6 hour class: Top-Down Colourwork Sweater Adventure

In this class, we’ll embark on making a yoked sweater to fit you! Knitting from the top down with colourwork thrown in is an adventurous way to work. It’s about the thrill of a journey where you have a looser idea of your final destination. It is not for the feint hearted or lazy, but you don’t need to be a mathematical whizz or a knitting wizard to do it. There will be fun choices and tricky ones along the way (fit, colours, short-rows, to name but a few). You can choose how much (or little) planning you would like to do before you pick up your needles and yarn.

6 hours or even 12 is a drop in the ocean of the time it takes to knit as sweater, so we will mostly be discussing approach. You will start to build a palette and cast on a DK (or 4ply/fingering) weight colourwork sweater for yourself from the top down. The beauty of top down knitting is that you can try it on and tailor it to your body shape as you go along. It is the perfect system for those who like to take matters into their own hands and don’t like to be bound by row-by-row instructions. On top of the simple construction, we’ll layer our own experiments in colourwork, starting with basic geometric shapes and stray balls of yarn left over from previous projects.

Whichever level of wing-it suits your approach to knitting (and likely, life), it’s useful to start with knowing a few simple equations, measurements and principals so you can think about how they relate to each other (and your dream sweater). This class aims to send you off inspired with a good grounding in how to proceed.


– you must have experience knitting a sweater involving colourwork
– you must be totally comfortable knitting in the round

– planning a top down knitted sweater to fit you
– measuring for fit
– considering ease
– the benefit of short rows
– following a colourwork stitch pattern from a chart and creating your own
– managing floats
– combining colours to build a palette
– deducing tension

YARN: Bring a good selection of your woollen DK or 4ply/fingering weight oddments leftover from previous projects and lonely single balls! The weight you choose depends on which weight you would like your sweater to be, but note that examples will be given for DK.

We will build our palettes together from what we have and what is available around us in the yarn shop. Swapping encouraged – the colour you have lost the love for may be exactly someone else’s cup of tea. In colourwork, you never know what strange (and sometimes revolting) colours will make it sing – so bring them nasty ones.

If you are starting from scratch and need to buy yarn, you need at least 7 different colours.

NEEDLES: Bring suitably sized 40cm and 80cm long circular needles, plus a size down for the ribbing. Students can bring a range of sizes, in case they wish to make further adjust to their personal tension on the fly. There will be needles available to purchase from the shop on the day. So, if planning to use DK, at a minimum, you should have the needle you need to get 22 sts per 10cm using DK weight yarn and one full needle size smaller to work the ribbing. For example: if using 4mm for the body, then use 3mm for the rib, if 3.5mm, then 2.5mm).

– pencil
– at least 4 different coloured pencils
– tape measure
– note paper/book
– squared/graph/stitch related paper
– calculator (if you don’t have a mobile phone with one on it)

If you have a favourite sweater in regards to fit – bought, borrowed, handmade or not, wear it to the workshop (or simply bring it along) so you can take some measurements from it as reference. If you have a dream sweater in mind, draw it and bring your drawing along.


Students should work a colourworked stocking stitch swatch in the round to decide on their ideal needle size and tension in DK or 4ply/fingering weight. The blocked swatch should be brought to class.

BETWEEN CLASSES (if 2 sessions)
Students should insure they have the time to work on their project between class sessions, in order to move things along and gain a different insight into the process and have a fresh set of questions to ask.

A 6-hour class to be taught on a single day or in two 3-hour parts. Could easily fill two 6-hour days or multiple shorter sessions. A lot can be covered teaching this as a full day class, but obviously without the progress check-in. When split into multiple sessions, students can work on their project in between and come back with a different set of questions and share progress. Optimum time between classes is weekly or bi-weekly, but also lovely split over Saturday and Sunday morning sessions on a retreat.


– quiet space for teaching
– chairs
– tables
– light
– refreshments
– possible use of white/blackboard or flipchart – a big piece of paper of some sort will do.