Hello, lovely makers all! You may recall that I mentioned (back in this post) a book called The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top Down Sweaters, by Ann Budd. I acquired it some time back but did not really have the head-space to sound it out fully until this year. This series will, hopefully, provide a practical review of the book and the abundant possibilities contained within.
In essence, the book does the maths for 4 common sweater constructions that are knitted from the top down. It accommodates gauges from 3-7 stitches per inch, which will take in cover chunky to 4-ply yarns. That has its limitations of course, but these are tempered by the wide size range. Because the range spans from (children’s) chest size 26″ to (adult’s) size 54″, you can use the numbers from another size and/or gauge to suit the gauge that you want to knit at, or to achieve the size that you want.
Obviously, depending on what you want to achieve, it won’t satisfy every single criteria – but it’s a good starting point. The Introductory chapter explains very clearly how to manage if your desired gauge, or size, falls in between sizes. This is valuable information for getting the most out of your wool and pattern stash! The subsequent chapters deal individually with seamless yoke, raglan, set-in sleeve and saddle-shoulder constructions. The measurements for each size, in each construction method, are detailed clearly. I will highlight a minor warning here: do check your desired finished measurements against these numbers. I have found both the necklines small and the yoke/armscye depths shallow. As I said, it’s a good starting point, if you’re willing to put a bit of thought into it. Directions are given for both pullovers and cardigans, and each chapter includes 3 realised patterns to get you going.
I really wanted a breathable summer sweater in teal, with a bit of texture for interest. My original inspirations were Berlin (Ravelry link) by Ankestrik, and Donner (same) by Elizabeth Doherty. I had knit the former, and don’t like the silhouette of the latter, but I liked the idea of the textured stripe. I had a look in my stitch dictionaries and I found one called ‘Roman Stitch’. It is basically 2 rows of moss stitch (I really don’t think I’m giving anything away by telling you that!).
Previous experiments with this book had proved what I warned of before, namely a very close-fitting neckline, so although I was going for a 32″ finished measurement, I casted on for a 34″ at the neckline. I worked the number of increases recommended for the 32″, but worked the yoke depth to 8″, which is what I need.
I also worked some short rows at the upper back neck, which hopefully you will be able to see here. The book doesn’t give directions for additional kinds of shaping like short rows, so if you’re a novice, you might find the finished fit a bit frustrating from this point of view.
I established my short rows 1″ on either side of the centre back marker, and continued to turn at 1″ beyond each point until I reached the centre front. That might seem excessive, but I have fairly rounded shoulders and if I do not work this amount of shaping, the front of the sweater simply will not sit properly.
I finished off the cuffs and hem with about 6 rows of moss stitch. I really like how the Roman Stitch encourages ‘soil creep’ on the sleeves…
I am really pleased with the fit at the back. I worked some waist shaping at the sides: I deceased 2 stitches on either side every 2″ from the underarm 4 times, and then increased every 2″ twice, then worked the hem. I didn’t really measure it out, it more the time-honoured, hold-it-up-to-you method.
As for the neckline, I didn’t want to bring it in any closer, so I opted for two rounds of single crochet around.
Summary of the details!
Yarn: Scheepjes Bamboo Soft in Spruce from Winnie’s.
This was my first time using this yarn and it’s lovely. It has a good drape and holds its shape well in the wash. It is also not as heavy or taxing to work with as 100% cotton. Fully recommend! I used 5.75 balls for this jumper.
Needles: 3.5mm, which worked out to be 6st/1″.
Here is my ravelry page for the project.