie thinks so, too)

img_4398Have you ever “fancied up” a pattern as you were working on it?  How did that go?

What?! More Patterns?

That’s right, knitters!  I’ve got another brand-spanking-new pattern, just for you!

(Actually it’s kind of 4 patterns in one!  I know!  Crazy!)

Last week, Knit Picks published another great collection, Knits for Everybody.  It’s such a smart book- I know I’ll be keeping my copy close at hand.330131Knits for Everybody is a collection of four super simple patterns (hats, sweaters, socks and mittens), useful staples that everyone can use (and make customize, if that’s how you roll).  But here’s the awesome part:  They are literally for everybody.  The sweater sizes go from a 3-month-old baby all the way up to a Men’s XXL.  The hats fit everyone from a preemie to a big-headed adult (like me).  And, my socks go from a 4″ foot circumference all the way up to a 10.5″ circumference.330131071My sock pattern is a super simple knitted sock with a heel flap in literally every size.  But here’s the cool part:  You can follow the directions to knit from the top down (my favorite), or from the toe up (my second favorite), and end up with virtually the same sock.  That way you can use whichever method feels right for you.330131081And, I’ve provided two slightly different variations: Socks (knit in sock weight, with a long ribbed cuff) and Slippers (knit in super-squishy worsted with a shorter cuff).

Of course, you can jazz up these socks and slippers whatever way you like.  Add stripes? Yes.  Change the ribbing? Why not!  Work some cables? Sure!  You can customize these socks (or any other pattern in the book) with no problem for socks that are truly your own!330131091Want to win a copy of Knits for Everybody?  Tell me which pattern you would make, and who it would be for. Socks for your auntie?  A hat for your nephew? A sweater just for you?

Husband Sweater Update!

I’ve been cranking away at the sweater I’m making for my husband, and I’m making good progress!

The shoulders are done and I love the seed stitch and reverse stockinette, though they look a little narrow, but they should stretch out with wear/blocking.  I have to trust the pattern- Ann Budd hasn’t let me down before.  And, I’m almost to the bottom of the hem!  Just an inch or two more, and it’s on to the sleeves.

I’m really pleased with how the yoke and neckline have turned out.  I really wanted to make a Henley sweater for my husband.  I think Henley are very flattering, and fall nicely in-between a fancy-pants cardigan and comfy-casual pullover.  Also, we all know how much I like buttons.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, I started the sweater following Ann Budd’s instructions for a cardigan leaving off 2 stitches from the mid-line on each side to accommodate the extra width of the button band.  I joined up the underarms and worked back and forth for a few inches.  Then, I began to work the sweater in the round, casting on 4 stitches at the center to get the full stitch count.

I kind of improvised the button band (do you know how lovely and relaxing this sweater has been?  I haven’t had to take one note the whole time!  And I only have to knit it in a single size!  Delightful!).  I picked up and knit stitches on either side for the button bands, working a 2×2 rib, and making “k2tog, yo, yo, k2tog” button holes on the left side (I had to check with my husband’s shirts- I can never remember which side buttons go on!).  After binding off each side, I picked up and knit the neckband, which went from the edge of one button band to the other.  I worked the neck in a 2×2 rib, too (except the ends, where I knit 3.  That’s a trick I picked up from an old knitting book to compensate for the curling that inevitably happens at the edge of your knitting) and worked a final button hole in line with the others I worked on the left side.

Then, I  sewed the bottom ends of the button bands into place, overlapping them and trying to make them as flush with the body of the sweater as possible.

I’m very pleased with how it’s turning out!  Now I just have to make the rest of the body, the sleeves, and pick out the buttons.  Almost done… right?

Oh!  And don’t forget to sign up for the 52 More Weeks of Dishcloths giveaway!

Pattern Spotlight: Socks by the Numbers

Woo!  We made it through Christmas! That can mean only one thing!  No, silly, not that you need bigger pants.  And, no, not that we can put away the tinsel.  It means that I can actually show you guys all the socks that I made for gifts this year!  Finally!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd, here’s the big secret:  They’re all made using my “Socks by the Numbers” pattern.  It’s free and available here:

 Socks by the Numbers

This pattern is hardly even a pattern, it’s more of a recipe.  You plug in your gauge and the size of the foot you’re trying to fit, and away you go.  I show you how to do the math, so you’re free to play with color, texture, and stitches, all the while making an perfectly-fit top-down sock with a heel flap.

Now, to the socks!

I made a pair of lovely burnt-orange socks for my father-in-law with a pretty cool all-over basket-weave stitch of knits and purls.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy mother-in-law got a pair of adorable ice-blue socks, decorated with a lace pattern modified from a vintage stitch dictionary.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy dad got a pair of utilitarian socks with simple ribbed cuffs, perfect for Chicago winters in a really nice shade of brown-gray.  (Trust me, in real life, the yarn is kind of cool and heathered.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy brother got a goofy pair of black-and-yellow fraternal-twin socks.  Because he’s my brother, and he’s a little goofy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd my husband got a pair of socks in sapphire blue with just enough ribbing at the cuffs and down the sides to make them interesting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWoo!  Socks for everyone!  (OK, not quite everyone, but “Socks for everyone” sounds a whole lot better than “Socks for about three-quarters of the people on my list.”)  And, with my Socks by the Numbers pattern, I was able to work up perfectly-fitting, customized socks without any problem!

Did you have a go-to gift for everyone on your list this year?

Speedy Sweater

Whee! That went way faster than I thought it would! I guess when you make a cropped, short-sleeved sweater in bulky yarn, it goes really fast! Who would have thought?

This sweater, from casting on to binding off, probably took about a week! I should make all my sweaters like that–size 10s forever!

Like I said before, I worked this sweater as a top-down raglan with a V-neck, based on Ann Budd’s book, so I didn’t have to do any math. (Even math nerds like me enjoy a break from time to time.) And, as I went, I added cables and lace from my Japanese pattern book.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Meanwhile, I added a little k2p2 ribbing to make the sweater a little more fitted without having to worry about doing actual shaping. It’s a trick I picked up years ago. K2p2 ribbing is the stretchiest/most elastic stitch pattern, so it can act as elastic, pulling the sweater tight, when you work it in panels on the sides of your sweater. I also added a nice wide ribbed waistband and cuffs.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m so happy with how it turned out! I have a bunch of high-waisted, summery dresses, and now I can wear them with this sweater and a pair of tights all the way through winter!

Ollie likes it, too!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you ever made a project in less time than you expected?

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?

 

Stuck in the Doldrums Again

It’s my most favorite part of a sweater.  The torso.  Nothing like knitting skein after skein of plain ol’ stockinet stitch with no end in sight.  I’m definitely not bored or anything.  Definitely not letting Grandma’s sweater sit, neglected in a box on the floor of my studio. Nope.  Definitely not doing that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s my usual process for making a top-down sweater:

1.  Casting on/neck/upper shoulders:  Exciting! I just started on a new project, and I’ve only got a handful of stitches to a row.  I’m flying along!

2.  Lower shoulders:  Sure, I’ve increased up to a couple hundred stitches, so any one row is a pain, but I get to work some cool colorwork.  It’s still pretty fun, and the added fair isle keeps it interesting.

3.  Split for arms:  I get do do some math, and even break out the stitch holders.  Excitement abounds!

4.  Body:  The worst.  Really, pattern?  You want me to knit 12 inches of stockinet over 200 stitches?  No.  I will set fire to the sweater instead.

5.  Bottom ribbing:  Hallelujah!  I am just so happy to be knitting something other than the body!

6.  First arm:  Woo Hoo! Look how fast I can knit when I only have 70 stitches to work per row!  It’s practically flying off my needles!

7.  Second arm:  Didn’t I already do this?  Hurmph.  I think I might get bored, but at least If I finish this step, I’m almost done!  I can power through.

8.  Collar and button band:  Aren’t I finished already?  I’m pretty sure I should be finished.  Oh well, I guess I’ve got to keep going.

9.  Finishing:  Yeah!  Nearly there!  Maybe I if I don’t go to bed until 2:00, I can get this finished in time to wear it to work tomorrow?  That’s acceptable, right?

 

So, wish me luck, cheer me on, and hopefully I’ll get past Step 4.  I’ve still got a looong way to go (and I have to make it before Christmas)!

Through the Grapevine Socks

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These are socks worth gossiping about!  Their simple structure is offset by two panels of ladylike texture on either side of the leg.  Two grapey cables run between trellises of delicate openwork, making a sock that looks intricate, but is very simple to work up.  A delight to knit, and a pleasure to wear, the grapevine will be talking about these socks for years to come!

The Through the Grapevine Socks are knit on size 2 double-point needles using Knit Picks Stroll yarn (or your favorite brand of sock-weight yarn), in women’s size Small-Medium or Medium-Large.  They are worked from the 1×1 ribbed cuff down to the toe.  The heel is made using standard heel-flap construction, and the toe is created with sets of decreases on either side of the foot and closed up with the Kitchener stitch.  If you have difficulty with sock construction, please see my pattern “Socks by the Numbers” for more information.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKnit up a pair of Through the Grapevine Socks for yourself.  The pattern is available through my Ravelry store for three dollars:

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.