Have I mentioned my dislike for top-down sweaters? It’s true, I would rather knit from the bottom up. My dissatisfaction lies in the hem and cuffs. First, the stitches never look tight enough no matter how many needle sizes I drop. Second, my cast offs are always too tight. I have tried all the various bind offs out there and the only one that works adequately enough to get the garment over my hips is the sewn cast off, which yields an edge that invariably appears too loose and rather sloppy. Finally, no matter how I work the rib, my hems flip without a good blocking or gentle steaming. However, top-down sweaters are quick and fast and what do you know, I’ve just knit another one! I’m cold, remember?
Pattern: A basic top-down raglan with a 33″ bust (1.5″ neg ease) (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Queensland Collection Kathmandu DK Tweed in #406, 6 skeins
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm)
Actually, I knit this in December but I refused to finish it until I first settled on a finished hem for my Francis Revisited. There is something about the top-down sweater that I find very appealing. It does not feel like a real sweater until I divide for the armholes. Perhaps there’s no commitment until the divide whereas I feel committed to an Adult Sweater as soon as I cast on all of the body stitches for a bottom-up garment. Who knows?
Despite my grumblings about the hem and cuffs, I love this garment! I intend to live in it! The yarn is so soft and comfortable! However, there are important things to note about the yarn itself. I used this same yarn in my DROPS 88-4 cardigan, a project from which I learned some important lessons. First, although my swatch last year grew, it did not grow nearly as much as the sweater did over the course of last winter. With this yarn on US 6 (4.0 mm) needles, my unwashed stitch gauge was 5.25 sts/inch, my washed stitch gauge was 5 sts/inch and the gauge taken from the stockinette part of the DROPS sweater was 4.89 stitches/inch! In planning this sweater, I used the 4.89 stitch/inch gauge and added 1.5″ of negative bust ease. When this grows, I will be prepared!
The neckline was even front and back but I used short rows on the ribbing to lengthen the back neck.
After a blocking and a very, very gentle steaming, the bottom hem seems to stay in place. Still, you can see how my ribbing stitches appear loose and rather untidy. All in all, I will call this a successs. I believe the yarn makes this virtually foolproof. I originally intended to knit a cabled pullover with this yarn and I bought 11 balls. Since I only used 6 skeins for this sweater, I need to find a good way to use up my remaining stash. All stashed yarn needs a purpose, after all!