Book Review and Giveaway: More Modern Top-Down Knitting

Posted by on Sep 29, 2013 in Knitting | Comments

Take one look at the gorgeous skirt on the cover of Kristina McGowan’s More Modern Top-Down Knitting and you’ll have an insta-knitting book crush. Keep reading to find out more about top-down knitting and get a sneak peek at some of the beautiful projects in the book.

One lucky reader will win a FREE copy of Kristina McGowan’s More Modern Top-Down Knitting, courtesy of our friends at STC Craft. To enter, just head here by Sunday, October 6, 2013. Then, comment on this blog post telling us your experience with top-down knitting — whether you’ve tried it and loved it or if you’re a total top-down newbie. We’ll select a winner at random on October 7, 2013.

Book Cover for "More Modern Top-Down Knitting"

What is top-down knitting?

Top-down knitting is exactly that: knitting a project starting at the top and working your way down. If you’ve ever knit a sweater, you probably started at the bottom hem and knit your way up to the neck. Top-down knitting just turns that upside down.

Benefits of top-down knitting

Because it’s knit starting at the top, you can make adjustments as you go — especially when it comes to length. If you’re knitting a skirt and you start at the bottom, you’ll probably follow the pattern instructions and start the hip shaping exactly where the pattern tells you to. You finish the skirt, try it on, and oops, it shows off way more leg than you’d like. If you had knitted the skirt using the top-down technique, though, you could’ve tried it on as you knitted. If you discover the skirt is too short, just add a few more rows at the bottom.

When you knit from the top down, you knit in the round, meaning there are less seams to sew. For example, if you’re knitting a sweater in the round, there’s no need to sew side seams because it’s worked in a giant tube that’s already connected. Top-down is a great choice for knitters who detest seams and weaving in ends.

About Kristina and her influences

This is Kristina’s second top-down knitting book, her first being Modern Top-Down Knitting. Both are inspired by Barbara Walker’s Knitting from the Top, a knitting technique book published in 1972. Barbara is on many knitters’ lists of influential designers. In fact, Craftsy instructor Anne Kuo Lukito even named one of her hat patterns after Barbara.

For this particular book, Kristina decided to use all 12 templates from Barbara’s book and design two garments from each template. Because of this, the book covers a wide variety of techniques you can use when knitting top-down.

More Modern Top-Down Knitting projects

Get your daily dose of knitting eye candy with this sneak peek at projects from the book.

Woman Sitting on Table, Wearing Knit Sweater with Fox

These days, I’d knit just about anything that has a fox on it. This Fox in the Snow sweater is no exception!

Young Woman Wearing Stiped Knit Scarf and Knit Skirt

The Layered Ruffle Skirt is a great example of the benefits of top-down knitting. You can adjust the skirt’s fit as you knit and add more ruffles if the skirt seems too short.

Woman Wearing Red Knit Hat

You can knit anything from the top down, including hats. The beautiful stitch you see on the bottom of this Holly Berry Hat is called the Woven Transverse Herringbone Stitch, and it’s from Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns book.

Click here to enter the giveaway, then let us know in the comments about your experience with top-down knitting!

Do you have any experience with top-down knitting?


  1. Karen Watkins says:

    I love top-down knitting. I especially like that I can tell the lengths of the pieces and fewer seams to sew up.

  2. Jean Guenther says:

    I knit a top down sweater for my daughter. Both of my daughters have very long arms. I would slip the stitches onto a piece of ribbon and she could try it on. It worked out great. for the first time she got a sweater with sleeves that she didn’t have to pull up becuase they were to short.

  3. Laura Blinn says:

    I love all these patterns. I’ve done alot of top down knitting, but nothing super complicated. I do love it though.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I have never done any top down knitting but the projects in the book look great!

  5. Mel says:

    I haven’t done any top-down knitting, but I am keen to try. I love the look of the layered ruffle skirt!

  6. Sharon says:

    I have done mostly sweaters top-down and really like it. The variety of projects in this book look wonderful!

  7. FLo says:

    Love top down patterns. Great for fit.

  8. Jaden says:

    I like knitting top-down though I haven’t done larger projects yet, only hats and socks. But I would like to try something else, too.

  9. Macarena says:

    I haven’t done any top-down knitting, but I would like to try some of them, especially the first picture.

  10. knittingdancer says:

    I knitted a top down raglan sweater for a teddy bear and I knit a lot of top down shawls.

  11. Sheriva says:

    I haven’t knitted from the top down, yet. My intent this season is to learn to knit socks (knee highs) and sweaters from the top down.. Being tall this technique will be best for my long arms and legs.

  12. Creativekc says:

    I am a newbie when it comes to clothing, I have mastered squares and rectangles. I have a few pairs of socks, a couple of hats. A bottom up tank that turned out well, a bottom up sweater that I really wouldn’t wear in public. I love the colors, the texture and touch, accomplishment and relaxation I feel when knitting and crocheting. I’m loving Craftsy for all the info I’m being exposed to. The classes, the authors and books, this blog is so full of info. Great job.

  13. Anita says:

    Will be trying a top down swearer for the first time in October.

  14. Morgan says:

    I’ve never tried top-down before, but I would love to knit a skirt!

  15. Mariela F. says:

    I have never done this type of knitting but would love to. The layered ruffle skirt looks great!

  16. Alice S says:

    Love top down knitting! Flexibility with adjusting length makes it worth it.

  17. Heather says:

    I can’t wait to try top down knitting.

  18. Debbie from Australia says:

    I’ve never done top down but I’m planning on doing my first sweater/cardigan in the next few months. I’ve got my yarn and I now have to choose a pattern.

  19. Karen in VA says:

    Taking a class in top-down sweater knitting now….so far I’m enjoying it. Being tall, will be nice to adjust the body length and sleeve length to fit properly…

  20. Marsha A. Moore says:

    I’ve made a couple top down sweaters and really like the method. I love the ruffled skirt pictured in this collection.

  21. dawn says:

    i have done one piece that involved top-down knitting. i loved it!!! :)

  22. Gillian says:

    I have never tried top down, I’m a total newbie!

  23. Crystal says:

    I haven’t done any top-down knitting just yet, but I was recently inspired to design a skirt. I found a lovely pattern that would look beautiful as a ruffled hem and I’m eager to try it! It would almost need to be knit from the top down though and I think this book would help me tremendously!

  24. Dianna Powrie says:

    My first time knitting from top down was when I was about 13. Made a sweater with an angora yolk. Turned out surprisingly good. It was my first completed project ever. Still love knitting and I’m a grandmother now.

  25. Carmen says:

    I loved the first Modern Top Down Knits and have made several of the patterns in the book. Can’t wait to get my hands on the new one. :-)

  26. Jess says:

    I’ve only made 1 thing top down and it is one of my favorite things by far! Can’t wait to try more.

  27. Maxine says:

    I haven’t knit any top-down as of yet but am very interested in trying it. I think it could make sizing for a bbw a lot easier.

  28. Annette says:

    I haven’t tried top-down knitting but have it on my list to try. It just makes sense. I love the sweater with the fox.

  29. Kathy says:

    I like top down knitting because I can try it on as I go and make alterations before the entire sweater is finished.

  30. Carol says:

    I love the whole idea of top down knitting… haven’t made anything yet, but surely intend to sometime soon

  31. Tina says:

    I’m a top down newbie for real.

  32. Trisha says:

    I am a top-down newbie! I am excited to try a new skill. Let’s hope I win and can use my new book for inspiration!

  33. Sheila says:

    I’m almost finished with my first top down sweater.

  34. Ester says:

    If I can help it I will only do top down outfits…unless it’s socks, then it’s only toe-up! The fit is just best with top down tops or toe-up socks! I look for patterns that do my favorites in both of these ways. I will do a bottom up, but only if I can’t get around it and do it top down!

  35. Madeline Rodriguez says:

    I have been knitting for about one year! Learned on Crafsty. I am now confident enough to try a sweater. Can’t wait to take the class!

  36. Crystal says:

    I really enjoy top-down knitting. I was looking for a summer project so I plunged in and made a dress for the first time. LOVE IT! I have made most all of the patterns since. Can’t wait for the new book.

  37. Patricia says:

    I haven’t knitted any top-down garment, but have studied many a pattern. Maybe this is the time to try a new knit adventure.

  38. Alona Harman says:

    I’ve just started my first top down dress for my daughter this evening, so this is kismet! I love the idea that I can try it on her as I go, it’s my first actual bit of clothing too, so that makes me feel a lot more confident that this will end well :)

  39. I’ve knit one jersey that way so far and a top; I’ll be doing more in the future too.

  40. Debbi says:

    I only do top down tops- sweaters, cardies, shells or tees. it just seems to go so much faster then knitting the back- now do the same for the front :-( knitting top down in the round is also easier to try on to see if you are getting the fit and length you want.

  41. amy says:

    Ever since I taught myself to knit top-down through youtube videos, I cannot go back! Seaming and weaving in a ton of ends is not my idea of fun anymore. I love the simplicity of seeing the design come together fluidly. Thank you for the chance to win!

  42. LeaMV says:

    I’ve knit top down on a few sweaters and hats, but it would be fun to try a skirt – I really like being able to adjust as I knit to get something that truly fits.

  43. Meghan says:

    I love top-down knitting. In fact, I’ll generally avoid a patten if it isn’t top-down. I like to be able to try stuff on, so I can see immediately if there’s a problem.

  44. Jacqueline says:

    I’ve never tried it. It seems like a much easier way of doing things!

  45. Lea says:

    I love top-down knitting, especially because I can try the piece on as I am working on it. It is easy to make adjustments to the garment when trying it on. Top-down has become my favorite type of knitting for garments.

  46. Bennie-Ruth Dean says:

    The best knitting I have done has been top down. I knew about knit and purl stitches, and had made house shoes, but my first sweater was made from an old Spinnerin top down pattern book that I received as a gift over 40 years ago. I have used other methods, but nothing looks and fits like the top down. I even knit my dog’s sweaters neck down! I would love a new book!

  47. Gail says:

    I would love to learn top down knitting. Still a beginner but love to learn.

  48. I love topdown knitting. In socks, where it is toe up, in sweaters and cardigans. The less finishing I have to do, the sooner it can be worn!

  49. Linda says:

    I am knitting my first top down project–a sweater for my 10-month old granddaughter. I hate sewing sweater pieces together, so this is totally the answer for me. I don’t know why I haven’t tried this before.

  50. I discovered top down knitting pretty early in my knitting career and found it the best for hat knitting. Also, i really hate seaming & weaving-in and top-down patterns tend to have the least ‘finishing’ to do.

  51. MelodyJ says:

    I haven’t done any top down knitting yet.

  52. Gill says:

    I’ve only knitted one top down project, and it was a bit of a disaster. My own fault – in my eagerness to start I used unsuitable wool and then I was ornery enough to keep on knitting after I realised that. The results weren’t pretty! I’m keen to have another go, though.

  53. nancy d says:

    Haven’t done any top down knitting but I’m thinking I need to. Looks like it makes things easier. These patterns are so pretty.

  54. Ülle says:

    So far I haven`t done any but I will :)

  55. Ronda Bowen says:

    I’ve never tried it, but it looks great!

  56. Janet R says:

    I have no experience yet with top-down knitting! I guess I’m brave enough to start! :)

  57. Anne Bean says:

    I’m new to top-down knitting and would love to try something out of this book!

  58. Lesa says:

    I love the ruffled skirt and would love to try the top down methos

  59. Krista says:

    I haven’t done any top down knitting, yet. I have a few projects set aside to give it a try, but haven’t ventured into them yet.

  60. Robin D says:

    I made a top down baby sweater that I finished yesterday. It was my first go at top down knitting. I am ready to try more

  61. Sigga says:

    I am currently making a top down sweater and it’s so easy! I love that I can try it on at any point since my biggest problem has always been getting the size right when it comes to knitting for myself. I think I’ll do as much top down knitting as I possibly can in the future.

  62. Deevena says:

    Haven’t done top down knitting it looks like it would be better for fitting garments

  63. Cynthia Escamilla says:

    I have only tried top down knitting once. I knit a cardigan and it was nice because I could try it on as I went and got a really good fit.

  64. Melissa says:

    I love to-down knitting. I have knit several sweaters this way and was able to adjust things like shaping and overall length.

  65. Janice says:

    These designs are gorgeous. I’ve mostly been knitting socks and I was thinking, toe-up in socks seems to equal top-down in other garments in terms of being able to try them on along the way and adjust for fit. I guess it’s all about which end of the body you’re starting from… Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of the book!

  66. Helen Condon says:

    My next project will be a top-down sweater from my own handspun merino. Can’t WAIT!

  67. Leanne says:

    I LOVE top down knitting, especially when it’s seamless. :) I loved Ms. McGowan’s first book and expect this one will be just as fabulous. thanks!!

  68. Deb C. says:

    I made a sweater dress top down, and loved that I could try on as I went along for shaping. I prefer it to bottom up, for those very reasons.

  69. Debbie Winn says:

    My first experience with top-down knitting was with the Icelandic Sweater class here on I really like the fact that I can try things on as I am knitting – especially the sleeves – to get good fit.

  70. Vanessa says:

    I haven’t participated in ‘top-down knitting it looks really fun.

  71. Marcy says:

    I haven’t tried it yet but would love to, I’ve seen some examples on tv that really peaked curiosity.

  72. Frederica says:

    I’m a newbie but i’d love to try it.

  73. Roxanne says:

    Love the sweater…have yet to try top down.

  74. Deb says:

    I learned how to do top down years ago in an Icelandic knitting class. It has been a while since I have used that technique, but I prefer it for sweaters

  75. Junie says:

    Top-down is my preferred method of knitting garments since it makes it easier to make fitting adjustments.

  76. Marnie Wilson says:

    I am a newbie but I love the look of top down.

  77. Connie says:

    Sounds very interesting. I like that you can adjust the length to your liking.

  78. Karen says:

    I have never tried top down knitting. I think it would be fun. I love the ruffle skirt!

  79. Diana S. says:

    I finished my first top down cardigan sweater this past spring and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. It was great to try it on as I finished sections and even signed up and took the knit to fit class here on Craftsy to alter it for my big boobs. LOL It fits great and I didn’t have the anxiety of “is it going to fit right” hanging over me the whole time! I don’t think I will ever knit another sweater from the bottom up.

  80. Lisa M says:

    I love top down knitting! The freedom to adjust the fit and improvise helps me stay motivated while I’m knitting.

  81. GerryART says:

    Two out of the three top down sweaters I’ve completed
    have been do-overs
    due to lack of proper fit.
    Would like to be able complete a well-fitting project.

    Fox in the Snow looks like a great sweater to be able to wear this winter

  82. Lynn says:

    I much prefer top-down knitting…sooo much easier to fit as I go. I’m looking forward to seeing the book!

  83. Jackie says:

    Never done any top down knitting – so far I’ve stuck to simple patterns for accessories, but I’ve been thinking of starting a larger project, like a sweater or jacket. Would love some more patterns to choose from.

  84. Laa la says:

    I have never done top down knitting but would love to try.

  85. Lorrie says:

    I haven’t tried top-down knitting yet, but it sounds like a good way to knit, and I’m going to try it soon… as soon as I finish all my other unfinished projects! :)

  86. laminitagirl says:

    I knitted a sweater for my grandson and it was fantastic! When you’re done, you’re done. No ends to weave in and it was in the round, so no seams to sew together! I look forward to doing more sweaters following that technique.

  87. Vickie says:

    I’m new to knitting and now I’m obsessed! I just started two weeks ago and I’ve already knitted three scarves and two hats and ready to try some fingerless gloves next. I can hardly think of anything else! I do so want to learn how to go beyond the basic steps to be able to create beautiful items like these!

  88. Julie says:

    I knitted a top down sweater in February, but it didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted it. So, I started a new one from a pattern from a Craftsy member. It’s a cardigan so maybe I won’t mess up the stomach area this time around! Keeping my fingers crossed and learning something new everyday!

  89. Jeanne Cozad says:

    I have a sweater I am knitting top down. so far love it.

  90. Mar_T says:

    I’ve done 2 sweaters top down and loved it especially for the sleeves. I am currently making a coat for my soon to be three year old granddaughter and waiting to bind off the sleeves so they will be long enough.

  91. Lisa says:

    I love top down knitting because most patterns are practically seamless.

  92. Sheerah says:

    I’m working on my first top-down sweater right now, I’m very excited and it’s a lot of fun!

  93. MarciaC says:

    I’ve knitted a few things top down and definitely prefer that method since I can try on the article I’m making and make adjustments.

  94. Julie says:

    I love the idea but haven’t really done any top-down knitting. This book looks lovely! Love the skirt and fox(y) sweater!!

  95. Fabi says:

    I love top-down knitting. Anything to avoid seaming! :)

  96. SteamNinja says:

    I’ve never tried top down knitting, but these lovely patterns make me want to try!

  97. Jean says:

    Top down knitting is in my learning Que right after entrelac.

  98. Arilena dorsman says:

    I love kniting and have a view of friends that love knitting too. We change picture of our latest creations all the time. I never heard about this technik and would love to try and share this to my friends.. It would be fun :)

  99. Lauren says:

    I don’t think I’ve every knitted a sweater or skirt from the top down…seems unbelievable to me since I’ve been knitting for so long! Love the patterns in this book especially the skirts!

  100. I have never done this type of knitting on big projects like sweaters, only on hats, but would love to try something bigger now.

  101. Amelia Johnson says:

    I am not at all familiar with top-down knitting. Everything I have ever knit started at the ribbed waistband and went up! I have actually never knit a skirt before, either, so even the cover of the book was fascinating! My local knitting teacher at the community college is moving out of state, and they have asked me if I would be willing to take over the knitting/crochet class that she was teaching. I am going to try, and while terribly flattered, I have a few doubts about the RANGE of my knitting skills. It would be wonderful to be able to lay claim to the top-down method for those in the group who would like to try it! If I don’t win a copy, I will have to try to scrape together the money out of my Disability pay to purchase one, since the patterns are captivating, whichever way they’re knitted!

  102. Carole Rankin says:

    This is only top-down knitting book that has seriously tempted me to make the projects.

    I have some top-down knitting books so that I’ll learn about the technique, but the projects are only so-so.

    I might be tempted to push someone out of the way to try these, but I probably wouldn’t..

  103. Sue K says:

    I do not have any experience with top-down, but would love to try. This book looks like just the inspiration I need.

  104. Bren says:

    Once I discovered top down knitting for sweaters, it’s the only I like to make them now. So much easier in my opinion. I suck at seaming so it’s a way to make sweaters for me!

  105. Jen says:

    I’ve knit things from the top down before, mostly for babies and because of the no seams thing. I am currently working on the top down sweater on Ravelry known as the Angry Sheep Cardigan. It just recently came out in English and is steeked. I’m game for the challenge though.

  106. I’m a newbie to top-down knitting. I love the skirt on the front cover. That would be the first project for me.

  107. Caitlin says:

    I love top down knitting! Projects always come out perfectly!!

  108. THeresa says:

    I made a couple top down raglan sweaters years ago (20). Had to have a lot of help and had not made another one until recently I found a pattern with calculations to help me and I made a raglan top down sweater for one of my Ball jointed dolls. Came out pretty nice now if I could just do that again but in a bigger size for me! :) I’d also like to see other top-down knitting other than just raglan.

  109. Mary says:

    Top down is my favorite method, by far! Much easier to make changes on the fly and typically less seeming.

  110. Celeste says:

    I always choose a top down pattern over a bottom up. Live top down, hate seams!

  111. Linda says:

    I love top down knit sweaters. They fit me better and so much less finishing to do.

  112. Susan Broughton says:

    I am a new knitter so I have no experience with top down knitting but I can crochet a little.

  113. Vernell says:

    I love knitting from the top down especially for sweaters as you can try it on as you go. Would love to try a skirt!

  114. Brenda says:

    I’ve never tried this type of knitting but would love to try it. I like my sweaters long so this sounds perfect!

  115. Siamar says:

    No top-down yet, but have some sweater patterns in mind. Have adapted the knitting in the round to a bottom-up pattern of a vest, knitting it in the round to the armholes, then changing to knitting the front and the back, and in the end, adding a fake seam.

  116. ruth acquistapace says:

    her daughter has been knitting for about 1 1/2 years now, never tried a top-down anything yet! would love to try something, and a skirt seems the perfect place to start – love the cover on the book!

  117. Rini says:

    I love love top down knitting. It’s seamless and always perfectly fit. McGowan’s first book is my inspiration to knit.

  118. MyrnaLee says:

    I love top down knitting and prefer to only knit top down patterns . Being able to try A sweater on to make adjustments is a great benefit of this technique.

  119. Alina says:

    I had no idea the cute pattern I found online was a top down when I started knitting it. As I cast on I realized how it was constructed and loved every minute of seeing the sweater take shape. It was easy to modify sleeve length as I went which was another great benefit.

  120. Wendy says:

    I’ve done one top down toddler sweater. I loved it and look forward to doing more! This book sounds like the perfect solution.

  121. Kris C says:

    I am new to top-down knitting, and definitely want to give it a try! Would LOVE to win! :)

  122. Susan says:

    After giving up trying to knit anything that turned out right I discovered Barbara Walker many years ago. Her techniques inspired me to try again. Adding the EZ percentage system and The Knitting Anarchist resulted in greater confidence and much more fun knitting. Of course this was all in the good old days of the 20th century. Along came Craftsy which adds a whole new dimension to learning and making friends. The Blog is like the icing on the cake…new flavors to try! So now I know that this book is out and looks like one I would love to add to my library. Hope I win;)

  123. Lizbeth says:

    I am not a hand knitter but have recently taken my knitting machine out of the attic. I am thinking about using this method with my machine. There are very few books and magazines produced for machine knitters anymore so I need to get inspiration from hand knitting.

  124. Stacey Maxwell says:

    I’ve done a few top down hats but really want to try a to down sweater. I think the fact you can try it on as you go would make it so much easier.

  125. Marianna says:

    This looks great. I have knit a few sweaters from the top down and loved it!
    Thanks for the giveaway.

  126. Sarah M says:

    I’ve knit one shirt top-down, and a few hats & shawls. It’s nice, I like being able to try things on as I go. I especially enjoyed the top down hat – made it easier to use up the ball and the spiral top was pretty.

  127. Christina says:

    Top-down is the way to go unless I’m knitting socks. I much prefer toe-up with socks, but I suppose for very similar reasons. Sizing as you go – there is no better way to knit!

  128. Mary S. says:

    I never thought I would enjoy top down knitting. It looked difficult, and I did not want to change the way I knit. My way of knitting was the best way!! Ha ha ha…

    Well, I WAS WRONG. Change IS good, and top down knitting is much easier than I thought it would be. I would love the chance to win this book:)


  129. Frodo says:

    I’m really new to knitting at all. I’ve already made a down to top sweather and leg warmers and I’m working on second sweater, also down to top. Not to get bored I would love to try something new in close future and top down projects seem nice to try :)

  130. cat says:

    I love top down knitting. It’s my go to sweater knitting style. I don’t suspect I will win this book, but it sure would make a great addition to my collection! :) Thx!