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 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.
The Roll over the Top test knit has been great fun and been a very enjoyable knit. I signed up because I’d seen Jutta’s original sample garment in a beautiful, rich green that glowed like jewels.
I’ve knitted her Simply Perfect Summer Top and her Summerline Top and wear those a lot. All three patterns are top down, working the back down to the armholes, then working left and right fronts down to the armholes. The lower body on each pattern has details to keep the knitter interested and they are all very quick knits.
Roll over the Top
Roll over the Top features garter borders with a 1 st icord edge on the arms and neckline. The centre front has the same garter panel with a slip st pattern which is repeated at the side panels under the arms and down to the hem of the body. The top is a V neck and all the bands, edgings are knit as you go. Once the knitting is done, you just have a few ends to weave in.
I’ve knitted Summerline using some Drops Belle and Jutta recommended a yarn with a linen blend for good drape for this project. I chose the Moss Green colourway, it’s a soft, muted and warm green. As I usually find with Drops Belle, I need to go up a needle size to get the stitch gauge/tension needed for the pattern.
I started knitting size large, which would give me a little negative ease at the bust, then once the body was joined to work down and in the round, I added some increases to make it slightly more Aline and working towards the stitch counts for the XL lower body.
By the time I had worked just over 13 inches into the lower body from the under arm I had used only 4 balls of yarn.
Once the increases are completed and the top is the desired length for you (allowing extra because linen loses some length after washing), the fronts and back are worked separately with a notched side.
Jutta includes a slight Aline shaping and also an option for wider hips like mine, so I did more increases that you might need.
The optional bust darts add length and shaping to the front and worked really well with my curves.
Have you knitted a summer top for yourself yet? What colour would you make and why?
I have talked in other blog posts about the Edie top by Isabell Kraemer and it’s a favourite knitting pattern of mine. Perfect for summer with short sleeves or for autumn/winter with long sleeves. It’s simple slip stitch pattern adds interest, or knit it plain like I did with my second Edie.
My first Edie top
Edie is knit top down in the round with raglan sleeves. It’s easy to adapt to suit your preferred fit and includes shaping for the waist or aline options. I knitted my first in Drops Belle using the dark purple, a rich plummy colour. I’ve worn it a lot in summer, but also in spring and autumn with a long sleeved top underneath. The yarn is a linen blend and softens a bit more every time it’s washed. It wears well and I can’t see any pilling. I added a quick edging of single crochet around the neckline to tighten that slightly and it does look good.
I started the top in size M1, then increased in the lower body to an L to give an Aline shape
My second Edie top
My second Edie was a reuse of some Wendy Supreme Cotton/Silk yarn in the colour Linen which is a warm, rich wheat colour. I added more slip stitch patterning to this one and it works so well. I love it. It’s hard to photograph and almost looks like it’s had a bath in some tea which a kettle dyed effect to the colouring.
I made this in size M for the upper body then increased to XL for the lower body using a dk weight yarn.
My third Edie top
My third, but not my final, Edie top is using 4ply/fingering weight yarn, a soft and beautiful bamboo/cotton blend by King Cole, it’s using the Coral colourway which is warmer than in the photo.
I added body length, a bit of rib pattern, just one repeat, and a couple of more short rows to the lower body. I lengthened the sleeves to elbow length, as I did with the other two Edie tops. I made the L upper body increasing to XL for the lower body and used only 265g of fingering weight yarn. A very economical knit and great for using up stash. I used 3.5mm needles for this version, as per the pattern, it gives a lovely drape for 4ply yarn but still knits up very quickly. This one, in among work and life took just 3 weeks on and off.
Edie is a very versatile pattern, it’s easy to knit plain or add texture patterning for a bit of fun. The v neck is very flattering on most figures and looks lovely with crew neck tee underneath on cooler days. Sizing goes up to just under a 60 inch bust/chest and is easy to adapt in terms of underarm depth, sleeve fit, waist shaping or aline shaping.
If I have enough of the Verde green Bamboo Cotton left over from my Tidewater top, then I’ll knit another Edie in that colour. It’s a rich, zingy lime colour and I love it.
I’m looking at cardigan patterns to find the perfect companion for the Bamboo/Cotton version of Edie, maybe in the same colour to match or in a neutral to go with it. I’m not sure yet. I confess to liking a Twin Set, it’s a classic look and so practical for our English climate which blows hot, cool, warm or wet in one day. A cropped cardigan might work well but I’m inclined to go longer and add plenty of waist/hip shaping to flatter my curves rather than overwhelm them.
Have you knitted an Edie top yet? What colour would you make and why?