The number one benefit of knitting a sweater from the top down is being able to try it on as you go, fine-tuning the fit along the way. The only challenge (such as it is) is not losing stitches off the ends of your circulars as you pull it over your shoulders, especially once you’ve joined the body below the armholes. The following tip is buried somewhere in my top-down tutorial but I wanted to pull it out and shine some daylight on it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to do any extra work — whether that’s threading stitches onto waste yarn and then back again onto the needles, or inserting “try-on tubes” or anything that has to be done and then undone. The easiest way to resolve the issue, when you’re on a round where you want to try it on, is to simply knit half the stitches onto a second circular needle. That’s it! As long as both circs have a cord length that is at least half the circumference* of the knitting, you can pull both sets of needle tips free and clear of the stitches — so half the stitches are resting on one cord and the other half on the other — and pull it safely over your head. Then when you’re ready, just start knitting again. When you reach the end of that round, all of your stitches will once again be on a single needle, with no extra doing or undoing of any kind.
You may also find it useful to steam your sweater before you try it on — especially if your swatch changed meaningfully before and after blocking.
This tip builds on the very first Hot Tip, too, regarding mismatching your needle tips. If you’re knitting with interchangeable needles, you don’t even need two sets of tips!
*You can see that the second needle I used for the top photo is not half the circumference, but the two combined lengths are still equal to or greater than the circumference. Just make sure your second needle is of appropriate length for completing the round. This one will be a tight fit for the rest of the stitches, but you can always switch back to your first needle on the following round, if the second one is either too short or too long for carrying on with.
PREVIOUSLY in Hot Tips: Turn one strand into three