One of my favorite things to do when I teach knitting is to save my students from a lot of the grief I went through when I learned certain techniques for the first time.

blue sweater on a hangerSince at this point in your knitting journey you might be contemplating knitting your first sweater or “real” garment, here’s a little miniseries on the lessons I learned when knitting my first sweater, and tips on how to make your experience much smoother.

Oh, and I’ll show you a photo of my first sweater at the end of the series. Prepare yourself.

Tips for Knitting Your First Sweater

Your first sweater is an exciting milestone in your knitting journey. It signifies that you are ready to take on new challenges, and you will certainly learn a lot, especially if you have an open mind and decide to learn from all of your mistakes, which I hope you make many of.

The first thing to keep in mind is: know that your first sweater might not be very good.

I suggest that you do not knit your very first sweater for your spouse or for a gift that has a deadline, like a graduation, because you’ll need to take all the time you need in order to mess up, try again and really learn as you go.

My first sweater was absolutely terrible and that hasn’t stopped me. I learned a lot but I certainly don’t wear it.

Choosing the Pattern

thin woman wearing sweater and holding a tea cupWhen I chose my first sweater pattern, I fell in love with the picture on the pattern booklet: a stick-thin waif, hands dangling over her head, posed in a huge, baggy, cream-colored sweater, amidst a flock of sheep. “That’s what I want!” I said, and promptly bought 10 balls of Brown Sheep Bulky Superwash in a sort of oatmeal color.

Unfortunately for my sweater experience, I am neither a stick-thin waif, nor does oatmeal color look good on me. A recipe for disappointment, for sure.

To help you understand what shape of sweater to make, take a look at the kinds of sweaters that you already own and that you like, especially noticing the neckline and general fit.

Neckline: Are your favorite sweaters V-necks? Turtlenecks? Scoop necks?

Fit: Are your favorite sweaters tight and fitted or are they loose and comfortable?

These attributes will give you a clue as to what kind of first sweater you should knit for yourself.

Up next: choosing the right sweater size and the right color of yarn.

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