Why Aren't You Knitting a Sweater?

By Caitlin Johnson

As our annual Sweater Knit-along is getting closer, we hope many of you are making your plans to join us! Some of you are surely the type to always have a sweater project on the needles. You might find garment knitting addictive, motivating, and exciting. Yay, we’re so happy you can join us!

Others may have decided that sweater knitting isn’t for you. If that’s you and you’re content with that decision, great! As we say, all knitting is good knitting and you don’t have to knit anything you don’t want to! There’s an endless amount of exciting projects out there besides garments.

But maybe you wish you could knit a sweater, or you’ve been thinking about it but haven’t quite jumped in yet. What’s been keeping you from knitting a garment for you or someone you know? Let’s think about that a little bit and see if we can offer a couple ideas to get you on your way!

1. Are you unsure you have the skills to knit a sweater? 

It can be daunting to look at all the instructions for a sweater and you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of steps. I suggest choosing a simple top-down sweater pattern, where you’ll need to know how to knit, purl, cast on new stitches, and increase and decrease. I’ve found that independent designers’ patterns tend to be very thorough and they might include illustrations or links to helpful videos. Patterns found in books and through yarn companies may have a glossary of techniques but the individual patterns might assume you have those skills already. Before choosing a pattern, you can also check the details on Ravelry, where it might give a description of the garment’s construction and give a difficulty rating.

Flat Lay of gold Vanilla Sweater Kit and finished sweater

The Vanilla Sweater designed by Corinne of TWT is a great beginner pattern. Not only is it a straightforward top-down raglan design with lots of stockinette, but Corinne also created a video course to accompany it! This will guide you through every step. As an added bonus, many, many TWT fans have already knit it and are ready to offer advice in our Facebook and Ravelry groups!

Corinne wears her red Victory Cardigan

If you’re intimidated by working with the Rauma Finullgarn, a heavy fingering weight yarn, you might like the Victory Cardigan. Another design by Corinne that has a video course, this aran-weight yarn will work up more quickly. As a cardigan, this sweater will have more finishing techniques that you might need a little bravery for, but you can do it! (and the course will offer help and support!)

2. Are you worried it won’t turn out or fit the way you want?

To be honest, your first sweater might not turn out exactly the way you want it to. And that’s okay! Choosing a boxy, loose-fitting style can give more leeway in case your gauge isn’t quite right. Also, take the measurements of a sweater you already own and love, and choose a sweater size that will get you close to those dimensions. Don’t be afraid to tweak a pattern’s arm or torso length to fit what you prefer.

If you’re afraid of making a mistake and having to start over again, add in a lifeline before any tricky sections. Simply use a darning needle to thread a fine weight yarn or crochet cotton through all your live stitches before continuing on. That way if you make a mistake, you only have to rip back to the lifeline and start from there again.

3. Are you held back by the time or materials commitment?

It’s true, a sweater will require more time and yarn than a hat. Maybe you have a precious sweater quantity that you don’t want to mess up, or maybe you don’t want to invest that much right now. If you’re still interested in the sweater-making process, why not start with a baby sweater? It will take less time and yarn, but still teach you all the basics of sweater construction. Think of it as a practice piece, much like sewists will make a muslin version of a garment before cutting into their good fabric.

Flat Lay of two small child Flax Sweaters

The Flax Sweater by Tin Can Knits is a great multi-sized pattern to try. Choose any worsted yarn for this one. Once you’re confident with the basic process, then you can go for the special yarn and larger size!

Model wears a rust colored Felix pullover

The Felix pullover is another great beginner sweater. Lettlopi is a budget-friendly yarn which is forgiving, textured and grippy, all good things for sweater novices. And the sweater design is straightforward and looks great on lots of people! You'll find kits for this in our shop!

4. Not sure you’ll be motivated to finish?

Are you worried you won’t finish such a big project? Join our Sweater Knit-along! We’ll all be knitting sweaters together starting August 19th, and having others to work alongside can be such a good motivator. You’ll find great support for all your questions in our Facebook and Ravelry groups. There’s no pressure to finish in the amount of time, but if you’re the type that likes a deadline then maybe this will help!

Stack of Sweaters made with TWT yarns


  • Hi Mary, a KAL in our case is pretty informal, when we all knit similar items and share about our progress in our Facebook or Ravelry group, or on Instagram using the hashtag #2023twtsweaterkal. You can find more info about the Sweater KAL at the top of our website under SWEATER KAL tab. Hope you join us!

  • Probably a very basic question but what is a KAL? Do we actually meet or is it just post progress?

    Mary C
  • Advice to a beginner sweater knitter. I had never knitted a sweater, no one in my family knits, and the thought of knitting a sweater terrified me. I ordered the vanilla sweater kit plus the teaching video, and I did it! I don’t t think I could have done it without the video. Just joined the sweater KAL beginning in August. After agonizing over which kit to order, I decided on the Fluffy Vanilla Sweater. I wanted to reinforce what I had learned. Rather than trying something new and getting frustrated due to my limited skill level, I think this was a good choice. I’m going to be adventurous by making it longer, making the cuffs much longer and increasing the seed stitch border. If I can kit a sweater anyone can. I am so appreciative to have this learning experience available to me.

    Diana Starr Daniels
  • I knit sweaters when I was in high school but I am reluctant about seams. I remember how we did them but not enough for sleeves and picking up stitches for a neckline is something else I am not good at.

  • I have the kit for the vanilla sweater. It is a lovely sweater, but on me might not be best choice. I think I need pattern knitted in pieces with seams. Any pattern ideas?

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