Sweater knitting can be a very fickle thing. Even when you do everything perfectly, per-say- you get gauge, knit a giant swatch, get a perfect pattern- you still might end up with a sweater in both the size for and fashion for, well, an elephant. Or a mouse.
Being able to devise a sweater from any gauge, and to still be able to knit the right size if that gauge goes wrong, can be an amazing thing. It frees you from having to follow a pattern for a simple stockinette sweater.
In order to begin to be able to just improvise and intuitively knit a sweater, it can be helpful to have things to guide you. The two books below are a great pair for the beginner at intuitive knitting.
The first helpful thing to have is a good stitch dictionary. If you decide that you want to throw in a panel of lace down the center or a cable rib for the edging of your sweater, you can just grab a stitch for that out of your handy stitch library.
Personally, I think it’s best to begin to collect stitch dictionaries. It allows you to come up with more interesting stitch combinations. One of my current favorites is this New Knitting Stitch Library. It has really nice pictures with clear written and charted instructions. The actual stitches in it are really unique, too!
Photo by Sacia Ashe
The second book you need is something to help you with the pattern math that you’ll have to do in order to knit your sweater. The best sweater to knit “on the fly” is a top-down in the round sweater. What this type of sweater lets you do is to knit until you run out of yarn. You can also make more or fewer body increases if your gauge goes a bit wonky. This handy book of top down sweaters is great because it provides a simple formula type sheet for most sweater sizes. The patterns that come in it are also really beautiful!
Another option is to use the EZ sweater percentage system. This is the way people mostly knit sweaters “back in the day”. It’s a really great method, and fairly simple with a calculator.
Having these two books frees you from the confines of having to use a pattern all the time. You’ll begin to be able to really grasp sweater construction. Maybe you’ll even start designing published patterns!
When you can knit intuitively, there’s almost no limit as to what you can knit. You will be able to start quickly and easily knitting garments you’ll love.
Do you consider yourself an intuitive knitter? Let me know in the comments below!