Top-Down Knitting: Learn Something New!

Cerulean Cardigan by Wendy Bernard

I set a goal for myself to knit two sweaters this fall. After watching the new Knitting Daily Workshop Knitting from the Top Down with Wendy Bernard, I think my second sweater might just be her Cerulean Cardigan (which is available with the DVD).

I like this sweater for a few reasons: it's knit top-down, it can be worn open or closed, and it just looks so cozy! And the closure on the front is one giant hook and eye. Pretty cool.

I've knit two top-down sweaters, both just happen to be Wendy's designs—I really like her work-and I wear them more than any of the other sweaters I've knitted. These two sweaters just fit me best.

Top-down knitting is known for its versatility. You're able to try on your sweater as you go, making changes as you knit. I'm short so I always need to shorten my sweaters a bit; I also like three-quarter-length sleeves or bracelet-length sleeves, and trying on as I go enables me to get the sleeve length correct.

Even though I've used the technique successfully twice, I learned a lot from Wendy's DVD.

Both of my top-down knits have raglan sleeves, which are fine, but my favorite sleeve style is the set-in sleeve; I think it's the most flattering on me. I'd heard that it's possible to knit top-down sweaters with set-in sleeves, but I just couldn't wrap my brain around the concept.

Wendy showed me how! And it just so happens that the pattern she used in her workshop to demonstrate set-in sleeves was the Cerulean Cardigan.

Basically, you start the sweater like you normally do in top-down knitting, by casting on the neck stitches. Then you knit the shoulders, back, and fronts to the armholes. At that point you join the back and fronts and begin knitting them in one piece. After the body is done, you pick up stitches for the arms. That all sounds perfectly normal, right?

Well, here's the trick: you knit a set of short-rows at the top of the shoulder to make the sleeve cap. It's brilliant! After your short-rows are done, you simply knit your sleeves in the round until they're the length you want them to be.

A "New" Provisional Cast-On

Since there's edging to add to the sweater after you complete the body, the back neck stitches are cast-on using a provisional cast-on.

The more I learn about knitting, the more I realize how much I have to learn! Wendy demonstrated her preferred provisional cast on, which is simply the long-tail cast-on, but using waste yarn for the yarn that goes over your thumb. That's the one that ends up on the "bottom" as each stitch is cast on.

A sample of Wendy's long-tail provisional cast-on

In the photo at right, the white yarn is the waste yarn. If you hold it in front (over your thumb), it ends up on the bottom of the cast-on stitches. The red yarn is the main color yarn. You slide the main color stitches onto your working needle, and then simply (and carefully!) snip the waste yarn in several places and pull out the pieces.

So simple! Which is one of the reasons I like Wendy's patterns—she makes them easy to follow, with great results.

Here's the preview of the new DVD for you:

Get your copy of Knitting from the Top Down with Wendy Bernard now!


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