Knitted sweaters can be done almost the same as crocheted sweaters. The trickier part with knitting is getting the size to fit you right. If a person is not careful when working pattern free, this can mean starting over three times or more once you get going and realize you’ve casted on too many or too little.
How do you avoid that? Since you don’t start with a chain you just wrap around yourself like with crochet, its a good idea to make a permanent swatch (a swatch you can reuse extensively). If you want to start at the bottom of a sweater and knit up, use the same yarn and same size needle you want for your sweater and make a swatch long enough to wrap around your hips -or longer, and, say, 2 inches high at least. You can keep this band and use it for measuring everything you will make in the future with this same yarn and that same needle, so its a great thing to have. You can wrap it around your fingers to know finger sizes for gloves, your head to know hat sizes – everything! Attach a piece of paper to it saying what s needle you used and what yarn so you’ll never forget, and keep it for reference. (This is one reason I use so much Red Heart yarn. Its all the same size so I never need to reswatch, I just use an old count on the same needle and cast on). Once that’s made, all you have to do is wrap it around your hips, hold it at the spot where it meets (or a little looser than that spot if you want a baggier sweater) then take it off and count the rows. That’s how many to cast on.
If you absolutely do not want to swatch, even once, (maybe your yarn was really pricey and there’s not that much of it in the skein for example), you can just go for it. I warn you that you may need to start over more than once, (or make a fold over and hide it as a twisted cable like I was squawking about in my Magic and Lollypops post on the tanktop that wound up too big). Once you make your first sweater, you can just use that as your swatch in the future, wrapping it around yourself however you need to measure and count when you plan to use the same yarn and needles. Okay, are you still with me? That was really the most tricky part, the rest is easy!
If you want to make a cardigan like the aqua one, I used a circular needle for this, it will help later, but didn’t join the circle, just left an opening for the front. There are 8 garter stitches on each side of that opening, and on the bottom to keep it from rolling. (Garter is great for that, also seed stitch. Seed stitch won’t pull tight like garter sometimes does). Then a chart was followed to make the pattern as I worked up from the hips (see chart ref. below). Then you just keep going until you get to where you want your arm holes to start.
For the pullover, you just connect the circle on your 40 inch circular needle and go up n a tube. Mine was done with k2 p2 ribbing for the bottom few inches (I did not use a needle 2 sizes smaller for that, that’s why my ribbing doesn’t look tight), then a chart was followed for the design (see chart ref. below). You just go up straight, and you can add increases or decreases (put them where they’ll hide in the area under the arm) for your curves if so desired.
Cardigan – from the arm holes up: This is where the circular needle helps, you get a better idea of where to put the armholes by holding it around yourself. Make sure to set aside an equal number of rows for the two front pieces (use dividers – little loops of yarn or stitch markers), and go back and forth on the pieces to leave the arm hole opening. You can decrease for under the arm to make it arm hole shaped by knitting 2 together a few times only on the 10 or so stitches on the end under the arm (stop doing that when its arm hole shaped, before you get very high on the arm hole). On the back piece you will want to add your non-rolling stitches in the middle to start the neck, and start working only the ends (the 2 parts that rest on the shoulders)) to leave an opening for the neck in the back once you are done with an equal number of non-rolling stitches as you did on the front. My neck was done straight across and wide for a square neck. (This was my bright idea for a cool design, but it lead to a sweater that falls off the shoulders, so I don’t recommend it!) The back parts for the shoulder should be the same number of stitches as the front shoulder parts – if you need to fudge this, its better to decrease than increase, do that where the sleeve will meet. Then once you have gotten your arm holes big enough, you just stitch the top of the shoulders together. Kitchener stitch will leave you with an almost seamless sweater, or you can just sew them together normally.
The pullover from the arms up: Divide the front and back pieces equally for arm holes. You can leave the 2 pieces on the big circular needle, just work each one separately, back and forth. Decrease for arm hole shaping by knitting 2 together repeatedly at the edges where the arm holes are, only on about the last 10 stitches. (Stop doing that when its arm hole shaped, before you get very high on the arm hole). When its time for the neck, leave off some stitches in the middle of both the back and the front pieces (how many? Neck width, hold it up to you and see). Do this lower in the front than in the back (most tops are higher in the back). You can run yarn through the neck stitches to hold them, or use stitch dividers and leave them on the needle, or bind them off and pick them up later when you want to do the collar – up to you. The back parts for the shoulder should be the same number of stitches as the front shoulder parts – if you need to fudge this, its better to decrease than increase, do that where the sleeve will meet. Then once you have gotten your arm holes big enough, you just stitch the top of the shoulders together. Kitchener stitch will leave you with an almost seamless sweater, or you can just sew them together normally. After you seam your shoulders, you can pick up your neck stitches to do ribbing or whatever you’d like for your collar. Then just add sleeves.
Sleeves on both: Just work in a tube on a short circular needle the same size that you used for the sweater, or on double pointed needles. The cardigan’s were done from the wrist up and attached to the body at the end, starting with 8 rows of garter stitch at the wrist for non rolling. The neon pullover’s stitches were picked up at the armhole and worked to the wrist, doing a chart pattern at the wrist that mixes knits and purls for non rolling. The cardigan’s decrease on the way up to the shoulder for a wide flared sleeve, the pullover’s are wider at the shoulder and decrease toward the wrist.
The Aqua Cardigan chart used for the bottom of the sweater and ends of the sleeves: The New Knitting Stitch Library. Lesley Stanfield. Quarto Publishing, 1992. Chart #70, page 47.
The Neon Pullover chart: Ribbing was k2, p2 repeats (no chart). The braid up the middle of the front was The New Knitting Stitch Library. Lesley Stanfield. Quarto Publishing, 1992. Chart #33, page 35 (this chart is for a multiple of 10 stitches, only 10 stitches were used). The checkerboard pattern above the ribbing and at the ends of the sleeves (no chart) k3 p3, then repeat, always doing knits and purls on top of the same for 3 rows, then for the 4th row doing the 3 knits over 3 purls, and 3 purls over 3 knits (to alternate and make 9 stitch checker squares). On the body, on top of the checkers I did a few straight rows of purl thinking it would help it blend (left those off on the sleeves).