I thought it might be helpful to knit a sweater from start to finish and break it down into a series of blog posts. The posts will not focus on finding the perfect size or fit for you but look into the process of how I like to approach sweater knitting. I selected a simple toddler sweater as an example. A smaller-sized sweater is a great way to dip your toe into the world of sweater knitting. The process is the same, with fewer stitches to manage!
I decided to knit the Teddy Bear Sweater by PetiteKnits, a top-down raglan-sleeved pullover. I am currently finishing a sweater in Kelbourne Woolen Scout, a DK-weight wool yarn, and have enjoyed working with the fiber. I have fallen in love with a color called Strawberry Melange. It is not the right color for me, but it will look so cute on the recipient!
The pattern, yarn, and size (a 3-4 year, for my example) have been selected, and I am so excited to dive in. Not so fast! Before I do anything, I knit a swatch. This is an imperative step to ensure the sweater's fit. I will write a blog post (or two) in the next few weeks diving deep into this topic, but in the meantime, you can watch this Very Pink Knits video on "Stellar Swatching" for more information. Brooklyn Tweed's article "How To: Swatching 101" is another excellent resource.
(FYI, my gauge swatch is brown because I knit the same yarn for my adult sweater, so it can do double duty and inform my gauge for the Teddy Bear Sweater. A great reason to save your swatches!)
My swatch is complete and blocked. Does the gauge match the pattern gauge? If yes, give yourself a high-five. If there are too many stitches over the 4-inch measurement, the stitches are too tight; go up a needle size. If there are too few, the gauge is too loose, and one must go down a needle size. If the needle was changed, do not just start knitting with that new needle size. Knit and block another swatch to ensure accuracy.
Next, I collect all the yarn, needles, and notions needed to knit the sweater. I hate nothing more than having to stop and wind yarn or search for a notion when I am enjoying a bit of peaceful knitting. If I need a tape measure or a stitch marker, I want it on hand. My stitch markers, row counter, tape measure, tapestry needles, and scissors are ready to go and in my bee notions box. I also ensure that I have the needles needed to complete the project, the various sizes and lengths, and put them in a walker bag with my project.
The next step is to review the knitting pattern. I read through each section and use a highlighter to mark every stitch count and note corresponding to the size I am making. I also highlight any needle changes (ribbing is usually knit in a different size) or a section of increases, decreases, or patterning. Anything that I think might catch me up, I highlight. If my pattern has an instruction like "at the same time," I highlight that. If my pattern notes that for "certain sizes follow this instruction," and it does not correspond with my size, I cross it out. I want my pattern to be easy to follow at a glance.
My knitting bag is stocked, my gauge is correct, my pattern is highlighted, and I am ready to cast on my sweater. Next week, I will tackle the yoke. Stay tuned!