It seems as though sweater weather is just about upon us here in New England. The house is chilly when I wake up in the morning, and the air has that wonderfully crisp, clean quality of fall. It makes me want to pull out my hand knits.

For the past… well, forever, I’ve been talking a lot (a lot) about how to get a sweater that’s 100% perfect for you in every way. I’m passionate about it. Passionate enough, even, to essentially do the work for you.

But I don’t think I’ve talked enough about how easy sweater knitting can be. Sure, perfection takes thought, and has a lovely result. But I think I’ve let perfection be the enemy of the good, for some knitters.

It’s not necessary for the sweater to be perfect for it to be great. Sometimes, you just want to knit. So let’s talk about that.

There is one single, utterly easy step to getting a sweater that is great: Choose a size to fit your shoulders. Or at least to get close to it. This is tremendously important for all of us. I don’t think I’ve ever shown you, here, what happens when I choose a sweater size based on my full bust?

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It’s a nice sweater, and gloriously soft, but it’s a bit big, eh? (Details: Delish, from the book.)

This sweater has just one inch of positive ease in my bust. I know! I know.

The first sweater I ever knit, which I immediately gave away, looked like this. The second sweater I ever knit, I chose to make a size that fit my shoulders. I made no other modifications. I still wear it today.

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Let me say that again: No modifications. I knit the pattern as written. I just chose a better size for my shoulders. Would I tweak this, if I were doing it again today? Sure. I’d fiddle with the shaping, make it longer… …my standard set of mods for every sweater, now. But that’s not really necessary.

As is, this sweater is really really great. (Details: Isla, by Kim Hargreaves.)

Let me show you a few more sweaters knit as written, okay? The first is Eunny Jang’s Tangled Yoke Cardigan. I chose an even smaller size on this one, to better fit my shoulders. But again: No modifications.

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It looks great, right? I still wear it today. The perfect should not be the enemy of the good.


If I can get you to do two things, I’d urge you to: (a) Pick a good size, and (b) Choose a pattern with waist shaping in the body of the sweater, rather at the side seam. That’s it! Just choose a slightly different pattern. Here’s why:

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This is Trimmings, in the same size as the Tangled Yoke. The only difference is the way the shaping is worked into the sweater. See the little flare I’m getting on the tangled yoke, above? And the extra fabric in the small of my back? Not a problem here.

Waist shaping done in the body of your sweater pieces removes the fabric where you get smaller, resulting in a more flattering fit. This sweater looks pretty great on me. And you know what? No modifications.

One more, and then I’ll urge you to get started on your next (first?) sweater: I want to show you a direct comparison to the Delish cardigan, above, following these two guidelines. This is New Towne, which is similar to Delish in many ways, chosen in an appropriate size for me. The pattern is written with waist shaping the way I prefer it. And it’s knit with no modifications.

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Here’s a side-by-side with Delish:

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It’s utterly amazing what very small choices can do for the wearability of your hand-knits, even if you don’t want to think about a single mod. Are modifications great? Sure, I think so. Are they strictly necessary for a great, wearable sweater?

Not always, by a long shot.

So whether you want an easy and great win, or to work for perfection: Get knitting! Sweater weather is almost here.