Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Thursday, May 8, 2014

In praise of the Top Down Sweater

I'm not an enormous fan of the Top Down Sweater.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't have issues with them -- some folks are total fanatics.  The reasons they love them never really applied to me, I don't mind purling, and actually I really love sewing sweaters together and all of that fussy finishing stuff really makes me happy.  I'm crazy, I know.

So when a pattern appeals to me, it's construction isn't make or break for me -- I'll knit it if I want no matter what.

But, I have realized that the true value for me in the top down sweater is that I can take a sweater that Clara wore and loved for one winter and size it up really easily.  This, my friends, THRILLS me.  It does seem at times a bit of a waste to knit all of these things that may never be worn out.  I'm happy to hand things down and give things to friends with kids, but man, to get two seasons out of a sweater for one of the girls is awesome.

You may recognize this little number from October 2012, when I finally finished it for Clara: 

Well, it had gotten a little small... mostly too short in the body and the arms - she's a tall, slender kid.  So when we learned that her classroom was cool, and she loved it so much, I thought I would try to enlarge it.  If it worked, hey presto, another sweater for not a lot of knitting, if it didn't, oh well, no huge loss.

The first thing that I did was pull out the cast-off for the sleeves, and rip back the garter stitch border.  I put the stitches back on the needles and knit another 2 inches, and then did the garter stitch border again.  Sleeves, finito.  The body was a bit more annoying because the button and buttonhole bands are picked up and knit onto the body.  So I needed to pull out the bands, then pull out the cast-off and garter stitch border on the bottom of the sweater before I could lengthen the body.  Once the body was long enough, there was only the matter of picking up and knitting on the button and buttonhole bands and sewing back on the buttons.

All in all it took me roughly a weekend of un-knitting and re-knitting to have a nearly new sweater, which, without anything in the two pictures for scale, looks basically identical.

Obviously, it's well loved, pilly, with stains, and missing a button.  But how awesome is that.  I always want their sweaters to end up looking really well loved.  It's a trick of the photo that the button bands look so much brighter than the rest of the sweater.  The light here is weird today -- in real life it isn't noticeable that these parts are new.

I have the button, by the way, it will go back on and she'll keep on wearing it on cool days.  And who knows, maybe I can get another year out of it, I still have leftover yarn!

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