I’m no expert, since I’ve only finished one sweater. Have you noticed that I seem to be prefacing all my blog posts lately with “Don’t listen to me . . I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
Several have commented that they were apprehensive about starting a sweater for the first time. I know the feeling! I was too. The fit and the cost of that much yarn are what kept me from trying it.
As far as the fit, if you look at most of the sweater patterns, they aren’t just S, M, L, XL, but there are 7 or 8 sizes on most of the patterns. You measure your bust and choose your fit. I’ve found the three that I’m working on to be pretty much spot on with sizing. Also, Amy Herzog has a Custom Fit concept and I’ve heard wonderful things about the fit you get when using one of these patterns. You can read more about Custom Fit here.
If you’re in that “I’m too scared to make a sweater but I know how to knit” boat, here are some suggestions for you:
- Choose a pattern that you would enjoy wearing. I don’t like sweaters that are cut too low (unless I’m wearing something under them) and I don’t like really snug fitting garments. I also don’t like a lot of “frill”. Choose a pattern that you can see yourself loving to wear and reaching for each time you need a sweater. There are so many patterns on Ravelry that with just a little effort, you can find something perfect for you.
- Go to the “projects” section of that pattern. (a) Look at what others are saying about it. If they’re saying it isn’t for a first time sweater maker, or they’re saying it isn’t well written or left room for a lot of guesswork, avoid that pattern. (b) Look for folks with a similar shape as yours who are wearing it. I look for short, round, gray haired grannies who have made the sweater and are modeling it. EVERYTHING looks good on a 90 pound 21 year old! Not everything looks good on a round, gray haired granny!
- Choose a sweater pattern that doesn’t look too difficult. What’s the hardest part of knitting for you? For me, it’s paying attention to what I’m doing. Anything that requires a whole lot of counting and undivided attention . . I know I’m going to screw up right off the bat. Find a pattern that fits the things you feel comfortable doing. For instance, I made the Rhinecliff sweater. There was very little counting. After the knitting/purling pattern was established, I didn’t even have to count! I love cables so this was a fun project for me. La Vie Douce has just a little bit of lacework and then a lot of plain knitting and it’s a style I love so it was a good fit for me. I’ll add some more links below to sweater patterns I have in my library that I think might be good for a first sweater project.
- If the cost of the “better” yarns is a problem, don’t hesitate to order from KnitPicks or Webs, both of which often have good sales. You can read the ratings on any yarns on Ravelry. I wouldn’t order a yarn that has horrible ratings but I do read all the ratings and make up my own mind. I recently had a really nice, well rated yarn pill like crazy. I would have been a whole lot happier if I had paid $50 for that yarn instead of $150.
- Whatever yarn you get, make sure to check the washing instructions. I don’t have a problem hand washing my sweaters but I don’t want to send anything to Nicole for Addie that has to be hand washed.
Please remember .. this is yarn! If you don’t like something you make, you can rip it out and start over . . no harm done. You’ll never know what you could be making if you don’t try it.
Some sweaters I would recommend (but I haven’t made any of these . . I’m judging by looks).
- Children’s Celtic Braid Top Down – I like this because it doesn’t take a lot of yarn, it’s a child’s sweater but it’s the same concept as making an adult sweater. There’s a braid down the front so it gives you a little experience with something besides plain jane. It can be made with Cascade 220 Superwash .. which is machine washable and it’s pretty inexpensive. If you don’t have a child in your life, this one is inexpensive enough that it could be made and donated or . . I can send you Addie’s address!
- Current – It is made from the top down, made as one piece (no seams) and using fingering weight yarn.
- Grey Goose Cardi – This looks easy and isn’t real fitted so perfection in fitting shouldn’t be required. There are no buttons or button bands.
You can make a sweater! If I can do it, I know you can do it!