How to Knit a Sweater

How to Knit a Sweater? So, you want to upgrade from how to knit a scarf to sweaters, but you don’t know how to start? Worry not since you are not alone and we got you. As a beginner, knitting a sweater can be challenging since it is a huge project you can check this blog: how to knit a sweater

As you progress, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to knit a sweater you’ll love. The first step of knitting a sweater is following some basic patterns that will require little time commitment. After using the basic patterns, it will be easier for you to upgrade to more complex patterns in no time!

Let’s get started! 

Knitting a Sweater for Beginners

Raglan sweater for toddler free knitting pattern tutorial
Image source: So Woolly

As a beginner, knitting your first sweater is a significant milestone to achieve. The good news is, you will knit a comfy sweater with a guide where we take your hand through every step, all essentials, and every stitch you make.

By the end of it all, it will be clear anyone can knit a sweater quickly. So let’s start with the basics of how to knit a sweater.

What You Need to Knit a Sweater

What you need to knit a sweater
Image source: Prima

Before you start your knitting project, you will need some knowledge of the basics. Background knowledge on the knitting needles, stitches, patterns, estimating the measurements, and different types of yarns are essential for you as a beginner.

      1. Know the Necessary Stitches for Knitting a Sweater

Easy knitting stitches
Image source: Ideal Me

Ensure you are familiar with the simple knitting stitches before tackling the challenge of knitting your first sweater. You should also know how to cast on and efficiently work with knit and purl stitches.

Although sweater patterns differ in the stitch techniques used, a rib at the top and bottom of the sweater allows an easy stretch.

To create the shapes around the arms and neck sections, you will require knowledge on how to cast off while in the middle and the end of your knitting project. For you to have a smooth knitting experience, the knit and purl stitches will come in handy.

      2. Simple Beginner Pattern

How to knit the ultimate beginner sweater
Image source: Wool and the Gang

With the essential knowledge of stitching techniques and having made up your mind to continue pursuing knitting, you will need to find a simple sweater knitting pattern for you as a beginner. A pattern will guide you on every step to take when knitting your sweater. Examples of easy beginner stitch patterns include garter stitch and stockinette.

As a beginner, taking on an adult sweater can be intimidating, so knitting something easy and less bulky is better. You will need a chunky yarn for a bulky sweater, for quicker knitting before you get familiar with more techniques. You can also opt for a smaller project, such as knitting a sweater for a kid.

      3. Choose Your Yarn Type

What type of yarn suits your needs
Image source: Textiletuts

What yarn type will you use to knit your sweater? Ensure you have the right yarn type and weight for the pattern.

Depending on the pattern you chose, it can guide you to know how many grams of yarn you will require for your sweater.

      4. Check Your Gauge and Tension

Gauge in knitting
Image source: Tin Can Knits

When knitting your first sweater, you will need to gauge by measuring the size of the sweater against the size of the knitting needle and determine the tension of how loose or tight you need to knit. To have a sweater in the correct size and perfect tension, you will need to check your gauge often.

To achieve the perfect tension, make a swatch, wash it and measure and reknit to your satisfaction.

      5. Finish with Straight or Circular Needles

How to knit a cardigan
Image source: Tin Can Knits

At this point, you will have completed knitting all pieces required for a sweater using straight needles, which are; front, back, and sleeves. You can also have opted to use circular needles and knit ‘in the round.’

These knitting methods will determine your finishing method since knitting with circular needles helps avoid any reason to need to know how to sew the different pieces together. You can choose a sweater knitted in pieces for a beginner since you can easily see how the pattern and different stitches are used. 

How to Knit a Sweater for Beginners Step-by-Step

How to knit a chunky sweater
Image source: Chef’s Book

      1. Choose Your Size and Gather the Essentials

      • Using the measurements of the chest area, choose the size of your sweater. Also, the size you choose will determine the number of stitches you cast on and use on each section of the sweater.
      •  Purchase enough yarn, depending on the size of your sweater. Since it’s your first time knitting a sweater, a bulky weight yarn will be best since it makes knitting easier and quicker.
      •  In addition to the yarn, you can now gather other knitting essentials such as different sizes of knitting needles, scissors, and sewing needles.

      2. Knit the Front and Back Sweater Pieces

Note that what you do with the front piece will be the same for the back piece since they are identical.  So, how do you knit these pieces?

Step 1. Cast on stitches

Start casting on the number of stitches that match your sweater size using smaller needles (size eight needles).

Step 2. Work on the garter stitch for the bottom border.

Using the same needle size for casting on the first number of stitches, you can begin working a garter stitch on the first six rows to form the bottom border of the sweater.

Step 3. Work on stockinette stitches

When done with the bottom border, switch to the next needle size (size ten needles) and start working on the stockinette stitch for the next rows. To achieve this, alternate between knitting and purling your rows.

Step 4. Bind off the first stitches of the following two rows.

As soon as you reach the armhole area, start shaping it by binding off the first four stitches of your next two rows, leaving you with four bound-off stitches on the front and back piece. To achieve this;

      • Knit the first two stitches in the row,
      • Loop the first stitch over the second stitch.
      •  Knit one, and loop the first one over the second one.
      • Repeat this process until you have bound off the first four stitches in the row.

Step 5. Continue knitting the rest of the piece with the stockinette stitch.

You will have completed binding off and shaping the armholes, and you can proceed with the piece with the stockinette stitch. Continue until you reach the desired length.

Step 6. Bind off the stitches

When you are satisfied with the length and size of your first piece, bind off the stitches using the same bind-off method you used on the armhole.

Since the front and back sweater pieces are identical, repeat the exact process you used on the first piece and make the other piece.

      3. Knit the Sleeves

      • Start your sleeves by casting on the correct number of stitches, depending on the size.
      • Form a border by working the first six rows of the sleeve using the smaller needles (size 8 needles). Use a garter stitch for this step.
      • Switch to the upper needle size and use the stockinette stitch after the sixth row.
      • Work your increases as you continue knitting your sleeve piece.
      • Work on the rest of the rows until you reach the required size of the sweater sleeve.
      • Bind off the stitches to secure them as you sew the sleeves onto the front and back pieces.
      • Repeat this process to make the second sleeve.  

      4. Assemble Your Sweater

      • Thread your yarn needle with an arm’s length piece to ensure it’s not tangled as you sew. The thread should be the same color and yarn type you used to knit the sweater pieces.  
      •  Sew your sleeves closed. Start from the bottom corner of the sleeve to the end of the edge near the shoulder. Cut off the excess yarn after tying it off and leave the sleeves wrong side out. Repeat this for both sleeves.
      • Sew together both pieces of the sweater by lining them up right sides facing each other and ensuring the edges are even. Since they are identical pieces, lining them up will be easy, and you can begin sewing the edges, stopping at the armhole.
      • Attach the sleeves to the shoulder area and sew round to the armpit area. Conclude by closing up the armhole and repeat this for both sleeves.
      • Sew along the top of each shoulder and along the edges of both shoulder pieces to connect.
      • Shape the neckline, cut off the excess thread, turn your sweater right side out, and voila! Your first sweater is done!

How to Knit a Cardigan

As a beginner, knitting a cardigan for yourself can be motivating, and you get to have a cute and cozy garment for any weather. You also earn bragging rights each time you say you made it yourself. To achieve this, you can follow the beginner’s guide that will guide you step by step. That said, let’s differentiate between a sweater and a cardigan.

What’s the Difference Between a Sweater and a Cardigan?



A sweater is a knitted garment that covers the arms and upper body when worn

A cardigan is a knitted garment with an open front but covers the back upper body and arms.

Sweaters can be categorized into cardigans and pullovers

A cardigan is a type of sweater that is easy to take off.

Sweaters can be worn casually

Cardigans are worn on dressy occasions such as teas, especially for women.

A sweater can be worn alone or with an undergarment.

A cardigan is always worn over another garment.

Cardigan Knitting Patterns for Beginners

Knitting a cardigan for beginners requires attention to the pattern since cardigans come with various knitting patterns. So let’s have a look!

      1. Breckenridge Topper Cardigan

Breckenridge knit sweater
Image source: Pinterest

This cardigan knitting pattern is beginner-friendly where you can knit flat the two rectangular pieces, which are seamed to form wide sleeves and no picking up stitches.

      2. Varsity Hoodie

Knit varsity sweater
Image source: Pinterest

The varsity hoodie pattern brings out a long-sleeved hooded sweater with a pocket. It is knit in stockinette and requires picking up stitches and grafting.

      3. Polar Bear Cardigan

Polar bear cardigan
Image source: Pinterest

This is a simple cardigan pattern for beginners since you have the options for fringe and without but you will require an extremely bulky yarn for your cardigan.

      4. Dara Infinity Vest

Dara infinity vest
Image source: Pinterest

The Dara Infinity Vest knitting pattern is one of the easiest ways to knit a sleeveless cardigan wrap, thus being fun and fast to knit. The good news for a beginner knitter is that it’s a great pattern since it is seamless, flat, and basic stitches are used. In addition, you are not limited to the yarn weight.

      5. Banff Cardigan

Banff cardigan pattern
Image source: Ravelry

You can have an oversized long sweater knit in seed stitch with worsted weight yarn on large needles with this pattern. It is an easy pattern that requires basic knowledge of stitches and seaming, and you can customize the length of the cardigan.

      6. Envelope Cardigan

Envelope knitted cardigan
Image Source: The Knitting Space

The Envelope cardigan pattern is an easy sweater pattern that features the Irish Moss stitch and shawl collar. You can quickly knit two pieces of the cardigan and finish it with the only shaping in the yoke.

Types of Knitting Needles

Learning how to knit a sweater, cardigan, or jumper, may require you to distinguish between the types of knitting needles and at what point to use each of them. There are three types of knitting needles:

    • Circular needles
    • Double-pointed needles
    • Straight needles

      1. Circular needles

Knitting flat circular needle
Image source: Wool and the Gang

A circular needle is basically two straight knitting needle tips linked by a flexible cable. Such needles are suitable for when knitting in the round. This is continuously knitting without turning your work.  

This technique creates a seamless tube large enough for a sweater body or small enough for a neckband. You also can use a circular needle as you would straight needles to work back and forth. Ensure the point where the cable meets the needlepoint is smooth to prevent the stitches from snagging.

      2. Double-pointed Needles

Bamboo double pointed needle for knitting
Image source: Knitter’s Pride

Double-pointed needles have a point at each end and are sold in sets of four or five needles. They work the same way as a circular needle — in rounds. You use them to make small tubes when there are too few stitches to stretch around the circumference of a circular needle — for such things as sleeve cuffs, tops of hats, socks, mittens, and so on.

      3. Straight Needles

How to knit a sweater design
Image source: Loop London

These needles are generally used for flat knitting on the right side and turning and knitting on the wrong side. Straight needles come in many standard lengths. The larger your project, the longer the needle you’ll need.

Types of Knitting Needles


Straight needles

Used for flat knitting on the right side of a sweater.

Circular needles

Suitable for knitting in the round.

Double-pointed needles

Used to make small tubes when there are too few stitches to stretch around the circumference of a circular needle.

Tips to Perfectly Finish Your Knitting

Finishing your knitted sweater, cardigan, or jumper means making the final touches that will make your project captivating. For you, as a beginner knitter, achieve the best finishing through proper seaming and fitting-in of the sleeves. Here are some tips you can use:

      1. Design Your Finishing at the Beginning of the Project

Binding off a knitting project
Image source: Knit With Henni

It may seem unnatural, but you can design a perfect finishing at the start of your project. You can use selvedge stitches since they create a neat braid on the edges of your attire. To achieve this, slip your first stitch using the purl technique with the yarn in front and knit the last stitch. Ensure to add two extra stitches when casting on to avoid interfering with the original pattern.

      2. Make a Perfect Seam

Mattress stitch
Image source: Purl Solo

Selvedges are an excellent way to finish knitting a garment, but you can use different tricks to a mattress stitch by applying a seam closer to the edge marks for a less bulky, less sturdy, and more visible seam. With this seaming trick, you can determine whether to make a strong seam that stands up to wear for a heavy pullover or a lighter seam for a delicate lacy top.

      3. Consider Using Short-rows

Short row shaping wrap and turn
Image source: Kelbourne Woolens

Most knitting patterns require you to finish the shoulders by binding off several stitches at the start of each row. Unfortunately, this finishing method can make your garment bulky when seaming. To avoid such situations, use short-rows and combine them with a three-needle bind-off, creating a straight, less bulky seam. 


Knitting a sweater or a cardigan may seem difficult for a beginner but by following the beginner’s guide and knitting tricks, you will be surprised how easy and satisfying it can be. Learning the basics of knitting these garments can also be helpful since you can quickly understand what you need before starting a knitting project, measurements, and the steps to follow when knitting your first sweater.

You can also learn about different types of knitting needles and how to use them. They include circular needles, straight needles, and double-pointed needles.

Some of the beginner-cardigan knitting patterns you can use include a Banff cardigan, envelope cardigan, varsity hoodie, and more. Then, having completed knitting your garment, finish off with a few finishing tricks and enjoy your first knitted sweater or cardigan!