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The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters

Knit Top down with Ease

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The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters

The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters by Ann Budd.

Interweave Press.

There are many advantages to knitting sweaters from the top down, chief among them the ability to try the garment on while you're knitting and to adjust your pattern if you find you're running out of yarn too quickly. But most patterns are written for bottom-up knitting, often in pieces.

Ann Budd wants to help knitters design their own basic (and beyond) top-down sweaters by providing all the math for multiple sizes and gauges of yarn in four basic garment designs in her book The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters.

About the Book

  • Pages: 264
  • Format: hardcover with interior wire spiral binding
  • Number of patterns: formulas work out to 600 different patterns; there are 12 patterns showing some of what you can do with the templates
  • Skill level: none given, but most are advanced beginner to intermediate
  • Sizing: templates allow for sizing from 26 to 54 inch chests; the patterns are all for women and have five size choices
  • Illustrations: full-color photographs, single-color diagrams
  • Knitting lessons: a techniques section covers things like good cast ons and bind offs to use with top-down knitting, directional increases and decreases and other skills needed for these patterns
  • Publication date: August 2012

Getting Started with Top-Down Knitting

The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters begins with a fair bit of instruction about how and why to knit top-down, the different styles of sweaters that can be made this way, circular knitting tips, help for picking the right size, making and measuring a gauge swatch and ways to make changes to the patterns.

The book goes on to provide basic knitting patterns for four kinds of sweaters -- seamless yoke, raglan, set-in sleeve and saddle-shoulder -- that include charts for 10 different sizes and five different gauges of yarn. If you've read The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns you know how this looks.

Each section also describes how to work the sweater as a cardigan instead of a pullover, and several sample patterns are given for each style to show some of what can be done by adding color or pattern or otherwise altering the basic designs a bit.

The charted patterns make it easy to read and follow along with whatever size garment you want to make, and you can also use the math from a different size if, say, you have a slightly different gauge.

The Patterns

In all, 12 patterns are included in The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters, three each for each type of sweater included. They're all for women, which makes sense since the majority of this book's readers will probably be women and it's always nice to try new design ideas out for ourselves before we knit for someone else!

These patterns are all pretty and show the wide range of possibilities that can come from having the math worked out for you. It's hard to pick favorites, but I like the Fibonacci Rings yoke sweater, which uses that number sequence to form striped bands; the A Little Twisted Raglan, with a low, squarish neckline and twisted rib at the raglan lines and as shaping on the sides; Golden Ribs and Waves, featuring a simple Garter Rib pattern, split neck and wide Garter Stitch collar; and Zigs & Zags, a bold short-sleeved, shawl-collared, saddle-shouldered sweater decorated with deep zig-zags by guest designer Veronik Avery.

These patterns are fun because they make you realize that unless you knew they were based on the template measurements you would have no idea they had been developed from the patterns in this book. So it definitely shows you what you can do when you have the freedom of not having to do the math yourself.

Bottom Line

If you're at all interested in learning to knit sweaters from the top-down, this book is a must-read and a must-use. It will give you a solid grounding in the necessary techniques to make your garments look great and fit well.

Even if you know a bit about top-down knitting already, this book deserves a place on your bookshelf because it makes it so easy to go your own way with top-down sweater design. Just decide what you want your sweater to look like, knit a gauge swatch, find a pattern with the numbers you need and you're off, without the worry that your math may have gotten away from you.

Publisher's website

Projects on Ravelry

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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