Cozy winter raglan

Jacques is feeling sick

Have I mentioned my dislike for top-down sweaters? It’s true, I would rather knit from the bottom up. My dissatisfaction lies in the hem and cuffs. First, the stitches never look tight enough no matter how many needle sizes I drop. Second, my cast offs are always too tight. I have tried all the various bind offs out there and the only one that works adequately enough to get the garment over my hips is the sewn cast off, which yields an edge that invariably appears too loose and rather sloppy. Finally, no matter how I work the rib, my hems flip without a good blocking or gentle steaming. However, top-down sweaters are quick and fast and what do you know, I’ve just knit another one! I’m cold, remember?


Pattern: A basic top-down raglan with a 33″ bust (1.5″ neg ease) (Ravelry link)

Yarn: Queensland Collection Kathmandu DK Tweed in #406, 6 skeins

Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm)

Actually, I knit this in December but I refused to finish it until I first settled on a finished hem for my Francis Revisited. There is something about the top-down sweater that I find very appealing. It does not feel like a real sweater until I divide for the armholes. Perhaps there’s no commitment until the divide whereas I feel committed to an Adult Sweater as soon as I cast on all of the body stitches for a bottom-up garment. Who knows?


Despite my grumblings about the hem and cuffs, I love this garment! I intend to live in it! The yarn is so soft and comfortable! However, there are important things to note about the yarn itself. I used this same yarn in my DROPS 88-4 cardigan, a project from which I learned some important lessons. First, although my swatch last year grew, it did not grow nearly as much as the sweater did over the course of last winter. With this yarn on US 6 (4.0 mm) needles, my unwashed stitch gauge was 5.25 sts/inch, my washed stitch gauge was 5 sts/inch and the gauge taken from the stockinette part of the DROPS sweater was 4.89 stitches/inch! In planning this sweater, I used the 4.89 stitch/inch gauge and added 1.5″ of negative bust ease. When this grows, I will be prepared!

Short rowed neckline

The neckline was even front and back but I used short rows on the ribbing to lengthen the back neck.

Another top down raglan

After a blocking and a very, very gentle steaming, the bottom hem seems to stay in place. Still, you can see how my ribbing stitches appear loose and rather untidy. All in all, I will call this a successs. I believe the yarn makes this virtually foolproof. I originally intended to knit a cabled pullover with this yarn and I bought 11 balls. Since I only used 6 skeins for this sweater, I need to find a good way to use up my remaining stash. All stashed yarn needs a purpose, after all!

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19 comments so far

  1. mai on

    the yarn is beautiful! i have some of the aran weight in my stash. i admire you for being able to knit so much stockinette. i wish i had the patience for it! i’d love to have a simple sweater like this. great job!

  2. Emilee on

    That looks great! The simple styling really lets the yarn sing.

  3. Lise on

    Your sweater is beautiful. And I love the colour. Congratulations!

  4. earthchick on

    Oh, it’s beautiful!

    And I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one with bind-off issues. I have always thought my sewn cast-offs looked loose, sloppy, and ruffled on ribbing, but I have never read anyone else say that! (it seems to be the preferred bind-off for ribbing)

    Such a yummy sweater!

  5. nikki on

    A wonderful sweater. I like the simple style combined with the tweedy yarn.

  6. Karma on

    There is something so satisfying about a very basic, yet perfectly fitted, pullover. And the yarn you chose is so beautiful. Did you know I’m a huge sucker for purple? Win!

  7. Erica on

    That sweater is beautiful! It’s a great color on you, too. Bind offs are always a pain, aren’t they? Maybe the next top down raglan should have a knit-on border. =)

  8. stacey on

    Love it! A simple tweed sweater – perfect! My ribbing is the same way. It always looks loose for some reason. If anyone gives you any tips or tricks, let me know! I have a bag of that same yarn, good to know about the way it grows!

  9. Carrie on

    the sweater is lovely! and jacques is a total schmoo.

  10. Eliza on

    It looks gorgeous! I love the color and the yarn works perfectly for it!
    It’s interesting what you said about the yarn stretching though. I used it for a sweater as well, and it has also stretched a bit. I thought it was my sweater though, or how I was wearing it.

  11. erin on

    Beautiful sweater! The fit looks perfect on you! I think the ribbing looks good, but if you knit continental, try knitting the ribbing english; that’s tightened up my ribbing in the past.

  12. whitney on

    I love it! The tweediness is just perfect.

  13. Alicia on

    Ooooh pretty!
    Love the sweater on you. Your dog is adorable!

  14. Chris on

    It turned out great! Thanks for the info/warning about that yarn – I have some in my stash…

  15. gleek on

    i’m thinking that the ribbing looks this way because of an optical illusion. the Vs of the knits are pointing in the opposite direction of a bottom-up knit. i’m not sure if there’s a thing that can be done about it!

    regardless, it’s a beautiful sweater and i’m sure it’ll keep you warm :)

  16. Rima Aranha on

    Really like to tweedy look of your sweater. And you are right about the hems and cuffs. I love top down sweaters (!), and I have the same trouble. What I do is, I do not bind off loosely (as in, dont go up a needle size for the bind off) and do not bind off in ribbing. If you bind off knit wise, the chances of the hem flaring up is minimal. I came up with this after a lot of trial and error…but I am sure there are other suggestions out there.

  17. grumperina on

    It’s so great you had the first sweater to guide you! There’s no way this will turn out bad, it just can’t happen :).

  18. tiennie on

    Another beautiful sweater! I love the color on you. Happy 2009!

  19. Willemtje on

    You might get a slightly better result if you go down a needlesize while knitting the few last rows of stockinette. The same goes for the bind-off. Go down another needlesize in the last one or two rows of k1 p1. This makes the bind-off look neater.
    Great sweater btw. Happy knitting

    a Dutch knitter

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