top of page

Picking your first sweater pattern

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

A friend of mine recently cast on her first sweater for herself. She wanted to make sure that, as an advanced beginner (she’s been knitting for just over a year, tackling progressively more difficult accessories and children’s garments), she was going to end up with a sweater that she loved knitting, loved wearing, and was worth the investment of yarn and time.

There’s a bit of an art to finding the perfect pattern, and with so many available, it can be difficult to find one you have faith in! Today I’m sharing with you some of my advice for choosing a first sweater pattern.

Jen wearing a brightly speckled bobble sweater, with approximately 3" of ease and hitting at the natural waist.
Turns out... I don't like to wear this style.

What kind of sweaters do you like to wear?

Look in your closet - do you have mostly cardigans or pullovers? Heavy outerwear sweaters, or light drapey tunics? Fitted raglans or oversized drop shoulders? Choosing a sweater that has a fit and construction that you know you like to wear is the first step to creating a sweater you reach for time and time again.

Fabric selection

Choose a yarn that’s appropriate for the sweater style you’ve selected, matches your availability for maintenance and care, and is one that you (and your skin!) really love.

A heavy sweater for layering over flannels and hiking will do great with a handwash worsted weight wool, whereas a drapey cardigan might look best in fingering weight with a little bit of alpaca or synthetic in it.

If you have sensitive skin, choose cotton or synthetic fibers, or choose a garment that will be entirely layered over other clothes. If you know you won’t regularly handwash sweaters, pick something machine washable or that doesn’t need washing frequently (like outerwear).

Knowing intuitively which yarns will work well for which kinds of sweaters will come with time. For beginners, a good way to get started is to look at some patterns and see what they recommend, and then note the properties of that yarn, and look for a similar yarn. If you don’t stray too far from the recommended yarn weight, content, and care you’re likely to get a good result.