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Knitting Hints: How to Pick a Sweater Pattern

An avid knitter for over 10 years, Donna enjoys sharing her free patterns and knitting experience with other fiber fans and yarn lovers.

(L to R)  Debbie Bliss from Rialto pattern book, Agnes Pullover by Ruth Garcia-Alcatud from Knitscene Fall 2012 magazine, Cap Sleeve Tunic by Mari Lynn Patrick from Vogue Knitting Winter 2011/2012

(L to R) Debbie Bliss from Rialto pattern book, Agnes Pullover by Ruth Garcia-Alcatud from Knitscene Fall 2012 magazine, Cap Sleeve Tunic by Mari Lynn Patrick from Vogue Knitting Winter 2011/2012

For knitters, the world is a candy shop full of knitting patterns. The internet is loaded with patterns of every description and every price. Each month, more knitting magazines come out filled with beautiful sweater and other patterns that beckon us to grab our needles and yarn. And then there are shelves and shelves of knitting books with tantalizing titles and gorgeous images.

Choosing the right knitting pattern is the first step in ensuring that you'll be happy with the finished result. But with so many to choose from, how can you make a decision? Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind when selecting a sweater pattern.

White Lace Tunic by Brooke Nico from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2010

White Lace Tunic by Brooke Nico from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2010

Don't Fall for the Model Shot

Most of us wish we looked like models, and publishers and stylists work hard to make their garments look as appealing as possible. But every woman should know what works and doesn't work on her figure and you should keep this in mind when looking at the photos of sweater patterns. For instance, I am too short to wear tunics and would never look like the model to the right wearing this beautiful lace pattern. So you should remember - you are going to invest a lot of time knitting this sweater, and you should choose something that you know will look good on you.

If you are unsure of what is the best style for you, pull out your favorite sweater or an outfit that you feel you look your best in and put it on. Look in the mirror and notice the details of your favorite item - What is the cut of the shoulders? Where does it hit at your hip? How does it fit around your waist? What is the shape of the neckline? Then look through patterns and search for items that share these characteristics. You'll be happier with the finished product knowing it has some features that you love and look great on you!

Would You Try It On in the Store?

As mentioned above, the photos that accompany knitting patterns can be very tempting. The model is usually wearing just the right outfit to go with the sweater, and it's easy to fall in love with the whole image.

But here's a little trick I use: I try to block out the rest of the photo and only focus on the sweater. Then I ask myself: "Is the sweater itself really that interesting? Would I even notice it or try it on if I saw it in a department store?'' Often, the answer is "no." I realize that the item is a just sweater, maybe in a pretty color, but not really that special or appealing on its own. Then I simply forget about it and move on. There's always more patterns to look at and consider :)

Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti from Interweave Knits, Fall 2011

Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti from Interweave Knits, Fall 2011

Can You Buy It in a Store?

The next question you want to ask when looking at a sweater pattern is "Can I just buy something similar in a store?"

If you are going to commit your time and money for materials to knit this sweater, then you should ask yourself: a) Is this sweater or top something that is unique that I can't find elsewhere?, and b) Can I knit it in a great color or modify it for a perfect fit that I won't be able to find anywhere else? If you answer "yes" to both these questions, then you've found a great pattern and you should move forward with the sweater project! If you answer "no" to these questions, then you might want to just buy it in a store :)

Pennekamp by Amanda Keep from

Pennekamp by Amanda Keep from

Does It Fit Your Lifestyle?

Here are some last few questions you want to consider before grabbing your knitting needles and starting that sweater pattern:

Will you wear it? Can you wear it to work? Out to dinner? Just hanging around? It might sound like a stupid question, but is this sweater something you're going to wear when it's done?

Is it right for your climate? If you live in a warm temperature zone, will you get a lot of use from a thick cable sweater with a cowl neck? Maybe a short-sleeve tee with an interesting design might be a better choice?

Do you have something to wear with it? Try to think of at least three items currently in your wardrobe that you can wear with your sweater when you're done. Consider what's already in your wardrobe when selecting the color of your yarn too!

Taking a few minutes to think about the topics above will help make sure that you love your new sweater when it is complete, that you get a lot of use from it, and that you feel great when wearing it :)

Copyright © 2012 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.

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Donna Herron (author) from USA on December 19, 2012:

Thanks!! Hope you have a great holiday season!!

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on December 18, 2012:

I don't have any lace tunic either :-) When I go to a sunny place, I am in the shade...and when I have to walk in the sun I have long sleeves because I react to the sun :-(

But it's nice to see a different design. I really admire people who can do that type of things!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Donna Herron (author) from USA on December 18, 2012:

Hi Kidscrafts - Thanks for your comment! I love the lace tunic too, though I'd never wear it :) It's a beautiful design and very unusual.

Thanks for reading!

theframjak from East Coast on December 18, 2012:

Very informative and very helpful. Thanks for the great hub.

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on December 18, 2012:

Thanks for all the tips! Nicely done!

The white lace tunic is very unique and pretty compare to what you see on the beach usually! I love it:-)

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