wool&gathering

Knitting, design, wool and other gatherings….

Top-down vs. bottom-up

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My first top-down project happened as recently as just a year ago. I had previously read patterns using this technique, but discarded the whole idea as being silly… This was until I found Veera Välimäkis beautiful pattern «Still Light». I actually ended up knitting the monstrous thing twice! The first one in light grey/mid grey stripes, and the second one in dark ocean blue, both using Garnstudio´s Drops Alpaca.

They have been my favourite sweaters this past year, and I would like to make another one, this time in a merino/merino blend quality. I´ll just have to find the perfect yarn…

Since «Still Light» I´ve used the top-down technique on several projects, but being Norwegian, raised on «Setesdal and Selbu», my technique is, and will always be bottom-up. I find it quite tedious knitting sleeves when you start at the top. You end up having to carry the whole work with you for every round on the sleeve. It´s of course possible to knit the sleeves before the body, and thus avoiding having to carry the lot with you every round, but then the whole point of top-down knitting is, in my opinion, gone!

And no, -you don´t have to look like a questionmark for long…. I´ll try to explain.

My dear grandmother taught me to knit when I was seven, and since then I´ve only occasionally knit in the traditional way: found a design I like, bought the pattern and yarn to go with it, and then followed that pattern. It has been known to happen, and has been known to be successful, on occasions.

Mostly I buy a yarn I like and then let it mature like a good wine, and I can touch it, smell it and compare it to all the other yarn sharing it´s destiny. I might have a project in mind when I buy it, but most often it ends up in a quite different project. And on rare occasions, you stumble upon a yarn that just turns out to be fantastic! It might be la local rare fibre, like this, made on a little farm on a little island outside my hometown, using wool from Norwegian «Wild-sheep», from Ull-laaven, Torsnes Gaard. But exciting yarn from indie-dyers or spinners doesn´t just pop up in the local yarn stores around here. You have to find it on the internet, where you can´t touch it, smell it or most importantly see the color properly. It´s always a shot in the dark, and I´ve done som rather expensive mistakes over the years…. And then again, you might be positively surprised. Like I was when I ordered four skeins of Plucky Feet from The Plucky Knitter a while ago. This yarn was not allowed to mature in my shelves, and ended up as a top-down sweater and a free pattern published on Ravelry here. It had to be a top-down sweater because I wasn´t sure of how long the yarn would last. Was it enough to make long sleeves? If you start at the bottom, and join the body and the sleeves for a raglan yoke, you might end up not having enough yarn. And ripping up a yoke and two whole sleeves is a task I avoid. When you use rare and expensive yarn you can´t just order some more if needed. When you start at the top, you can knit the sleeves simultaneously, one from each side of the yarn, and better control the lenght of the arms.

When knitting Plucky Everyday it turned out I had plenty of yarn, which will also be the case with watever stripey project I make use of this amazing Corriedale from Old Maiden Aunt Yarns. It´s currently maturing, while I´m busy with this project.

I have found the Imogen to be an interresting design for a long time, but not found the right yarn for it. An even colored, maybe soft yarn makes this design a bit too «pretty» for my taste. I needed a soft yet more rustic feel to it, and I found it! A while ago I closed my eyes, pressed the «buy» button and bought a 4 ply fingering merino from New Zealand! That´s quite exactly on the opposite side of the earth! About a week later it landed in my mailbox, found by my daughter and delivered with the words: «Really Mum – more yarn?!» Hm, we don´t exactly share a passion for yarn, and the apple fell a bit further away than nature laws allows with this specimen. She knows how to knit, and has the most well stashed yarn collection for a 12-year old on this side of the equator…. and that just might be it! I´ll have to stop trying and maybe she´ll come around…. or maybe not.

But the three skeins of 4 ply merino from Verandah Yarns bought in lovely Sally´s etsy shop was perfect for my idea of Imogen. But then again; was 3 skeins enough? I want, as mentioned in a previous post, the arms to be as long as possible. Imogen being a bottom-up design meant that I had to alter it and start at the top. Maybe it´s enough for at least 3/4 arms? Well, maybe if I was a size small it would be enough for long arms…… but I´m not! So far so good, and I just love the warm, greyish brown color “Cromwell” and the yarn is butter in my hands. It´s a delight to knit with! Go Sally!

Author: woolandgathering

I´m a dedicated knitter. I share my house with an unknown amount of wool. My kind of wool seems to multiply like quicksilver, -drop a skein to the floor and you get 10 in return….. (well… get is maybe an exaggeration….) So I keep on knitting to try to get on top of it, enjoying the process, the texture of the yarn and the endless possibilities in creating new garments.

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