I taught our babysitter, Liz, how to knit this summer and she took off with it like a shot. She’s already knitting cables. Seriously she blows me away! She completed four gorgeous, chunky, cable hats for her two brothers and two roommates for Christmas. Now she’s itching to start a baby project- a tiny sweater so that she can learn about knitted garment construction. As we were scrolling through Ravelry she mentioned how overwhelming it is to choose a pattern. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, it is something I still struggle with every time I choose a new project. But I am getting better, and I tried to share with her the top three tips I’ve learned when choosing a pattern. This really applies to knitting for yourself, but I suppose you could apply it to projects for your kids, or gifted projects:
1. Will it fit my style? This is huge. I made a really cute, open cardigan last year and I have never worn it. I don’t wear cardigans, especially those that don’t button or zip. No matter how cute the color or gorgeous the yarn, I’m not going to wear it. So I can cross cardigans off my list. I dress like a tomboy, as I’m sure I’ve said before. Jeans, tees, anything that is comfortable and easy to wear. In terms of sweaters that means simple pullovers.
2. What do I really need? Maybe this is the minimalist in me talking, but I don’t need 20 pullovers to get me through the winter. At the most I need 2-3. So before casting on another pullover, I’ll take a good look at my wardrobe and see if I really have a need for another (though I am eying this at the moment). Same goes for hats, shawls, cowls, and fingerless gloves. Wait, then what should I knit? See some of the helpful comments and suggestions in this post. Luckily, I have some pregnant friends, so I’ve got enough baby knitting to keep me happy for the moment being. After that, I’m starting to think about socks. I’ve never knit a sock and Lord knows I could use a few new pairs. And little ole’ Vijay has come around and started asking for a sweater. After his refusal to wear the last masterpiece I knit for him, I don’t know if I can trust him, but we’ll see 🙂 In all fairness, I’m beginning to think that he has a slight sensory issue as he insists on only wearing “soft” clothes. He’s never even worn jeans, so sweaters might just be too itchy for him. Either that or he’s just a really stubborn little bugger. But I digress…
3. Will it look good on my body type? Take a look at your closet. You probably have a good idea of what looks nice on your body type. Do you like loose, flow-y clothes? Do you like fitted, structured clothes? Make sure the knit project that you have your eye on will look good on you (and don’t be fooled by the pretty gal modeling the sweater in the press shots!).
This sweater, Kynance Cove, perfectly illustrates a well-chosen pattern. I finished it up last week and wore it all weekend. I started this sweater back in October, though I purchased the yarn in Northern Michigan this past summer. It feels as though I’ve been knitting it forever, and it didn’t help that once I was finished it felt like there were 2 million ends to be sewed in. I would seriously clean your entire house top to bottom if while I was cleaning you’d be willing to sew in my ends for me- it’s my least favorite part of knitting. Anyway, this sweater… I love it. It’s comfortable, has clean-lines, fits just the way I like and is easy to wear. It still can’t compare to my Antler. *Sigh* My knitting career peaked too early with that beauty! But I’m still chasing that high.
A few of my favorite knitting blogs often talk about this very subject and they offer a wealth of knowledge way beyond my scattered thoughts, so I suggest you take a read: The Craft Sessions and Fringe Association. Also I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, and perhaps you’d like to share a few of your favorite patterns.