5 Keys To A Great Knitted Sweater

Note from Sandi:  We all have the experience of seeing a sweater in a magazine and saying, "WOW!" But what separates the fabulous sweaters from the ordinary? Here's popular knitwear designer and author Vicki Square to give us her thoughts on what makes a truly knockout knitted sweater.



Hello all! I know you are all knitting whenever and wherever you get the chance. I have a cartoon saved that pictures a woman in her stuffed chair knitting an afghan that covers her legs completely. She’s wearing a cardigan, hat, and fingerless gloves, the pot of tea with knitted cozy on the end table, the knitted landscape framed on the wall, and a fully knitted suit on the husband standing there inquiring if she’s going to quit any time soon. Well, no way! We will not quit knitting, but we can knit things of great design. After all, not everyone needs a full sized car cover!

My top five keys for great garment design in knitting starts with the finished garment. My number one is that it has to be aesthetically strong and balanced. Whether serious or whimsical, traditional or contemporary, or art-to-wear, a high quality presentation is the goal. Balance in shape, proportion, color, texture, and detail achieve this.

Second, the marriage of yarn to garment has to be a desirable match. Let the garment sing its own praises, not apologize for what it is not. If, for example, a fluid knit with a lot of movement is the goal, a bulky wool knitted in a compact gauge won’t hit that target, but a bamboo or rayon yarn will.

Third, choose a stitch to showcase the yarn. This seems like a no-brainer, but this will require some experimentation. Sometimes a yarn is unpredictable in its character, and a gauge panel must be knit with several textural considerations before the best option can be defined. Always keep an open mind; sometimes simple, like stockinette stitch, is best. Complicated does not always translate into exquisite.

Fourth, great garment design absolutely must be well grounded in knowledge of garment construction, proportion, and knitting techniques to get there. Knowing how to make the right shape for a sleeve cap that is to be set into a shaped armhole, for example, can make the finished result look professional . . . or not. All the interesting knitting techniques you can possibly put into one design will be overlooked if the construction is poor.

Fifth, choose one feature as a primary focus, with all other design elements enhancing this feature, not detracting from it. If fabulous color work is the focus, then avoid cluttering the design with too involved shaping that obscures the beauty of the knitted fabric.

And, did I say it had to be aesthetically pleasing? Just because a thing can be knit, it does not follow that it must be knit . . . First, last, and all the way through, the goal for finished result is an aesthetically strong and fine presentation.

— Vicki


Don't have a copy of the Knitter's Companion, Vicki's compendium of everything-a-knitter-needs-to-know? Want to try your hand at one of Vicki's gorgeous knitted kimonos? Check out all the great books by Vicki either at your local yarn shop or buy them in our online store.



Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? Two babies are coming into my larger family this summer–time to knit some baby things…


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