Guest Author - Marjorie Colletta
When you first start knitting you are likely to begin with an unshaped item such as a scarf. The item is often row after row of knit stitches so that it is slightly bumpy (this is called garter stitch). This is great practice in the knit stitch, on not dropping stitches, and getting your knitting nice and even. But there may come a time when you are ready for something a bit more challenging and you then learn the purl stitch, you stick to scarves, as you are not ready for shaping. Once you are ready to learn a bit more, you start noticing sweaters.
Sweaters come in all different styles, cardigans that zip up or button. Pull-overs with short sleeves, drop shoulders, raglan sleeves, set in sleeves, turtle necks, crew necks, boat necks, shawl collars and many more varieties. Some sweaters have hoods, fancy stitch patterns, lots of colors or they can be very simple and classic.
When you buy a sweater it is often an impulse, but when you make a sweater you should spend a bit of time deciding what you want to make, since it will definitely be a large investment of time and may be a large investment of money. Things to consider when you are looking for a pattern to knit are: Do you have a favorite sweater already? If so, does it pullover or is it a cardigan? Can you consistently knit and purl a scarf that is even? Are you comfortable working from a chart? Do you get frustrated easily or do challenges stimulate you? Do you have a local yarn shop or an accomplished knitter nearby where you can go for help if you get stuck?
Letís break these things down. If you are a bit afraid of starting a sweater and a scarf takes you months to complete, you may want to consider a classic pattern in a very interesting yarn with simple stitch pattern, that you can set down and start up with minimal re-learning. However, if you need something to constantly challenge you, a pattern with color work, a chart, lots of texture may be just the project for you. Another important thing to consider is that you will be investing a fair amount of time in a sweater, therefore you want to pick something you or the intended recipient would definitely wear or wonít go out of style quickly. If you are not sure of how long it will take you and you donít want to invest a lot of time you might consider making a baby or child sweater (they have all the same steps, but are much smaller in scale and therefore donít take as long to knit).
For a first sweater, remember to take a breath and note that all knitting is just a series of knit stitches and purl stitches (and some donít even have purl stitches). You might want to go to a yarn shop and ask the people who work there what they would recommend for a first project, but be sure to tell them if you get bored easily or if you get frustrated quickly. Describe for them what you like and dislike about your favorite sweater. When you purchase your yarn from them you will always have a place to go with questions and problems that arise. Ask them what their policy regarding help is, most shops will help gratis (within reason) when you purchase the pattern and yarn from them, but ask to be sure.
Looking for the pattern is easy and fun, it is still all about possibilities, go to the library and check out books of sweaters, spend time going through patterns at your local yarn shop, look on the internet. You know yourself, trust that and find the right sweater for your first project.