If you are new to knitting it can seem a daunting task to knit your first larger project, for example a sweater. But don’t panic – there are plenty of very easy and beginner-friendly knitting designs for easy sweaters, and plenty of tips and how-to videos that can guide you through. Here we give you our very best tips for how to get through the process of knitting your first sweater.
We assume that if you feel ready to knit a sweater, you are able to master the 3 fundamental knitting techniques; casting on, knitting and purl stitches. If not, we recommend you start with something smaller, fx a dish cloth, a beanie or a scarf, to practice these techniques. You can watch how-to videos on the 3 techniques here (video sound is currently in Danish, English videos to come soon):
7 tips to consider before you start knitting your first sweater
Tip 1) Patience is key when you embark on your first sweater
Maybe you never thought about how long it takes to make a sweater. We can easily go to H&M and buy a knitted sweater for 40-50 dollars. But if you are going to produce your next woollen love yourself, just note that it can easily take 20-30 hours for a practiced knitter in pure knitting time. And for many other good knitters, it can take months. So have patience and move on to tip no 2, as this will get you through your project quicker
2) Needle size is key – the bigger needles, the better
Knitting on large needles is great for beginners, as it takes much less time to finish your project – and that itself is a motivation for most people.
We recommend that you knit on needle 5 or bigger for your first project, and this is why our entire Easy Peasy starter collection is knitted on needle 5 or bigger.
The Chunky Easy Peasy sweater is a good example on a sweater that is knitted fast as it is knitted on needle no 7.
3) Find the right beginner-friendly sweater to knit
Beginner patterns are patterns without abbreviations and with video references, so you can always check up on a technique as you get to it in the pattern. It is important that you choose a pattern dedicated to beginners, as the real knitting language is full of abbreviations and will only confuse you in the beginning.
We definitely recommend that you start with a design that is worked in the round, as this is the simplest construction method for a knitted sweater and a great starter project. A sweater that is worked in the round, is worked on circular needles, which is also something we recommend when you embark on knitting your very first sweater.
Without a doubt, the absolute most beginner-friendly design is the ‘Easy Peasy Basic sweater’
Also, we can recommend the Novice sweater from PetiteKnit, which also meets the criteria for an easy beginner sweater.
If you feel like knitting a sweater where the level of difficulty is one step higher, you can knit the Easy Peasy Raglan Sweater. Raglan is not impossible for a beginner, but it just ads one more technique to the project and you need to remember more things as you knit. We therefore recommend that you start with a sweater that is knitted top-down and in the round, like both Easy Peasy Basic sweater and Novice sweater.
4) Buy a beginner kit with the right amount of yarn
We strongly recommend either buying a pre-made kit with the right type and amount og yarn for a specific beginner pattern - or to seek advice on which yarn to buy specifically for a given project. We do NOT recommend that you start replacing recommended yarns with other types of yarn for your first project. If you do not know what to look for in terms of gauge and length, you are very likely to buy yarn that will give you an unwanted result.
Önling has a whole collection of pre-made kits for various starter projects, with which you can feel sure to get the right yarn for your project and in the right amounts. You can find inspiration in these kits for beginners here.
5) Needle size and gauge
It is quite important that you stick to the exact needle size and gauge as indicated in your pattern. It is simply key to a good end result, and therefore we strongly recommend to make a swatch before you start knitting your first sweater.
The gauge is always indicated in the pattern. It is a unit of measurement that indicates how many stitches and needles are needed to make a square piece of 10x10 cm. At the same time, the gauge is a key element in the design process behind a pattern. If you knit just a little tighter than the pattern indicates, your project will be too small, while it will be too big if you knit looser. And this is exactly what a gauge swatch will reveal, if you take the time to produce one.
Read more about how to make a swatch here
6) Watch videos – lot’s of videos
There are endless amounts of how-to videos out there showing step by step how to master various techniques. Once in doubt, just google the technique described in the pattern, e.g. ‘left increases in knitting’ and you will get numerous videos showing the technique. Re-watch the video a few times until you understand the technique and then set it in slow motion while you try to do the same with your knitting.
7) Make sure you have someone you can ask for help
It is almost inevitable that you will reach a point during your first sweater project, where you don’t know how to move on, or just need to consult someone to be absolutely sure, you are on the right track. Therefore, we recommend that you have a ‘lifeline’ in place – someone you can safely ask for help. Most experienced knitters will gladly help you in the start-up process, and can quickly get you through whatever obstacle you have run into. If you don’t know anyone you can ask for help, there are communities on Facebook, where you can ask knitting related questions – amongst others, you can try Önling’s knitting community here.
With these 7 tips to consider on how to knit a sweater, we hope you feel a little more confident about embarking on this next exciting step of your knitting journey!