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Modern Top-Down Knitting: Sweaters, Dresses, Skirts & Accessories Inspired by the Techniques of Barbara G. Walker Hardcover – October 1, 2010


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Modern Top-Down Knitting: Sweaters, Dresses, Skirts & Accessories Inspired by the Techniques of Barbara G. Walker + More Modern Top-Down Knitting: 24 Garments Based on Barbara G. Walker's 12 Top-Down Templates + Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Knitters know that when they finish a sweater, they’re going to wind up with a bunch of pieces that will have to be put together. That’s where top-down knitting comes in: a method of garment construction that doesn’t require much finishing and can be slipped over one’s head during the knitting process to allow for adjustment. Still, it’s a different way to think about knitting, and for many years author McGowan didn’t want to think about it. Then she got a job at a knit shop and began to study the works of Barbara Walker, who was one of top-down knitting’s gurus. After initiating a Julie & Julia relationship (though they met and liked each other), McGowan decided to dedicate herself to the top-down method, and here she provides some marvelous patterns for both the newcomer and the more experienced, including hats, skirts and dresses, and one very impressive jacket. Although the instructions seem clear, they assume knowledge of such techniques as short rows and picking up stitches. Crisp photos make the projects enticing. --Ilene Cooper

About the Author

Kristina McGowan is a New York City–based knitwear designer.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Stewart, Tabori and Chang; 1 edition (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584798610
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584798613
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

260 of 268 people found the following review helpful By K. Cox on September 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
There are 26 patterns in Modern Top-Down Knitting as well as tutorials and non-knitting finishing techniques (sewing on trim, crochet, elastic cord, etc.). Half the patterns in the book can appropriately be titled knit from the "top-down": 8 dresses (3 sleeveless, 1 elbow-length, 1 short-sleeve, 1 wrap, and 2 tunics), 3 sweaters, 1 jacket, and 1 cardigan. Then there are 2 skirts (one of which definitely should not have been knitted in a dark color and then printed on matte paper) and 11 accessories (4 hats, 2 styles of arm warmers, 1 cowl, 1 wrap, 1 belt, 1 set of slippers and assorted knitted jewelry).

There are several designs that I like well enough to make the purchase price of the book worth it to me. The Soho Smocked Dress which makes use of a smocked stitch pattern to define the waist is one in particular which struck me on my first pass through the book. The styles and lines of the clothing overall have a modern look that does not cross into trendy. Numerous patterns are certainly timeless and portray a pleasing degree of urban-sophistication.

There are a couple critiques I have though. 12 patterns (almost half those in the book) use elastic cord or elastic ribbon to provide tension and pull-in areas of the knitwear, such as at necklines, hat edges, or cuffs. While I find the use of elastic an excellent design detail at times, in my opinion McGowan uses it in places instead of altering stitch patterns to provide elasticity within the knitting itself or instead of adding body shaping to the pattern. The very nature of knitting has the peculiar benefit of allowing a master designer to incorporate such design features without relying on elastic cord, a distinct advantage over working with woven fabric.
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84 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Moira Meltzer-Cohen on September 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I just want to say that this book helped me to make sense of a technique that I always wanted to learn but couldn't understand for myself. The tutorial is perfect. It is the easiest to follow tutorial I have ever used. For someone like me, who designs her own garments, I can honestly say this technique is going to change my life. I love the Coney Island sweater, the puckered hand-warmers, and the subway hat the most!!!
But the best thing about the book is that it has given me elements that I will use for the rest of my life in my own designs. And that is priceless. I have looked an MANY MANY MANY other knitting books, and this is the only one that has ever given me something beyond a pattern -- it has provided me with increased wherewithal to make my own. So frankly, even though I enjoy the patterns, what makes this book sing is that I would get something out of it even if I thought the garments were not my kind of thing. To rephrase: even if the garments aren't your type of hype (and they're pretty great) you can totally revolutionize your knitting with this book, no matter what level you're at. It's clear, it's entertaining, and it has a lot of educational as well as aesthetic value. Super awesome book. I hope she does some more.
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117 of 128 people found the following review helpful By P. Jackson on September 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just received this book yesterday after being told by Amazon the book was coming out ahead of its original publishing date. I love it when that happens and waited, with bated breath, for this book to arrive. I was able to delve into it last night and, unfortunately, my joy turned to disappointment.

The book is well done, the photographs amazing but it's not my idea of a "top-down" book. Most of the patterns are not top down, as traditionally thought, but "bottom up". There are some sweaters and cardigans but dresses, skirts and hats seem to rule the day. I think I was hoping for a true update in this technique rather than a completely different approach. I've done one top-down sweater of my own design (with the help of knitting software) and loved the results. I think I wanted a book like Barbara G. Walker's "Knitting from the Top" but an update on her techniques. This author claims her book is "inspired" by Ms. Walker and her words are correct. It is "inspiration" not an "update".

I am not critiquing the book as much as saying that it's not what I expected. If you want a true, top-down book, try Cathy Carron's "Knitting Sweaters from the Top Down". I would recommend Ms. Walker's book but it's a bit difficult to follow, in my opinion. This is why I was hoping for an update. I will be sending this one back to Amazon because it doesn't fit into my knitting library.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Nicki on November 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Many of the patterns in this volume are dresses I'd never make as dresses, but perhaps make as tops, which would be simple to do. I wasn't wowed by the book, but am glad more designers are coming out with top down seamless designs .... and am not sure why flat knitted, seamed garments are still so popular. This could definitely be a book that grows on a knitter the longer she/he owns it.

The real treasure trove are the great tutorials: one for doing a set-in, seamless top down sleeve, shoulder shaping with short rows, creating sleeve caps with short rows, two methods for tightening loose set-in sleeves in the pick up round, and wonderful articles on trims and elegant finishing methods -- a neglected area by most designers -- thoughtful finishes that truly turn your handknits into prized possessions and cherished gifts.

The only downside (and it's a substantial one) is inclusion of hats, a cowl, armwarmers, slippers, a wrap, jewelry, and a BELT. (A belt?? Come on now.) I would have preferred more shaped sweaters to replace these; these patterns just seem like "filler projects" to me. Nine filler projects are entirely too many for a book with 26 designs ... That's just over 30%.

Breakdown by pattern type:
Dresses/tunics (the tunics are pictured as dresses): 8
Jackets: 1
Cardigans: 1
Pullover Sweaters: 2
Tank/Camisole Top: 1
Skirts: 2
Armwarmers: 2
Belt: 1
Slippers: 1
Hats: 4
Wraps: 1
Jewelry: 1 (specifically, a bracelet and ring set)
Cowls: 1
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