Sweater Knitting: Easy Patterns for First Time Sweater Knitters

Sweater Knitting: What I Have Learned Series

I have been asked a lot about offering suggestions on first sweaters to attempt, so I thought I’d bring back my Sweater Knitting: What I Have Learned series to help with that! I’ve picked these patterns because I’ve knit them before, I think the instructions are clear and easy to understand and you can use a range of yarns in varying price points to get a gorgeous sweater. And another note about yarn: buy what you can afford. Don’t feel pressure to use a specific brand or type, buy what you can afford and what you like. I’ve made sweaters out of acrylic brand and out of some insanely expensive yarn too. I love them all. Alright, now on to my suggestions.

A Clean and Simple Sweater

Image via Ravelry

I think a top down raglan is the best way to start with sweater knitting, because once you separate for the sleeves, you can try it on to see if it fits! Jane Richmond’s Ladies Classic Raglan Pullover is easy to follow and is knit in worsted weight yarn so it will work up pretty quickly. I knit this sweater for my cousin in a lovely pale pink Patons Classic Worsted Wool that was suggested in the pattern, I picked it up on sale at Joann’s.

A Quick Tee

It’s officially spring, so why not think about a knit you can make and wear through the summer? How about the Six Point Tee. I’ve made this tee twice (version 1 and version 2) and have been thinking about another for this summer (if you’re interested in knitting this together, let me know!). It’s a bulky weight knit with minimal finishing, perfect for a newbie that just wants to get the hang of construction without worrying about sleeve island.

A First Cardigan

And if you’re not one for pullovers, think about making the Shapely Boyfriend Cardigan. I made a colorblocked version with a lighter weight yarn but this is a worsted weight pattern that has fairly simple construction and will introduce you to picking up stitches and making a button band – they sound more intimidating than you think. I love the simple shape of this one and see myself making another one for the fall.

These are three starter projects that I’ve made and would recommend for ease of use. PLUS because I’ve made them I can answer questions if you have them along the way! Has anyone else made any of these? Or have any other patterns you think are great for a first time sweater knitter? Share in the comments.

31 Replies to “Sweater Knitting: Easy Patterns for First Time Sweater Knitters”

  1. Right on time! Thank you! I am almost done with a baby sweater (raglan) which I making along with a tutorial, and I am getting the hang of it. I think I might try that first sweater next. I have been afraid until now because that is a lot of yarn and hours for someone at my skill level!! Have a wonderful Friday!

    1. If possible, would you please share links to the baby sweater pattern and tutorial? Thanks so much!

    2. Thank you! My first sweater will be the next major project undertaking, and I LOVE the short sleeved shirt you suggested. You are so talented, and I appreciate you sharing your lessons learned!

  2. Oops! I may not be able to contact others through this. Yards of Happiness, just want you to know how much I enjoy everything you post. Such a joy to see you and your projects. You truly create yards of happiness!!

  3. Your posts are so helpful and inspirational! I am planning to knit a sweater soon and it’s great to have ideas of good starter patterns.

  4. Can you please tell me the name of the pattern for the green sweater at the heading of this post? That green color just jumped out at me. Your sweaters are all so gorgeous!

  5. I love the idea of the tee but I can’t imagine wearing a bulky yarn in the summer. I may look for something similar in a lighter weight

    1. It knit both of mind in bulky weight cotton blends, so they’re totally perfect for summer.

  6. “I think a top down raglan is the best way to start with sweater knitting” – YES! I was thinking the same thing before I even began reading your wonderful post! My first sweater was the Birkin and I LOVE using that as a sweater template! Also, thank you for mentioning the t-shirt project. I am in if you start a KAL! I was looking at the pattern page and my arms will need more sleeve though! 🙂

  7. Thanks, Dana, these look great!(and perfect timing!) I would be interested in a Knit Together for the Quick Tee.

    Btw, belated grats on your acceptance to a PhD program! (which one, if you don’t mind me asking?) Just started one myself this year…

    1. I’m going into the Communications, Culture and Media studies program at Howard. What about you?

      1. I’m in Rhetoric and Writing at George Mason (part time). I actually used to work with Mason’s Communication dept. as a subject librarian. It seemed to me that there were a lot of overlaps in areas of interest between Communication and Rhetoric/Writing, although we often approach things from different angles.

        Anyway, sounds very cool (and enjoy that last for a while free summer 😎

  8. I am knitting the Jane Vest now. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry, https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/joans-vest. It is a nice Aran weight vest with a hip shape and is knit in pieces. Some beginner knitters are mystified by knitting in the round and by circular needles in general. I personally messed up the first top down raglan I ever tried because I made the armholes so short you couldn’t wear it comfortably, and I wonder how many other tyro knitters have made the same error, one you don’t discover until you are finished and very upsetting. The Jane vest would also be a good one for beginning seam sewers as there are only two of them. Sewing is not a thrill but not as hard as people think. Most of my sweaters are knit in the round but there is a place for a sweater knit in pieces. They go so quickly you can hardly believe it.

    I have also heard that a baby or doll sweater is the way to go, seems likely. It would be a good practice piece and you would thrill a little girl who loves her doll. I don’t have any patterns for them, unfortunately.

    Thank you so much for your blog. I enjoy reading your posts so much, I read them as I am eating my breakfast and your sunny, color loving attitude just cheered me right up on this rainy Friday with loud traffic scaring my dogs while I was walking them.

  9. Thank you, this is so helpful! I would love a Six Point Tee KAL as well as yarn suggestions! Was thinking this would be a great sweater to make for summer. Really enjoy your blog, such a positive place!

  10. What great suggestions. I’d also add Flax by Tin Can Knits. Their patterns are very straightforward and come on many, many sizes.

    1. I was just about to suggest The Simple Collection by Tin Can Knits. I love the flax sweaters in particular because they have clear diagrams and really walk you through making your first sweater.

  11. Thank you for this post! It was exactly what I was hoping for after your post about the difficult patterns.

  12. I’d also put the Flax sweater by Tin Can Knits on the good beginning sweater–it would be really nice to knit in a small-human size before jumping into a big-human size!

  13. I would love to do a Six-Point KAL! Suggestions on yarn and some nudging to do a swatch and understand how to read it would be helpful as well, says the never-swatcher-just-gets-a-surprise knitter.

    As for other easy sweaters, I knitted a Shalom cardigan within my first year of learning how to knit and it went decently well although it could have been a bit larger (again with the swatching, LOL).https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/shalom-cardigan

  14. Dana, both TIN CAN KNITS & KNITPICKS have very simple knits. TCK has a beginners set of several sweaters in sizes for the whole family. KP has the best free patterns for both a crew neck and a modest V neck. All above in raglan styles.

  15. I think knitting something you want to own/wear is important — because you have incentive to persevere and finish. If a sweater or garment has just one or two new things, it’s a great choice. Also, I think wool is more forgiving than cotton or even acrylic, as far as blocking out well (what I mean by this is when you’re done, you soak your garment, spin or roll it in a towel, and lay it out to dry — miracles happen). Choose a smooth plain yarn, nothing too fuzzy or delicate, so if you *do* have to redo something, it will be easier.

  16. Great advice. I’ll share this with a friend who wants to start knitting a sweater.
    That color-block cardigan is beautiful.

  17. That Six Point Tee looks great! I would definitely like to knit that:)

  18. I’ve used Clare Lee’s “Brick” pattern https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/brick-2 three times now, and recommend it for a beginner’s sweater — or as the basis for an experienced knitter’s improvisation. I that the pattern offers shaped and straight versions for both body and sleeves, and that the size range goes from XS to 3X.

    Anytime you want to do another KAL, I’m in! Oh, and I love the new blog style. So fresh and well designed. I’ve been away for a few days, and just discovered the new look.

  19. Well Dana I started knitting about three years ago but have only knit cowls, scarves and dishrags. I’ve thought about knitting a sweater but never have gotten the nerve but after reading your post I’m taking the plunge and I’m going to knit one. I took your suggestion and will be attempting to knit the 6 point tee! Thank you for inspiring me!

  20. Belated thanks for your tools list! (I was thrilled to find the Addies on sale!) 🤗
    For A first cardigan check out Green Mountain Spinnery: Maureen’s cardigan. Have made three of them.

  21. My first cardigan was the Drift cardigan by Berroco/Nora Gaughan. It was not easy to do but when I was finished, my sense of accomplishment was huge! I have since made 3 of this cardigan and I am working on one for myself. For my cardigan, I am using Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca yarn in Cobalt blue mix. I had to go down a needle size to make gauge, whereas when I made the other 3 cardigans, I used the yarn called for in the pattern, which was Berroco Vintage yarn. I love Berroco’s yarn. I have quite a bit of this brand in my stash. Once I finish this cardigan, I will attempt the Central Park Hoodie by Interweave Press using Cascade 220 Tweed in purple. I tend to knit more difficult patterns because they stretch my knitting knowledge and once I learn certain stitches I know them, right?

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