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pjkite
Permanent Resident

1198 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2010 :  08:54:14 AM  Show Profile  Visit pjkite's Homepage  Send pjkite a Yahoo! Message Send pjkite a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've been talking with lots of other knitters, and have now decided to throw this out to the general community here to see what your results have been.

I'm currently teaching a Knitting to Fit class at my LYS. Many (most) of the students chose a top-down sweater, largely designing their own patterns (yes, this class has been an enormous amount of fun).

Back at the beginning, we used a variety of techniques to figure out the amount of yarn to buy or spin for our sweaters. We used various techniques; some figured from a swatch in pattern, some used Ann Budd's charts, some went by past experience with sweaters. In almost every case, we over-estimated, buying up to twice the amount of yarn used. This includes the instructor, by the way, who spun up twice the amount of yarn needed!

We're all puzzled. Several of us are long-time knitters who do sweaters all the time - and know quite well how much yarn we need. But we didn't use it this time! We've covered the same number of square inches at the same gauge...it makes no sense!

So I'd like to take a survey. Do you find that top-down sweater construction uses less yarn than bottom-up or pieced construction techniques? Or are we all feeling the effects of a too-long winter?

Pamela Kite
East Tennessee
http://fiberlife.blogspot.com/

Ceil
Permanent Resident

USA
1804 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2010 :  09:46:18 AM  Show Profile  Visit Ceil's Homepage Send Ceil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Take a look at pages 37-38 of "Knitting in the Old Way", by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts for a remarkable and simple way to figure yarn amounts. I've found it to be quite reliable.

It doesn't make sense in my mind that yarn amounts should differ when knitted top down or bottom up. Only the direction changes.

Ceil

Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
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PBELKNAP
Permanent Resident

USA
1136 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2010 :  1:29:06 PM  Show Profile  Visit PBELKNAP's Homepage Send PBELKNAP a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To tell you the truth, I usually figure out what the measurements are going to be for the top-down sweater I'm making, and then I go online and hunt for some pattern that looks similar to what I'm going to make (yarn weight, size of garment, raglan, etc.), and buy the same yardage that that particular pattern calls for.

*************************
WIP = Socks (k), Ladybug Afghan (c).

Done this year: Sheep-Go-Round Sweater (k)

Twitter Name = WildKnitter

If I could only do this for a living...
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fmarrs
Guardian angel

USA
9776 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2010 :  4:45:55 PM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I like this chart the best as it has modifications for a variety of styles. Be sure to read the fine print, don't just go for the chart.

http://www.fiber2yarn.com/info/how_much_yarn.htm

I always have a skein or a partial skein left over and that is just the way I like it. I hate last minute style modifications because I miscalculated and yet I never have more than that left over. However, let me point out that I recently had almost double the amount left over because yarn amounts in skeins are no longer standard. I estimated for 3.5 oz. skeins and the skeins were actually 7 oz. ea.

top down, bottom up or sideways, a square inch is a square ince. It is the old joke, which weighs more a pound of feathers or a pound of rocks.

incidentally, that site has a lot of veery valuable basic information, just bookmark it and go exploring.

fran

http://martianmischief.blogspot.com/
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Kade1301
Permanent Resident

France
1438 Posts

Posted - 02/23/2010 :  02:13:41 AM  Show Profile  Visit Kade1301's Homepage Send Kade1301 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, my last sweater was a top-down, pieced design http://www.lahottee.info/pictures/Wikingerpulli.jpg " target="_blank"> http://www.lahottee.info/pictures/Wikingerpulli.jpg and it used way more yarn than I thought (which was something like "3 pounds should be plenty"). Which is why cuffs and collar are in another colour...

I think a seamless construction would use a little bit less yarn than when you add a stitch each side for seaming. You'd also save the yarn otherwise used for sewing. And of course, when you try on a top-dop down sweater in construction you are less likely to knit something that's too wide or too long

Happy knitting! Klara

http://www.lahottee.info
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fmarrs
Guardian angel

USA
9776 Posts

Posted - 02/23/2010 :  05:07:24 AM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Don't forget, that different designs take different amounts, but if you knit identical sweaters in the same size one top down and the other bottom up, it should be the same amount.

Three pounds would be about 12 4 oz skeins and that does not seem too excessive to me depending on the size and design. I use from 5 to 8 skeins for a child's sweater. 30 oz for the one I am currently working on.

fran

http://martianmischief.blogspot.com/
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pjkite
Permanent Resident

1198 Posts

Posted - 02/23/2010 :  08:23:48 AM  Show Profile  Visit pjkite's Homepage  Send pjkite a Yahoo! Message Send pjkite a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks, ladies - you are all reinforcing my own opinion that the construction method shouldn't logically make any difference. Unfortunately, logic notwithstanding, nobody in the class has used the amount of yarn they expected. So I guess things are still up in the air! I'd love to have some additional experiences on this, if anyone else would like to chime in.

Fran, as always you have a wonderful contribution, and I love this website. Usually it's fairly accurate, too - but in this case, a top-down combination yoked/raglan sweater, long-sleeved, mid-hip length, size 44, took a mere 1450 yards of sport-weight yarn instead of the 1900 recommended (and that I assumed based on past experience, as well)! I did a similar sweater just a few months ago - same size, same general style, except with 3/4-length fitted sleeves. That took the expected 1800 yards of sport-weight. And was worked bottom-up.

It's a puzzlement...

Pamela Kite
East Tennessee
http://fiberlife.blogspot.com/

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fmarrs
Guardian angel

USA
9776 Posts

Posted - 02/23/2010 :  10:12:18 AM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I took this off that yardage website. Does any of it apply?
quote:


For cardigans, add 100 extra yards. For turtleneck and cowls, add 200 extra yards. Oversize sweaters add about 25%, all-over pattern stitches add 33 % more yardage. Sweaters with more than one color also require more yarn. Add 30% to amounts for crochet.


I've always found these amounts to be about a skein too much but always afraid to run out so I buy it anyway.

fran

http://martianmischief.blogspot.com/
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pjkite
Permanent Resident

1198 Posts

Posted - 02/23/2010 :  12:46:20 PM  Show Profile  Visit pjkite's Homepage  Send pjkite a Yahoo! Message Send pjkite a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Unfortunately, it doesn't apply, Fran. These were all pullovers, either crew- or v-necked. While several were raglan, others were yoked or, in one case, a fitted armscrye. The ONLY common element was that all were knitted top-down.

I wouldn't have blinked at a single skein of overage - you can always use that to make matching socks, hat or scarf if you don't want to add it to the stash. But multiple skeins of left-overs (between 35 and 50% of the total yarn purchased) on ALL the projects does have me stymied. Most adults (including me!) figure 8-10 100-gram skeins of yarn per sweater. And that figure is normally pretty much on track. Sure, you may have a skein left, or part of a skein, but better that than too little!

But this! Examples: two knitters bought 8 100-gram skeins of worsted-weight yarn. They used 4 and a bit, including their swatch. Two others bought their normal 6 skeins of worsted-weight wool in 100-gram hanks. They have two untouched skeins left and quite a bit of a third. Two of us spun our yarn. We spun our "normal" sweater amount - 20 ounces - of sport-weight yarn around 2000 ypp. We both have 8-12 ounces left! And we are far from the same size - I'm short and fluffy, she's tall and svelte. Although the square inches we cover with knitting are probably pretty even, come to think of it.

Our class members range from petite and very thin to quite tall and big-boned; apple-shaped to rail-thin. The only commonalities are that all of us chose top-down construction and all of us have a LOT of leftover yarn. Again, this makes no logical sense. But it IS an observed fact. So I decided in the interest of keeping my mind more-or-less intact, I'd throw it out to a larger knitting community and see what others' results have been.

Pamela Kite
East Tennessee
http://fiberlife.blogspot.com/

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KathyR
Permanent Resident

New Zealand
2969 Posts

Posted - 02/23/2010 :  3:24:14 PM  Show Profile  Visit KathyR's Homepage Send KathyR a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What an interesting discussion! I really have nothing to add except to suggest that perhaps you need to now knit two sweaters, one top-down the other bottom-up, in identical sizes, shaping, yarns etc. Maybe then you would really find your answer.

ETA: Oooh, and then tell us how it went!

KathyR

If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.
My Blog
http://www.flickr.com/groups/kr_members/ (Roselea Fibres)
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fmarrs
Guardian angel

USA
9776 Posts

Posted - 02/23/2010 :  4:06:38 PM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't have anything to add either , right now, but I'm going to keep track for a few months and see what happens.

fran

http://martianmischief.blogspot.com/
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pjkite
Permanent Resident

1198 Posts

Posted - 02/24/2010 :  05:23:04 AM  Show Profile  Visit pjkite's Homepage  Send pjkite a Yahoo! Message Send pjkite a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks, KathyR and fran - perhaps keeping track would be the best idea. I'm going to do the same. And I have sufficient roving left to dye and make another sweater in the same yarn - bottom-up this time and we'll see what happens!

Pamela Kite
East Tennessee
http://fiberlife.blogspot.com/

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stitchellen
Warming Up

60 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2010 :  07:55:35 AM  Show Profile Send stitchellen a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have made virtually no other basic style but top-down since I bought Barbara Walker's book decades ago, so I can't compare amount of yarn used with that used for bottom-up. There's no logical reason why there should be a significant difference, though. I noticed that you kept referring to yarn by weight. McCall's once published a list of yarns that gave the yardage in each; from that I learned to calculate amount of yarn needed by yardage rather than by weight. I know of no comparable list for current yarns, but most now include the yardage on their labels. There is a tremendous range of yardage per 50 or 100 grams of yarn among the brands and lines of each classification. For example, I currently am knitting a baby blanket and a pair of socks, both of fingering-weight merino yarn. One yarn has 185 yards per 50 grams, the other has 218.5 yards per 50 grams. Both knit to the same gauge. Those yardage differences really add up.
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needler
New Pal

27 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2010 :  08:19:49 AM  Show Profile Send needler a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A puzzler! I agree with the suggestion about fit. One of the reasons to make a sweater top-down is for a better custom fit. I have found that many people don't take accurate personal measurements and often make a larger sweater than what is needed. When knitting top-down, sizing becomes clear as you go, so the result may actually be a smaller size than what was originally thought. This is kind of a hidden phenomenon--subconscious thinking maybe. So to test this, the 2nd sweater should be made to the measurements of the ACTUAL 1st sweater (not the person's chosen pattern size or personal measurements) for the best comparison of yardage used.
needler
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pjkite
Permanent Resident

1198 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2010 :  08:36:55 AM  Show Profile  Visit pjkite's Homepage  Send pjkite a Yahoo! Message Send pjkite a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you, knitters! Stitchellen, you have a point about yardage as opposed to weight. Just FYI - the worsted-weight yarns were all on the close order of 200 yards per 100 grams (185-205 yards); the handspun figured 1950-2000 ypp on a McMoran balance. My own yardage, measured on a niddy-noddy and scale after washing, was 245-250 yards per 100 grams. The other handspun was similar in grist and yardage.

Needler, you're right about the sizing, too. I noticed that everyone made a smaller size than they thought they would need during the planning stage of the project. Based on the planned number of stitches as opposed to the actual number of stitches, there was sometimes as much as 4 inches difference. Ease is a slippery concept, and as you pointed out, trying on as you go makes that very obvious. It's a fairly simple matter to figure the percentage of shrinkage in your swatch, look at the sweater on your body, mentally subtract the percentage, and then rip back to make the sweater smaller! And that happened fairly often to all of the class members.

It's been a fascinating class, and, as usual, I'm not sure anyone else has learned as much as the instructor!

Pamela Kite
East Tennessee
http://fiberlife.blogspot.com/

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fmarrs
Guardian angel

USA
9776 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2010 :  10:33:36 AM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Years ago I figured out a top down sweater pattern based simply on the experience I had knitting sweaters. After learning about the percentage system, I checked it out and found that my pattern automatically followed those rules. Now I usually don't discuss this because it is like opening up a can of worms, but I invite you experienced knitters to read the pattern. It is an unusual way to figure out fitting and ease but it works. I have over 50 sweaters made this way and they all fit their wearers. The fit is determined by the relationships of various parts of the human body. An example of one of these relationships is the fact that the distance from fingertip to fingertip is the same as a person's height. There is also a relationship between the width of the knitted stitch and its height. In this pattern, when you have reached the width of 1/2 of the chest measurement, you have automatically reached your armhole depth, so you don't need to measure it. Or plan it, or worry about it. I have since adapted this pattern for saddle shoulders and even fitted sleeves knit from the top down.

If you are not an experienced knitter you won't know what I am talking about so don't read the pattern, knit a sweater from it just following the directions. You will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is

fran

http://martianmischief.blogspot.com/
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janeknits
Warming Up

98 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2010 :  1:22:28 PM  Show Profile Send janeknits a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have nothing scientific to add, but I have had the same thing happen with the three top-down sweaters I've knitted in the past few years. I do think it has to do with fit, though, and the way you check fit as you go along when you're knitting a top-down.
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elationrelation
New Pal

USA
29 Posts

Posted - 02/25/2010 :  2:59:17 PM  Show Profile  Visit elationrelation's Homepage Send elationrelation a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The only thing I can add is from a fashion design perspective, drawing from pattern drafting or draping techniques which would apply here. You are literally, "cutting corners."

The typical bottom up sweater includes essentially square corners on every piece (over simplifying for illustration purposes), which creates "waste." Just as a cardigan has a little overlap, it does increase ydg. requirements. The opposite is true of top-down.

Top-down takes advantage not only in estimating finished length accurately (which factors into waste/ydg), but you are curving around corners with yokes, shoulders, armscyes, etc. which literally "cuts corners." Top-down takes advantage of the ease within the fabric of knitting itself, and fitting is done as one knits, which is another contributing factor.

When designing and using fabric, one has to cut the shape to replicate a top-down sweater and there is waste with inordinately pointed pieces so waste with fabric. Yarn saves in yardage as seam allowances, and again fit, remove those elements as they curve around eliminating angles, and the yarn is used in continuum, which also saves. Having a top end where you want it to, vs. guessing in top-up, also saves. An inch of height/vertical, depending upon girth and yarn gauge, could end saving a whole skein.

If you steeked the top-down into pieces and cut them up as one would present a sewing pattern, one would see that a lot of curves and thus yardage, is saved, esp. if one did the math for square inches/cm. A garment with curved lines to connect shoulder/arm/neckline pieces, uses less actual surface area of fabric than a garment cut from "rectangles."

Adding all of those factors up, I can see where it would really cut down yardage, especially considering how it would all accrue.

Best,
Susan Reishus
www.SusanReishusDesigns.com
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pjkite
Permanent Resident

1198 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2010 :  05:04:21 AM  Show Profile  Visit pjkite's Homepage  Send pjkite a Yahoo! Message Send pjkite a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Susan, your comments were exactly the sort of common-sense approach I was hoping to get from a more analytical knitter. And as a long-time sewer, I do understand exactly what you're saying! I've trimmed off more of those squared elements through the years than I could possibly remember - but I'd bet I could make several quilts from the 'wasted' fabric!

Fran, I did track down and check out your pattern. Lovely! I played a bit last night with the pattern in a miniature size, and while I personally need short-rows at the back of the neck to fit these rounded shoulders, I was pleasantly surprised at just how simple it was - and how beautifully the math works out! My grandson will be pleased with his new teddy-bear sweater, too!

Janeknits, your comment was exactly what I was getting from other long-time knitters. I've now met several who do nothing but top-down construction, and have seen more well-thumbed copies of Barbara Walker's classic than I ever thought to do. Some of the knitters who have been doing these for a decade or more don't even bother with the book any longer - they have everything memorized as far as construction goes, and just plug in the stitch patterns of their choice.

I'll be joining their ranks shortly...I have the yoked and raglan styles memorized already, and should have the fitted armscrye by the end of winter 2010-2011. I'd have started it already, but my knitting plan for the remainder of this year has been side-tracked by my son's news that I'm about to become a grandmother again! So I'm now spinning for and planning a baby shawl in Shetland lace.

Thank you all once again!

Pamela Kite
East Tennessee
http://fiberlife.blogspot.com/

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cpknits
Chatty Knitter

USA
300 Posts

Posted - 02/26/2010 :  07:35:14 AM  Show Profile Send cpknits a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I use the following website to find information (including yardage/meters) when I find a pattern I like but want to use yarn from my stash. A friend told me about it and it is very useful.

www.yarndex.com
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susan14_23
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
551 Posts

Posted - 03/10/2010 :  3:10:12 PM  Show Profile Send susan14_23 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi Fran,

Is the pattern you mentioned on your blog? Can you let me know which entry - I'd like to have a look. I did look at the latest entries - I just love the pictures of Kahlia and her proud big brother! How sweet.

Susan
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