Knitting your First Sweater: Choosing a Pattern

Knitting a sweater can seem like a really daunting task, especially if it is something you’ve never done. But here’s the thing: following a sweater pattern is no harder than following a sock or mitten pattern sweaters are just bigger. There are a ton of great resources online that will help you knit your first sweater but sifting through  all of these resources can be a challenge. I thought I would create a series on knitting sweaters for this first time because sweaters were something that I put off knitting for a long time simply because I thought it would be really hard and I didn’t know where to begin.

Today I want to focus on picking a pattern because while there are a lot of great resources out there to guide you through the process of improvising a sweater I think most people want someone else to do the math for them. So let’s talk about Ravelry.


There are a ton of great patterns available on Ravelry but unfortunately the search feature on their website is pretty bad. Whenever I need to find something on a website with a poor search engine I use Google. If I am looking for a top down raglan pattern I will type ‘top down raglan ravelry’ into the search bar and that provides me with a number of options.

Whether you are looking to buy a physical pattern book or you want a digital download Ravelry is a good place to start because you can find information on patterns in both of these formats. But finding a great pattern is not as simple as finding a pretty finished object pictures on Ravelry. There are some things you should pay attention to when choosing a pattern.

Classic Oak Cardigan

A) Will it fit you?

Make sure that this sweater comes in your size. While this information is usually on the Ravelry pattern page it is important to pay attention to what measurements are actually given. If the designer lists the measurements of person intended to wear each size then this is easy but that is not always how sizing information is presented. If the designer lists the final garment measurement you will need to find out how the sweater is supposed to fit in order to determine your size. If the final bust measurement of the garment is 32′ this could be intended to fit someone with a 30′, 32′, or 34′ bust depending on how much ease there is in the pattern.

B) How is the sweater constructed?

Just like with any other knitting project there are numerous ways to knit a sweater. A sweater can be knit in pieces and seamed together or it can be knit in the round all in one piece. Choosing the best way to construct your sweater is all about personal preference. If you hate purling I would not recommend choosing a pattern that is knit flat an seamed together since you will most likely be doing a lot of purling.

Another thing you have to pay attention to is weather the sweater is knit from the bottom up or the top down. I find that I like to knit sweaters from the top down because I feel it gives me a better idea of whether or not the sweater will fit a lot sooner in the process. When you knit a sweater from the bottom up you have to knit the entire body and both sleeves before you get to the yoke, which is when most of the important sizing happens. If you fall in between two sizes and knit your sweater from the bottom up you might not realize you chose the wrong size until you put it all together at the yoke. It’s a pretty big time commitment for a sweater that is not going to fit right.

Myra's Pull-Over

C) Are the instructions easy to follow?

It can be a bit tricky to figure this out without buying the pattern and reading through it but I think Ravelry is a great resource for this. When someone knits a project from a pattern on Ravelry they can create a project page and link it to the pattern. On these project pages the knitter can make notes about their yarn and needle choice and also about the pattern itself. You will often see something along the lines of ‘great beginner pattern’ or ‘the instructions were difficult to follow’ or ‘great pattern but I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners’ written on people’s project pages. These comments can give you an idea of the clarity of the pattern instructions.

Ravelry also has a comments tab for patterns where people can post comments about the pattern. Sometimes these will all be praise but in my experience If a pattern is hard to follow there will be a fair number of questions posted here.

D) Will you like the finished product?

When you are trying to pick pattern you should take a good look at your wardrobe and your favorite sweaters. Most of us have a style that we are most comfortable with. If your entire wardrobe is straight out the LL Bean or Land’s End catalog (like mine) then you probably not going to get much wear out of a flashy Steven West pattern. There is nothing wrong with wanting to change up your style by all means if you want to knit something different go for it. It would just be a shame to pour time and effort into a hand knit sweater that you will never wear because it is outside of your comfort zone.

Knitting your first sweater

Have you knit a sweater before? How did you choose a pattern? Let me know in the comments below!

Episode 8: All Of the Half Objects

Social Media:

Instagram and Ravelry : myrabethknits


Finished Objects

The Owl Cardigan by Mari Chiba

Yarn: KnitPick’s Wool of the Andes Dove Heather

Half Objects:

Selbu Mittens by Skeindeer

Yarn: Berroco Vintage DK

Scott’s Socks

Yarn: KnitPick’s Hawthorn Picnic colorway

Scott’s Lace Weight Socks

Yarn: KnitPick’s Shadow Lace

My Socks

Yarn KnitPick’s Stroll Forest Heather Colorway


My Damejakka Loppa Sweater by Pinneguri

Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Loft


The Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson


Hi everyone! I have just finished putting together my new sock design and I am looking for test knitters! Please shoot me and email at if you are interested.

Holly Socks

The pattern is a cuff down basic cable pattern. I am having the pattern edited so please do not worry about spelling mistakes but I would really appreciate feedback on the clarity of the pattern. Please let me know if there is something in the pattern that you do not understand or think could be said more clearly.
The deadline for the test knit will be two weeks from the point I have all the test knitters I need. Although, I would like to have this pattern up by the end of January. You only need to complete one sock for the test knit. You would also need to create a Ravelry project page for the socks and link it to the pattern page once it is published.

As I am a new designer and this is my first paid pattern that I will be publishing I do not have any other patterns to give as compensation. I have a hat pattern and a mitten pattern in the works that I would be happy to gift to you once that are published, which I expect to be some time in February or early March. You will of course receive a copy of the finalized Holly Socks pattern.

Episode 7 Is Finally Here!

It’s been a while but I am finally returning to my podcast. You can watch the latest episode here. And you can find the show note below.

Social Media


Youtube: The Knitting Bookworm




Finished Objects

Andrew’s Christmas Socks

Pattern Charlie’s Socks by Bethany Richards

Yarn Stroll Down Heather and Forest Heather



Holly Socks

Pattern forthcoming

Yarn Stroll Fingering Hollyberry


Amelia’s Baby Sweater

Pattern Tiriltunge Nyfødtbody. Newborn Onesie. by Siv Jane Aksdal

Yarn Wonderland yarns Cheshire Cat base Jub Jub Bird



Ashley’s Tardis Socks

Pattern Police Box Sox by Audry Nicklin

Yarn Bad Wolf Girl Studios Galaxy LMC

Stroll Fingering White, Black


Works in Progress


My Damejakka Loppa

Pattern is the Damejakka Loppa pattern

Yarn is Brooklyn Tweed Loft


My Owl Cardigan

Pattern is from Interweave’s Knitting Wizardry

Yarn is KnitPick’s Wool of the Andes Dove Heather



Scott’s Socks

Vanilla Socks

Knit in KnitPick’s Hawthorn Picnic


What I’m Reading

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Swatch of the Month: Dad’s Christmas Sweater

January’s swatch of the month is a seed stitch swatch knit in KnitPick’s Wool of the Andes Worsted in the Garnet Heather colorway.  Wool of the Andes is a great power house yarn it’s 100% Peruvian Highland Wool. It is available in both superwash and non-superwash, dyed and undyed across several yarn weights. Wool of the Andes is certainly one of my go to sweater yarns.

Swatch of the month_jan18

I knit this swatch in a single seed stitch pattern on US size 7 4.5mm needles. I love the way the heathered yarn has knit up in this stitch pattern and the deep burgundy color is one of my favorites.

This sweater was a Christmas present for my dad. It is an original design that I am hoping to have out to test knitters by the end of January so stay tuned for updates on that. Let me know about your latest swatch in the comments below.

Myra Beth Knits 2018

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe another year has come and gone already. 2017 was full of fun new things. In January Scott and I got married. I graduated from college and started my first full-time job in May. It took a while but we finally found a new normal this past fall and I am looking forward to continuing to settle into the new rhythm Scott and I found this fall.

Looking forward into 2018 I am very excited for some of the exciting things to come here on the Myra Beth Knits blog. One of the many things I am working on in 2018 is a consistent blogging schedule. Now that I know what life looks like post college I feel that I can finally commit to this blog in a meaningful way. I’d also really like to relaunch my knitting video podcast the Knitting Bookworm.

In addition to blogging more often and more consistently, I have many other knitting related goals. Like I’m sure all of you know, there are so many more patterns that I want to knit than I have time for but going into 2018 there are a few things I know I want to add to my me made wardrobe.

This year I want to knit three garments for myself. While I have a few patterns in mind, I haven’t set anything in stone yet. All I know is that by the end of 2018 I want to have at least 3 sweaters of cardigans to wear.

Now let’s talk about socks. At this point I can knit a pair of vanilla socks in 3-4 days. I’ve knit a lot of socks this year (somewhere around 30 pairs) but the vast majority of those socks were for other people. When I counted the other day I have 9 pairs of socks that I knit myself and some of them fit poorly because I hadn’t perfected my personal sock recipe yet.

This year at the very least I want to complete my box of socks, which is a knit along hosted by Kristen from the Yarngasm podcast. All I have to do is knit 12 pairs of socks for myself. Volume wise, I know I can complete this knit along it’s just a matter of resisting the urge to knit for other people. I also have this pipe dream of having 25 pairs of Christmas socks but I’ll have to see about that one.

I’d also really like to perfect Scott’s sock recipe. I’ve knit him a few pairs of socks at this point and none of them are just right. Hopefully, 2018 will be the year I finally get his socks right.

As far as designing goes I have a handful of things I’ve already designed but I have not yet written up the patterns for. In 2018 I’d really like to get off of my behind, write up those patterns, get them test knitted, and published. I also have several ideas for items I would like to design as well. In 2018 I’d really like to increase the number of designs available in my ravelry store.

Have you ever set annual knitting goals for yourself? What are your goals this year? Let me know in the comments below!

Checking Gauge

I’m not going to pretend that I am a perfectly well behaved knitter that always checks gauge. I will often cut corners if I’ve used the same yarn before and know what my gauge is with different needle sizes. I really only check gauge on sweaters because I don’t feel that I need to with hats or socks.

Gauge really matters for garments. If you are going to be wearing something it is important to make sure it’s going to fit properly. I mean, who wants their pants to fall off?

In order to end up with a garment that fits you need to knit your gauge swatch with care. Here are several things you should keep in mind when knitting up your swatch.

Checking Gauge

Number 1: Needles and Yarn

You need to knit you gauge swatch with the exact same needles and the exact same yarn that you intend to knit your project in. Many knitters find that the needle material will affect their gauge. Also, think about things like the length of you needle tip. Chances are you 16″ needles have shorter tips than your 40″ needles. I know that I knit tighter when I knit with shorter needle tips. If you aren’t going to knit your project with a particular set of needles you shouldn’t knit your gauge swatch with them either.

Number 2: Size

Most patterns will give you the number of stitches and rows in a 4″/10 cm square. You want your gauge swatch to be larger than a 4″ square so that you can measure gauge more accurately. Refrain from measure the number of stitches per inch. While you may need to know this measurement you should always measure the stitches per 4 inches and then calculate the number of stitches per inch. This way you will get a more accurate gauge measurement. Always be sure to measure your gauge in multiple places to get the most accurate measurement.

Number 3: Knitting in the Round

If your project is going to be knit in the round than your gauge swatch should be knit in the round. Most knitters find that their knit gauge is different than the purl gauge so if you knit your swatch flat and then knit your project in the round you will probably find that you gauge is slightly different. I have noticed that when I knit flat that my row gauge is a bit looser but not enough to affect the fit of the finished garment.

Number 4: Washing

Different yarns and different fibers behave differently depending on how they are washed. If you are going to machine wash your garment before blocking you should machine wash your swatch as well. I have two reasons for this: A) if your yarn choice is not going to survive machine washing it is much better to destroy your gauge swatch than a garment you have spent hours working on and B) hand washing your swatch then machine washing your garment might result in two separate gauges.

Number 5: Blocking

Blocking your swatch might sound silly but since no one is going to see it but blocking your swatch it the only way to know what you gauge is going to be in the finished garment. Make sure you measure your swatch before washing and blocking. Knowing the finished dimensions of your swatch is not helpful if you don’t know how big it was to start with.

I am going to be perfectly honest and say that I don’t always follow my own advice but when I do I am always much happier with my finished project. Do you always knit a gauge swatch or do you like to live on the wild side?