Throwback Sweater

HelenHelen's Makes, Knitting29 Comments

My First Knitted Sweater

I have learned how to knit 4 or 5 times over the years. Each time I would pick it up again, learn the knit and purl, and get a few inches into a project. Then I would get distracted by a new sewing pattern or make a mistake and not know how to fix it. It always ended up abandoned in a drawer somewhere!

Throwback Sweater

In 2018 I decided to take a knitting class with my friend and co-host of the Love to Sew Podcast, Caroline! We both wanted to try knitting again and we took a beginner’s knitting class where we made a hat over three sessions. After I was able to finally complete a project from start to finish I felt SO inspired to start my next project!

Throwback Sweater

Since that class, I have knit 8 toques (hats), 2 cowls, 1 pair of socks, and 2 knitted sweaters! I really enjoy the relaxing and meditative process of knitting. It is so great to have a small, portable project that I can do while I wait or relax in front of the TV.

Throwback Sweater

This first knitted sweater (OK it’s a cardigan) took about 8 months to complete and I was so excited about the colors, yarn, and the design. This is the Throwback Sweater by Andrea Mowry and I knit it in worsted weight Homestead yarn from West Coast Colour. I opted for a cardigan since I run hot and I was curious about the process of knitting front bands. It also has a beautiful colorwork yoke which I was really excited about. Colorwork has been my favorite kind of knitting so far, but I have yet to try cables or lace, so we will see!

Throwback Sweater
Andrea Mowry Modeling the Throwback Sweater

I basically copied the colours Andrea used for her sample because the rusty red was what initially caught my eye about this pattern, and the blues and greens she paired with it are just perfect. I went for a brighter green and I love how it all looks together.

Throwback Sweater

I learned so much making this sweater and I honestly had no clue what I was doing for most of it. I was studiously following the instructions and trying not to worry about what was coming next. When I needed help I asked my knitting friends and they were so amazing! This project really pushed me in my making and forced me to get outside of my comfort zone.

Throwback Sweater

Knitting is a much slower process than sewing, it’s was almost like a shock to my system. Knowing this project might take me years to finish (it didn’t, but it sure felt like it might) forced me to accept that there were not going to be instant results and really slow down. Make it about each stitch, not the final garment.

Throwback Sweater

I hit a lot of walls along the way and would put it down for weeks at a time. In particular, when I finished the colorwork I almost abandoned the project. Row after row of stockinette stitches!! It felt like looking down a loooonnnnng tunnel. But, I would always pick up my work after each break and keep going. Eventually, I was more than halfway and I really got a surge of energy. I’ve come this far, might as well finish it!

Throwback Sweater

I am really happy with how it turned out! It really is amazing to me that I took hundreds of yards of yarn and made this. Magic! I’ve since finished a second knitted sweater and have a third in the works. You can follow me on Ravelry @helenscloset!

About the author


Helen Wilkinson is the designer and founder of Helen's Closet Patterns. She also co-hosts the Love to Sew Podcast! Helen is obsessed with all things sewing and strives to share her passion and knowledge with the sewing community.

29 Comments on “My First Knitted Sweater”

  1. Well done on persevering, it looks great on you. The colours are really pretty. I have a sweater about 2thirds done but I haven’t touched it for about 4 years. I taught myself to knit when I was recovering from my breast cancer surgery, got stuck when I didn’t understand the instructions, and haven’t continued. I may rip it out and start again – seems a shame to waste the yarn!

  2. Beautiful! I’m so intimidated by big knitting projects. I feel like I barely have time to get through quick sewing projects any more, so as much as I love the look of knit sweaters and cardigans, it’s hard to convince myself to take on a project that really would probably take me years. Though, as you point out, the portability of it (and in particular the ability to work on it from the couch on those nights when I just can’t talk myself into the sewing room) might make it go faster than I anticipate. Great job! Very motivating finish — can’t wait to see your other sweaters!

  3. Helen, that is really beautiful. I both knit and sew and you are absolutely right, the energy surrounding each one is completely different. Sewing is active and energizing, knitting is peaceful and contemplative.

    Welcome to the knitters club!

  4. wow, that is really impressive. Good thing you aren’t timid about trying something new. PS, you will love cables.

  5. Helen it looks amazing! The colours in particular are perfect. It’s funny, I’m the opposite – bits I need to concentrate on get procrastinated whereas rows after rows of stockingette stitch is a perfect mindless job for me while in the car/public transport/watching TV/counting rests in rehearsals…

  6. What a fabulous job you did on this cardigan, Helen! And yes, you will love cables…they are just so much fun!

  7. That is quite ambitious for a first sweater! You did a super job! When I first started knitting sweaters and such I would make frequent trips to the knitting shop to ask questions about the directions. I was always looking ahead and asking, “Now, when I get to this part, what do I do?” The woman was very patient with me and said that I should come back in when I got to that and she would show me. What I needed to do was to focus on where I was in the pattern right now, and worry about what was coming with I got there. A pretty good life lesson!

  8. Well done Helen! I am going in the opposite direction – I am a seasoned knitter who has just received her first sewing machine and order of fabric. I’ve been scouring instagram for patterns and I’ve queued up some of yours for future projects. Isn’t learning new things fun?

  9. Your sweater is amazing! I learned to knit as a child, but didn’t do much til I was in my 40’s. I love the challenge of tackling something new, too!

  10. Fantastic. I’ve designed a few sweaters specifically to wear with my collection of York Pinafores, specifically Hedgewood (currently free on Ravelry) and Willingdon (about to go into testing; you can see it on my blog, Chez Lizzie.) In fact, I’m spending today cutting out a new linen York Pinafore and editing the first draft of Willingdon.

  11. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! When do I get mine? lol! You did a wlnderful job and must be so proud! Keep it up!

  12. I just bought the pattern! And on my previous post, that should have been “wonderful”, not “winderful”!

  13. Like you, I’ve always wanted to learn to knit… and it looks like this winter (ahhh this impatience!) I might have found someone to teach me! Just got to get through summer…

  14. Wow! I’m impressed. Great Job! I know how to knit/pearl in theory but never able to finish a project. When I get stuck on something, I stop and there it sits forever 🙁

  15. Beautiful sweater!!! You should be very proud!!! I am a knitter, and have designed knitting patterns for the beginner knitter, with instructional books and designs , the Chicks With Sticks Guide to Knitting. It is such a great therapeutic and relaxing craft! During Covid I have been learning garment sewing, and I am hooked!!! Listen to your podcasts daily, also with the help of online videos, been sewing none stop. Thanks for the great information, love the podcast!
    Happy Knitting

  16. Beautiful sweater. You did a great job and it looks fabulous on you. I am however, disappointed that you did not include a pattern reference.

    1. Thank you! This is the Throwback Sweater by Andrea Mowry and I knit it in worsted weight Homestead yarn from West Coast Colour 🙂

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