Make Your Own Basics: The pullover

Make Your Own Basics: The pullover

Ok, continuing on with my attempt to build a small directory of patterns for anyone wanting to make their own wardrobe basics, let’s talk about the ultimate staple, the piece no closet should be without: the crewneck pullover sweater. Honestly, the Ravelry database is full of patterns for basic crewnecks — in every gauge and construction method — but the challenge is finding the best of them. These are just a few of my personal favorites, with minor distinctions among them:

TOP: Echo Lake by Courtney Kelley is the ultra-classic sweater pattern, knit in pieces (bottom-up) and seamed together, with picked-up stitches for the neckband, which means it will also stand up to years of wear. So if you really want to go old-school on the approach as well as the sweater, this is the one. Echo Lake is written for DK yarn/gauge. There is also a Custom Fit pattern that allows you to do this same thing, a seamed basic pullover, but at whatever gauge you choose — called Tramontane.

MIDDLE LEFT: Tide Chart by Amy Miller is the simplest of the batch in terms of construction, being a top-down seamless raglan. It’s also DK weight, and like everything I’ve chosen here, it has classic proportions and good neck shaping. (So many don’t!) If it’s a top-down raglan you’re after, you could also skip the pattern and learn to improvise your own at any gauge, using my top-down tutorial.

MIDDLE RIGHT: Polwarth by Ysolda Teague is a more advanced and detailed top-down raglan. In sport weight, it has slightly shaped and minimalist raglan seams, brioche in place of the ribbing, that classic sweatshirt neck detail, and even optional bust darts. This one is just as simple and timeless as the others in its appearance, but also looks like it would be really fun to knit.

BOTTOM: Classic Hemmed Crewneck by Purl Soho has a really polished look about it, thanks to the turned (instead of ribbed) hem, cuffs and neckband. It’s worsted gauge and is knitted in the round (seamlessly) from the bottom up, so it’s a hybrid approach. Another of my favorites — also worsted, bottom-up, seamless — is Purl Soho’s Sweatshirt Sweater (free pattern), which doesn’t have the sweatshirt neck detail like Polwarth but does have a gym-class-style kangaroo pocket, which is optional.

You’ll also find lots more suggestions (not all quite so basic) and a discussion of the pros and cons of different construction methods in Pullovers for first-timers: Or, an introduction to sweater construction.

EDITED TO ADD [Feb ’17]:

Make Your Own Basics: The pullover

I’m not sure how I forgot about Julie Hoover’s Veneto when first assembling this post, but it’s a top-notch and highly adaptable option. It is sport-weight gauge, so a finer weight, and has timeless proportions, subtle waist shaping, and perfectly shaped set-in sleeves and neckline. Also knitted flat and seamed — so a true classic in pretty much every sense. You can not only easily omit the color-blocking and make it a single color, but also tinker with the length, the waist shaping, the amount of ribbing (or alternate treatment) at each edge, etc., to transform it in any number of ways.


PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: The button-down shirt

26 thoughts on “Make Your Own Basics: The pullover

  1. Thanks for all of this, which may get me into sweater knitting. I like a (relatively) small neck opening on a crew neck (as in most ready-to-wear) and find too many patterns with a way too wide neckline. These look great, and you’ve saved me hours of Ravelry searching.

  2. Purl Soho is just wonderful. Love the pattern! My wardrobe is changing sine retirement. I have been knitting more and plan on sewing too. Have my patterns and awaiting fabric. Thanks Karen for all the inspiration.

    • My knitting and sewing life has exploded since retirement! I love finally having the time to be able to get back to these treasured crafts. Just bought the pattern and yarn for PurlSoho’s Classic Hemmed Crewnwck sweater – some of their flax down yarn is on sale, so I jumped at the chance to get what I needed for a good price.

  3. Love these “basic” sweaters – they are gorgeous! My heart did a little leap with the simple design feature on Polworth.

  4. Thanks, again, for the fine curating. You mentioned choosing for classic proportions and good neck shaping. Is there something in the pattern instructions you look for to assess “good” neck shaping or are you just good at eyeing the photos? I’m very particular about how a neck sits and find this difficult to guess since I can’t see the model next to me! Schematics can help and I’m grateful to companies that show them before pattern purchase – any wisdom?

  5. The ladies at Mason-Dixon knitting have an everyday sweater pattern too, in their second book.

    I used to think that knitting such a sweater would be super boring, but I’m rethinking. I’m now considering making a Moon Pulls with Lopi, or Polwarth because I want to figure bust darts out. I’ve yet to knit a sweater with darts, and I’m thinking it would certainly help people like me who have significant, um, assets.

    • Re: neck shaping, I find sometimes with top-down raglans that the neckline shaping is too linear for my liking, like a diagonal line plus a horiztonal line, rather than a gentle curve.

        • Yup – And I just looked up Moon Pulls that is mentioned above and below – beautiful sweater – but the lack of neck shaping (lack of gentle curve, as you say) causes that fold at the front neck that I hate.

    • I saw Moon Pulls made up in a LYS with lopi but they used a softer yarn for the white. It was stunning.

      • Yes, I think the pattern calls for a cashmere yarn for the lining. I liked the properties of Lopi for my Stopover but I would much prefer cashmere against my neck and wrists!

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    • Every pattern name is linked to its corresponding page on Ravelry, and there you’ll find ordering details for each one. So just click on whatever you’re interested in.

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