Friday, May 22, 2015

Top Down Baby sweater variation

Top down baby cardigan - front
Starting with a basic sweater pattern, it is fun to fudge and change bits to suit the yarn you have on hand and how you want the finished piece to look.  In 2000, Victorian Video / Yarn Barn of Kansas put out my video for crocheting a top-down cardigan.  The DVD version came out in 2005.  I like this pattern because the neckband has a bit of shaping so the front neck is lower than the back.  Also, the button bands use a solid stitch (bag stitch) to be sturdy.  

I have made a couple of these in my own size, to wear as everyday sweaters.  The first one (made in 1999 or so) is starting to wear out.  The pattern still works, which is nice to know, but it is for a basic cardigan.  

Recently, I had 3 balls of Baby Ull (a fingering weight, machine washable wool), one each in three colors, and chose a 3.75 mm hook.  Since the yarn is thinner than the suggested DK weight (and 4 mm hook) in the pattern, I followed the instructions for the 2T size - I knew 150 grams of yarn would be enough.  It came out small, which is not surprising, and the finished chest size is 19.5 inches, a small baby size.  

Top down baby cardigan - back
I liked this yarn combination for a baby/toddler sweater.  Starting at the neck, I stitched the yoke, changing yarn each row to make stripes.  The pattern stitch alternates 1 row double crochet with 1 row single crochet.

Then, for the body, which is just a rectangle, without any shaping, I wanted something more fun, so I switched to just one color and threw in a sampling of cables (on a double crochet ground), with V-stitch on the sides.  This is not given in the video - it was simply a good place to doodle with the stitches.  The gauge was tight, so I increased 4 more stitches at each underarm than the pattern called for.  It turned out there was just enough yarn for the body, with very little left over.  The finishing single crochet row for the lower edge includes decreasing 10% - same as "sc8, sc2 together to decrease 1".  This is handy so the bottom edge will keep its shape over time.

The sleeves used a variation on the yoke pattern stitch, alternating 1 row double crochet and 1 row (sc, skip 1, ch1).  I switched the colors from one sleeve to the other - it just looks funner that way - edging the cuff with the contrast color.  Because the end of each row joins to the beginning of the row (no seams to sew), I could change yarn each row.

The button bands are one contrast color, with the other used for the neckband/collar.  Then the edging around the whole thing is with the neckband color.  For all the edgings, including the cuffs, instead of the normal crab stitch, which can make a hard cord, I chose a light crab stitch, alternating 1 crab single crochet and 1 chain stitch.  This lighter crab stitch is really good for a simple edging in general.

The whole sweater measures 10 inches from the center back neck to the lower edge - it is a small sweater.  With the combination of different design elements, a simple sweater concept comes out looking pretty fancy.


2 comments:

Judy Young said...

I love your top down sweater variation with the yellow, green and white yarn. Is this pattern available? I see the DVD available but it's not for the same sweater. Do you have available the pattern with the variations you created. It's just way toooo cute! Thank you.

Practical Crocheter said...

I'm so glad you like that little sweater! The structure of the sweater actually does follow the pattern. The yarn is somewhat old, so I'm not sure you could do the same thing exactly. The differences between the pattern and the sweater are:

1. Using three colors, the yoke changes yarn every row, for the striping.

2. The body, after the yoke has pattern stitches thrown in -- a pattern giving instructions for that would be long an tedious -- it's much more fun to choose pattern stitches you like and improvise a little.

3. The sleeves, again, follow the pattern, just switching between two colors every row. Because I join the end of the row to the beginning at the end of each row, the yarn doesn't have to be cut.

Lots of people make a pattern just once and then look for a new pattern to do something different. I like to get comfortable with the structure that a pattern teaches me, then play around with color and pattern stitches. It's more like a sewing pattern that way. Engaging with the yarn, using the pattern as a starting point, is really satisfying, compared to being tied to the pattern and having the yarn be more incidental.