I was wearing my not-quite-lettuce-coat the other day, and I was rather pleased by how the garment felt on me after its summer hiatus. The yarn is still soft and, despite a faint halo that seems like it may develop into pilling, keeps it shape well and feels wonderfully soft. What also pleased me greatly was the actual fit of the cardigan. Every part fit exactly where it should, exactly how I had wanted it to fit as I was making it.


I can not attribute this success to anything but the fact that it was knit top-down. I had made sweaters before that, and although they did fit well enough, it was because I followed a pattern, and the pattern was good. Not perfectly suited to my own body, but it fit, and it looked fine, but I felt I had no control of the outcome or the process.

Deciding to make my sweaters top-down freed me from the need to follow a pattern faithfully (in fact, I haven’t done it since…) This is great, because I knit the way I cook: following guidelines roughly and “substituting creatively” as I go. Yet everything I ‘ve made in the last year has fit better than anything else in the past.


I am sure there are many good books out there that present the basic concepts of top-down construction. I used these guidelines/pattern, and then this book, and both helped greatly with my understanding both how to know what fits my own body and preferences, and how to make it happen.

Oddly enough, the same concept called “top-down” in knitting sweaters  is in fact “toe-up” in knitting socks. They both enjoy the same benefits of measuring as you go, reducing the fear of running out of yarn or having too much left over, and getting the hard stuff out of the way in the beginning. Yet, I have been lazy so far, and haven’t switched to what I will obviously prefer, that is, a toe-up sock making habit. Perhaps I will, when I start the next pair!

Meanwhile, stay tuned for my fast-growing Francis Revisited!