Here’s the thing. I’ve written before (albeit in somewhat sideways fashion) about why I believe in top-down knitting, despite its detractors; about how I think it’s the gateway drug to sweater knitting; and even how to solve the inherent problem of the lack of seams. (It’s all in this basted knitting post, if you haven’t seen it.) But I think, even in defending top-down, I have failed to properly acknowledge one of its greatest merits, which is the capacity for trial and error. In that regard, none of the other sweater construction methods can hold a candle to it.
When you’re knitting a sweater top-down, you can play around with the raglan placement, play around with sleeve shape, whatever it might be. Try out ideas and see how they work. Since you can put the sweater on and see how it’s turning out, and can easily rip back and make changes, you’re likely to actually do that. Right? It’s not only flexible and freeing, it leads to good results. Consider the sweater above, which I’m currently in the midst of. The body is “done” but I think I’d rather it was a little bit A-line and maybe without so much ribbing, so I’ll rip it back and redo it — no big deal whatsoever. (Especially at this gauge!) But if it were a set of bottom-up pieces, which I had blocked and seamed together before deciding I wanted the shape to be a little different? Let’s face it, game over.
Up until these last two sweaters (Bob’s and this one), it had been quite awhile since I’d knitted a top-down, and I’d forgotten how fun it is. Yes, it gets cumbersome the bigger it gets, but I don’t know if I’ll ever not find it magical to watch a sweater being born whole on the needles in front of me. This one I’ve been having extra fun with — bending the raglans for a more satisfying fit and unintentionally knitting my first V-neck. Plus, this time of year, having a whole wool sweater in your lap is a feature, not a bug.
Of course, if I want to wear it this winter, I better hurry up and be done with it, so that’s my goal for the weekend. How about you?
UPDATE: For those asking or who haven’t seen it, there’s a whole top-down tutorial here on the blog: How to improvise a top-down sweater