Introduction: Hand-knit Adult Sweater

About: Crocheting, knitting, stitching, sewing!

After knitting 100 scarves and as many hats, I was excited to give an adult sweater a try. While I now usually knit in the round because I have the sizing down for this sweater, knitting with straight needles is much easier especially for someone just starting out, because you can adjust the size if it’s off – so no worries!

Using only straight needles in sizes 6 and 8, this sweater (made in size medium; see step 2 for size adjustments) is knit in four pieces: the front, the back, and two sleeves. The neck is knit after the front and back are joined. (I used a large sewing needle to sew all the seams. Alternatively, you can use a sewing machine. You can also crochet the seams using a simple single stitch seam.)

For basic knitting instructions, check out Instructables’ own knitting class here!

Step 1: Supply List

Although the process of knitting is time-intensive, the supply list is short! I like to go to my local knitting store as much as possible, but I've included links to online alternatives.

1. 24-26 oz of #4 worsted weight yarn

For size Medium (38-40 in chest measurement). I always lean on the side of caution and add a skein to what is definitely needed. I made this sweater black, green, and beige, with the green and beige serving as accent colors. You will only need a skein each for the accent colors. I used 12 black skeins for the rest.




2. Size 6 and 8 straight knitting needles

I prefer using metal knitting needles because the stitches slide more easily. I tend to knit too tight with wooden knitting needles. This choice is entirely up to you!

Size 6:

Size 8:

3. Measuring tape

4. Scissors

5. Stitch holders:

6. Large sewing needle:

7. Gauge & Needle Measure:

The only important thing to remember is to check your gauge again if you change needle size or yarn weight.

Step 2: Gauge & Sizing

When I first started knitting, I never measured the gauge... Once I started knitting clothing, though, I quickly learned that everyone else is right: gauge is really useful! There are many resources for figuring out how gauge works. My favorite is Craftsy’s guide, found here.

I made this instructable for size medium-large. You can easily adjust this pattern to fit the size you need. Start by measuring the widest part of the chest, making sure not to tighten the measuring tape too much. You can find a great resource for sizing here. For resizing, check this site out.

Step 3: Casting on & Knitting the Back

For this project, I used the Long Tail Cast On. I find this cast on method particularly useful for garments, as it is just stretchy enough while still being uniform and giving you a neat edge. Whether you’re starting with a rib or all knits or all purls, it works every time!

Cast on 101 stitches with size 6 straight knitting needles.

Row 1: *K1, p1* to end of row. K1.

Row 2: *P1, K1* to end of row. P1.

Repeat the last two rows until piece measures 2.5 in from beginning. End with Row 2.

Note: If your first few rows of rib stitch look inconsistent, don’t panic; the rib stitch tends to get more uniform after several rows.

Change to the size 8 needles. Increase 10 stitches evenly in the next row. Knit 25 inches in stockinette stitch (knit one row, purl one row). Your whole piece (with edge) should measure 27.5 inches.

Once you measure at 27.5 inches (or however long you need), end in a purl row.

For the shoulders, cast off 36. Knit the remaining 75 stitches.

On the following row (a purl row), cast off 36 stitches.

Place the remaining 39 stitches (from the middle of the back) on a stitch holder. These stitches will later be used in knitting the neck.

Step 4: Knitting the Front

(I actually like to knit one sleeve before knitting the front, just to create the illusion that the project is moving quicker than it feels by the time you finish the back – and realize you only have the back.)

Cast on 101 stitches with size 6 straight knitting needles.

Row 1: *K1, p1* to end of row. K1.

Row 2: *P1, K1* to end of row. P1.

Repeat the last two rows until piece measures 2.5 in from beginning. End with Row 2.

Change to the size 8 needles. Increase 10 stitches evenly in the next row. The next knit stitch row, you will begin your pattern. For the front, knit in stockinette stitch (knit one row, purl one row) until your whole piece (with edge) measures 24.5 inches – simultaneously working your color pattern. If you aren’t already, you will quickly get addicted to knitting in different colors through stranded knitting, also known as fair isle knitting. When you change yarn and have to drag it over, make sure the strand in the back is neither too tight nor too loose. To learn how to keep your “floats” neat, check out this Threadpanda post. The program I used to make the pattern is the free demo version of MacStitch. Included in this step is a screenshot of the pattern. I've also included the pattern to the other sweater I made (in green, beige, and brown).

Because my pattern (of three rows of arrows) was 31 stitches wide, I subtracted that number from the total number of stitches in a row (111-31), which left me with 80 stitches. You divide that by 2, which leaves you with the number of stitches you have to knit before you get to your pattern. So, I knit 40 with solid black, 31 in my pattern, then 40 with solid black again.

Continue your pattern until you have those 24.5 inches completed.

Then, to shape the neck, knit 40. Turn, placing leftover stitches onto stitch holder.

Decrease 1 stitch at neck edge until you have 36 stitches. Continue to match back length (27 inches) and end with purl row. Cast off.

Leaving the middle 31 stitches on a stitch holder, tie a new yarn onto the other side and knit the 40 stitches, decreasing every neck-edge row until you have 36 stitches. Match however many rows you have on the other shoulder. End with purl row, then cast off.

Step 5: Knitting the Sleeve (x2)

Cast on 49 stitches with size 6 straight knitting needles.

Row 1: *K1, p1* to end of row. K1.

Row 2: *P1, K1* to end of row. P1.

Repeat the last two rows until piece measures 2.5 in from beginning. End with Row 2.

Change to size 8 knitting needles.

Increase 1 stitch at beginning and end of next row (a knit row).

Every 4th row, increase a stitch at the beginning and end of row until you have 81 stitches.

Without adding more stitches, continue in stockinette stitch until sleeve measures 18.5 inches total.

Cast off on a knit row.

Step 6: Shoulder Assembly & Knitting the Neck

For me, this is the hardest part of making a sweater, and one reason why I don't have photos for this step (all eyes and hands are in use). (If you have any tricks for this part, please share them!) You want to make sure you pick up enough stitches to make the neck both not too tight and not too loose.

First, sew together the seams of the right and left shoulders. You will be sewing the back side of the sweater to the front. Lay out the front and back with the wrong side facing you (so the pattern on the front is facing down). Match up the shoulders. Sew together the 36 stitches together on each shoulder.

Now you’ll knit the neck. For this sweater, I picked up 90 stitches around the neck (31 picked up from front, 10 knitted on from left side, 39 picked up from back, 10 knitted on from right side) by inserting a 9-inch circular needle into each stitch around the neck. You’ll be able to feel whether it feels tight enough. I picked up 10 stitches from the left and right sides by using the gap that forms from the weight of the front and back on their corresponding stitch holders. The stitches on the sides will be perpendicular to the stitch created through picking up. You can adjust how many stitches you pick up based on how loosely or tightly you knit.

You then knit 1.5 inches of ribbing (Knit 1, Purl 1), binding off loosely once you finish. If the binding of the neck doesn’t stretch at all, you might find it hard to put the sweater on (I’ve been there).

Step 7: Completing Assembly

Now for sewing it all together! This is the most exciting part. Because it’s hard to see black yarn, I’m including a diagram instead. The sides of the sleeve should go down about 10 inches, or to your liking. The most important part is making sure the sleeve’s middle is joined at the shoulder seam (where the back and front sides join).

Note: Having another sweater that fits to your liking by your unassembled sweater helps a great deal. Then you can be sure how low down the side of the sweater you want the sleeve to be. It’s always a surprise to realize how big sleeves actually are when they aren’t yet assembled, and how far down they go on the sides of the sweater body!

Once the sleeves are on, you can sew the sides and then sew the seams of the sleeves.

*You can also assemble the sweater using single stitch crochet.

Step 8: Tucking in Ends

Many a knitter finds this part anti-climactic and excruciating, if you leave all the ends for last. But: you’re almost done making a sweater for someone! I try to keep that thought close in mind… Depending on how many colors you used, you may have to keep that thought even closer, because it can take a bit long to weave those ends in…

No worries! This is where a big sewing needle remains useful. Thread each end through your needle and follow the drawing above in tucking in. Once you have tucked in about 3 inches, cut off the remaining thread.

There are many sources for tucking in your ends, but this link and this one are especially helpful, videos included.

Repeat until you have no more ends to tuck!

And: You now have a completed adult sweater!

Hand wash with water that's neither hot nor cold to the touch. For machine washing, check out these instructions.

One more note about sizing: if your sweater turns out a little off, don't worry! You can still block it after washing. See this link for more info.

Happy knitting & sewing!

Homemade Gifts Contest 2017

Runner Up in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2017

Sew Warm Contest 2018

Participated in the
Sew Warm Contest 2018

Epilog Challenge 9

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge 9