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How to Knit a Sweater from the Bottom-Up: Getting Ready

As part of our Lopi Sweater Knit-along (KAL for short), we’re going to be walking you through how to knit a seamless sweater from the bottom up. This construction is very frequently found in a variety of Lopi Sweater knitting patterns, or knitting patterns with a stranded colorwork yoke, and is pretty easy to customize to fit your body and personal style.

Our official cast-on date is February 1, and you can sign up for our special Lopi Sweater KAL mailing list to get great content delivered to your mailbox every week (there will be 8 emails in all, and signing up is not required to join the knit-along). But before we get started knitting, we need to make sure our patterns are in order!

I’m working on Weatherman by G. Dagbjört Guðmundsdóttir, so all of the images for this post come from that pattern.

Very first thing to do—open the pattern and see what’s inside. Ideally, any knitting pattern will list the sizes in the pattern, the yarn quantity for each color, the gauge, the needle size the designer used to achieve that gauge, any notions or extra things you’ll need (stitch markers, a yarn needle, etc), and a schematic. Unfortunately, many of the patterns from the Lopi books don’t include schematics, but we’ve got a very generic schematic here that may help you get the idea of what the sweater will look like when it’s flat. You could also print out this image, then go through your pattern as part of step 3 and identify the measurements that work for your size (body circumference, sleeve length, etc.).

At this point, there are three things you need to do.

  1. Knit a gauge swatch. Make sure you measure your swatch, wash it, and then measure it again to see if the yarn shifts at all after washing (in my experience, Léttlopi and Álafosslopi don’t change very much, but if you’re using Ultra Wool, Ultra Alpaca, or Vintage, you’ll definitely want to do this step). Why should you knit a gauge swatch? Amanda answers that in this blog post. Amy C has some great tips on making sure your swatch gives you the most helpful information in this blog post. And if you are looking for extra credit, be like Emily and swatch your color combinations to make sure you love them.
  2.  Take a look at the sizes listed. If you’re using a pattern from Ístex Lopi, the sizes are likely listed in centimeters, which makes things a little more adventurous for us imperial-measurement folks in the U.S. If you have a calculator handy (and many smart phones have native calculator apps), just take those numbers and divide by 2.54 (there are 2.54 centimeters in 1 inch). So a sweater with a measurement of 108 cm is 42.5 inches. Once you see what sizes the pattern offers, find the one that most closely lines up with your preferred size. We recommend choosing a size that has a little bit of room but not too much, maybe 1–3″ of ease (and here’s my blog post on understanding ease if you need a refresher). If you are a larger lady and not finding a size close to what you want, fear not! I’m in the same boat and I will share my tips for easily making these sweaters larger in another post on Wednesday, January 24.
  3. Go through your pattern and highlight all of the numbers that correspond to your size. If you have printed out your pattern, you can use a highlighter, or grab a pen and circle it, or however you want to make sure you call attention to all of your important numbers. Doing this will also give you a preview of the pattern; as you read through looking for your numbers, check to see if there’s an abbreviation that’s unfamiliar or if there’s another part of the pattern that causes any confusion. The bottom up sweaters we’re choosing for this knit-along are all pretty straightforward, but this is a good thing to do for any pattern you ever knit.

Once you’ve gone through these three steps, all you really need to do is wait until February 1, our cast-on date! Have you chosen your pattern yet? How about your yarn colors?



9 thoughts on “How to Knit a Sweater from the Bottom-Up: Getting Ready

  1. I am starting my top down Icelandic lopi sweater on Feb 1…the yoke will be worked in two colors, so this part will be a little thicker than the rest of the sweater which is worked in main color only. Does that make a difference in appearance?

    1. Every sweater shown in this post and in our other Lopi sweater posts has multiple colors in the yoke, they’re just worked in different directions. You may notice a very slight difference in thickness but as you can see in the photos, that slight variation is not noticeable at all.

  2. I am knitting pattern 135 Sawtelle knit in Berroco mix. What does indeed off mean. Does it mean cast off please

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