The Sweaters








A Super-Quick Guide to Super-Wearable Sweaters

Sources / Recommended Reading List & Resources

Abbreviations / Special Technique




Of all of the things a hand-knitter can make, sweaters seem to be the most intimidating. In the years since my first book, Knit to Flatter, was published, I’ve met countless knitters who can create heirloom lace shawls with 7 charts and complicated constructions without thought . . . but then look decidedly nervous when I suggest they try to make a simple Stockinette vest.


Why is this so? Clearly, it’s not knitting skill—in fact, sweaters are some of the most simple projects around, skill-wise. All you really need to successfully knit a sweater is to keep a consistent gauge and know some basic increases and decreases. (Translation: If you’ve made a scarf that looks rectangular and has some stitch patterning, then you’re ready for sweaters.)

What, then, is so frightening? I think most of the nervousness centers around two core issues:

• Sweaters need to fit, and we have plenty of store-bought garments that we’re stacking the fit of our hand-knits up against. So it’s easier to tell when we’ve failed!

• Sweaters are a big investment in both time and materials, and it’s often difficult to tell whether things are working until the very end of the process. This makes for stressful and worry-filled knitting—the opposite of why most of us have taken up this hobby!

The resources out there for prospective sweater knitters don’t really help combat this intimidation. There’s perilously little simple guidance aimed at demystifying the sweater, and lots of anecdotal evidence that sweaters are difficult (such as pictures of disappointing garments online). So much information is out there, in fact, that it’s tough for a novice sweater knitter to distinguish what’s really important (like considering the fabric you’re creating) from the details that honestly don’t make or break a sweater (like knowing exactly what kind of shaping to use where).

I’m here to help.

My previous books have demystified fit in the most precise of all hand-knit sweaters: the set-in-sleeve sweater with waist shaping. My clear-cut, you-can-do-it approach has helped thousands of knitters to make tailored, fitted garments they love to wear. If you’re reading these words, and have worked with me to get a sweater you love, thank you. Now, You Can Knit That stretches beyond the tailored, fitted sweater and helps you create hand-knitted sweaters of other, more fit-forgiving types, that you will adore just as much.

For those of you who looked at my first two books and felt intimidated: don’t despair! The book you have in your hands will get you started on successful sweater knitting in the easiest, most gentle way possible—with sweaters that are more forgiving in terms of fit, and honest, up-front advice about what needs to be considered (and what doesn’t).

My goal in this book remains the same as in everything that I do: I want to help you create garments with your hands that you reach for day in and day out, because they’re comfortable and look great.

But unlike some of the sweaters you’ve seen from me before, the sweaters in this book represent the whole universe of hand-knit sweaters—from boxier, looser, swathe-you-in-luscious-fabric open cardigans (see this page), to casual, comfortable beach wear (see this page), to that colorwork sweater that made you want to be a knitter in the first place (see this page). And of course, we’ll cover the fitted, cabled pullover I’ve been helping people create and love for years (this page).

Most of the sweaters in this book are lower-stakes, fit-wise, than the classic tailored pullover—they’re a little looser, a little less glued to your shoulders, a little more relaxed. This means you can approach them with lower stakes and worry less while you’re knitting them than some other sweaters you’ve seen.

I’ve organized the book so that you can either work through it cover-to-cover, or skip around as garments call to you.

In chapters 1–3, I give you practical advice on the most important concepts in sweater knitting (and let you know what’s safe to ignore in most patterns), from the swatching stage to the finishing stage. Short exercises let you nail the core techniques in a low-stress, low-stakes way by encouraging you to “minify” and practice on swatches.

In chapters 4–9, I give you advice and sweater patterns grouped by the way their pieces come together, a.k.a. their construction styles. Are they worked all in one? With raglan shaping? A gorgeous yoke? Each chapter presents you with a set of garments that reflects the most wearable, fantastic aspects of that construction.

Further, each chapter includes a small “mini” project that lets you produce a successful sweater with all the relevant techniques from that section, but on a smaller scale. Sweaters for kids aren’t nearly as intimidating as sweaters for adults, so each chapter starts with a more approachable pattern sized from 1 to 10 years. These will help you to learn on more manageable garments, and build up your confidence in how a particular sweater comes together before starting one for yourself or a full-sized loved one.

It’s my hope that you’ll look through these pages and find a sweater (or five) that resonates with you, one that you’ve seen in the store and know you could improve upon if you made it yourself. Further, I hope that my guidance gives you the skills and confidence you need to actually cast on. Because truly, there’s no feeling like wearing a stunning sweater you’ve made with your own two hands.

It’s easier than you think—I can’t wait to see yours.





Got a sweater you’re dying to make? Awesome! You can knit that. But before you pick up the needles and go, there are some simple things you can do to set yourself up for success.


The Swatch

Bring up swatching in any group of knitters and you’ll probably get a variety of opinions, including several groans. But swatching doesn’t have to be an unpleasant chore!

For many knitters, the cycle of swatch unhappiness goes like this: First, we start by thinking of swatching as a checkbox to mark off before we get to the real knitting. Then, when we finish the swatch and realize we haven’t matched the pattern’s gauge on the first try, we get frustrated and give up on the swatch altogether. This makes our swatch knitting less predictive of what our gauge will be, so when we finally knit the sweater, it’s a different size than the swatch indicated it would be.

This cycle of frustration leads to the angry knitter’s battle cry: Lying swatches and the lies they tell!

But in reality, swatching isn’t just a checkbox to mark off before we get to the “real knitting.” Instead, swatching is our chance to work out any kinks with the project before we start knitting the final piece. It’s like a sewist’s muslin or an artist’s draft sketch.

One more mind-set shift before we get into the nitty-gritty of swatching well: Your swatch will never be wrong. Swatching is your practice time—you can test-drive the fabric of your piece with it, you can predict how large your stitches will be with it, and you can use it to decide whether or not you like either of those outcomes. But in the end, your swatch isn’t wrong, even if you hate it. Instead, you’re learning what you dislike on a small piece of fabric instead of waiting until you finish the entire piece!


One of the most important things your swatch can tell you is how large your stitches will be when you actually knit the project itself. The size of your stitches, in terms of their width and height, is called your gauge: The width of your stitches is your stitch gauge, and the height of your stitches is your row gauge. Gauge is often given as a (fractional) number of stitches and rows over 4" (10 cm).

You can’t make a successful sweater without knowing how big your stitches will be. A good, predictive gauge swatch will tell you.


Mark swatch to measure gauge


Measure a whole number of stitches and rows

I’m here to buck tradition and say that your goal isn’t to match the pattern’s gauge, necessarily, but instead to predict the gauge you’ll get when you sit down and knit your garment. (There are strategies for adapting to a different gauge than the pattern specifies, ranging from knitting the instructions for a larger or smaller size to drafting a whole new pattern. But no strategies in the world can help you if you can’t predict your gauge ahead of time!)

So how can you ensure your swatch is a faithful predictor? Really, it’s about keeping you from lying to yourself, intentionally or unintentionally.

Here’s my process for making a reliably predictive swatch:

Image CAST ON AT LEAST 35, BUT FEWER THAN 50, STITCHES. You want to have enough stitches on the needle that your hands settle into their routine, but not so many that each row fills you with dread.

Image WORK FOR AT LEAST 5" (12.5 CM). Your swatch needs to be long enough that your hands have the feeling and impression of a good amount of fabric hanging off the needles. Many knitters find their gauge is slightly different in that first inch or two than it is once they’ve gotten into a rhythm.

Image QUICK-MEASURE YOUR PRE-WASHED GAUGE (OPTIONAL). While your gauge shouldn’t change much simply because your swatch got wet (it’s the same amount of yarn, after all), some knitters like the security of measuring their fabric’s gauge at this point. It’s okay if you want to measure now, but just make sure to use your washed gauge for any actual calculations!

Image WASH YOUR SWATCH, AND LET IT DRY NATURALLY. No pinning here! Get your swatch nice and wet, squeeze the water out without handling the swatch too much, and let it dry without stretching or shaping it. This serves two purposes. First, you’ll get to see the nature of the final fabric: Did the wool bloom? How does the fabric feel? (More on that in the next section.) But second, and more important for this discussion, you’ll get to see what your gauge will be after you’ve washed the garment when you’re actually moving in it, rather than what you can force the gauge to be when it’s lying flat and pinned to a blocking board.

Image PLAY WITH YOUR SWATCH FOR A WHILE BEFORE MEASURING IT. Again, you’re trying to see what this garment’s fabric will be like as you use it in real life! So live with your swatch for a day or two. Put it in your pocket, carry it to your desk, and fiddle with it throughout the day. Reserve all judgment and rulers until you’ve lived with the fabric for a bit.

Once you have a swatch that’s been through a bit of real life, you’ve eliminated a number of the “lying to yourself” pitfalls.

Do you like the way your swatch fabric feels? Is it something you want to make into a sweater? If so, now you’re ready to measure your gauge. To measure accurately and reduce the chance of “hopeful” gauge numbers, I recommend the following:

Image MARK THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF STITCHES YOU THINK ARE “GOOD DATA” FOR PREDICTING YOUR GAUGE. This probably means you’re not marking off the few edge stitches on each side.

I like to block this section off with a contrasting color of yarn for easier measuring. Mark nearer the top of the piece, since it’s more likely that you’ve settled into your knitting groove by the time you’re near the end. See this photo for an example.

Image MEASURE THE PRECISE WIDTH OF THOSE STITCHES WITH A RULER. This way, instead of estimating a fraction of a stitch (e.g., 22.25 stitches in 4" [10 cm]), which is difficult and prone to result in errors even for very experienced knitters, you’re letting the ruler tell you exactly how many fractions of an inch your stitches measure. You’ll wind up with a number that’s something like 32 stitches in 7.5 inches.

Image DO THE SAME FOR ROWS. In this case, you might not want to count the rows closest to your cast-on edge. A more typical set of measurements for rows might be 18 rows in 2.875 inches.

Image NOW, DIVIDE TO GET YOUR PER-INCH STITCH AND ROW GAUGES. Continuing with these examples, our stitch gauge is 32 stitches/7.5 inches=4.27 stitches per inch, and our row gauge is 18 rows/2.875 inches=6.55 rows per inch.

Now, these numbers aren’t likely to match what’s written in your pattern exactly! That’s okay—it’s much more important to know what your gauge will be than to match the pattern entirely.

First, see exactly how far off you are: Divide the stitch counts in the size you’d typically choose by your true per-inch stitch gauge. This will tell you how far off the pattern’s measurements will be if you take no further steps. If the measurements are too far off, you can do the same calculation for the next size up (if your stitches are smaller than the pattern’s gauge) or the next size down (if your stitches are larger). It’s pretty likely that simply knitting the instructions for a different size will give you a garment that works!

Hand-Knitted Fabric

If you follow my swatch checklist, it will not only give you the best prediction possible of the size of your stitches, but it will give you a gauge swatch that is large enough for you to get a great sense of the fabric you’re creating. This is really important, since it will help you decide whether the fabric you’re getting is a good one for your project!


Different hand-knitted items make different demands of their fabric as being on a continuum from easy (i.e., no demands) to difficult (i.e., that fabric has a tough life ahead of it!).

At the easy end of the scale, we have scarves and shawls. They make literally no demands on their fabric at all—they just have to rest around your neck and shoulders, supported by your body. There’s no abrasion, no gravity, no structural requirements. In fact, scarves and shawls tend to be most pleasing when their fabric is very unstructured, because loose fabric is easily squished fabric!

At the difficult end of the scale, we have socks. Socks have a tough life. They take a long time to knit, so you want them to last. But they’re constantly being rubbed and moved around inside shoes and under our feet, leading to tons of abrasion. They require a fabric that’s iron-tight to last well.

Sweaters are somewhere in the middle. They need to deal well with both abrasion (especially under the armpits) and some gravity (assuming the garment is the proper size for you, your body won’t be filling it out completely everywhere). So your sweater fabric needs to be much stronger and harder-wearing than your average shawl.

On the other hand, your sweater fabric can’t be so tight that it won’t stretch easily as you move. So some flexibility is required, and the typical sock fabric is tighter than what will work well in a sweater.

How do you tell whether your sweater fabric will wear well? I have three tests for you: one that will test your gauge given the yarn you’ve chosen, one that will test your fabric’s spring and elasticity, and one that will test your fabric’s structure.

Image THE POKE TEST. To see whether you’re knitting at a tight enough gauge for the yarn you’ve selected, try to poke a bit of your pinky finger or nail all the way through the spaces between the stitches. Unless you’re working with yarn that’s at Aran weight or larger, you shouldn’t be able to do so—you should see a nice tight mesh instead. If you can poke your finger (or part of it) through, go down a needle size and swatch again.

Image THE SPRING TEST. To see whether your fabric will be able to keep its shape as you wear it, test how well your fabric springs back when stretched. (Note: You should get a nicely springy fabric even out of completely inelastic yarn!) Place your swatch, WS up, on a flat smooth surface like a table. The fabric should be able to move around freely. Making a triangle with your fingers and thumb, press down and stretch your fingers and thumb apart. First, note whether your fabric stretches easily. If it doesn’t, go up a needle size and try again. Now, let go. Your stitches should spring back together instantly. Your swatch may even move! If the stitches are sluggish about returning to form, your fabric is too loose and you need to go down a needle size.

Image THE STRUCTURE TEST. Now you need to tell how well each stitch keeps its neighbors in line. Unlike the previous two tests, a fail on this test isn’t necessarily a deal breaker! Instead, this test teaches you about the way your fabric will act when you’ve got a lot of it. The goal of the test is to see how movement in one part of the fabric affects the rest.


FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: Wool/silk and wool/alpaca held together; 60% wool/30% alpaca/10% angora; 70% alpaca/30% wool; Acrylic/wool/nylon; 100% wool; 50% wool/50% alpaca; 50% wool/50% alpaca

Again placing your swatch on a very smooth surface with the WS up, take both index fingers and press down firmly toward one corner of the swatch. Making little half-circles or figure-eights with your fingers while pressing down firmly, see how much of the swatch you can move by shifting your one corner.

If you can move most (or all!) of the fabric of the swatch as you move your fingers, your fabric is structural and can handle a tougher job (for example, an open cardigan with cables). If moving one portion of the swatch doesn’t cause the rest to move (hint: this will be true of the drapiest fibers), that’s a sign that you’ll need to strongly support your fabric with a sturdy silhouette—one with seams around the shoulders and arms.

If you’re having trouble getting a fabric that will wear well even after trying a different needle size, consider whether your yarn choice is the issue. Some yarns are harder to work into a sweater fabric than others! The most knitter-friendly sweater yarns:

FEEL SLIGHTLY ELASTIC IN THE HANDS AND ARE EASY TO TENSION. The single most challenging thing about knitting a sweater, for many knitters, is keeping a consistent tension through the entire garment. This is much easier if your chosen yarn has good elasticity, and feels pleasant and smooth running through your fingers.

ARE DURABLE AND ABRASION RESISTANT. Some yarns are so delicate that they pill, snag, or otherwise get damaged just during the swatching process! Be on the lookout for these warning signs—they may mean that your yarn isn’t really a great match for sweaters.

REQUIRE LITTLE IN THE WAY OF SPECIAL HANDLING WHEN WET. Some yarns, 100% superwash wools in particular, can get unwieldy and require careful handling when wet to keep from distorting or growing. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but if your fabric seems fine before you get it wet and things go wrong when you’re washing your swatch, consider using a different yarn for your first few sweaters.

ARE SOMETHING YOU LIKE! Finally, the best sweater yarn in the world is the wrong choice for you if you find it unpleasant to use, or dislike the fabric it makes. Life is too short to work with yarn we don’t like, so be honest with yourself!


FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: 100% silk; Linen/rayon blend; 100% cotton; 100% linen; Cotton/silk; Wool/alpaca/silk blend


Have a fabric that will stand up well to the rigors of sweater wearing? Great! Now there’s just one more set of things to consider before beginning your garment: how the fabric looks and feels, and whether the fabric matches your design.

Most of the words we use to describe our fabric’s look and feel—words like drape, stitch definition, heft, fluidity—come from the yarn’s fiber content instead of its gauge. Different fibers bring different properties to the fabric party, regardless of the gauge at which they’re knit. The cheat sheet below, and photographic examples on this page and this page, will help you figure out the right fibers for your project.

WOOL is a gloriously forgiving fiber for the knitter, as it is smooth, relatively light, and has great elasticity and memory. This means that your sweater will keep its shape well when worn, because after your movements have stretched the fabric, the stitches will go back to the place they started. This is great news if you’d like your sweater to keep its shape when worn. Wool also traps body heat well, and is very warm to wear.

ALPACA is a dense, warm, drapey fiber that tends to be a bit more slippery than wool. Its combination of weight and drape produces a beautiful Stockinette fabric, but pure alpaca is a tough choice for a design with cabling or that’s loosely knit, as the fabric may droop and stretch out of place. This droop and stretch won’t correct itself, as alpaca is not an elastic fiber.

SILK is one of the most gloriously drapey, fluid fibers around. It’s also incredibly strong and has a nice luster. It isn’t very elastic compared with wool, though it does keep its shape a bit better than rayon or linen if worked snugly.

COTTON is on the heavy side. It is the absolute opposite of elastic, but it is incredibly durable and soft. Cotton wicks moisture away from the body and releases it quickly by evaporation, so it makes a great choice for warmer-weather garments.

LINEN is another inelastic, moisture-wicking, incredibly durable fiber. When compared with cotton, linen offers more drape and a more fluid feel to the fabric. Linen fabric feels better the more it’s worn.

RAYON, or viscose, came to be when manufacturers were looking for a way to re-create silk with synthetic materials. It offers a beautiful color, a smooth feel, and absolutely no elasticity. It’s also quite slippery, so a 100% rayon yarn would have to be knit very tightly to stay in shape on your body—it works much better as a blend.

NYLON is primarily a “helper” fiber in hand-knitting, used to add strength and durability to other yarns, and as structural components in some more unusual yarn constructions. (For example, it could form a binding core for hairy brushed yarns, or a casing for yarns where loose bits of fiber are blown into a tube.) You’ll typically find nylon as part of a blend with another material.

ACRYLIC is often either blended with a natural fiber or used on its own, when ease-of-care is the foremost concern. It’s relatively grippy, offers good stitch definition, and has a fairly smooth look. Acrylic, like nylon, also adds strength and memory to your fabric—in fact, acrylic has so much memory that blocking won’t change this fiber at all! Your fabric after washing will look and feel exactly like your fabric before washing.

If this all sounds like a lot to keep track of, don’t worry! Just remember that most yarns want to be knit at a fairly firm gauge for sweater knitting, and if there’s one fabric quality or another at the top of your wish list for a certain design, you can achieve that quality by selecting yarns of the right fiber.

If several of the qualities listed above are what you’re after, the yarn world has you covered! Many yarns on the market as of this writing are blends of more than one fiber. So if you want the luster and drape of silk, and the elasticity and warmth of wool, choose one of the many wool-silk blends out there. If you’re hankering for the smooth, soft feel of cotton but want some elasticity, too, a cotton-wool blend might be what you’re after. For a summer-weight sweater with more drape and sheen, a linen-rayon blend might be just the ticket.

For more information on yarns and fibers, I cannot recommend Clara Parkes’s Knitter’s Guide to Yarn and Knitter’s Guide to Wool highly enough. They’re excellent resources, fun to read, and belong on every knitter’s shelf.


If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can stop here! Once you have a structured fabric that makes you happy, knit a great (plain) sweater and come back to this section later.

But, as you move beyond basic sweaters, you’ll probably want to add, change up, or otherwise play around with stitch patterning in your sweaters. And when you do, you’ll need to think about how your chosen stitch pattern and chosen fabric get along.

Generally, sweaters work best when there’s only one “star,” so if the yarn is busy, the stitch pattern should take a seat, and vice versa. It’s a good idea to make a small swatch of your stitch pattern before beginning to make sure the pattern and your yarn get along. (But you knew that, right?)

In addition to “Do I like it?” there are three important things to consider:

Image STITCH DEFINITION refers to how crisply and quickly you can identify the outline of a particular stitch. A smooth 100% silk would offer high stitch definition; a fuzzy woolen-spun tweed yarn offers almost none. Generally speaking, the stronger the stitch definition, the more polished and refined the fabric will look. The fuzzier the stitch definition, the more rustic your garment will feel.

Image PATTERNING VISIBILITY is related to stitch definition, but isn’t quite the same. If you’re adding a stitch pattern to part (or all) of a sweater, how clearly can that patterning be seen? Several things can affect this visibility, including stitch definition and the inherent busyness of the yarn itself. Things like blooms, halo, tweedy textures, and color changes can all obscure stitch patterning.

Image COLOR is the last thing to consider when matching a fabric to a design. Is the color solid, semisolid, or variegated? If it’s semisolid or variegated, you’re likely to be happier pairing the yarn with simpler designs and simple or small-scale texture stitch patterns. Consider how the yarn looks knit up into fabric, rather than just in the hank, before making a firm decision on a yarn/design pairing. Finally, if the yarn is hand-painted, be sure to alternate hanks every two rows as you knit to keep the pooling and color differences between skeins to a minimum!


DEFINITION, COLOR, AND VISIBILITY (clockwise from top left): The nubby cotton/silk tweed “fuzzes up” the Shoreside Vest; variegation obscures the Speedster Raglan stitch pattern; super-crisp stitches let the cables of the Horseshoe Pullover shine.

Anatomy of a Knitting Pattern

If you have a fabric you like, a design you love, and confidence in your gauge, you’re ready to roll. Before you cast on, here’s a brief primer on the knitting pattern itself—what information it contains, how that information can help you, and what parts of the pattern you should feel free to improvise.


Each knitting pattern contains three separate kinds of information for you: what I like to think of as a summary, the instructions themselves, and then visuals to help you keep the 10,000-foot view of what you’re doing in your head.

Image PATTERN SUMMARY. This is everything you need to know at a glance—what sizes the pattern comes in (hopefully listed by finished bust or chest circumference), the exact yarn that was used in the sample, the materials you’ll need to have on hand to make the project, and the gauge the numbers are based on.

Use it for: Selecting a size, preparing your notions, getting a starting point for your needle size, understanding how the combination of fibers, yarn, and gauge produced the sweater you see in the picture.

Feel free to change: Needles! You should definitely use whatever needles you need to come close to the listed gauge. Also feel free to substitute yarn, keeping in mind that you’ll need to stay as close to the listed yarn as possible (in terms of weight, yarn construction, and fiber composition) to get a similar result.

Image ACTUAL INSTRUCTIONS. These instructions form the core of the pattern. They tell you exactly what to do with your needles step by step. It’s always a good idea to start by scanning the pattern closely—it will help you build a picture in your mind of the process of knitting the sweater. It will also help you identify those necessary-but-irritating at-the-same-time instructions before you reach them!

Use it for: Knitting! These instructions specify the bulk of your actual knitting.

Feel free to change: The numbers, to match your body’s specific needs. All hand-knitting patterns are crafted to a standardized set of measurements—in my first two books, I affectionately call the woman represented by these measurements “Ms. Average.” Since your measurements are likely to differ from Ms. Average’s in some respect, you should feel encouraged to alter the instructions so that your sweater will be perfect for you! We’ll cover more on how to do this in chapter 2 (this page).

Image VISUALS. These portions of the pattern—the pattern’s schematic and charted stitch pattern instructions—give you important visual cues about your knitting. The pattern’s schematic (see this page) is a gold mine of helpful stuff. It tells you what the pieces of knitting should look like as they come off your needles, and provides you with detailed information about exactly how big they should be in every dimension.

Use them for: Getting a great visual sense of how your stitch pattern looks, in overview form, and of how your knitted pieces should look when you’re finished blocking.

Feel free to change: The schematic in particular will give you the information you need to change the pattern’s numbers to suit your own body.



1 9¾ (9¾, 10, 10¾, 11, 11¾, 12, 12, 12¾, 12¾, 13, 13)" [25 (25, 25.5, 27.5, 28, 30, 30.5, 30.5, 32.5, 32.5, 33, 33) cm]

2 4¾ (5¼, 5½, 5¾, 6, 6¼, 6½, 7, 7¼, 7¾, 8½, 9½)" [12 (13.5, 14, 14.5, 15, 16, 16.5, 18, 18.5, 19.5, 21.5, 24) cm]

3 6 (6½, 7, 7½, 8, 8½, 9, 9½, 10, 10½, 11, 11)" [15 (16.5, 18, 19, 20.5, 21.5, 23, 24, 25.5, 26.5, 28, 28) cm]

4 1½"/[4 cm]

5 ½"/[1.5 cm]

6 23½ (23¾, 24, 24½, 25, 25½, 26, 26½, 27, 27½, 28, 28)" [59.5 (60.5, 61, 62, 63.5, 65, 66, 67.5, 68.5, 70, 71, 71) cm]

7 19 (20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32)" [48.5 (51, 53.5, 56, 58.5, 61, 63.5, 66, 68.5, 71, 76, 81.5) cm]

8 24 (24¼, 24½, 25, 25½, 26, 26½, 27, 27½, 28, 28½, 28½)" [61 (61.5, 62, 63.5, 65, 66, 67.5, 68.5, 70, 71, 72.5, 72.5) cm]

9 7¾ (8, 8½, 9, 9½, 10, 10½, 11, 11½, 11½, 11½, 11½)" [19.5 (20.5, 21.5, 23, 24, 25.5, 26.5, 28, 29, 29, 29, 29) cm]



10 12 (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 22)" [30.5 (33, 35.5, 38, 40.5, 43, 45.5, 48.5, 51, 53.5, 56, 56) cm]

11 15½ (15½, 15½, 16, 16, 16, 16½, 16½, 16½, 16½, 17, 17)" [39.5 (39.5, 39.5, 40.5, 40.5, 40.5, 42, 42, 42, 42, 43, 43) cm]

12 8¼ (8¼, 9, 9, 9, 9¼, 9¼, 9¾, 10¼, 10¾, 11, 12)" [21 (21, 23, 23, 23, 23.5, 23.5, 25, 26, 27.5, 28, 30.5) cm]


All the measurements given with the schematic represent the actual dimensions of the knitted pieces after blocking but before any seaming.

The flat top to the sleeve at the top right, along with notched arms on the body pieces, mean this schematic is for a drop-shoulder sweater, like the ones in chapter 6.

You can check the shoulder fit of the size you’ve selected by adding the neck and shoulder widths together (1) + (2) + (2), and comparing that with your, or your recipient’s, shoulders.

Charts (see this page) tell you, in visual form, exactly how to work the stitch pattern in your garment. They’re more helpful (in my opinion) than line-by-line written instructions, because they give you a sense of how the whole stitch pattern comes together. And with the advent of smart phones and tablets, apps that keep track of your place in the chart help make them easy to use, too!


Difficulty Levels

To give you a sense of what you’re getting into with each project, I’ve created a set of sweater-specific difficulty levels and ranked each pattern in this book according to them. There are a few different sources of challenge when knitting a sweater: the number of stitches, the amount of stitch patterning, how many different pieces you have to create, and how intense the finishing is (trims, edgings, and button bands). Each project in the book is given a ranking from 1–5 ball(s) of yarn:

Difficulty 1: These projects rank “easy” in each of the challenge areas. They feature minimal finishing, are small-size or large-gauge, and use minimal stitch patterning.

Difficulty 2: These projects are still pretty simple overall, but may have one slightly more intense challenge area.

Difficulty 3: These projects have one challenge area that is as complicated as it gets, or multiple challenge areas might be of medium intensity.

Difficulty 4: Nothing could be called “easy” about these projects, though the dial isn’t turned to 11 on all of them.

Difficulty 5: These projects are the pinnacle of sweater knitting. They’ll have complicated stitch patterning, “at-the-same-time” instructions and shaping, and intricate or interesting finishing.

Mini Exercises

Your success as a sweater knitter increases like crazy the more intuition you build into your hands . . . but nobody wants to knit dozens of sweaters to get that intuition!

The answer? Use swatches and mini projects to help your intuition grow with the fewest number of stitches possible. Each chapter in this book will include mini exercises to help you get used to sweater knitting.

In these first three chapters, the minis will be shown as exercises that focus on swatching for a specific purpose. Once we get into the patterns, each type of garment will be offered as a children’s-sized smaller package, so that you can get all the techniques and idiosyncrasies worked out before you tackle a garment at full adult size.

This chapter’s mini exercises (see this page) are all about fabric.