Planning the perfect Crochet Sweater

Planning the perfect Crochet Sweater

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I’ve heard it many times.. ‘I don’t like the way crochet garments look’ or ‘I can’t make a crochet sweater than fits flattering’

And 9 years ago I was right there too! Coming from a seamstress background with a love for fashion and costume design I naturally wanted to take my crochet skills to garments… especially crochet sweaters! You know, like the handmade crochet sweaters in couture fashion collections that look so amazing. It was not easy but now I have a method of operation that has allowed me to create the perfect crochet sweater every time. No more weeks of time wasted and frogging yarn for me. You can do the same too!

How to Make the Perfect Crochet Sweater

The first 4 crochet sweaters I made were disappointing to say the very least.. more like heartbreaking! All that time… ugh!

They were ill-fitting, bulky.. not bulky in a good oversized boyfriend sexy sweater way but bulky in an oh my goodness I look 20 pounds heavier kinda way! I also picked ridiculous colors that did NOT look good on me… oh but that skein of yarn was so pretty!

Well, as a blanket it might have remained pretty but on my body clashing with my skin tone, it was not so pretty!

So I’d like to share what I did wrong and maybe it will help you avoid heartbreak! And what I now do right! Making crochet sweaters that look good on me, look flattering and when I wear them out random girls ask me ‘where did you get that sweater!!’

I made this exact sweater 8 years ago in a bad yarn choice.. both color and weight. With some adjustments, better yarn and the right colors I love this sweater!

What I Did Wrong

The following are crochet Sweaters gone wrong…very wrong for me anyway!
This is a hideous sweater.. there are so many things wrong with it I don’t think anyone would look nice in it! Bad heavy yarn choice bulk adding stitches to the top where I do not need any bulk!

Please do excuse the headless pictures  But I look absolutely hideous in these crochet sweaters! There is NO way I was going to do a collaboration of pics where I think I look awful!

I had learned with sewing my own clothing that just because it looked good on the bolt didn’t mean it would look good on me, nor would the pattern. I wish I had of transferred this realization onto my crochet sweaters sooner!

This became very clear to me one weekend in Miami with my husband. I had tried on a popular design treading at the time. The salesman raved about how good it looked.. my husband said, no! that makes you look like a Tele tubby!  The salesman was horrified, I cracked up because he was so right! It looked so cute on tall girls with long thin legs.. not so much on a shorter girl with thicker legs! I wanted it to look good so bad.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

I’m glad I tried it on, glad my husband is so bluntly honest and didn’t waste my money! That was the beginning of me sewing my own clothing with what I looked good in! Not sewing what someone else looked good in or what looked good on the bolt at the fabric store.

Eventually being honest about what looked good on me crochet sweater wise too!

Crochet Sweater Problems!

1st Sweater Problems: (top left in the photo above) The color is ok on me but with me being top heavy and short waisted the type (ribbon yarn), the weight of the yarn (4) and the gauge made me look way heavier than I was. Also, the horizontal striping was not helping!!! Luckily it was easy to make so didn’t take to much time. but still very sad cause I hated it.

2nd Sweater, The openwork lace topper: this would have looked good BUT I used a variegated yarn.. again on a top-heavy girl it just made me look bigger up top and wider in the shoulders. The coloring was all wrong. I love oranges and autumn colors but they made me look so pasty! I gave this topper to my much smaller niece that looks good in those colors and it was beautiful!

3rd Sweater, The oh so orange fair isle:  This one really broke my heart! I used a worsted 4 weight that made me look huge! and of course, I fell victim again to autumn colors. I gave it to my DIL who is not wide shouldered or top heavy and looks lovely in those colors so it worked for her. I was Very very sad though.

4th Sweater, the tan hot mess: better color choice for me..but the thick worsted acrylic yarn and the fancy lace stitching at the top was atrocious on me!! I gave it to goodwill!

So bad choices, wasted time, wasted money. Hard lessons learned!

What I now do right!

  1. I study patterns. I try not to look at the model but imagine myself in the sweater, with my D cups, short waist, and my angular shoulders. My body is nothing like models nor can I photoshop and filter my real life self so I look good in all colors
  2. . I do not make a crochet sweater in big fluffy worsted weight or bulky yarns. Maybe a cardigan where I can wear something form fitting underneath and showing in the front. Never again in a full sweater or even an open work motif! Just adds to much ‘bulk’ to my body that I don’t want! I’ve learned Weight 3 or lighter only for my body type.
  3. No variegated yarns. They are just to busy for me to wear. Tonal yarns are fine but variegated are best kept to accessories, the trim or maybe an open cardigan over a solid top for me. Remember, just because it looks good as a skein doesn’t mean it will look good on you!
  4. No horizontal stripes… ever for this short waisted chick! But Long waisted people enjoy!
  5. Being really thoughtful about the color I choose has helped a lot. Think, what colors do you feel amazing in.. not what colors do you like to look at. There’s a huge difference, like me and autumn colors. I keep those colors to a minimum when I coordinate them into an outfit on myself.

6. Be super thoughtful about the type of fibers the yarn is made from! The cheap acrylics are great for many projects like my Bavarian Stitch Blanket project but maybe not for a sweater. They tend to pill when worn a lot. They sometimes don’t block and stitches don’t relax pretty. Higher quality acrylics can be great for sweaters but my favorites are cotton acrylic blends. I also have to keep in mind where I live.. a wool/angora sweater may be awesome in Montana but not so much here in southeast Tennessee. King Cole yarns are some of my favorite crochet sweater yarns! I really love this one King Cole Comfort DK
7. An extension of number 6. Know your fibers! For example, I rarely want wool in my sweaters at all, they are too hot for the south and they make me itch as a sweater. Some wools are meant to be against the skin, like merino but many are not and if you’re sensitive like me even angora may still make you itch!  Yes, the plant fiber higher quality blended yarns cost more.. but I wait for sales and stock up. All the time I put into a crochet sweater it needs to be nice and feel good. I need to love wearing it!
8. After I study the pattern, I make potential yarn choices and I swatch like crazy! Just because it says 3 dk weight it might actually crochet up like a 4.. or a 2! Many times this can be adjusted with your hook size. I look at how the stitch patterns look in the different swatches too.. is it clean or fuzzy? What effect do I want?

Remember, You can never swatch to much! Then yes, I block the swatches I like best because blocking can change everything or nothing. But you need to know before you spend 2 weeks or longer on a crochet sweater you want to love.

Beginning Resources and Patterns for Crochet Sweaters

When it comes to picking out a pattern I started with Top-down crochet sweaters. Although I have branched out they are still my absolute favorite pattern style because I can try them on as I go making sure I achieve a perfect fit every time! They are brilliant and make fitting a breeze. One less thing to worry about!

If you prefer to start with video help I highly recommended enough Doris Chans Top down sweater DVD! She goes through fitting examples, walks through the pattern step by step. You can get it here Doris Chan DVD

Also, a big favorite is Robin Chaculas Making Sweaters Online class Found here Robin’s Sweater Class

Wonderful and clear instruction. You get 3 sweaters here and Robin walks you through the techniques for each one. I can not recommend the top down sweater in her class enough! Especially if you have never made a sweater or never made a sweater you love. It’s perfect!

Also at Annie’s is Lena Skvagerson Top Down Cardigan. I haven’t taken this class but I’ve taken other classes from her and used many of her patterns. Her instructions are always perfect! Top Down Cardigan

When you get comfortable I highly recommend this book Top-Down Sweaters

I’ve made 3 sweaters from this book and they have all turned out flawlessly!

You Can Make THE Perfect Crochet Sweater!

I truly hope my experiences and recommendations help you make the perfect crochet sweater.

If you take some of my tips above it won’t take you near as long as it did me to make perfect sweaters!

It’s been a journey to get it right, But it is SO worth it!!! To have that perfect fit, extra comfy, one of a kind crochet sweater.  I’ve made many things where I felt accomplished and happy afterward.. but none quite so much as a perfect crochet sweater.

Stay Creative 🙂 and love what you make!

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