Trouble Understanding Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top

Has anyone made her seamless set in sleeve sweater or her kimono garden? I could not understand either pattern even though I read the entire book. Does anyone have advice about how to make either of these items?

I did one of the set-in sleeve patterns… don’t remember whether it was the first or second one. I know I tried both but one of them looked weird. Do you have a specific question?

Which pattern did you do that came out looking alright. Do you have advice about the short-row shaping that she is asking to be done to the neckline? I find it hard to understand. Thanks.

I borrowed the book from the library so I can’t refer to it right now… I did the version that has you pick up around the armholes to start the sleeves, if that helps. (If I remember correctly, the other one used a construction more akin to a raglan yoke – I thought it looked funny without seam lines going all the way around the sleeves.)

About the short rows… I had never done them before that project so I ended up investigating all kinds of ways to make them. (I find that sort of thing fun.) I think I ended up going with Japanese short rows because they worked well with that particular yarn. If you’ve never done short rows before, I’d encourage you to look at different techniques too. There are only a few basic types, with slight variations within each type. (The link I gave above goes directly to the Japanese type, but Nona compares 3 in total so be sure to check out the others, which are also explained on her blog.) It really doesn’t matter which technique you choose as long as you’re happy with the result. (Note: if you want to follow Amy’s video, she does her wrapped short rows slightly differently than Walker. If I remember correctly, the end result is identical, but she slips before turning instead of after, or vice versa. I think some people don’t slip a stitch at all.)

If you’re having trouble with the short rows, don’t get discouraged because I had to practice a lot before I felt comfortable with them. There’s a knitty article on short rows that may also be helpful. Googling will come up with tons more info, as will searching on this site for hints.

Let me know if you have any more questions. :thumbsup:

I borrowed (and have since returned) the book from the library so I can’t refer to it right now… the construction was basically the same as the sleeveless style, with the sleeves added on by picking up stitches around the armhole and working toward the cuffs. (The other came out looking a bit odd to me.) I remember having to go back to the sleeveless chapter to get all the directions I needed to do the whole thing. Kinda annoying, but I guess they didn’t want to print the same thing again in another chapter.

About the short rows… I had never done them before that project so I ended up investigating all kinds of ways to make them. (I find that sort of thing fun.) If you’ve never done short rows before, I’d encourage you to look at different techniques too. There are only a few basic types, with slight variations within each type. (Nona compares 3 types on her blog.) It really doesn’t matter which technique you choose as long as you’re happy with the result. BTW, if you want to follow Amy’s video, she does her wrapped short rows slightly differently than Walker, so you may want to ignore Walker’s instructions and just go with the video if you happen to be a visual learner. (Click on advanced techniques tab above and scroll down.)

Let me know if you have any more questions. :thumbsup:

Thanks for your post. I actually do have a few more questions.

  1. You are required to invisibly cast on stitches in the sleeveless sweater and kimono sweater and then join them together later on. Huh! It’s also not clear to me when she feels that you should join them together and I have read the sleeveless sweater pattern at least twice.

  2. There is a lot of short row shaping to make the neck in the sleeveless sweater.

I looked at the video about short-row shaping on this site and still find the technique confusing. Are there any tutorials on short-row shaping a neck?

BW seems to like short row shaping a lot even – even in at least some of her raglan patterns – but other people’s seamless sweaters do not seem to use this technique. Is there another way that I can accomplish the same result without short-row shaping?

Are there any patterns out there for seamless set-in sleeve sweaters?

Have you ever done a sweater before? If not, you might want to start out with a raglan to get your feet wet. You won’t have set-in sleeves, but it would be a good learning experience, and you wouldn’t necessarily have to do short rows. (BTW, the reason Walker puts short row shaping in her raglans is so that the back neck is a little higher than the front… the fit is better that way.)

If you are determined to do the set-in sleeve pattern, you will probably have to read the directions more than twice! Be patient, and take things slowly. Sometimes it’s hard to visualize things when you’re just reading through – and things won’t really “click” until you’ve got the project started and you’re working step by step along with the instructions.

So about provisional cast ons… they allow you to work in one direction as usual, and then go back to your live stitches and work in the other direction. You really don’t need to “join” anything. The method that Walker uses is not my favorite, and you should feel obligated to use it. I usually favor Turkish, but I think this one would be a good one to try for your sweater. Note that if you choose that method, you will have to unzip your waste yarn to expose the live stitches. You also won’t have to work any stitches through the back loop since you won’t create any twisted stitches with that particular cast on. (These last two sentences probably won’t make sense right now, but they will later.)

Short rows… once you understand how they work and how to do them, they probably won’t phase you at all. It’s another area where you have to be patient, and have faith that if you follow the instuctions (and practice!) you will get the intended result. Here’s another knitty article on short row shaping. Read all you can about them and hopefully it will start to make sense after a while. If you want to avoid short rows altogether, you might want to choose a different type of pattern – a drop shoulder style, maybe. To get a tailored fit, I think short row shaping (or seaming – which you also wanted to avoid) is probably required.

All good and sensible advice from Jane (as always). In answer to your question about other seamless set-in sleeve patterns: take a look at Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “Knitting Without Tears.” The sweaters are knit from the bottom instead of the top – which seems a little less confusing. But be warned – if you like patterns that tell you what to do every step of the way, EZ isn’t your best bet for a first sweater.