Finding the Perfect First Sweater

I need your help :aww: One of my goals for 2008 is to take my knitting to the next level (i.e. move past scarves) and finally knit my first sweater. I’m still pretty new at increases and decreases, but I’m not above asking for any help that I need.

Anyhoo, I’m looking for just the right pattern for my first sweater and who better to ask than my hello forum-ites! Obviously, I want to make something that I know I am going to wear, so that means that it will probably need to have long sleeves. My measurements are 35" chest and 25" waist, which I know is a bit more curvy than most patterns use, so I’m sure I will have some adjusting to do ahead of me. Also, I will be making the sweater out of organic cotton (wool is very warm but itchy :frowning: ).

I already have the first two Stitch n Bitch books, and a few other knitting tomes, but most of the patterns in their look so foreign and, well, intimidating. I’m open to any and all suggestions, so bring them on! :woot:

A couple of thoughts here.

First, I’d look for a sweater pattern without any special stitches - ie, ribbing and stockingette-stitch only. And I’d seriously consider doing a pullover vs. cardigan, just to avoid the buttonhole/edging scene.

Second, would you care to try a baby’s sweater first? It’ll have the same challenges but go a whole lot quicker.

And if you goof, babies don’t really notice or care.

Hope this helps - and good for you for pushing the envelope! :cheering:


You say you want it to be something you’ll wear. Other than specifying that it have long sleeves, what other criteria do you have that ensures wearability? Do you prefer pullovers or cardis? If a cardi, how long (short like a shrug, to the waist, or hip length) and do you want buttons or wrap with a tie? If a long cardi, do you want pockets? What kind of neckline? Do you want ribbing? Straight or tapered sleeves, ribbed cuffs, trumpet, flared/bell? Do you want raglan, set-in or drop? Top down or bottom up? If a collar, what kind?

How adventurous are you willing to be?

Just a handful of things to consider.


Cam has lots of options - these would be wonderful to consider once you have your first sweater and the sweater basics under your belt. She’s full of great ideas!

Again, I’d stay with a plain stockinette stitch sweater with long sleeves. Not difficult - just ribbing around the waist and wrists, you’ll pick up and knit stitches for the neckline [sounds harder than it is] and shaping armholes, sleeves, shoulders, and neckline.

Here’s a couple of hints: knit the back first. This means you’ll deal with shaping the armholes, shoulders and neckline. If you are doing a cardigan, with an open front - I would go next to the sleeves. They have gradual increases, then the top shaping to fit into your sweater’s armholes. If you’re doing a pullover, I’d go to the front after the back.

Yes, the open-front cardigan has the additional feature of the front band on each half of the front, with buttonholes carefully spaced along one band. If this is your choice, then knit the front half that does NOT have the buttonholes first. Then you can gauge the spacing and mark where each buttonhole should be on this one - use a safety pin or bobby pin for where each hole’d go - and you’ll knit the other half of the front using your markers to place the buttonholes.

These are the challenges for any sweater. IMHO, it’s more than enough for you to take on, first time around.

Enjoy the Zen of Knitting your FIRST - It’ll be GREAT! And you have the wonderful experts here on the forum to help you every step of the way.


here are some from knitty - they have ratings to help (m) mellow & (t) tangy are the easiest. also has some nice looking sweaters. I’m not ready for sleeves yet, so I’m making a sleeveless top for my first garment - it might be ready by summer:mrgreen:

here are some from knitty

  • they have ratings to help (m) mellow & (t) tangy are the easiest. also has some nice looking sweaters. I’m not ready for sleeves yet, so I’m making a sleeveless top for my first garment - it might be ready by summer:mrgreen:

This is the first sweater I ever knitted:

I did the red pullover style for my youngest daughter. I started it when I was still really new to knitting. What I looked for was something I could [I]start[/I] on my own - I was taking a class and had just joined here, so I knew I had resources once I had questions.

Here it is on my older daughter (the size I made turned out to be between their current sizes, so both tried it on):

This is the first sweater I ever knitted for me:

It looks complicated but it’s really not. It helps that the first things you knit are the upper back and angled front pieces. Three small things that you seam together and suddenly you see something taking shape! It helped me feel like I was really making progress. You can also see that there aren’t any “special” stitches in it, just stockinette and ribbing, then increases, decreases, and picking up stitches.
Here I am in it with a good friend of mine (I’m on the right, silly!)

My advice is to read through the pattern and find something that you can at least start on your own, then jump in. You’ve got excellent support here to get you through the rest! :thumbsup:

If you’re just wanting to try something super simple to get a feel for general shaping and construction this is about the easiest cardi. Pick the yarn you want, make the sleeves as long or short as you desire. Wrap it, or not, as loose/tight as you like. Gives you a chance to work at making something to fit. And, ultimately, if you don’t like it, it’s very uncomplicated construction so you can take it apart, re-use the yarn.


Amazon has a good sweater book for the beginner: