Cocoknits Sweater Workshop.

Designer Julie Weisenberger of Cocoknits is well known for her cleverly-designed notions as much as for her knitting patterns. Her first book was just published, and we are excited to have it here at the shop. Take a peek inside Cocoknits Sweater Workshop!

In this book, Weisenberger presents her system for custom, tailored sweaters knit seamlessly from the top down.

The Cocoknits Method is, at its core, a system for tracking your progress as you knit, for keeping tabs on the varied increases and decreases that make a top-down sweater fit well. It involves worksheets and color-coded stitch markers, codifying some of the guidance we often give to sweater knitters who want to know how to keep track of all the goings-on.

Cocoknits Sweater Workshop also offers patterns and modifications so you can jump in and knit perfectly-fitting top-down sweaters of your own, along with guidance on what styles and shapes can be flattering and why.

Weisenberger has wisely created a journal of Cocoknits Sweater Worksheets for those that fall in love with her method. The two books make a nice pair, especially for fans of seamless sweater-knitting.

Look for Cocoknits Sweater Workshop and the accompanying worksheet journal on the teacart here at the shop, where the latest publications live. See you there!

Show and tell: sweaters and cowls.

Here are a few more show and tell projects, sweaters and cowls that were recently completed and brought into the shop to share.


Mara showed up at the shop wearing this tank top she knit with Berroco Touche, a worsted weight blend of cotton and rayon. She was excitedly shopping for yarn, Birthday Club postcard in hand, but I had to interrupt her to take her picture. The pattern is Pennekamp, one of the many free patterns available from Berroco’s website–a great resource. I love the color, and the reminder that handknits are wearable year-round, even into the heat of summer, if the fiber and design are right.


Abby brought in this sweet little sweater she recently finished knitting, modeled on a favorite store-bought sweater that has already been passed down from her older daughter to her youngest. This new hand-knit iteration is made in three shades of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, and designed by Abby herself, with some guidance from Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters.


Here’s another top-down sweater: Molly’s recently-finished Gemini pullover. She used the dk weight Katia Linen yarn that the pattern calls for, and the result is a lightweight fabric that’s cool to the touch, perfect for summer wear. Like many Gemini-knitters, Molly plans on adding a single crochet border to the neckline in an effort to stabilize it and minimize stretching.


Margie made these two cowls using the free Abstract Leaves Cowl pattern. The purple cowl is knit with Marion Foale 3-ply Wool, a solid-color fingering weight yarn. The gray and white cowl is knit with Malabrigo Lace, a lace weight single ply merino. Seeing these two side-by-side is a great illustration of how one pattern can be used to create very different-looking garments just by using different yarns. Though the fiber content of the two yarns is similar, they differ greatly from there–different stitch definition, different coloration, different gauge, different drape, a different look entirely. Margie’s cowls are intended as gifts, and it’s a great gift pattern for knitters who are low on time, or yardage–a mere 125 yards of lace or fingering weight yarn are called for.

Thanks to all these knitters for their show and tell, and thanks to everyone who starts, continues, and completes their projects at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop! We love to see what you create with our yarns.

Two top-down sweaters: show and tell.

Anne and I feel lucky to be surrounded every day by people making things, whether they’re wearing their latest creation, sharing their works in progress, or planning their next project. We’re always excited to see what clever uses our knitters and crocheters make of the yarn they get from the Hillsborough Yarn Shop, and I love to share those projects here on the blog, as well. The two most recent show-and-tell photos I’ve snapped have much in common. Both are short-sleeved sweaters, and both are knit seamlessly from the top down.


Here’s Mary in her “Charlotte Cardigan” made in Mountain Meadow Wool Cody, a sport weight organic merino that is grown, spun, and dyed in Wyoming. The pattern comes from Swans Island, and is written for their Organic Merino Worsted yarn. The suggested gauge is 17 sts = 4″, which suggests a worsted to aran weight yarn knit at a slightly open gauge for a gently draping fabric. Mary adjusted her needle size to get stitch gauge with a significantly thinner yarn, hoping for a lighter weight sweater. The resulting fabric is light and stretchy, the sweater fits just how she wanted it to, and is sure to get plenty of wear. Having been so successful, Mary has already begun another “Charlotte Cardigan” in Schulana Lambswool, and is planning two more in Ewe Ewe Wooly Worsted and String Theory Merino DK!


Here, Marion models her Gemini, a short sleeved t-shirt made in Cascade Ultra Pima, a dk weight mercerized cotton. She lengthened the sleeves a bit, as well as the ribbing on the cuffs. These kind of changes are simple to make on a top-down pullover; she simply continued knitting each sleeve past where the pattern told her to stop. No big deal as pattern modifications go, and it has a real impact on the look and fit of the finished product.

Inspired to create a top-down sweater of your own? We have single patterns in many styles, and books on the subject, as well. The Gemini pattern is available for free from Knitty, and we just happen to have some new colors in Cascade Ultra Pima. Come by the shop to plan your next project, and be sure to get in here during July to do so at a 15% discount!


Gemini Knit-Along.

Looking towards Spring, Anne and I have cast on for short-sleeved pullover sweaters. We are each making Gemini, a tee knit seamlessly in the round from the top down.


Designed by Jane Richmond and available for free on Knitty, Gemini is written for Katia Linen, a dk weight blend of cotton and linen. I’m making up a sample Gemini in the yarn called for, and Anne is substituting with Mirasol Samp’a, an organic cotton.


In choosing an appropriate substitute for Katia Linen, we wanted to be sure that Anne would be able to get the gauge that the pattern calls for, and that the resulting fabric would behave similarly to the fabric that Katia Linen creates. That means picking a plant fiber, like cotton, linen, hemp, tencel, or bamboo, as all of those fibers have a tendency to stretch and drape. Richmond’s design takes that into account, and she suggests that the knitter pick a finished size about 4″ smaller than their own bust size. In an elastic fiber, like wool, 4″ of negative ease would make for a snug fit, but in a plant fiber, which lacks elasticity, it means a nice, easy fit, not too loose and not too tight.


Want to make a Gemini of your own? Join us in this informal Knit-Along. We have a nice selection of colors in both Katia Linen and Mirasol Samp’a, and even more when you consider the many other good substitutes that are available: Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy and Cotton Frappe, Cascade Ultra Pima, Berroco Pure Pima, Queensland Haze, Tahki Cotton Classic, Sublime Organic Cotton DK and Soya Cotton DK, Katia Degrade, and many more. Come by the shop to see our Geminis-in-progress and we’ll help you find the perfect yarn to knit your own spring top.

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters.

Interweave has just published a new book by Ann Budd, The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges, and a stack of them arrived at the shop last week. After studying it during several quiet moments at the shop, I decided it had to be part of my personal knitting library. Read on to learn why it might make a good addition to yours, as well.

Ann Budd is the author of a great many knitting resources, including but not limited to Sock Knitting Master Class, The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, and The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. As I’ve written here before, we’re also quite fond of her Handy Guides to Yarn Requirements for knitting and crochet.

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters is the latest in her series of Handy Books which give instructions for simple garments in a wide range of gauges and sizes. This collection, as the title makes plain, is full of seamlessly-constructed sweaters that begin at the neck, working from the top down.

Some knitters begin a new project by falling in love with a pattern, then hunting for just the right yarn to match the gauge that the pattern asks for. Some knitters begin by falling in love with a skein of yarn, then go looking for a pattern to match. Ann Budd’s Handy Books can work either way, I think, but do a real service for the second group. For each basic top-down sweater shape, Budd gives instructions for range of sizes, from children to adults, and a range of gauges. Whether you’ve fallen in love with a sport weight yarn or an aran weight yarn, you can choose from any pattern in the book and follow the directions in your chosen size and gauge. Budd also gives yarn requirements for every size and gauge, so once you’ve fallen in love with that yarn, you’ll know how much to get.

The book is divided into four sections, by the sweater’s yoke shape: seamless yoke, raglan, set-in sleeve, and saddle-shoulder. For each shape, along with the general instructions are three good-looking patterns. Some are designed by Ann Budd, and others by guest designers Jared Flood, Veronik Avery, Pam Allen, and Anne Hanson.

 Budd also includes plenty of information on modifying her general instructions, making it easy to add color or texture patterns, and create different kinds of neckbands, collars, button bands, waist shaping, and edgings.

I’ve knit very few sweaters from the top down, having grown accustomed to using Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Percentage System (EPS) to knit unique sweaters from the bottom up. While EPS makes sweater design into a doable math problem, Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters is like the teacher’s edition–a series of sweater math problems shown with every possible answer. For knitters who love to knit seamless sweaters and make them their own using whatever yarn they’ve fallen in love with, this is the ultimate resource. Come by the shop to take a closer look at The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters!