Saddle-Shoulders, from the Top Down

Have you been using technology in your knitting? I have. I'm trying to go paperless whenever possible (after a 20+ year career in publishing, I've used more than my fair share of paper!). I'm training myself to download my knitting patterns and read them on my iPhone or iPad. As long as I keep my devices charged, this approach is working great.

There are a ton of apps and eBooks out there to help me with my quest for using less paper, too, and one of them is the new publication The Knitter's Handy Book of Book of Top-Down Sweaters by Ann Budd. Handy, indeed!

Zigs & Zags by Véronik Avery, from The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd

One of the things in this book that particularly interests me is the chapter on saddle-shoulder sweaters. Usually I've seen them in men's sweater designs, but in the Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters, there are patterns for really attractive saddle-stitch sweaters for women.

My favorite is Véronik Avery's Zigs & Zags. I love the colorwork and the style—short-sleeved cardigans are one of my favorite things to knit and to wear.

Zigs & Zags is knit in the round and steeked, which makes the colorwork easier to knit, and the lower body is hemmed for a clean finish. The trim is knitted in a corded rib pattern, which is a deceptively easy one row repeat. I really love this pattern.

Here's Ann Budd to take you through the ins and outs of how to knit saddle-shoulder sweaters top-down.

Saddle-Shoulder Sweaters

Saddle-shoulder sweaters, named for the extensions of the sleeves (also called saddles or sleeve straps) that extend from the neck to the tops of the sleeve caps, have a classic fit. Like sweaters with set-in sleeves, saddle-shoulder sweaters have no excess fabric at the armholes and therefore have a clean, tailored silhouette that is well suited for close-fitting variations.

Most importantly, the shoulder straps provide a prominent area in which to showcase a design element; in Zigs & Zags (shown below right), it is set off in a contrasting color and textured stitch pattern.

Saddle-shoulder detail on Zigs & Zags by Véronik Avery

The saddle-shoulder sweaters in this book begin with two rectangular shoulder straps, each of which is worked from the neck edge to the armhole. The stitches are placed on holders, and then stitches for the back are picked up along one selvedge edge of each strap, with stitches for the back neck cast on between the two straps. The back is worked back and forth in rows as the armholes are shaped with increases, just as for a set-in sleeve sweater. These stitches are then placed on a holder while the front is worked in two sections with stitches picked up along the remaining selvedge of each strap. The two halves of the front are worked separately in rows to the base of the neck shaping.

Then the two are joined for a pullover or left separate for a cardigan, and the armholes are shaped with increases to match the back. At the base of the armholes, extra stitches are cast on between the front(s) and back for the underarms, and the body is worked in one piece to the hem. Stitches for the sleeves are picked up and knitted around the armhole openings, including the held strap stitches, then worked in a series of short-rows centered over the shoulders to shape the caps. The stitches are then joined and worked in rounds to the cuffs and tapered with decreases along the way. Finally, stitches are picked up around the neck opening for the neckband or collar.

—Ann Budd, from The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters

Veer off the paper trail with me and get your Knitter's Book of Handy Top-Down eBook or app today!


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