My Season of Knitting Cardigan Sweaters

I wear cardigan sweaters all the time. Here in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, we rarely have bitter cold weather. But in the pastel beauty of the Appalachian spring and among the yellow and orange leaves of autumn, we have cool mornings and crisp evenings perfect for a light sweater. During the heat of the summers, cardigans are perfect for peeling off by midmorning or to cope with excessive air conditioning indoors.

This year, I pledged to learn to knit my own cardigans. My closet is full of fairly inexpensive, store-bought cardigans, but I didn’t have a single cardigan sweater I had made myself. As a longtime knitter, I found this situation embarrassing and unacceptable. I admit, I found all the shaping, button bands, and tricky necklines highly intimidating. 

But I resolved to learn the skills needed and become a Cardigan Queen. Two months into the year, I’m pleased to say I’ve completed two cardigans and have another well under way. I started with a yoke-neck cardi. Much to my surprise, my first cardigan took less than two weeks to complete, fit perfectly, and is now a “go-to” part of my wardrobe. 

The verdict is still out on the “saddle” neck cardi I’m making, using a kit from Kitterly. It’s complicated, using German short rows, make-one-lefts and rights, cable cast-ons, and some other techniques I hadn’t used before. But I followed the directions and somehow got several indescribable shapes onto one set of needles to form a corset shaped garment that is starting to look like a sweater. 

Will my season of cardigans come to a successful conclusion? Probably. Though my season of cardis is not yet in full bloom and I still have a lot to learn, the seeds of a fruitful harvest of all new cardis is firmly planted, taking root, and in a promising growing season. 

Here’s What I’m Using to Make Cardigans

Margaret Hubert, One-Piece Knits: Essential Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges for Sweaters Knit Top Down, Side Over, and Back to Front (This book of charts proved easier than it initially looks. I’ve easily adjusted the charts slightly to fit me. Several techniques are included. Highly recommended.)

Yarn: Knitcrate offers very high-quality yarns at very affordable costs. If you subscribe to the “member crate,” you’ll get enough yarn for a small project (patterns included). At the end of the month, you can get fantastic deals on the featured yarns (and get enough yarn for a sweater). Buy early – they sell out! Click this link to get a crate for only $5.

Kits: I’m using kits from Kitterly. These kits are pricey but include high quality yarn and well-designed but complicated patterns. They work, but you’ll need to pay close attention to the directions. 

Blessings on you own season of knitting, 


Cynthia Coe is the author of The Prayer Shawl Chronicles, a collection of interrelated short stories about knitters and those they meet through knitting and sharing prayer shawls. Available in e-book for US $4.99 and in paperback for $14.99. Read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Top Down Knitted Sweaters – Where Have You Been All My Life?

For knitters, there’s no greater joy than wearing your favorite hand-knitted sweater, knowing that you made it yourself.  And if the sweater fits perfectly, looks terrific, and gets you lots of compliments, you feel a special kind of pride.

Up until the last year or so, I stayed away from making my own sweaters. I learned to knit sweaters the “flat” way, making four pieces (front, back, two arms) from the bottom up and stitching the pieces together at the end, putting in a neckline by picking up stitches and hoping I had enough yarn left to finish the project. My necklines never looked professional. My efforts looked amateur. 

Then came all those pretty “cake” or “sweet roll” yarns with the lovely colors and inviting rounds rolls begging me to knit something marvelous. I made the big switch to top-down knitting and circular needles. Much to my surprise, I came out with a sweater I wear at least once a week, proudly and confidently that it’s a great looking and fitting garment. (And the sweater’s “done” as soon as I’ve finished knitting – no tedious mattress stitching and few loose ends to tie up.)

This leaves me thinking, “where have top-down knitted sweaters been all my life?” I’m guessing it’s all about the new widespread availability of circular needle sets, along with a plethora of new yarns made for the self-striping colors that make a top-down knitted sweater pop. In any case, I’m so glad I made the switch. I may never buy another store-bought sweater again.

Here’s what I’m using for my top-down sweaters:

Pattern bookThe Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweatersby Ann Budd. (I’m using the chart for the “Seamless Yoke Sweaters” on page 23.)

YarnCaron Cakes (I’ve needed three cakes to make a sweater. You’ll have a good bit left over for a matching scarf.)

NeedlesClover Takumi Circular Needle Set(available online for about half the retail price) I’ve used size 8 needles with the Caron Cake yarn.

MarkersJill’s Beaded Knit Bits. I love these markers, handmade and sold by the artisan online. You’ll need at least one marker for yoke sweaters, a set for raglan designs. Jill also carries row counters and other useful jeweled tools.

Happy Sweater Knitting!

Feel free to comment if you have projects to show off or tips for new knitters!

Blessings, Cindy