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2023 Sweater Design-A-Long with Ann Budd and Jeane deCoster

Retreat Logo, 4 pieces of a sweater laid out flat. Clockwise, back of sweater, right sleeve, front of sweater, left sleeve

After teaching multi-session sweater design classes via zoom, I’ve decided it’s time to team up with expert designer Jeane deCoster to tackle the most complicated, yet most tailored, silhouette—the set-in sleeve. Limited to just 24 students, this class will involve both zoom meetings and a 3-day in-person retreat. Geared for the serious knitter, we’ll teach you how to design your own sweater (either a pullover or cardigan) from scratch based on your size, your yarn, and your gauge.

During the zoom sessions, you’ll learn the basics including the importance of gauge swatches, construction details, and finishing techniques. During the 3-day retreat, you’ll get hands-on help on everything from sketching your design ideas to translating them into actual knitting instructions.

Ann and Jeane will create their own sweaters at the same time to give you insight into how two veteran knitters approach sweater design. The lessons you learn will allow you to create future sweater patterns of your own and free you from the restriction of someone else’s pattern!

Registration is closed. If you would like to be contacted if spots open, please sign up for our waitlist.

Class Schedule

Saturday, October 7 (Zoom 9:00 – 11:00 am Mountain Time)
The sweater design class starts with a 2-hour zoom meeting in which Ann and Jeane will discuss the tailored fit of set-in sleeve sweater construction, centering a stitch or color pattern, and knitting (and measuring!) a reliable gauge swatch. The recording of this live class will be available for 14 days, during which you’ll have plenty of time to swatch potential stitch and color patterns.

Front of Hotel Boulderado Hotel. Five story brick building with drop off area.

Thursday, October 26 to Sunday, October 29 (in Person)
We’ll gather in person at the luxurious historic Hotel Boulderado in downtown Boulder, Colorado, for hands-on instructions on how to use your swatch(es) as a basis for your unique pattern. We’ll begin by sketching design ideas, then turn those ideas into knitting instructions. You’ll learn to calculate armhole, neck, and sleeve cap shaping based on your gauge and your desired finished size. During this time, you’ll start the back of your sweater; you’ll leave with detailed instructions for completing your design.

During “off” time, you’ll be free to enjoy the celebrated boutique shops, highly varied and unique restaurants, and always entertaining street performers of Boulder’s historic pedestrian Pearl Street Mall, located just one block from the hotel.

Saturdays, November 4, 11, and 18 (Zoom 9:00 – 10:30 am Mountain Time)
Following the in-person retreat, we will have three weekly zoom sessions during which Ann and Jeane will keep you on track and answer any questions. In addition, these zooms will give you an opportunity to share your progress and inspiration with the entire group. Recordings of each of these live classes will be available for 7 days.

Saturday, December 2 (Zoom 9:00 – 11:00 am Mountain Time)
This final 2-hour zoom session will cover seaming the pieces together and adding neckbands and button bands to finish your sweaters. The recording of this live class will be available for 7 days.

In all you get:

  • 5 zoom sessions (1.5 to 2 hours each)
  • 15 hours of in-person classes in Boulder, Colorado
  • 3 nights lodging at Hotel Boulderado (Thursday, October 26 through Saturday, October 28)
  • 1 dinner (Thursday, October 26)
  • 3 breakfasts (Friday, October 27 through Sunday, October 29)
  • Help from Ann and Jeane throughout the class
  • The knowledge and experience to design custom sweaters for friends, family, and yourself!


Headshot of Ann Budd. Women with shorter white blonde hair. Wearing glasses and a turtle neck.

Ann Budd has been knitting for more than fifty years. She was on the editorial staff of Interweave Knits for twenty years and edited dozens of knitting books for Interweave Press. She is author and co-author of sixteen books, including the popular Knitter’s Handy Book series that provide knitting instructions for multiple sizes and multiple gauges. In the past few years, Ann has taught virtual sweater design classes through the Zoom platform. Ann is excited to include an in-person segment in this new class that will lead to greater understanding of custom fit in knitwear.

headshot of Jeane deCoster. Woman with short light blond hair, wearing a light blue shirt and necklace

Jeane deCoster studied fashion design in college and has long been fascinated with how to make and fit garments—and how you look while wearing those garments. While her program covered a lot of custom pattern making for cut-and-sew designs, there was no information about handknits. The idea that the pattern and the knitted cloth are produced at the same time revolutionized the way Jeane thought about handknitting and the close relationship between fit and looking/feeling good. It was the start of a long journey to understand all the elements of fit—proportion, color, personal style, joy, etc. Jeane is excited to share some of these fundamentals of fit while designing a sweater together.


Sign up by April 30, 2023 and save:
Double Occupancy (2 queen beds): $1485
A security deposit of $495 is due upon registration; another $495 is due May 15; the final $495 is due August 1.
If you have a roommate in mind, please specify the name on the registration form. Should you need a roommate, you’ll be matched up with someone after registration.
Single Occupancy (1 king or 1 queen bed): $1890
A security deposit of $630 is due upon registration; another $630 is due May 15; the final $630 is due August 1.

Sign up after April 30, 2023, and the price increases to $1545 (three installments of $515 each) for double occupancy and $1950 (three installments of $650 each) for single occupancy.

Cancellation Policy

A $50 fee will be charged for cancellations until April 1, 2023. A $150 fee will be charged for cancellations between April 1 and September 1. No refund will be given after September 1, 2023.


Contact Ann at if you have any questions or concerns.

Intro to Sweater Design

Knitwear designers use gauge and body measurements to create the perfect fit in a sweater, hat, or other knitted piece. Learn the magical formulas that will allow you to design your own garments or adjust existing ones with ease! No more puzzling over how to increase or decrease evenly in a single row or gradually over many rows—you’ll have the answers in moments. You’ll also learn tips and tricks that simplify the knitting and finishing process.

A handout of how to evenly place increases or decreases will be provided.

Make it Your Own: Top-Down Saddle-Shoulder Sweater

In this six-lesson, eight-week online class, you’ll learn how to use the charted instructions in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters to knit yourself a saddle-shoulder sweater with help from Ann Budd every step of the way. You’ll choose between a pullover and cardigan, and between crewneck and V-neck shaping. You’ll also choose the weight of yarn (from fingering to bulky) and the finished size (from 26” to 54” bust/chest circumference). Everyone will follow the same basic instructions, though it’s quite possible that no two students will use the same size, gauge, or stitch pattern.

In the first lesson you’ll learn to knit a proper gauge swatch, and how to choose the correct size. In the following moderated knit-a-long lessons, Ann will demonstrate each of the key steps in knitting a top-down sweater (no seams!) with saddle-shoulder shaping (great design opportunities!). In addition to providing tips and tricks and answering questions along the way, Ann will discuss how to make simple modifications, including adjusting sleeve length and adding waist or A-line shaping.

By the end of class, you’ll be able to follow (and adapt) any of the 600 charted patterns in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters.

Worksheets for measuring gauge and following the instructions in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters will be provided.

Sweater Challenge

Instead of going to college, my oldest son is trying to live a sustainable life with two other like-minded activists in south-central Oregon. He has a day job to cover his share of the expenses, but his joy is in raising their fledgling herd of goats and flock of chickens and cultivating vegetables.

When he said he “wouldn’t mind” a handknitted sweater (he buys most of his clothes from thrift stores), I pounced. Being male, he doesn’t care for flashy or fussy clothes so my challenge will be to come up with a design that will be dull enough for him to feel comfortable wearing and interesting enough for me to want to knit.

I’ve passed the first hurdle by choosing a dark blue yarn (why, oh why, do men always choose navy, brown, or charcoal?). But instead of choosing a solid yarn, I got him to agree to Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter in the Old Navy colorway. Yes, it’s a dark color, but it’s far from drab. Lively flecks of turquoise, cobalt, deep gold, and bright red literally dance across the navy base. My son embraced the casual, rustic look that includes small bits of vegetable matter and the slightly felted feel. I’ve worked with Shelter for the Guston pullover in Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People Volume 2 and I’m quite delighted to use it again.

yarn photoThe next step is to sketch some ideas. Stay tuned!


The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns

Print and eBook available.

Both a pattern book and a reference book, this has been created for knitters who want standard sweater patterns in a variety of sizes and gauges, as well as those who want a template from which to develop their own design ideas.

This sequel to the bestseller The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, presents easy-to-follow charted instructions for eighteen sweaters, three in each of the six most popular sweater constructions: drop shoulder, modified drop shoulder, set-in sleeve, saddle shoulder, raglan, and seamless yoke.

Each style is provided in fifteen sizes (in two-inch graduations) from a 26-inch chest circumference for a two-year-old child to a 54-inch chest circumference for a large adult. Each size is further divided into six possible gauges: 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 stitches per inch.

If you’re counting, that’s 75 options for each of the six styles, or 450 patterns in total (all with yarn yardage estimates). Add the cardigan and neckline variations, and you’ve got more than 1,000 patterns! Even more variations are possible by adding different neck finishes, edgings, waist shapings, and color or stitch patterns.

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters

Print and eBook available.

Discover top-down knitting from the ground up! Fiber and yarn enthusiasts will celebrate Ann Budd’s latest addition to The Knitter’s Handy Book series. Answering to a growing interest in knitting sweaters from the top down and knitting seamless sweaters that require little finishing, this handy book offers instructions for knitting five basic sweater types: circular yoke, raglan, modified-drop shoulder, set-in sleeve, and saddle shoulder. Patterns are offered in multiple sizes and yarn gauges and for a broad age group.

Following the basics for each of the five sweater types are three diverse patterns from top designers that illustrate some of the many ways the instructions can be used as springboards for creative expression, including color, texture, and shaping variations.

Also included for intermediate to advanced knitters are personal design touches, detailed charts, clear instructions, and quick tips to expand your knitting possibilities and maintain creative originality. A key reference for knitters of all skill levels, this is the new essential knitting resource for your bookshelf.

Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters — Modified-Drop Shoulder Style

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters has been out for a few months now and I continue to get questions about how to get the chapter that was cut from the print version (page restrictions, don’t you know) but included in the eBook (no page restrictions). The chapter in question addresses modified-drop shoulder silhouettes, which, we agreed, is a style that most knitters might prefer to knit from the bottom up.
Still, the chapter includes instructions for 15 sizes at 5 different gauges, or 75 more sweaters (not counting cardigan and neckline variations). Plus, and perhaps more importantly, the chapter includes three additional patterns–two by me and one by Kristen TenDyke. And both of my designs were photographed on men to demonstrate that all of the instructions include men’s sizes.
Here’s the Unisex Zip (worked with Briar Rose Fibers Legend at a gauge of 6 stitches/inch):

Here’s the Weekend Retreat (worked with my very own handspun at a gauge of 4.75 stitches/inch):

And here’s Kristen TenDyke‘s Basket Case Cardigan (worked with O-Wool Balance at a gauge of 5 stitches/inch:

At present, you can only get these patterns and the modified-drop shoulder chapter if you purchase the downloadable eBook. But that seems excessive if you’ve already purchased the print copy and all you want is the missing chapter. I’ve been asking Interweave to make this chapter available as a single download for those who don’t want to buy the complete book a second time. If you agree, it might help if you contact Interweave’s customer service to let them know.

The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters Now Available in e-Book Format

Although the print version is on the literal slow boat from China and won’t be available until late July, the electronic version of The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters is available for download right now at the Interweave Store. Click here for information on how to order yours for just $19.95. The electronic version will include the same instructions for circular yoke, raglan, set-in sleeve, and saddle shoulder sweaters as will be in the print version, as well as an exclusive chapter on modified-drop shoulder sweaters and three additional sweater designs.
Color me excited!

Handy Sweaters–Register to Win

There’s more! Those e-media folks at Interweave have also turned The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns into an app for the iPad (sorry, I was told earlier that it was available for the iPhone as well, but that is incorrect). Appropriately called Handy Sweaters, this “handy” app, provides instructions for more than 1,500 sweater design options, including drop shoulder, modified-drop shoulder, set-in sleeve, saddle shoulder, raglan, and circular yoke silhouettes–all in multiple sizes and multiple gauges–at the touch of a finger.

Comment to this post (only one entry per person, please) and tell me why you’d like Handy Sweaters, and I’ll draw a lucky winner Sunday, March 25.