Customer Reviews: Knitting from the Top
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on January 23, 2002
I grew up watching my Russian grandmother knit everything from the top down. In fact, like many Russians, she's never even considered knitting from the bottom up. I myself have always been too scared and lazy to bother with calculations, so I followed printed patterns. I don't find grafting and weaving difficult, but at the same time I found that adding seams to babies' and kids' garments is unappealing. If yarn is bulky, and the size is small, seams become obtrusive. So, I got B. Walker's book, read it from cover to cover, and now I am knitting a skirt from it for my little daughter. The book is absolutely clear and comprehensive without being too wordy. My only "complaint" is that it has no pictures of actual garments, only diagrams. I would have loved to see some pictures of the described designs.
Beginners, take note - this book assumes that you know how to cast on, cast off, increase, decrease, etc. If still unfamiliar with basic techniques, you will need another intro book.
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EVERYONE begins a sweater from the ribbing up, right? Wrong, Barbara Walker takes you through a method to start from the neck down. This isn't just to be contrary, there are definite benefits to knitting top down.
One thing you can do is check the length while trying it on. Yes, you can do this. Put the unfinished stitches on a strand of yarn and slip the sweater over your head (or the head of the recipient.) You will quickly see how much more you need to knit, or whether you should add "short rows" (extra half rows that add a bit of ease) to cover a tummy or get rid of the dreaded riding up in the back. The book has methods for saddle shoulder sweaters (easy the top down way), raglan, drop sleeves, etc.
The book also has great methods for doing leggings, tights, skirts and other items you might want to knit but don't know how to. With a simple gauge-and-circumference technique you can make nearly any garment for anyone.
This is a revised edition. The original had some very dated 70's patterns and the new edition has been modernized.
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on November 11, 1998
Reading this book has helped me to grow from a "blind follower" of others' patterns to a thinking knitter. I despise fininshing knitted garments and have been able to avoid all but the most insignificant finishing tasks by using Walker's seamless designs. The designs are easily adapted to fit anybody from infant to adult ( and I should know -- I have four children ranging in age from 18 mos. to 11 years!). Walker's books are invaluable to knitters.
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on May 21, 2006
I love this book, and love the idea of finally being able to make a sweater that fits! But a word of caution to other visual learners out there- this books contains very few illustrations and pictures. Most of the information you are supposed to gain is hidden away in fairly lengthy (in my opinion) descriptions. So if you are a visual learner, be prepared to read carefully, try the instructions, frog your work and re-try.

But the gains very much so outweigh the temporary inconveniences.
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on March 22, 2000
Hate sewing up? Never quite sure if it's the right length? Want to line up designs in the lower border with the pattern in the body? Then knit from the top. If your body's shaped like mine, patterns just don't fit and after you've done all that shaping at the top, who wants to undo it! With this method you make this decision at the end and make it having tried on the garment. I don't think I'll ever knit a sweater the other way. Best of all - no seams!
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on September 6, 2005
Finally! A knitting instruction book that is designed for the (somewhat) experienced knitter! I've been knitting for over a year now, and was ready to try my hand at designing a sweater. This book gave me a good starting point by explaining several different types of construction, how to make them to your own measurements, and all in clear, easy to understand language. I started with the Raglan sweater in a child's size, and within a few days had a beautiful finished garment! Tips included for perfect fit, several options for functional and ornamental increase/decreases, custom design, and more. If you're ready to see your knitting inspiration set free, this is the book for you!
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on November 11, 1997
This book is written in a very clear and concise manner. Simple enough for the beginning knitter, there is also a wealth of knowledge for the experiened knitter. A good addition to any knitting library
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on April 10, 2007
The concept of this book is making your own measurements and then knitting a garment that actually fits. After years of spending time and money making sweaters that don't fit, this is the only way to go. I have used this approach from the bottom up (Ann Budd's books) and the top down. Sweaters knitted from the top down will fit better.

This book contains the information that you need to make well fitting garments. It also contains many very useful tips and tricks. However, this is not a book for beginners. In addition the book is very chatty and in my opinion not very organized. If you are a persons who likes to follow charts and diagrams, you may find the book frustrating. The information you need is contained in the book, but you may have to read carefully to find what you are looking for.
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on November 6, 2005
I find the book very easy to follow and understand. If you want to avoid sewing all those pieces together, this is the book for you. Not all the sweaters from the top down have to be raglans, this has everything you need to know to knit just about anything from the top down.
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on March 25, 2007
This book liberated me from having to depend on commercial --- and usually expensive and in the end, badly fitting --- knitting patterns for my hand knitting projects. If you want to choose your own wool and design your own sweaters that fit, with no or little sewing, and NO blocking (which I hate), then get this book. But this book alone is not enough to educate you in all the techniques of knitting a beautiful garment. I am a self-taught knitter, and I recommend (1) this book and (2) "The Knitting Answer Book" by Margaret Radcliffe or "Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book", which tells you how to knit, and (3) Ann Budd's "The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns", which tells you how much yarn you need for your gauge, for your size, and for your sweater type (the title is misleading, you don't buy it for great-looking sweater patterns, it doesn't offer that), and finally Barbara Walker's "Treasury of Knitting Patterns" (there are four books in this series, the 2nd one is the most popular), which gives you hundreds and hundreds of knit stitch patterns to choose from.

But words of caution --- this book requires patience and the willingness to redo and redo (at least for your first project) until you get the result you want. For example, the first time I used this book was to knit a set-in sleeve cardigan from the top down. After ONE YEAR of patient effort, I finally achieved my objective, an absolutely stunning, beautifully fitting, cardigan in baby mohair silk yarn. Even though this book contains information on exactly what I want to achieve, its vague in places. That's why I recommend Ann Budd's book (or the percentage knitting system if you can find information on that) to help guide you as to how long to knit before increasing/decreasing etc, and how many increases decreases to make, etc. But once you get the hang of it, Barbara Walker's techniques for sweater design are incredibly simple and foolproof.
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