Picking a pattern

For your first sweater, choose a simple style with minimal shaping. A dropped-shoulder pullover is a good choice, or try the Easy Top-Down Raglan sweater pattern in Chapter 18, which is knit in the round. Save a cardigan with buttonholes for your next project.

Also look for a pattern that calls for size US 7, 8, or 9 needles (that's 4K mm, 5 mm, and 5K mm, respectively). On needles this size, your project will knit up relatively quickly. You'll also be able to see, count, and manipulate individual stitches without straining your eyes — or patience. Plus, if a pattern calls for US 7, 8, or 9 needles, the yarn will be medium weight, one of the easier weights to work with. (Refer to Chapter 2 for details about different yarn weights.)

A child's sweater that knits up quickly is a good practice sweater. You get to work through all the steps of sweater making in miniature — and little kids look great in anything, whether the sleeves are an exact match or not. Plus, if you make it too big, the child will grow into it; if you make it too small, you've got yourself a ready-made gift or a doll's outfit.

Make a photocopy of your pattern so that you can write on it freely as you knit. Keep the copy in a protective plastic sleeve to carry around with your knitting. The same goes for any charts that come with the pattern.

Chapter 14 guides you through the parts of a typical sweater pattern. We recommend that you review it before starting a sweater project.

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