Tuesday 23 June 2009

How to knit a circular yoke sweater top down

Above all, don’t think it through, just cast on and design on the needles making decisions as you go! [yeah right!] And if you must take this approach - keep a pattern library [I use Harmony Guide to Knitting Stitches] and these two books within easy reach:
  • Knitting Without Tears Elizabeth Zimmermann [Schoolhouse Press]
  • Top Down for Toddlers Deb and Lynda Gemmell [Cabin Fever]

    1. Using a size larger needle than you intend to knit with, cast on the number of stitches required to go over the head of a child of, say, 6 years old [in this case 96 stitches; which is actually big enough to go over my head!!]

    2. Change to correct size needles to obtain gauge [I knit with a size that makes the knitted fabric feel right in my hand - not too stiff, not too drape-y for the project-in-hand]

    3. Knit K2 P2 rib for required number of rows [I like to fold my neckbands and stitch them down so mine looked like a turtle neck for quite a while]

    4. Do six rows of short row shaping across the back of the neck starting with half the number of neckband stitches plus 12** [1/2 of 96 is 48 + 12 is 60] then 2 less, then 2 less, etc [i.e, rows getting progressively shorter: 60, 58, 56, 54, 52, 50]
      **This is the reverse of EZ's no-seam sweater which is knitted from the bottom up

    5. Find four or five ways that don't work to avoid little holes at the end of those short rows

    6. Rip all the short rows out and start again, this time knitting the end of the short row with the stitch below the next stitch [see EZ "Knitting Without Tears"]

    7. Knit one row then increase in next row by *K3 M1* repeat to end of round [I now had 128 stitches]

    8. Determine the depth of the yoke [in my case: 20cm/8inches; I found this figure in "Top Down for Toddlers"]

    9. Choose a lace pattern for knitting interest and work in the round until yoke is 1/4 of its depth

    10. increase this time by *K2 M1* repeat to end [192 stitches]

    11. Decide that the pattern is too fussy and doesn't sit right and modify it to suit own needs

    12. continue in stocking (stockinette) stitch until yoke is 1/2 its depth

    13. increase as in step 10 [288 stitches]

    14. continue in whatever pattern takes your fancy until yoke has reached desired depth [a modified eyelet pattern]

    15. *knit 82 stitches, slip the next 62 stitches onto waste yarn* repeat for remaining stitches [modified figures from "Top Down for Toddlers" to suit my 288 stitches]

    16. cast on 8 stitches at underarm, knit across to the other underarm, cast on eight stiches

    17. continue on these 180 stitches in desired pattern until work measures finish length desired minus length of bottom band [I changed to pencil point ribs of my own design]

    18. decrease ten stitches evenly around the body in next row

    19. knit band desired length in K2 P2 rib

    20. pick up 62 stitches for one sleeve on dpns

    21. pick up and knit eight stiches from cast on stitches

    22. put a stitch marker where the underarm seam would be

    23. knit 7 rows in stocking stitch

    24. in row 8, K1, SSK, K to last three stitches, K2 tog, K1

    25. continue decreasing in every eight row until 46 stitches remain ["Top Down for Toddlers" recommends never going below 45 stitches for a 6yo's sweater]

    26. knit the band in K2 P2 rib for desired number of rows

    27. cast off loosely

    28. repeat steps 20-27 for the other sleeve

    29. look at finished sweater and realise the sleeves look too long

    30. measure with a tape measure - yep, too long by about 9cm! [3 1/2 inches]

    31. decide that's not too bad, it’s for charity not someone specific, it would surely fit someone [a chimpanzee maybe]

    32. continue the internal debate: one could live with that, one may even grow into those sleeves [and out of the body width and length]

    33. struggle some more with oneself for a few minutes [maybe twenty!]

    34. wait until it's past bedtime [with work paid employment the following day] to decide to frog!

    35. pick up the stitches, reknit the bands to desired length

    36. cast off loosely

    37. Try not to be concerned that it looks out of proportion - the measurements are correct!

    38. look the sweater over and make a list of all the things to do differently next time!

      • since it’s acrylic and it won’t block, don’t use the first stitch pattern at the beginning of a circular yoked sweater because it will never lay flat

      • find another way to do short row shaping on the back of the neck

      • decrease more frequently on sleeves – decreasing every eight rows doesn’t work when starting with 70 stitches and need to get to 46 – do the maths BEFORE you start the sleeves!

    39. Share with readers the trials and tribulations of trying to reinvent a top down sweater [which someone with far more experience has already done!] the design process!!

    1 comment:

    1. You have been experienceing designer trials, haven't you?! The sweater is almost pretty-just a bit of adjustment in the shoulders would do it! Can you borrow a child to try it on and see how it fits?!


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