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Review: Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters


First, the facts:

Title: The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges

Author: Ann Budd

Published by: Interweave Press, 2012

Pages: 264

Type: Design and Knitting Patterns


1. Seamless Yoke Sweaters
2. Raglan Sweaters
3. Set-in Sleeve Sweaters
4. Saddle Shoulder Sweaters

Handy Book Top Down Sweaters

The In-Depth Look:

Like the Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns and the Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns that came before it, this book is a masterpiece of making basic sweater construction as simple as possible.

The author writes: “Ever since the Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns was published in 2004, knitters have asked me how to modify the patterns for seamless or top-down knitting. They ask because they want to take advantage of the inherent benefits of top-down construction. First and foremost, it allows you to try on the sweater-in-progress to check the fit. You’ll know if the key components–the shoulder width, neck and armhole depths, and body circumference–are right before you invest the time in knitting lower body an sleeves. You’ll also be able to adjust the body and sleeve length along the way.”

I’m a big fan of top-down sweaters for all of these reasons. I like that they require less finishing work, and less seaming. Not that I mind seaming, because I actually enjoy it, but I’m usually so anxious to see and wear my finished sweaters by the time I get that far, I’m thrilled when it’s essentially in one piece when I put the knitting needles down. It’s true, though, that some shapes (like yoke sweaters) are easier to convert than others–and that’s where this book is key.

It’s got the same, easy-to-use format as before. You start with your gauge and the size sweater you want, and then just use the numbers in the charts to determine number of stitches to cast on, increase, decrease, lengths to knit … everything you need. The range of adult sizes goes from 36″ to 54″. Child sizes go from 26″ to 34″. Both cover 5 different gauges (3 to 7 stitches/inch). There are notes and how-to’s throughout to give you tips on how to modify or personalize as you go, as well as a chapter at the back delineating personal touches like necklines, ribbing, waist-shaping, and front bands for cardigans.

In addition to the generic charts, there are 15 fully-written patterns for fully-designed sweaters. And let’s not forget the very handy hard-cover with spiral binding format which not only keeps the book safe but lets it stay flat open while you’re using it.

It’s not surprising that this book is as useful and multi-faceted as the other Handy books that have come before. You could almost say that you’d never need another pattern book because with all these generic charts that can be used to match any yarn, pattern, color, idea you have–what more could you need? (Except, well, more ideas, more inspiration, more … well, never mind.)

Now, according to Ann Budd’s blog, the electronic PDF version of the book comes with a bonus chapter on Modified Drop-Shoulder Sweaters, though as of right now, the Interweave site doesn’t mention that. I can tell you, though, that in addition to the paper copy the publisher was gracious enough to send me, I had bought a PDF copy for myself and it does, in fact have the extra chapter, and is a total of 311 pages.

Ultimately, the book is practical, it’s genius, it’s useful. And since it’s devoted to one of my favorite sweater-making methods (that whole top-down thing) … it’s coming highly recommended indeed. Check out your copy over at Amazon.com.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by Interweave Press. Thank you!

My Gush: Practical, useful, and really very, very handy!

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  • Jocelyn July 29, 2012, 1:57 pm

    What’s the gauge range? Thanks.

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