Designing Your First Sweater

Designing a sweater pattern is a wonderful milestone in any new knitting pattern designer’s career, but how do you know if you’re ready to take on the challenge?

I designed my first sweater back in Spring 2017 and I remember feeling excited but SO nervous about the whole thing! Thankfully, everything I’d done leading up to that moment prepared me for making my sweater pattern a great success.

In this blog post, I’m going to share three ways that you can prepare yourself for designing your first sweater pattern. You might even be surprised to find that you’re already prepared!


Great sweater pattern designers are usually people who LOVE to knit sweaters! They’ve likely spent years knitting from other designers’ sweater patterns and have a good understanding of what makes a great sweater pattern, in terms of design, fit and pattern instructions.

By the time I designed my Split Stone sweater, I had already knitted countless sweaters – more than I can even remember! It was through that experience that I figured out the style of sweaters I particularly loved to knit. It also introduced me to new sweater constructions that I may not have otherwise known about.

Before you think about designing your first sweater pattern, I recommend that you spend some time knitting from sweater patterns. Fill your drawers with sweaters! Get to know what styles, fits and constructions you like. All of this sweater-making experience will be extremely useful when you embark on your own sweater design journey.


Whether you’re designing a shawl or a sweater, many of the steps in the knitting pattern design process are exactly the same. That’s why I always recommend that new knitting pattern designers design a few simple accessories to familiarise themselves with the design process before they move onto designing a sweater.

Before I designed a sweater, I designed my , a cabled hat graded into three sizes, and my a simple wrap that didn’t require any grading. Both of these designs allowed me to take my time in becoming comfortable with the design process before I moved onto something more complex.

Once I started designing , a lot of the process was already very familiar to me! It was just the garment grading that was completely new.


Designing a sweater pattern is a whole lot easier when you know how to construct a sweater. That way, you’re not figuring out how to actually put the sweater together – you’re just calculating what you need to do to make your sweater come out to the correct dimensions across all sizes.

I designed Split Stone seamlessly from the bottom up. I chose that construction because I had recently knitted a cardigan with a very similar construction and the process of putting it together was still really fresh in my mind. I knew the steps I needed to take in order to make it happen!

Once you have a really strong understanding of your chosen sweater construction, you can visualise the construction, step-by-step, to help you work out which stitch and row/round counts you’ll need to calculate and when. It will also help to form the skeleton of your pattern instructions.

The more confident you are about your sweater construction, the more confident you will be when writing your pattern!


If you read through all of this and found yourself thinking, “Well, I’ve not done any of that yet!”, it’s not too late for you. Rather than resigning yourself to never designing a sweater pattern, take action to get prepared.

Put a few sweaters on your to-knit list, start planning some simple accessory designs and do some research about the different sweater constructions out there. By this time next year, you could be ready to take on your first sweater!

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