Sweater 101: How to Plan Sweaters that Fit…and Organize Your Knitting Life at the Same Time

Book CoverDear Sweater Knitter (Aspiring or Accomplished),

Your chances of making a sweater that fits someone you love (including yourself), with or without a commercial pattern, just got better.

  • Have you ever fallen for a gorgeous yarn but didn’t buy it because you couldn’t find a pattern for it?
  • Do you have a favorite store-bought sweater that you’d love to duplicate in yarn from your stash?
  • Have you ever found a pattern that you adored but couldn’t make it because it was written for yarn that has been discontinued?
  • Have you ever tried every set of knitting needles you own in the suggested size to get the gauge called for by a pattern and still not achieved it? Up a size, down a size and hand cramps later, you still couldn’t match it?
  • Worse yet, have you matched the yarn, pattern and gauge perfectly and still had to rip out hours of work because of errors in the pattern?
  • Have you sworn off sweaters forever because of too many sweater disasters?

If so, Sweater 101: How to Plan Sweaters that Fit … and Organize your Knitting Life at the Same Time can help you.

The newest version of Sweater 101 is the most recent incarnation of a project that’s been evolving for close to 30 years. It started the night my water broke in October 1982.

I was an “elderly prima gravida” (35-or-more-years-old and in a first pregnancy) living at the far end of a small island in the Pacific Northwest. My husband was attending a two-week class in Seattle, 46 miles away as the crow flies, but he was not a crow and it was a four-hour drive in those days. My doctor was in Hawaii. It was close to midnight.

What does one do on a dark and stormy night, awaiting the arrival of husband and child, hopefully in that order, and trusted doctor too far away to make it to the main event? One knits, of course.

“Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.”
Elizabeth Zimmerman

I was working on a complex sleeve. Narrow garter stitch bands separated wider sections of different patterns. Each section was a different color. I had just started a purple-tweed blackberry stitch section.

I knit for several hours, floating on the swells of early labor, before I dozed off. It ended well. Husband arrived in the early a.m., healthy son in the early p.m., and we were all back on the island by the next morning.

Some days later I picked up the sleeve. And this is what I found:

Click here to see my surprise.

It had been designed as a straight sleeve. I couldn’t rip it out because I’m sentimental and it was a touching reminder of the dark and stormy night.

Here I was with an infant, a wonky sleeve to finish, a second sleeve to knit, and very little time. The written directions were so complicated that I barely found my place in the pattern before I had to stop to tend to Beloved Infant, so I sketched a little picture of what the sleeve looked like with its complex pattern sections. When I had a moment here or there, I could quickly orient myself to where I was and knit a bit.

I worked straight for the rest of the sleeve and, in the end, sewed it together so that no one but I knew that the dog-leg was there. I knit the second sleeve straight and I had a finished sweater by Christmas.

Sweater 101 looks like a book but it’s really a workshop…

As Beloved Son grew, knitting time became even more scarce, but I remembered what a dandy strategy the little picture of the sleeve had been for speeding up my process. By drawing pictures of the pieces of my knitting projects, I was able to grab a bag on the way out the door to the dentist’s office, glance at the “big picture,” and start knitting right away.

When I went to work one day a week at my local yarn shop a few years later, I started sketching the same kinds of pictures for our customers. I was studying sweater design by then and I found it easier to draw a picture than to write out a pattern. I could literally “see” what I was doing so I could catch errors in size or stitch numbers and quickly adjust length or width.

Our customers loved these little patterns so much that I developed a class to teach them how to do it themselves. After five years of refining that class, I wrote it up and in 1991, Patternworks published Sweater 101 as a “Workshop in a Folder.”

I still teach an occasional Sweater 101 workshop based on the book. Here are some reactions to Sweater 101, The Workshop. . .

And the book is packed with much more information than we are able to cover in day or weekend.

Sweater 101 is not a book of patterns.  It’s a  reference text that you’ll consult every time you make a sweater…

When you write a book, you think about what you want to say. When you design a class, you think about “behavioral objectives.” That’s teacher-talk for the “behaviors” you want to see in your students after they’ve taken the class.

After studying Sweater 101 the student [that would be you] will be able to:

* learn make a proper gauge swatch and measure it with an accuracy worthy of NASA (pages 30-31).
* know the three sources of measurements for sizing a sweater (pp. 35-36).
* create a simple-to-follow “Picture Pattern” for each sweater you make.
* easily chart a set-in sleeve cap without a single hypotenuse squared.
* have the tools you need to organize your knitting life.
* use two simple math skills to save time on every sweater you knit (page 22+).
* adapt a pattern to your yarn, gauge and body size.
* change necklines and collars on any sweater.
* fall in love with any yarn and buy it, confident that you can make your own pattern for it.

“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.” Albert Einstein

Sweater 101 is simple…

It consists of

* 66 pages of text in which I teach you all of the above and more.
* Appendix A which is a mini-reference book with schematics that show the standard measurements for 30 sizes, Child’s Size 6 months to Men’s Size 50, in three basic styles.
* Appendix B which has six reproducible forms to help you draw your own patterns, chart a perfect set-in sleeve, and create a written record with your gauge and yarn information that will make your knitting life easier and more organized. In the eBook version, these forms are interactive and printable. In the hard bound version these forms are meant to be photocopied.

Sweater 101 is tried and true…

After almost 25 years in print much has been said about the book. You can read some of it by clicking here.

“If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin

Sweater 101 is published in two formats, as a Hard Bound Book and as an eBook…

The Hard Bound Book…

* cuddles up in your favorite knitting chair with you.
* is portable. Put it in your knitting bag, take it to your LYS and design a sweater right there.
* is durable. It has a stout cover, built to last for years of use.
* is convenient to use. It lies totally flat with an ingenious concealed Wire-O binding.
* is a familiar friend. We’re all used to physical books, and this one was carefully designed to give you years of service.
* is only $35.50 including shipping (it weighs almost 2 pounds)

The eBook…

* is an electronic file that is available instantly. You’ll have it in minutes.
* saves you money. Besides being less expensive, there’s no shipping charge, even across oceans.
* is easily navigated. You can jump to the section you need with the click of a mouse, or search for any word or phrase.
* is easily read. You can make the print as large as you need.
* is flexible. You can read it on your computer screen or print out a hardcopy.
* is interactive. You can fill in the Picture Patterns and Gauge Record Sheet on the computer and then print them out.
* saves paper. Print out only what you need.
* is only $29.