2014 – A Rundown on the Top Downs

Top down patterns are everywhere.  I decided to learn by doing, after reading some in Barbara Walker’s classic “Knitting From the Top”.  I chose patterns from 3 different designers, Morrocan Nights, Cornhusk Pullover, and Tulipgarden.   An additional  2, Autumn Bloom and Ottoman Crescent were created by me.

I’ve learned that in top-down knitting, the key measurements are the shoulder width and the distance from the top of the shoulder to the underarm.  If I don’t get these two initial measurements right, then the garment will not fit.

Morrocan Oasis 

Moroccan Nights by La Maison Rililie looked like a quick knit and a satisfying garment to wear.  I wanted to learn more about top-down knitting by the doing of it, so I chose this pattern.   I’ve got to say that the sleeves are so tight on my skinny arms that they drag the neckline almost off the shoulder.  I’m pretty sure this is the fault of the knitter and not of the designer!

The yarn, Manos Fino, feels good in the knitting.  Thanks to Helen at Ewes d’Bleu Yarns of Distinction for guiding me to this lovely fiber.  Because it is hand dyed, each skein is-slightly different.  I should have double-balled the entire project.  Instead, I double-balled beginning at the stockinette section of the lower body.  Lucky for me, this worked because of the textured stitch pattern in the upper body disguising the slight difference in dye lots between the skeins.

Mediterranean Oasis
Mediterranean Oasis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ottoman Crescent

Ottoman CrescentThe 6 snow days we had during the rampaging winter months in 2014 gave me time to work on my own design.  Again, I wanted to learn more about top-down garments and specifically, yoked necklines.  So, using the Ottoman print  (found on Pinterest with a link to the original site) as my inspiration, I graphed the yoke.

The yarn is Sunday Knits Nirvana, Eden, and Angelic and  I do love the softness of her product.  It really is ‘angelic’ or’nirvana’ or like being in ‘Eden’ as this fiber slips through my fingers.  The wearing of it is equally lovely.

The actual finished garment hit a few snags.  I stupidly made the yoke too long (about 10″). DSC00855 To remedy, I cut the top off and added the neckline ribbing!   I decided to knit a few more top-downs from other designers as part of the learning process.




Cornhusk Pullover

DSC00850 (2)Every once in a while, I see a pattern that I feel compelled  to make. Even though it wasn’t top-down,  Ágnes Kutas-Keresztes’ Cornhusk Pullover,  from Interweave Knits Fall 2013, had to be made.      My lovely husband picked up the yarn at Knitters’ Mercantile on his way home from a business trip.    Knit in the round from the bottom up til the underarms, the back stitches are put on a holder, the sleeves are cast on and the rest of front of the garment is knit up to the shoulders and and then worked from the shoulders down the back. At least this part is top down!   The sleeve stitches are cast off.  The lower back is grafted to the upper back and the sleeves are seamed.  Voila.  Project completed.  I love the ombre effect of Kauni Wool 8/2 Effektgarn, especially since there is a nice big band of my power color, orange.

Autumn Bloom

I went to New York in June and did my own personal tour of Manhattan yarn shops.  String was my first stop.  The place was buzzing with knitters sitting around doing their thing.  A Prism trunk show had  Windward Layers in the color “zinnia” that  would not let go of me. I bought enough for a sweater and made up my own  top down design.  This time, I made raglan sleeves and DSC00923a v-neck.

Tulip Garden

Still wanting to experience more top-down knitting, I happened upon a call for test-knitters by HintermStein.  I had never done a test-knit for anyone.  HintermStein’s designs looked nice to me and the results of other knitters seemed successful so I asked if I might join.  Jutta was very kind to allow me a late start on Tulipgarden.  I  realized that while my yarn stash is extensive, I did not have enough worsted-weight yarn in any color to make a complete sweater, even in my small size. In Annapolis, Maryland, I happened upon a new yarn shop, Yarn Basket.  The owner kindly steered me to Berocco Vintage in a caramel color, perfect for this test knit.

Tulipgarden is really well-written.  As the designer states, the sleeve cap fits perfectly.  Of all the top-down knits I’ve made this year, this shoulder and sleeve-cap are the best.  I’ve worn the sweater many times now and always receive compliments.

It has been a great year for knitting top-down.  More to come in 2015.

Tulip Garden