There is rarely a single solution to a given problem. It is really no surprise that there multiple ways of making a knitted garment. Top Down and Bottom up are two popular construction techniques for sweaters and which way a knitter prefers to do it is mainly a matter of personal taste.
There are several posts around the web discussing pros and cons of these two techniques. What I share in this post are some of my thoughts. As I mentioned earlier here, I have been knitting top-down for a long while. And only recently tried my hand at the bottom-up way of knitting.
This is me wearing a top-down.
And this is DD wearing a bottom-up, seamed sweater.
Now my points…
(1) In top-down, we start constructing the neckline first. The most visible and important design element of the garment. Often, your cast-on and first few rows tend to be a little wobbly, until you reach a comfortable tension for that project. Bottom-up allows you to hide these first few rows at discreet places – like back bottom ribbing.
(2) Bottom-up, seamed or flat-knitting is the traditional old way and is loathed by many knitters for the ‘seaming’ part. Just reading about the horrors of seaming kept me from trying it for a long time. But now I realize that all along in top-down knitting, I was uncomfortably handling a huge bulk of stitches during the whole time of knitting the body and even during the sleeves, the whole bulk of body is to be handled too.
Flat-knitting offers a clean way of doing one thing at a time. At any given time, you carry only part of your knitting and is very easy on your hands, the whole knitting goes faster. For this ease and comfort, learning to seam is only a bit of discomfort, in my opinion.
(3) ‘Try it on the go’ is claimed to be the security offered by top-down knitting. While that is true, when you can actually try it on you would have reached well past the arm-hole typically, which is about 1/3 of the knitting already. If you are not happy with the fitting at that point, be ready to rip and redo. Ask me how I know!
On the other hand, with flat-knitting, each piece like front, bottom and sleeves are dealt with separately. There is enormous freedom to adjust and achieve fitting while knitting the pieces. The rate of increase or decrease of stitches can be modified to get a better fit. This somewhat eliminates the need to ‘try it on the go.’
So, I guess I will stick to bottom-up flat-knitting, when it comes to fitted adult garments. For cardigans, shrugs and baby things, top-down would work better.
What are your thoughts on the two types of construction? What factors would you consider while choosing to invest your time in a particular knitting project?