Modern Top-Down Knitting Review
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I’ve always been an evangelist for the top-down method of knitting—not just because I’m a lazy knitter who hates finishing but also because it allows me to try the piece on as I go, which means that I won’t spend weeks working on a sweater (and months trying to talk myself into finishing it) only to try it on and find that it’s too small. Like me, designer Kristina McGowan was inspired by Barbara G. Walker’s essential top-down guide, Knitting from the Top—a book that completely changed the way she looked at knitting. That book—and her subsequent top-down experiments—inspired McGowan to create the designs in her book, Modern Top-Down Knitting.

Modern Top-Down Knitting is a gorgeous book—one that you’ll be proud to display on your coffee table (or any table that happens to be near your knitting chair). The cover image alone will inspire you to pick up your needles and get to work, and the designs inside will have you eager to race out to your friendly neighborhood yarn store. They’re stylish and updated—perfect for everything from business meetings to coffee with the girls.

You might be surprised, however, by the book’s shortage of regular top-down sweater patterns. Sure, there are a few: a pair of cardigans, a ruffled tank, a girly short-sleeved top, and one cool, colorful V-neck. There are a few tunics, too—which can count as sweaters, if you wear them over jeans. But there are also a surprising number of dresses—and a couple of skirts, too. If you tend to shy away from knitted skirts and dresses (as I do) for their tendency to sag and stretch in all the wrong places, you’ll be disappointed by the overabundance of dress patterns—though, to be fair, you can easily shorten them and knit sweaters or tops instead.

There are also a number of other patterns that don’t have a whole lot to do with Barbara G. Walker’s top-down techniques. Though the four hat patterns are absolutely adorable, they seem to be a bit off-topic—as do the slippers, wrap, belt, arm warmers, and jewelry.

Still, it’s clear that McGowan loves to experiment with different knitting techniques—and you’ll find all kinds of them in her designs. There are crocheted button bands and faux seams, velvet edgings, and felt linings. She works elastic cord into sleeves and necklines. She plays with stitch patterns and materials, too. So if you pick up Modern Top-Down Knitting, be prepared to try something new (or, better yet, alter the patterns to make them your own).

Though it’s probably not the top-down knitting book that you’re expecting, Modern Top-Down Knitting is still guaranteed to get your fingers itching to knit. It offers detailed instructions that will help you learn a new knitting technique while you’re making yourself stylish sweaters (and, yes, dresses). And once you finish your first project, you’ll be ready to edit and personalize the patterns to make top-down designs to suit your own style.

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