When you decide to knit your first sweater it is a big project and can seem overwhelming. But a few helpful tips can cut the fear factor down to manageable proportions. Outlined here are some easy tips for you so that your first sweater will be a success.
Choose a pattern that you are comfortable with. There are many easy patterns out there to use to get your feet wet. You have time to learn how and make a basic pullover sweater now and choose a more complicated pattern later when you have accomplished this. Browse patterns online or at the library. A yarn shop will also have the latest books with the newest patterns. However choosing a classic pattern ensures it will be stylish for years.
Once you choose your pattern, they will recommend the best wool or acrylic yarn to use. Choosing wool has many advantages. It holds it’s shape much better and for longer than acrylic yarn. If you are going to put in a lot of time and effort into a garment, you want it to look nice for many years to come. Acrylic tends to stretch and so it will eventually sag and bag. Wool is warmer and that is why you wear sweaters, to keep warm. Wool breathes because it’s a natural fiber . You will stay comfortably warm and not feel overheated. Wool must be more carefully laundered than acrylic but then that will also save wear and tear on your garment if it isn’t machine washed. Always buy the best fiber you can afford for large projects, like sweaters, as you won’t want to replace them too frequently.
Always buy the recommended size needles. At this point you will have done enough knitting to know your favorite type of needle. Aluminum needles are slippery, plastic less so and bamboo needles slow some knitters down but the fiber stays on them much better. The pattern will recommend a specific size needle. Follow the pattern recommendations, don’t just use what you have unless you are experienced at making adjustments.
Before you begin, roll the skeins into balls. There is a good reason for that. Finding the middle string can be difficult. Once it’s found, you may find it tangling in the middle requiring you to cut it to untangle it. You don’t want to cut it if at all possible, or spend time untangling. Rolling the yarn into a ball before starting eliminates that problem.
Next you want to knit a swatch to gauge your knitting stitches. Each different yarn will knit up differently. Each person also knits at a different tension. A pattern can give guidelines but you must know your tension for this yarn and needle so you can choose the right size pattern. A five by five swatch should be enough to gauge how you will be knitting for the long haul.
Knitting from the bottom up in the round will require a large number of stitches being cast on. You don’t want to have to count the stitches over and over. Use small stitch markers evenly as you cast on, say every 25 cast on stitches. This way you will not lose you count and have to recount frequently. It saves time and frustration! You want to count and recount each 25 stitches, because it is important that you have exactly the right amount of stitches when you begin. Once the marker is on, you do not need to recount that section.
If you are knitting in the round, wait to join the stitches. Your garment cannot have a twist in it or that twist will follow throughout the entire garment. If you knit several rows before joining it, it’s much easier to see if there is a twist or not. Once you join the stitches you can finish knitting in the round. A slip stitch to close the gap will never be seen.
Use a pick line when you are knitting a sweater. A pick line takes some time to put in and move but it’s much less time than to undo a major portion of knitting if you find a mistake. Thread the first pick line through the cast on row. Casting on is very time consuming and once it’s on you do not want to do it again. After an inch or two put in a second pick line. Knit another few inches and remove the original pick line and put it in higher up. Alternate from here on out. Use a small cord about the thickness of dental floss. Use a highly contrasting color.
Take advantage of needle pads. Put them on your needles each time you finish a session. The knitting will not slide off the needles if the item is moved or carried in a bag. It’s a small thing, but so easy and it can save you a lot of time in the long run.
Following these few beginning steps take some time but are worth the effort. Knitting is relaxing and taking time to prepare properly for a project will help you be successful.
South Dayton Knitting Group