Knitting and Writing from the Top Down

Final paragraphs of "Out There" by Heather Wright
Final paragraphs of "Out There" by Heather Wright

My summer knitting project was a knit-from-the-top-down Fair Isle sweater. I’d never knit a sweater this way before. I’d always followed the traditional route of starting at the bottom and working my way up. I also found this route stressful at times. There was so much I didn’t know until the end. What if I made the sleeves too short? What if the body was too long? I really only knew how the sweater would fit when it was almost finished.

 Knitting from the top down gave me the chance to try the sweater on as I was going along. I knew precisely when it was the right length. I knew exactly when to start finishing the sleeves. And what fun to see the project growing every time I slipped it on. Knitting from the top down completely turned around the way I think about putting a knitting project together. My thanks to Barbara G. Walker who gave North America top down knitting. I can’t wait to start my next one.

 Knitting ‘in reverse’ made me think about my writing, too. I have a novel in progress that is stuck. I know how it will end, but I’ve got to a point where I’m not sure which route to take to get there. I’m beginning to lose control of the shape of the project.

 Maybe I’m going about my writing in the wrong way, too. I have a final moment for my book that I love. Why not start there and work my way back? If the traditional method isn’t working, isn’t now the time to try something different? Here’s my chance to learn and create in a different way, just as I did when I was knitting my sweater. And, who knows, the final product might be just as satisfying. I will probably have to unravel a bit of my book to get this all to work, but that is part of my process whether I’m knitting or writing.

Have you ever knit a sweater from the top down? Have you ever started at the end of your story and worked back? Drop me a line and share your stories.

 p.s. To read the rest of the story, “Out There” (from the beginning) go to

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