Crocheted sweaters are great, they are quick to make (as compared to knitting) and they are thick and quite warm.
Today I’ll go over doing zig zag stitch and making either a pullover or a cardigan without a pattern.
How to do the zig zag stitch: I learned this stitch from a cousin, but I’ve also seen a chart for it in The Crochet Stitch Bible (Betty Barnden, 2004 Krause Publications. Quarto Inc. pg. 71) if its easier for you to do following a chart. Basically you start at the bottom of the sweater, and chain as long as you need to fit around your hips (or wherever you want the sweater to end). You will have to count as you chain though, let me explain (and that’s really the most challenging part of the whole sweater). First lets talk about what you need in chain length. You need to know that after you’ve made your chain -what you will do is insert the hook into the 3rd chain and make a straight section of double crochet, half the width you want your chevrons to be, (lets say for example 6 double crochet). So, you will count the first 2 chains as 1 double crochet, then you will do 5 more double crochet (total of 6). Then you will make your chevron bend down – in the next chain stitch, do 3 double crochet in the same stitch. Then do 6 more double crochet (each in its own chain stitch). Then you need to make it bend upwards to start the next chevron, so skip 2 chains, and then do 6 more double crochet, then do 3 dc in the same chain, then 6 more dc (you’ve now made 2 chevrons). So that’s why the chain is challenging. You can make it any length you want to fit around your hips, but it has to be a multiple of 6 + 1 (the bend down) + 6 + 2 (the bend up) chains long, plus the 2 chains on the end that you skipped to make your first stitch. If you want your chevrons to be a little wider and you do sections of 7, it would be a multiple of 7 + 1 + 7 +2 plus 2 on the end. An easy non-mathy way to do it if you don’t want to bother calculating all that to come out with a perfectly even number of complete chevrons, is just to make your chain as long as you need it to be for around your hips, do a few extra chains, start your first row, and any chain that is left over at the end after you’ve made complete chevrons, just plan to stitch it to the inside of the sweater to hide it when you’re done. Then after you’ve done your first row, the next row just goes on top of it. The 3 you stitch in one place to make it bend down always gets put into the middle stitch of the 3 in 1 below it. Likewise, your 2 chains that make the bend upwards go on top of the 2 chains you skipped in the row below. So you just have to make sure if you wanted lengths of 6, that you can fit 6 in and have the 3 in 1 and the skipped 2 always wind up at the right place. Your rows will jog because when you do 3 in 1, a double crochet in the next row goes in the 2 side ones of the 3 in 1. Once you’ve done a couple of rows it becomes very easy and obvious to you where to put your hook. Use a hook 2 sizes bigger to do your chain or the chain will pull tight (you can see that in my photos, my edges curl under instead of being nice scalloped edges. That’s because my chain was done with the same hook and pulls too tight).
If you want a pullover, after you stitch your chain and figure out the right number of chain holes you’ll need, attach it to itself and crochet in a circle. If you want a cardigan, go back and forth so there is an opening in the front. So, you’ve started at the hips and you’re just working upward in both cases.
If you want to decrease a little to shape the waist line, you can decrease by reducing the number of dc in a straight section (do equal decreasing on both sides of the 3 in 1 to keep it even). For example if your doing straight sections of 6, make one chevron 5s and keep the rest 6s (Just skip a chain within the middle of the straight section so that it will disappear from the next row). Its good to do this on the sides above the hips to keep the front and back of the sweater even. You can see on the photo below that decreases were done in the same way under the arm to decrease the sleeve size. Increases can be done the same way, by adding another dc within the middle of the straight section (doing 2 stitches in one chain to add that next spot for a new dc in the next row).
To make the row of holes that goes across, just skip double crochets in an even pattern (chain 1 instead of 1 dc so you keep your numbers correct). This is how I made button holes in the sweater below, 2 buttons were sewn on across from the holey rows.
Whether making a pullover or cardigan, you just work upward from the waist, increasing or decreasing if you choose to shape it to match your shape, or just working straight. Armholes: When you get to a spot an inch or two below your armpits, decrease around the spot your arm would go to make an arm shaped hole (you’ll put the sleeves on later). Then you will now work the front and back separately. Just stick with your chevrons and keep going up, you can hold it up to yourself to see exactly how wide the front and back parts have to be, and you can decrease to make them that size. Around the arm holes, you can just leave stitches off the ends instead of decreasing in the middle of straight sections. Wherever you envision the seam to be for your sleeve to start, that’s where you want your rows to end.
Cardigan neckline: After you’ve gone a little past halfway up the arm holes, you can see that I did a straight row across the back of mine. This was just so I didn’t have to figure out how to do chevrons around the neck hole and I could just do straight rows of double crochet for around the neck, leaving holes (skipped chains) in the same line with the holes below. Once you get to where your arm holes are big enough and you’ve shaped a neck hole by leaving off stitches on the top of the middle of the back piece, just stitch the back and front pieces together. You now have a cardigan that looks like a vest and you’re ready for sleeves.
Pullover neckline: After you get halfway up the armholes, you may want to start the hole for the neck on the front. To make my pullover neckline, I left off stitches in the middle and started going back and forth on 2 shoulder pieces, leaving off stitches from the ends, the same number on both sides to make the scalloped look and keep it even. The back piece is just worked straight up, only descreasing on the ends at the armholes, and a hole is left in the middle of the back (higher than the front) by stopping and going back and forth the same way, keeping an even number of stitches for the shoulders. Then the shoulders are stitched together at the top once the neck hole and the arm holes are big enough. You now have a vest type sweater and you’re ready for sleeves.
Sleeves: In both cases, just tie on your yarn under the armpit and double crochet in a chevron pattern, picking up stitches from around the armhole (you use the sides of those stitches as the base for your first row of sleeve). If your shoulder pieces droop off of your shoulders like mine, you don’t need to do extra rows on top of the shoulder for a shoulder cap, you can just work pretty much straight. I did a slight shoulder cap on my white sweater, but it kind of sticks out, so it probably would have been better if I hadn’t. The worst that can happen if you don’t shoulder cap is that you get a bunch up under your arm. Try it on, make sure you like the size, and check for needing capping or bunching, and write down what you do so you can repeat it for the second arm. (Or, you can do both arms at once, do a few rows on one arm, then do a few rows on the other, working from both ends of your skein to make that 2nd sleeve easier). You can decrease to slim your sleeves as you go like I described above in the decreasing section. I made my sleeves too long, because I hate too short sleeves as I’m a relatively long armed person. If you try on as you go you will get perfect sleeve length.
Finishing both: Once you’re done with the pullover sleeves, your finished. For the cardigan, I made a fancier edge on the front, and sewed on the buttons across from the open hole rows. You don’t need to do this, you can just leave it, but here’s what I did. I used a huge knitting needle (size 10 if I remember right) inserted into the stitches on the edge. First I did one half of this edge, then I did the second half. So, first I inserted the needle under a piece of yarn in each stitch from the middle of the back of the neck down the edge to the bottom of the front. If you knit, you have a pretty good idea how far apart the stitches are supposed to be on the needle, that’s how far apart you should pick up a piece of yarn on these stitches so it comes out even. Then I did garter stitch (knit every row, back and forth) for a few rows (5 or 6). Then I did the same on the other half, from the middle of the back of the neck down the front on the other side and stitched the 2 pieces together in the middle of the back. If you want a fancier edge but don’t want to knit, you can just tie your yarn on at the bottom edge and pull up loops with the crochet hook (like making chain stitch) in an even row around the whole edge, angled toward the front for a finished look.
The yarn for both of these sweaters is Red Heart.