Saturday, 21 May 2011

Knitting Sweaters from the Top Down - review



The first cover is for the hardback and has the Hyacinth Jumper on the cover

BookDepository Link; Ravelry Link

Author: Cathy Carron

other info: 1600595545

Impressions: Ill-fitting and ugly. I'm sorry, I wanted to like this book, I actually did. I like the concept of knitting from the top down and in the round, where I can concentrate on getting the fiddly bit done first and then moving on to the fairly straightforward bits, where I can work something in the round so there's minimal seaming, but this isn't the book I'd recommend to get into this technique. This book draws my eye for all the wrong reasons, novelty yarn, very bulky yarn, awkward angles and poses and what looks like kill-me-now expressions on the models faces. Add to that design elements that appear to hit on the wrong place and overlarge arm holes and you get a pattern book that has me looking at one garment and saying "well with some changes I'd knit that" (Coast for the record). The necklines are quite limited and don't The book also uses variegated yarn and ther's a lot of interesting pooling and flashing going on, if you don't like that effect, you might try alternating two balls.

This book fails for me on a few levels, it's completely not my style, it's going to date badly and I see nothing that I can't get better online. Now the initial advice isn't bad, the patterns just made me squirm, though the touch of having the yarn weight along the edge of the first page of the pattern is a nice touch.

Types of patterns: women's garments, though the general instructions could be used for any age or gender

Number of Patterns:

Split of patterns: Jumper (1)

Size Range: 36-48" (91-122cm)

Colour/Black & White: colour

Schematics: yes

Target Audience: Intermediate knitters.

How to knit guide: Basic knitting knowledge is assumed, this expands it to add a fair bit of information about this technique.

Experimental/Classical/Modern: the stuff is going to date, but under some of the dated yarns there is a potential for classic styles.

Comments on patterns:

The book opens with Cocoon, a fun-fur bulky bracelet length sleeved jumper. Shudder. (Pictured in Karbella's Barbados)

Aspen is a Belted cardigan, where the belt hits below the waist and with trim on the collar. In a bulky yarn. (Pictured in Karabella's Puffy)

Sparks is knit in bulky weight yarn again, with novely yarn on the cuffs and collars. Original knitted in Classic Elite's Rave and Bernat's Boa... a very plain jumper

Verandah is a boxy cardigan/jacket with some contrast yarn on the cuffs, which is stitched in. Knit in Bulky weight yarn the original was in Blue Sky Alpacas' Bulky.

Nest is a bulky weight v-notch jumper with wide sleeves. The author made me laugh with her advice to be careful about eliminating excess bulk and streamiline the shape, this thing is a bulky jumper that larger people should be careful about wearing, it will add a lot of bulk, the model is enlarged in it. Original knit in Rowan's Big Wool.

Birch knit in a bulky weight yarn with a turtleneck, relies on the yarn to make it different, the original is knit in Classic Elite's Tigress which is a thick and thin yarn.

New Leaf has a long rib that starts under the bust, again knit in chunky weight yarn, the original was knit in Classic Elite's Paintbox

Indian Summer has an extended cowl collar, knit in Chunky weight yarn, the original was in Muench's Vamos, apart from the extended cowl it's pretty plain

Evergreen just made me twitch, very wide collar that sits quite far back in a contrast yarn, matching the cuffs, the ties have pompoms, it's in chunky weight yarn. The original was knit in Lion Brand's Moonlight Mohair and Reynolds Lopi. The model is depicted with her arms folded in front, careful reading suggests taht the only fastening involves the pompom decorated neckties.

Hyacinth is the depicted jumper on the front of the hardback copy, yes the one with bobbles... knit in chunky weight yarn with stripes and bobbles in different colours it's knit in Reynold's Lopi

Flora this is a chunky weight yarn, polo collar, the sleeves in this just looked a bit too wide at the armhole. 3/4 length sleeves, original knit in Muench's Ocean.

Dewdrop is a v-necked cardigan with fun-fur edging and rounded ends. The original was knit in Artful Yarn's Legend and Reynold's Scandal, the sleeves are just below the elbow, the yarn is chunky.

Peony tied at the neck, knit in heavy worsted yarn, cardigan. Originally knit in Classic Elite's Minnie. The 3/4 length sleeves are also fastened by ties.

Cherry Blossom is the top featured on the cover of the book, it's knit in Heavy Worsted Weight Yarn, to me the armholes are too wide. Overall not too bad. Originally knit in Karabella's Empire Silk

Flame is originally knit in Classic Elite's Montera this is a hooded sloppy heavy worsted weight yarn with a textured stitch pattern

Ember round-necked with horizontal knitted tubing on the neck, waist and sleeve ends. This requires a particular body shape, one I don't have, oroginally knit in Artful Yarns/JCA's Cinema which is a heavy worsted weight yarn.

Snowberry has an off-to-one-side collar in a contrast yarn and uses the yarn to create interest, the yarn is Berocco's Softy, a heavy worsted weight yarn.

Wild Plum I think it's trying to be kinda kimono-ish but it just doesn't seem to work. A contrast belt with a ribbon tie which hits mid-waist might work bettwe if it was on the waist. The ruffled sleeve edge also just didn't really work for me. It's in Heavy Worsted Weight yarn. Original knit in Muench's Touch Me.

Coast is a polo-necked top, split in front, knit in DK weight yarn, some shaping could help here, and I'm not sure how it sits because the model is standing a bit strangely. Original knit in Reynold's Saucy. My favourite of all patterns.

Breeze is a widenecked top with beads, with reverse stitch horizontal stripes. In Dk weight. Classic Elite's Bamboo

Bloom is a boxy cardigan with a contrast collar and a flower on the shoulder, originally knit in Rowan Classic Yarns' Soft Lux and Lurex Shimmer. the cuffs are wide with contrast stitching.

Stardust is a sleeveless top using a sequin strung yarn knit in with the basic yarn. It's knit in Blue Sky Alpacas' Sport Weight and Berocco's Lazer FX a dk and polyester sequin thread. polo neck.

Verbena has a ruffle neck, with beads and textured stitches, a dk weight short-sleeved top. I would kinda like to see this without the ruffle, it might be okay. Original in Karabella's Zodiac

Violet horizontal wide stripes in DK weight yarns, original in Berroco's Glace, a wide-ish neck, ribbed along the sides to help with shaping.


The end of the book has a number of basic patterns in different guages, cardigans and pullovers Basic DK Pullover is one. Ignore the 10 st guage and 8 stitch guage in the titles and check out the yarn weights and actual guage in the text.

Buy/Borrow: I would be more inclined to get Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top or Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard, Wendy Bernard more for the patterns and Barbara Walker for the how-to.

Where found: South Dublin County Libraries, borrowed through Borrowbooks.ie

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