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Modern Top-Down Knitting: Sweaters, Dresses, Skirts & Accessories Inspired by the Techniques of Barbara G. Walker Hardcover – Oct 1 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Modern Top-Down Knitting: Sweaters, Dresses, Skirts & Accessories Inspired by the Techniques of Barbara G. Walker
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  • More Modern Top-Down Knitting: 24 Garments Based on Barbara G. Walker's 12 Top-Down Templates
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  • Knitting from the Top
Total price: CDN$ 81.94
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Stewart, Tabori and Chang; 1 edition (Oct. 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584798610
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584798613
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 2.5 x 25.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 885 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #194,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Kristina McGowan is a New York City–based knitwear designer.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was eagerly awaiting the release of this book for months, but was disappointed to find it wasn't at all what I expected. Perhaps if a search-inside feature had been provided I could have had a better idea what to expect. I was expecting a book about how to modernize garments knit with top-down techniques, that would provide some theory about how to achieve modern style and fit. Instead this is basically a project book with very little general information you can use to adapt other patterns and techniques. Further, some of the projects -- arm warmers using purchased socks, for example -- may use some of Walker's techniques but many aren't even knit top-down and many still require seaming. The patterns are quite classic looking but there's very little information on adapting them and some don't look great-fitting. The finishing techniques may be the most unique feature of the book, such as the crochet 'seams' added on the surface of the plain dress on the cover (which I had assumed was part of the knitting, no). So I may end up finding some useful things in this book but overall I found the title and cover somewhat misleading.
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Format: Hardcover
Unfortunate for me, the notions required to shape many of these projects are not available in the rural area I live. Knitting is all about sticks, fiber and creativity. I have to buy and apply elastics and braid to complete almost everything in this book. Therefore, my projects are waiting for another trip to the big town fabric store. Walmart won't suffice.
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By trish kinton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 12 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Super cool modern patterns. Not sure if I could make them all but someone might. Excellent book
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Awesome patterns. Quick delivery.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xb46e5fcc) out of 5 stars 69 reviews
274 of 282 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb4741ed8) out of 5 stars A couple gems, but overall fairly simple patterns Sept. 20 2010
By K. Cox - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
There are 26 patterns in Modern Top-Down Knitting as well as tutorials and non-knitting finishing techniques (sewing on trim, crochet, elastic cord, etc.). Half the patterns in the book can appropriately be titled knit from the "top-down": 8 dresses (3 sleeveless, 1 elbow-length, 1 short-sleeve, 1 wrap, and 2 tunics), 3 sweaters, 1 jacket, and 1 cardigan. Then there are 2 skirts (one of which definitely should not have been knitted in a dark color and then printed on matte paper) and 11 accessories (4 hats, 2 styles of arm warmers, 1 cowl, 1 wrap, 1 belt, 1 set of slippers and assorted knitted jewelry).

There are several designs that I like well enough to make the purchase price of the book worth it to me. The Soho Smocked Dress which makes use of a smocked stitch pattern to define the waist is one in particular which struck me on my first pass through the book. The styles and lines of the clothing overall have a modern look that does not cross into trendy. Numerous patterns are certainly timeless and portray a pleasing degree of urban-sophistication.

There are a couple critiques I have though. 12 patterns (almost half those in the book) use elastic cord or elastic ribbon to provide tension and pull-in areas of the knitwear, such as at necklines, hat edges, or cuffs. While I find the use of elastic an excellent design detail at times, in my opinion McGowan uses it in places instead of altering stitch patterns to provide elasticity within the knitting itself or instead of adding body shaping to the pattern. The very nature of knitting has the peculiar benefit of allowing a master designer to incorporate such design features without relying on elastic cord, a distinct advantage over working with woven fabric. There are a few patterns within the book for which elastic cord is the best choice, but for many others it seemed to me to simply be the easy solution.

My biggest disappointment though was in the beautiful dress featured on the cover: Jill's Dress. I admit that I was captivated by the seamwork featured on the dress. I saw the seamwork as a great stylistic feature that would be indicative of a interesting, innovative way to construct a dress. Instead I was slightly crestfallen to discover that the "seams" were merely crocheted directly into the fabric after the entire dress is finished; an added-after-the-fact decorative feature and nothing more. The same crochet feature is used in the Promenade Dress where a similar design element could have instead easily been incorporated into the stitch pattern itself. I have no problem with crochet being used in this manner as a decorative element, but it leaves the dress pattern itself (which is what I ultimately paid for) to be a fairly simple construction. In fact, the dress on the cover has no waist shaping at all.

There are times when elastic cord and crocheted details have their place, but McGowan's reliance on them in exchange for more sophisticated knitting techniques makes me want to suggest that this book's audience is geared more towards the beginning knitter who would like to start branching out into slightly more complex pieces.

I will probably just make the few patterns I like out of this book and then pass it on. While a decent enough publication, I do not see a place for it in the permanent library of a more knowledgeable knitter.
86 of 90 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb45a05b8) out of 5 stars Top-down for you and me! Sept. 20 2010
By Moira Meltzer-Cohen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I just want to say that this book helped me to make sense of a technique that I always wanted to learn but couldn't understand for myself. The tutorial is perfect. It is the easiest to follow tutorial I have ever used. For someone like me, who designs her own garments, I can honestly say this technique is going to change my life. I love the Coney Island sweater, the puckered hand-warmers, and the subway hat the most!!!
But the best thing about the book is that it has given me elements that I will use for the rest of my life in my own designs. And that is priceless. I have looked an MANY MANY MANY other knitting books, and this is the only one that has ever given me something beyond a pattern -- it has provided me with increased wherewithal to make my own. So frankly, even though I enjoy the patterns, what makes this book sing is that I would get something out of it even if I thought the garments were not my kind of thing. To rephrase: even if the garments aren't your type of hype (and they're pretty great) you can totally revolutionize your knitting with this book, no matter what level you're at. It's clear, it's entertaining, and it has a lot of educational as well as aesthetic value. Super awesome book. I hope she does some more.
123 of 134 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb456deb8) out of 5 stars Top Down from the Bottom Up Sept. 17 2010
By P. Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just received this book yesterday after being told by Amazon the book was coming out ahead of its original publishing date. I love it when that happens and waited, with bated breath, for this book to arrive. I was able to delve into it last night and, unfortunately, my joy turned to disappointment.

The book is well done, the photographs amazing but it's not my idea of a "top-down" book. Most of the patterns are not top down, as traditionally thought, but "bottom up". There are some sweaters and cardigans but dresses, skirts and hats seem to rule the day. I think I was hoping for a true update in this technique rather than a completely different approach. I've done one top-down sweater of my own design (with the help of knitting software) and loved the results. I think I wanted a book like Barbara G. Walker's "Knitting from the Top" but an update on her techniques. This author claims her book is "inspired" by Ms. Walker and her words are correct. It is "inspiration" not an "update".

I am not critiquing the book as much as saying that it's not what I expected. If you want a true, top-down book, try Cathy Carron's "Knitting Sweaters from the Top Down". I would recommend Ms. Walker's book but it's a bit difficult to follow, in my opinion. This is why I was hoping for an update. I will be sending this one back to Amazon because it doesn't fit into my knitting library.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb45a9750) out of 5 stars Interesting take on top down Nov. 29 2010
By Nicki - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Many of the patterns in this volume are dresses I'd never make as dresses, but perhaps make as tops, which would be simple to do. I wasn't wowed by the book, but am glad more designers are coming out with top down seamless designs .... and am not sure why flat knitted, seamed garments are still so popular. This could definitely be a book that grows on a knitter the longer she/he owns it.

The real treasure trove are the great tutorials: one for doing a set-in, seamless top down sleeve, shoulder shaping with short rows, creating sleeve caps with short rows, two methods for tightening loose set-in sleeves in the pick up round, and wonderful articles on trims and elegant finishing methods -- a neglected area by most designers -- thoughtful finishes that truly turn your handknits into prized possessions and cherished gifts.

The only downside (and it's a substantial one) is inclusion of hats, a cowl, armwarmers, slippers, a wrap, jewelry, and a BELT. (A belt?? Come on now.) I would have preferred more shaped sweaters to replace these; these patterns just seem like "filler projects" to me. Nine filler projects are entirely too many for a book with 26 designs ... That's just over 30%.

Breakdown by pattern type:
Dresses/tunics (the tunics are pictured as dresses): 8
Jackets: 1
Cardigans: 1
Pullover Sweaters: 2
Tank/Camisole Top: 1
Skirts: 2
Armwarmers: 2
Belt: 1
Slippers: 1
Hats: 4
Wraps: 1
Jewelry: 1 (specifically, a bracelet and ring set)
Cowls: 1
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb45a918c) out of 5 stars Elegant, thoughtful designs Sept. 21 2010
By avid knitter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Kudos to the author for giving Barbara Walker credit -- that was nice to see, as was Walker's very positive endorsement on the back - but most importantly kudos for creating a stunning collection of patterns that I will
actually want to make and wear. The items are all classic and not overly designed, and the tutorials elucidating Walker are brilliant. I'm very excited about the book. I actually have several STC books in my collection now and they're always so well done - this one is another keeper!