Probably my favorite way to knit a sweater is from the top down in one piece. It seems really quick and easy to me, and what’s happening is rather intuitive. It starts off really fast but then it feels like the part where you divide the sleeves will never come, and then it seems fast again for a while while you’re just knitting the body.
There’s basically no finishing to be done when you’re done, and you can try it on through the process to make sure it’s just the right length. Good things.
Another good thing is that there are a whole lot of basic patterns for top down sweaters out there. This sampling is somewhat random, but should give you an idea of what’s out there.
And any of these projects could be made a little more challenging by working in stripes instead of a solid color or possibly even adding in a different stitch pattern (so long as you can keep at the specified gauge).
Last year I knit Nutmeg by Jenifer Stark, which has the added bonus of being worked in bulky yarn so it’s actually a really fast knit and a great first sweater choice. She has some other great ones like Purple Sweater (a lightweight cotton raglan with eyelet details) and the Super Birthday Sweater, another basic bulky raglan that’s really cute.
Want to start with a short-sleeved sweater? Elizabeth Smith’s Mud Season is a perfect choice, worked in a wool and alpaca blend so you’ll still be cozy but not too hot. Or fancy it up a bit with the Shalom Cardigan by Meghan McFarlaine, which has a textured pattern on its circular yoke.
Buttercup by Heidi Kirrmaier is another cute pullover that can have short or longer sleeves, which are slightly puffed. Along with the lace at the yoke this makes for an easy feminine look. Another great one from Heidi is the Simple Summer Tweed Top-Down V-Neck, which reminds me of a sweater I bought years and years ago at LL Bean.
The Everyday Linen Raglan from Purl Soho is like a fancied up version of a sweatshirt, and since linen softens when you wash it you probably will end up wearing it for lounging. Flax by Tin Can Knits is a cute one sized from newborn to 4XL and is mostly stockinette with garter stitch bands down the sleeves. Really cute.
The Cadence Sweater by Jordana Paige is a cute three-quarter sleeve boatneck with a pretty diamond shaped eyelet pattern on the yoke.
And if you want a custom raglan pullover without having to do all the math yourself, check out the calculator from Knitting Fool. Just put in your gauge, measurements and desired fit and it will do the math for you!
And lest you think top down is only for pullovers, there are some great cardigans worked this way, too, such as Laura Chau’s Easy Top Down Raglan, Stefanie Japel’s Shapely Boyfriend and the Garter Stitch Swingy Sweater (more of an outline than a pattern) from Feminasana.
Do you have a favorite top down sweater pattern? I’d love to add it to the list!