Barbara Walker’s Top down, simultaneous set-in sleeve method
One method I love for top down sweaters was devised by Barbara Walker. A number of designers use the method, often giving it a new name, but I do prefer to give credit where it’s due. For the purposes of this tutorial I am using an Aran weight yarn and following directions for a pattern knitted with laceweight or 4ply/fingering weight yarn, so the pieces look chunkier, taller and wider than they should. That said, it’s also a lot easier for you to see the detail.
You start by working the Right Back Shoulder wedge, cut yarn and place on a spare needle. The piece is shaped with w&t short rows (wrap and turn for those not familiar).
We then knit the Left Back Shoulder wedge piece to match this one, it’ll perhaps have one row more or less, as shoulders and shaping often do, but it’s close enough.
We knit a final row on across the left shoulder, cast on (purlwise and from the back of the work) our back neck stitches and knit across the right shoulder piece to join the back into one section.
After this point, we would pick up the Right Front Shoulder wedge from the ‘seam’ of the Right Back Shoulder (cast on edge of that piece).
The completed Right Front Shoulder wedge looks like this, you can see the shoulder seam (cast on edge) in the centre of the piece.
We then pick up the Left Front Shoulder wedge from the cast on edge of the shoulder edge for that side.
In this photo, I have completed the Left Front Shoulder wedge, again you can see the shoulder seam (cast on edge of the left back shoulder wedge) in the centre of that section.
Next, we knit the left front, place a marker, pick up stitches along the shoulder edge for the left sleeve, place marker, knit the back stitches, place marker, pick up stitches along the shoulder edge for the right sleeve, place marker and knit the right front.
As this particular top is a V neck, we’ll be increasing for the neck in the next section, as we knit down towards the underarms. We will add sleeve and body increases to ensure a smooth transition to the underarms and make sure our sleeves are wide enough to fit our arms!
This photo shows the left shoulder seam after the first neck increase and the first sleeve increases (to create an almost gathered top to each sleeve).
As with all top down construction methods, there are opportunities to customise the fit to your body. For example we could easily add more sleeve increases in the next section for those of us with ‘muscular’ or ‘meaty’ upper arms.
We could add bust shaping short rows, after the v neck is joined and we are working in the round. Or we could consider vertical bust darts for those who need them.
If you don’t like the simple lace eyelet pattern of the Andria Tee, you could easily choose another lace pattern and ensure your stitch count works with that lace.
After the underarms and some basic shaping for the upper body, we change to larger needles. We do that because the lower body or skirt element of the Tee needs more drape, the lace is meant to fit loosely and give you some ease. Not cling to the body.
This is how the finished Tee would look using laceweight yarn double stranded and knitted as per the pattern. Photo courtesy of Knit Now Magazine and Practical Publishing.
I’ve been looking through my Ravelry favourites and have a huge bundle of Summer Top Ideas which I love. Do you prefer knit or crochet summer tops? I knit more than I crochet but I do love crochet too, so there are plenty of ideas to go at.
Dingley Dell – Summer Top Ideas
Dingley Dell is a favourite of mine, I love the stripes, that you could knit it plain, bust some stash or do crazy with the striping. Knitted with 4ply / fingering weight yarn, it’ll be lightweight and would work in cotton, linen or wool blend yarns.
Tidewater Tee – Summer Top Ideas
The Tidewater Tee by Alexandria Wenninger is a yoked top, worked top down and in the round. The yoke pattern is pretty and interesting for the knitter.
Flowing Waves Top – Summer Top Ideas
The flowing waves top makes great use of a beautiful yarn, Scheephes Whirl and it’s gradient colour changes. I’m not sure I’d want an open back, being a girl who needs a decent bra, but it’s very pretty and would be an easy project to crochet.
Lola Pullover – Summer Top Ideas
The Lola Pullover is a light, lacy and very pretty summer top or sweater, with it’s cropped length it’s perfect for teens, tweens and young women.
LILLY halter top
I love the colours of the LILLY halter top, it’s crochet and great for using up stash and oddments to give a unique colour combination. You do need to measure yourself or the recipient and follow the instructions on how to get the best fit, but it’s worth a little bit of effort to have such a stunning piece in your wardrobe.
Sakura Summer Top
The Sakura summer top is a pretty, top down yoke pattern. Knitted in 4ply/fingering weight hemp, it’ll be cool, comfortable and wear well.
Emma and I look at some of them in our recent YouTube videos, links below
I’m so excited to share with you the news that my Emerald Top is finished and ready to wear. I completed the second sleeve today and then knitted the button band. I wove in the ends and now it’s done, finished, completed and I cannot wait to wear it.
I’m really pleased with the modifications I made for wider sleeves, so comfortable, just over elbow length which I love. The cotton will wash and wear brilliantly. It’s a top I’ll be able to enjoy wearing every summer.
I’m knitting a combination of the 4th and 5th sizes of the Emerald Top, using some Sirdar DK in Terracotta. The colour is fabulous, a rich Autumnal (Fall) shade which I love.
I’ve added some additional increases to the lower body to get the ease I want at the hips. I’ll also be knitting wider sleeves to fit my upper arms comfortably.
I still need to duplicate stitch the missing garter rows to the left front and the back, oops, my bad! But that’ll be fine. It’ll drive me nuts if I don’t do it, but it’s tempting to keep it as a talking point.
I’m knitting Emerald by Isabell Kraemer. It is such a pretty summery top and I’ve been meaning to knit this one for absolute ages. I chose some Sirdar Cotton DK in Terracotta, a rich, burnt red which suits my Autumn colouring.
Sizing and Fit
I chose the large size, with no ease at the bust, but as the sleeves are knitted top down I made the armhole to the depth I wanted and will knit wider sleeves to cover my meaty upper arms.
The lower part of the body (it’s worked top down) will be in the XL size to allow ease at my hips.
Mistakes and fixing
I made a mistake on the left front (as worn) and the back. Oops, I missed a garter ridge before the pretty pattern on the bodice. I’ll duplicate stitch it later, shouldn’t be too difficult and you’re not going to tell anyone, right?
I haven’t found buttons for the front placket as yet, but if I can’t find one, I may make some dorset buttons to match with the same yarn.
World Wide Knit In Public Day is on Saturday 12th June 2021
I’m excited for World Wide Knit In Public Day 2021 which is this Saturday, 12th June. What have you got planned? I’m hoping it’ll be sunny here as I’ll be out front knitting most of the day. If you crochet, feel free to join in, it helps promote both crafts and gets people talking.
What is World Wide Knit In Public Day?
World Wide Knit In Public Day started in 2005 by Danielle Landes and was an opportunity for knitters across the globe to meet, celebrate their craft and enjoy some social interaction in public.
Knitting is often a solitary craft and during the pandemic many of us has missed our regular knitting groups. Zoom has helped with some and also for those living in isolated areas.
If it is safe for you to do so, within social distancing guidelines for your country, please do join in and celebrate #wwkipday, maybe even host a meeting yourself? You can partner with cafe’s, pubs, outdoor venues and post on social media so knitters can find you and join in.