Crochet Sweaters: Side to Side, Bottom Up, and Top Down

So you’re about to make a crochet sweater. Where do you start? Usually at the hem. Most crochet sweaters are worked from the bottom up, beginning at the hem and ending at the shoulder. But you can also work top down, beginning at the neckline and ending at the hem. A few sweaters are even worked from side to side by working a foundation that runs the length of the side of the sweater instead of the width of the bottom.

sweater direction crochet pattern

The Crochetist explores sweaters crocheted from the bottom up and side to side.

How do designers decide if a crochet sweater should be worked bottom up, top down, or side to side? In The Crochetist, you can find innovative, easy, and elegant sweaters using all three methods. Before you choose your first sweater project, let’s take a closer look at side to side, bottom up, and top down sweaters and the benefits of each.

Rhythmite crochet sweater

The Rhythmite Pullover uses side to side construction to create a textured stitch pattern with an elegant vertical line.

Side to Side Crochet Sweaters

Probably the least used crochet sweater construction, side to side sweaters have a unique appearance and benefits.

  1. Crochet stitches have more stretch from the top of the row to the bottom than from the beginning of the row to the end. When you work a crochet sweater from side to side, you add more horizontal stretch to your sweater.
  2. When you work your rows from hem to neckline instead of side to side, your crochet stitches are turned on their side. This can give your crochet stitches a new and interesting look. The Rhythmite Pullover uses a rib stitch pattern to create vertical textured stripes. If this sweater were worked bottom up instead of side to side, those stripes would be horizontal instead of vertical.
  3. Neckline and armhole shaping is easier to work at the end or beginning of a row than in the middle of the row. Working side to side means you won’t have to work the right and left sides of the neckline separately.
  4. Side to side crochet construction allows you to work from cuff to cuff. The Fullerene Pullover begins by chaining for the right sleeve cuff and ends by fastening off at the left cuff. Seams run from the bottom of the cuff along the arm, across the armhole, and then down the side.
Fullerene crochet sweater

The Fullerene Pullover is worked from cuff to cuff to create a seamless crochet stitch pattern interrupted only by a unique front pocket.

Bottom Up Crochet Sweaters

Bottom up is the most common construction technique for crochet sweaters. After working a foundation row of crochet chains or stitches, the sweater is worked from the hem to the armholes, neckline, and shoulders. In addition to being the most common, this construction has a number of benefits.

  1. Shaping at the waist is easy to work when you are crocheting from the bottom up. Designers can slowly decrease stitches to the waist and then increase from the waist to the armhole to create simple and natural waist shaping.
  2. Crocheting a bottom up crochet sweater is the easiest design for beginning crocheters. Beginning at the hem, it is easy to see the progression and shaping of armhole and neckline shaping.
  3. Crochet designers will sometimes choose the construction direction that will best show off the stitch pattern they are using. Stitches such as the crochet shells used in the Huitre Top would look much different if they were turned upside down or sideways in a top down or side to side sweater.
Huitre top down crochet sweater

The Huitre Top is worked traditionally from a ribbed hem. Rows of crochet shells build on each other to create an elegant lace fabric.

Top Down Crochet Sweaters

Top Down crochet sweaters are usually worked in the round. Beginning at the neckline, the sweater is worked though the shoulder before stitches are skipped for the armhole. The sweater continues to be worked through the bust, waist, and to the hem before fastening off and returning to the skipped stitches to work the sleeves.

  1. Working from the top down allows you to try the sweater on as you crochet. You can adjust the bust, waist shaping, and length as you crochet for a custom fit. Keep in mind any change in sizing blocking will cause.
  2. Top down crocheted sweaters have a beautiful, seamless dropped shoulder that is perfect for certain sweater designs.
  3. This unique design is seamless. So if you don’t like seaming the front, back, and sleeves of your sweater together, this is the sweater technique for you.

The Crochetist includes six easy and elegant crochet patterns including gorgeous crochet sweater patterns that highlight the benefits of side to side and bottom up sweaters. Whether you have fallen in love with the cuff-to-cuff construction of the Fullerene Pullover, the shell stitch pattern of the Huitre Top, or the vertical pattern of the Rythmite Pullover, you will turn heads with your crochet.

Happy crocheting,

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