Eight Weeks to a Sweater: Knitting Start-to-Finish Demystified

Have you ever started a sweater, only to find it in your WIP basket a year later?

Let’s gang up on this project and get a sweater done, one week at a time. There will be weekly assignments and we will knit together. We can compare notes. And to the best of my ability, I will answer questions and try to push you through the hurdles. We’ll share pictures of our progress on Flickr.

Back in the day, I owned a knitting store. One of our most popular and most successful classes was “My First Sweater”. We took people through all the knitting lessons they needed to complete a sweater in SIX WEEKS. Not just any sweater, but their first sweater. It was very rewarding to watch people make something that they were pleased to wear.

I would like to be able to share in that anticipation and excitement with all of you, here. This is not just for new knitters. Or even new sweater knitters. Anyone of any ability can join on in.

We will start together on Monday, October 1. We will work away for 8 weeks and have a new sweater that we are happy to wear for December 1st.

The pre-work is fun!  Look through your queue and your stash, then pick a sweater that you want to do. For this project, I would like you to chose one that is knit from the top down.  (Why, top down? Because the sweater I am doing is knit top down and the weekly assignments will be given for a top down pattern.  Plus, top down construction allows you to easily try on a sweater and adjust the fit as you go.)

And here, to help you get started, is a little sample of top down sweaters to choose from:
Park Avenue Cardigan

Lace Petals
Etude in stripes
Sally Cardigan
Sally Cardigan on Craftzine.com
Top down pullover

If none of those suit your fancy, here are 732 free patterns for sweater knit top down on Ravelry. Of course, you can also pick a sweater from a magazine or book you have at home.

Here are my tips for picking out a successful pattern. Think about what style looks good on you. Picture your favorite sweater or jacket in your mind, then have a look at the patterns you are considering. Are they similar? Or do they have similar elements?
Or, the opposite, think about a sweater you brought home, and NEVER wore. What was the issue? Did it pull around you?
What length of sweater do you prefer?
What length of sleeve looks good on you?

Have I got you thinking now?  Are you brave enough to join?!?
Here is what you will need to do:

  • Find a favorite sweater (or fleece even) that you already own.  We will need it on hand and be taking measurements from that.
  • Pick out the yarn you are going to use. The pattern will offer yarn weight suggestions.
  • Do a swatch. (if you say, “oh, I don’t know, I’m not good at swatching. I just want to get started” I will point you here, for the  importance of gauge.) Gauge is so crucial to the success of this project. So some swatching friends.

That’s it. We will go step by step from there. Here is what we will bring to the table:

  • Weekly assignments – so you will know that we are on track.
  • Help with the process.
  • tips and tricks from experienced sweater knitters.
  • community.
  • camaraderie
  • personalized help (to within the best of our ability)

Feel free to ask any questions about this project or let us know which sweater you will be doing in the comments.

I am busy, going through my pattern book!!

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12 years ago by in Knitting , Knitting Socials , Needlecraft , Socials | You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
18 Comments to Eight Weeks to a Sweater: Knitting Start-to-Finish Demystified
    • Ros
    • I am not allowed to start a new sweater until I finish at least one of my current sweaters-in-progress and preferably more than one…. But I will be cheering from the sidelines.

    • Seanna Lea
    • I have been pretty good about finishing things at least during the summer months. I’ll have to take a look at my WIPs and see if any of them are appropriate for this.

    • Lotta
    • Hi!
      I’m new to knitting and have been working up the courage to knit a sweater for myself for almost a year now. I’m almost finished with the baby cardigan I thought I’d make before tackling a larger size sweater so I think I’m ready for this challenge.
      I’ll join in following this pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/arleen
      It seems fairly easy. Although I think I need to take some time to translate it into Swedish 🙂

      • Lotta
      • I hope I can find a suitable yarn (soft and easy to wash, cotton maybe?) and the right size needles for the project. Maybe you have some tips for me in that department? Otherwise I hope to get some help from the ladies at my local yarn store.

        • Susi
        • You can definitely get some help finding an appropriate yarn. That is what a yarn shop lives for! Be careful of 100% cotton. It will make the sweater a little “heavy”. Maybe a blend?

          • Lotta
          • Thanks for the tip. I’ll stay clear of the 100% cotton. But I think I will stick with the pattern, even if it means I’ll have to put in more hours.

            • Lotta
            • Hi!
              I ended up buying a superwash wool yarn in a nice light green color.
              My swatch came out 18 to 18.5 st and 26 rows in 4”. Do you think that will be ok when the pattern calls for 19 st and 29 rows?
              I can absolutely knit a bit tighter than I did on the swatch. I thought I was knitting a bit too tight so I took care not to thighten the stitches as mutch as normaly do.

              By the way. I’ve convinced my sister to join in as well. She’ll bee knitting the same sweater as I but in purple.

            • Kat
            • Lotta,

              Here’s what you have to think about. The gauge you are supposed to get is 4.75 stitches per inch (19 divided by 4) so say the sweater has 200 stitches around, this would mean the sweater has a width of 42.10 inches (200 divided by 4.75). Now, say you actually knit it at 4.63 stitches per inch (18.5 divided by 4) then your sweater will be bigger with a width of 43.2 inches (200 divided by 4.63). If you end up knitting even looser, 4.5 stitches per inch (18 divided by 4), your sweater will be even bigger at 44.4 inches wide.

              Also with more rows per inch your armhole and neckline will both be deeper.

              So, you have to think about whether you want the sweater to be bigger or not. There are a couple ways you can work around this.
              1. You could knit the sweater a size smaller than what you want it to be when finished. You should do the math though to make sure it’ll work out all right.
              2. Try knitting another gauge swatch with needles a size smaller to see if you can get gauge.

              Susi will be discussing all of this in her post on Monday as well.

              Hope that helps some.

      • Susi
      • That is a beautiful sweater. If you were in my class, I would just ask you if you are a “fast” knitter. The gauge on the sweater you have chosen is a little bit on the smaller side. Not drastically. But just leaning there. So you will need to put in a little more knitting time. But, because it is shown without sleeves, you will “make up” a little time there.

      • Kat
      • Hi Lotta – So glad you are going to join us in knitting a sweater! I think the knitting terms on Swedish patterns and English are pretty similar, but if you find any that stump you while you are translating let us know if we can help.

        • Susi
        • Lotta. Kat said that all perfectly. Now I don’t have to post on Monday. (HA HA) Do a swatch on smaller needles. And try to knit normally for YOU. If you “try” to knit tighter or looser, you will not be able to be consistent with that, and your garment could be wildly off.

    • Name PJ
    • Hi! I’m going to jump in on this project. I’m still shuffling through my patterns and getting yarn together. I did a bottom-up sweater 2 years ago that fits my daughter instead of me. I took copious notes on what I did wrong, but have not been brave enough to try again. Thanks for this opportunity to get back on that horse!

      • Susi
      • That is fantastic! Welcome on board!
        At least your sweater fit someone “worth it” : )
        This time 1. you will do good math, and 2. it’s top down, so we’ll know about any issues right away!
        I am very excited to do this with all of you!

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