Like many knitters, I learned how to knit from my mother at an early age, then promptly forgot about it as life got in the way. I returned to it for a short time as a student in Paris when a friend convinced me to try it again. The third time was the charm—my mother retaught me while I was in grad school. I was tired of trying to find sweaters with long enough sleeves to fit my 6′ frame, so I decided I’d just make my own. I fell madly in love with knitting, and eventually slipped into designing for myself when I began reworking existing patterns with elements that I liked better. And, of course, adjusting the sleeve and body lengths.

In 2003, I decided to publish my own line of knitting patterns, and Vermont Fiber Designs was born. Under that name, I have designed a number of top-down patterns. The most popular of those designs is a top-down set-in-sleeve Stockinette stitch cardigan. The other top-down patterns are quite popular as well.

When I saw how well those patterns were received, I decided to create Basix, a separate line that would be dedicated to the design of only top-down set-in-sleeve patterns that are worked in Stockinette stitch. If you see a Basix pattern in a shop or online, you can be sure that it is 1) top-down, 2) set-in-sleeve, 3) worked in Stockinette stitch (except for the trim, of course), and 4) designed for sizes XXS to 6X or 7X.

Since beginning Vermont Fiber Designs, I have been committed to designing for a wide range of sizes. And that commitment continues with Basix. I believe every person is special—no matter their size or shape—and deserves to be able to find patterns that they will love knitting and wearing.

In top-down patterns, getting the correct row gauge is important, since it affects the length of all shaped elements in a sweater. That said, it is often difficult to match both stitch AND row gauge at the same time. So all Basix patterns include a box entitled “Shaping Information”, where you will find a list of the various shaping elements in the sweater (Armhole Shaping, Sleeve Shaping, etc.), along with the number of rows or rounds it takes to complete the shaping (as well as the length it takes at the given row gauge). Using the row/round information, and armed with the row gauge that you’re getting, you can calculate the length it will take you to complete the shaping, so that you can be sure to start the shaping at the correct place. In addition, there is a box entitled “Customize Your Fit”, that gives you quick pointers on what you need to do to change some of the elements of the sweater to better fit your own shape and measurements.

It is my hope that Basix patterns will inspire you to try out top-down set-in-sleeve knitting if you’re new to it. For those who have worked with this style of knitting before, I believe you’ll find some must-have designs on these pages. I love to hear from knitters who have taken one of my designs and personalized it by adding shaping specific to their “problem areas”, or have added a bit of cable or lace that they loved. If you prefer to follow patterns to the letter, but still want to put your own stamp on these Basix designs, knit them up with a fabulously-colored yarn that captures your personality.

Sue McCain