How to Knit a Sweater That Fits You (The First Time)

Learn how to knit a sweater that fits, such as this knitted sweater from Knitscene, Fall 2011.

Knitted sweater from Knitscene, Fall 2011

Sweater knitting patterns hold a certain allure to most knitters. The idea of learning how to knit a sweater made by your own hands on chilly evenings sends many of us to our yarn stash to find the perfect yarn in the perfect quantity (finding the perfect pattern is either the easiest thing in the world or a giant chore, and there really doesn’t seem to be anything in between).

The possibility of an ill-fitting sweater, on the other hand, is daunting, frightening and downright terrifying. But I’m here to tell you that you can knit sweater patterns that fit perfectly. The key to learning how to knit a sweater that fit is having all the information you need.

But I’m here to tell you that you can learn how to knit a sweater that fits perfectly. The key to sweaters that fit is having all the information you need. Here are some tips on how to knit a sweater that fits you.

How to Knit a Sweater that Fits You:

  1. Know thyself. If you like wearing sweaters that are loose all over or prefer to emphasize a smaller waist, choose knitting patterns for sweaters that meet those criteria. Not sure about your personal sweater style? Pull out existing sweaters you own that you love and find common factors in those sweaters. Maybe you’ll discover that you’re a fan of easy raglan sweaters. Maybe you prefer more textured and tailored silhouettes like those in Connie Chang Chinchio’s Textured Stitches. Once you know what you like to wear, you’ll set yourself up for success by choosing patterns that you will find interesting to knit and are sweaters you’ll want to wear.
  2. Brush up on knitted sweater construction. The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns and The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweater Patterns, both by Ann Budd, are exceptional resources for breaking down and understanding the way a bunch of knit and purl stitches form the fabrics that turn into knitted sweaters.
  3. Measure everything. Too often we get caught up on the bust measurement when that’s just one part of our bodies that will be covered with a knitted sweater. Sweater knitting patterns aren’t always the most helpful because that’s really the only size listed in most patterns. However, almost all knit sweater patterns will also come with a schematic. Match your measurements to all of the measurements listed for that sweater so you’ll know where to make adjustments. A great way to test your measurements is to compare a similar sweater that you already own to your knit pattern. This will also help you gauge the amount of ease that you prefer in your knit garments.
  4. Choose and prepare the correct yarn. A great sweater pattern can be ruined by the wrong type of yarn. You should choose yarn that is appropriate for the pattern and sturdy. A lot of work goes into knitting your own sweater. Don’t let all that work go to waste by using a yarn that will fall apart after a few washes. Create a swatch with your chosen yarn and measure it to find the knitted gauge. After you’ve found the knitted gauge, block your swatch and measure the gauge again. This will help you find your blocked gauge. These steps are essential to knitting a sweater that fits you properly.
  5. Read up on how to create those adjustments, such as bust darts or a reconfigured sleeve cap. For resources on how to customize your knits, watch Laura Bryant’s Yarn to Fit DVD and read Amy Herzog’s article on Customizing Knit Sweaters from Knitscene Fall 2011 (Amy also has three amazing patterns for knitted sweaters designed with specific body shapes in mind in that issue!).
  6. Make any alterations you need and get started knitting. Always remember to check your knitted gauge along the way to ensure that your sweater will end up being the right size.
  7. Most importantly, expect that you’ll make a mistake along the way. Most knitting mistakes are easy to fix; don’t let a small error keep you from the joy of your perfect knit sweater. If you do make a mistake, rip it out and start over again. It will be worth it when you avoid getting to the end of your sweater and realizing that you have to start from scratch.

If you’re looking for your first sweater knitting pattern, look for easier patterns for practice — we have five great, easy sweater patterns in our special issue of Knitscene Easy. If you’re a knitter who hates sewing pieces together, seamless sweaters such as those in Finish-Free Knits might be your thing.

There are knitting patterns for sweaters out there for everyone — go forth, find yours and knit away!