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A Path to Knit Your First Sweater

My first sweater, the Annabel Cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge

When first meeting a beginner knitter they often say their ultimate goal is to knit a sweater. It’s the reason they picked up the knitting needles and signed up for a class; it’s the motivation that keeps them working through dropped stitches, decoding knitting terms and yarn tangles. The journey of a knitter’s first project ever to knitting a sweater may be long or short but one important thing is required: confidence.

How does one build confidence in knitting? By creating a solid foundation of skills and knowledge while working on patterns that are well written, with good tools and lots of practice. New knitters can quickly become discouraged by picking a pattern that is not suited to their knitting ability or pairing a project with a difficult to work with yarn. New students can forget what it feels like to be in the learning seat and may expect knitting to be easy, their stitches to be perfect and to not make any mistakes. The fact is that learning a new skill takes time and patience plus willingness to make mistakes. A beginner knitter can feel vulnerable, unsure and uncoordinated when trying to maneuver yarn, needles, pattern and notions. A new knitter can also feel brave and like a magician as they take two sticks and a ball of yarn and make fabric that transforms into something they can wear. Build your skills with classes, projects and practice and knitting a sweater becomes possible.

Learning to knit is a series of steps. Casting on and the knit stitch come before the purl stitch and casting off. Each skill learned unlocks the next step. If you’re a beginner knitter with the goal of knitting your own sweaters, here is one way to get there: start with My First Cowl Class. In this class you learn to cast on, the knit and purl stitch and how to cast off with straight needles and bulky yarn. You learn Garter stitch, Stockinette Stitch, Rib Stitch and what all those terms mean. Plus steam blocking, whip stitch seaming and weaving in ends. It can sound like a lot to the absolute beginner knitter but it’s broken into digestible bits with lots of support along the way. When the 3 series class is over, I encourage the knitter to frog (unravel) and start again or cast on a whole new cowl. Practice is what cements newly acquired techniques.

Once the knitter feels solid with knit/purl, casting on/off, learning to knit a hat is a great next step. In My First Hat class, the knitter learns how to use circular needles to knit in the round, two types of decrease stitches plus how to knit the crown of a hat with double pointed needles. It reinforces what the knitter already knows while introducing a few new skills. Another step closer to knitting a sweater.

Knitting my first hat, ever! The Barley Hat.

From here, the knitter can go in a few different directions on their journey. The next step is becoming familiar with practicing all the techniques learned in the cowl and hat class with smaller needles and lighter yarn. Starting with larger needles and bulky yarn helps the knitter see stitches (and mistakes) easily and finish projects quickly. Working with smaller needles and lighter yarn pushes the knitter to work on a smaller canvas. Here the kniitter begins to determine more concretely what kind of yarn and needles they like to work with: straight or circular needles, bulky or dk weight yarn. Two classes that aid this transition (and discovery of preferences) is the First Cables class or the My First Shawl class. Both classes use DK weight yarn and smaller needles. In the cables class you build on the hat skills learned while adding new decrease and increase stitches, how to do cable stitches, read charts and track where you’re at in your knitting. It the shawl class, knitters learn a new increase stitch and cast on method, get loads of practice with knit and purl stitches, following a pattern, fixing mistakes, track your knitting and be introduced to gauge and blocking. Taking one or both of these classes sets the knitter up for successful sweater knitting. While a knitter can most definitely go from the My First Hat to My First Raglan Sweater, the learning curve will be steeper but not impossible. Now the new knitter is an adventurous beginner or intermediate knitter and ready to knit a sweater.

Knitting a sweater is so much fun and it takes an investment in time and resources. It’s important to begin with a well written pattern, good tools and yarn that is a joy to knit. In My First Raglan Sweater class, the knitter learns all about gauge, a new cast on method, how to do a new increase stitch and short rows at the same time, employ the increase tracking methods they liked from previous projects or pick up ideas for new ways. Plus ways to customize the fit of the sweater are introduced. Confidence builds with each stitch as you knit the collar, the yoke, the body and the sleeves.

Knitting my Dark Cloud sweater

The goal with each class is to build confident knitters and that takes time and attention. This is one path a knitter can take from their first stitch to their first sweater. Where the knitter goes from here? Who knows? The possibilities are endless!

Winter 2022 classes coming soon! Check back soon for a full list of classes, including a First Sweater and First Cardigan classes. Sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of the home page to keep up to date on all that’s happening at My Casa Azul.