top down turns one

Sep 11, 2016 :: by Leila Raabe

Happy Sunday, all. We hope everyone's having a restful weekend so far. Just over a year ago we released Top Down: Reimagining Set-In Sleeve Design by author, designer, and teacher extraordinaire Elizabeth Doherty of Blue Bee Studio—somehow it feels like just yesterday. I had the good fortune of coming on board the Quince team right around the book's release last year and got to meet Elizabeth during her visit to Portland. We had a great chat about her designing and writing and I returned to the office feeling mentally energized and excited about the work we do. She has that effect on knitters and designers alike.

In addition to the bounty of insights and ah-ha! moments throughout her book, Elizabeth has shared further writing on the Quince blog, discussing Top Down in depthcolor choices, as well as topics such as working with linen yarns like Kestrel and Sparrow.

Since then Elizabeth has been traveling the country providing workshops based on the book, among other subjects. If you have the chance to attend any class of hers at an LYS near you, it's an opportunity you will definitely want to take advantage of.

We wanted to share a recent post from her blog to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of Top Down. Enjoy!

Top Down turned one recently. As happens on anniversaries, I found myself thinking about the day a few years back when Pam Allen and I met for coffee and cooked up the idea of doing a small collection of my top-down set-in sleeve designs for Quince and Co. Originally, it was going to be a pretty modest undertaking—three or four sweater patterns plus a little explanation on why I like to construct sweaters from the top, as well as some mention of the improvements I’d made to the standard top-down sleeve formula. 

Pam loves set-in sleeves as much as I do, and as the project progressed, I’d get the occasional message from her saying, "I think you should explain to knitters how a set-in sleeve actually works", or "what about fitting? can you talk about pattern modifications?" Suddenly, before either of us knew how, the book had evolved far beyond its original scope. Those technical sections of the book were by far the most challenging parts for me to write and illustrate, but in a way, they are what I am most proud of.

As excited as I am every time I see a new project for one of the book’s six sweaters appear on Ravelry, it’s maybe even better to get a message from a knitter telling me that they’ve used the methods in the book to add beautifully-fitting top-down set-in sleeves to a different design. And maybe even better than that, is seeing other designers adopt and adapt the Top Down sleeve formula in their own work. One of these is Quince and Co's Leila Raabe. Keep an eye out [Fall 2017] for her top-down set-in sleeve pullover in Owl—it's a beauty.

top down, hands on

Since the book came out last year, I’ve been teaching Top Down Set-in Sleeve classes in Quince flagship stores around the country. And getting to meet a lot of knitters and sharing with them techniques that will make their sweaters look and fit better might possibly be the best thing, in a long list of best things, that have come about since the book’s publication. 

In the day-long class, students get an introduction to top-down set-in sleeve sweater construction and learn how to fit a set-in sleeve; how (and where) to take measurements and how to choose a size; how to make adjustments, both for gauge differences and for fitting bust and hips. Each student then knits a practice set-in sleeve cap, learning how to pick up stitches and shape the cap using short rows. It’s a busy day!

Interested? Here’s where you’ll find me teaching this Fall: 

  • September 10 and 11: Monarch Knitting, in Pacific Grove, CA
  • September 17: Knitterly, in Petaluma, CA
  • October 1 and 2: Twisted, in Portland, OR
  • November 12: Knitterly, in Petaluma, CA

top down trunk show

If you’d like to see the six sweaters from the book in person, you’ll find them here:

a new newsletter, and a giveaway!

To say thanks for this fantastic year, and to entice you to sign up for the brand new Blue Bee Studio newsletter, we’re giving away three signed copies of Top Down: Reimagining Set-in Sleeve design. To be eligible to win a copy, all you need to do is to visit Elizabeth’s website, and join the mailing list by September 15, 2016. Winners will be chosen at random.

Keep up with Elizabeth on the Blue Bee Studio blog, on Instagram, and on the Blue Bee Knits Ravelry group.

The content of this post originally appeared on the Blue Bee Studio blog. All images and content are used with permission and owned by Elizabeth Doherty.

Related posts in: Book | Designer | Elizabeth doherty | Sweater | Top down
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