A few decades ago I bought a knitting book, the kind that is a kind of dictionary, with instructions for lots of different knit textures explained. It was one of the Mon Tricot serries, they seemed to have published dozens of similar titles. This one listed several hundred stitch variations and on the very last page illustrated the process for knitting a top down, saddle shouldered seamless sweater. I was intrigued, amazed and baffled by how one could do that. All my knitting up to then had been flat, knitting sections of a garment and then seaming them into something 3D. Since then I discovered the Internet, dpns, circular needles, and many many resources for knitting seamless 3D garments. But I've never lost that sense of wonder at the ability to construct a seamless knitted garment. I've lost count of how many seamless garments I've knit, but I know how many seamed garments I've knit, none.
I love the entire concept of seamless construction, and top down even more. I love I can see the garment take shape as it is knit. I love I can try it on and adjust the shape or length as I work. I love I don't have to wait until I have knit each piece and then seam them together before I can evaluate the fit and style.
And mostly I love I can finish the garment as I knit, I can weave in ends and then when I work the final stitch I weave in that single end and it is done! With cardigans, especially ones with buttons there is also sewing on the buttons. This time I've added a new ''finishing' order to knitting a cardigan. I am knitting Slanted Sleven, where the buttonholes are worked into a band that is formed as the cardigan is worked, this time I decided to stitch on the buttons as I worked rather than after I finished.
I choose dark shell buttons, and the back of them is darker - so I planned to sew them 'wrong side up'.
I used a heavy top stitching thread to sew the buttons on, and a blunt wool needle. I matched the buttons to the button holes and worked from the top of the center front down - keeping the top down theme. Instead of using a new and separate thread for each button I snaked it through the knit stitches on the back of the band to reach the next button position. I worked a few half hitch knots to secure the thread after each button before working on to the next location.
The thread was a good match - and just disappeared into the knitting. I've added two buttons to the markers for the next so button holes, and I've left a length of sewing thread to stitch the buttons on as I work the holes.
Which means I have only to knit until this is hip length and then add sleeves. And that last stitch will mean, cutting the yarn, weaving in the end and blocking.
I do appreciate the advantages of top down knitwear construction.