Last fall I took a top-down sweater class from Stefanie Japel at Interweave Knitting Lab and it was fab.
She talked about easy alterations that make sense, like adding in short-row shaping where you need it, making your sweater bigger or smaller and where to do it, and how waist shaping can take your knits up a notch in the fit category.
When I saw a photo of the Off-Rib Cardigan, I was really taken with it, and when I saw that it was designed by Stefanie, I was sold.
The Off-Rib (which originally appeared in knit.wear 2011 and is now available as a pattern download) is a relatively easy knitting pattern with an asymmetrical opening highlighted with broken rib and statement buttons (see the buttons in the photo below right).
(Regarding the "statement buttons": As soon as I saw the buttons I started thinking about my button collection and earmarking a couple of sets for consideration on the Off-Rib.)
You might have used the broken rib pattern before—it's a popular stitch pattern for scarves and cowls. I like it because it lays pretty flat and it doesn't bunch up quite as much as a regular knit-purl rib pattern does.
||Off-Rib Cardigan, back view
||Off-Rib Cardigan, buttons
The broken rib is an easy 2-row repeat:
ROW 1: (WS) *K1, p1; rep from *, end k1.
ROW 2: (RS) Knit.
The rib pattern highlights the lapels, cuffs, and a really striking square neckline.
This is a top-down raglan design, which is a fun way to knit a sweater. Because of the raglan increases, the broken-rib stitch pattern is increased as well and it forms a high, squarish neckline that's really flattering.
There's also some pretty nice waist shaping involved (you can see it in the back view photo at right) that makes this sweater classicly tailored.
If you haven't tried knitting a sweater top down, the Off-Rib is a great project to start on. Lots of people like it because the sweater is knit in one piece and you can try it on as you knit, which makes it easy to adjust the size. (Need a bigger yoke? Just add some more increases!) I do like that aspect of knitting top-down, but I also just like to change it up! My last two sweaters were top-down and the one I'm working on now (a vest, actually) is knit in pieces and seamed.
So give it a try; download the Off-Rib Cardigan knitting pattern today and cast on!