If you’re looking for a new knitting project, why not try a cardigan? In this blog post, we’ll share our favorite 25 easy cardigan knitting patterns for beginners. You’ll find a variety of different knit cardigan patterns to choose from, so that you can find the perfect one to suit your style.
There’s nothing like a hand-knit cardigan to keep you cozy in cooler weather. Cardigans are practical, versatile, and perfect for layering. In my opinion, they’re one of the satisfying things to knit.
And contrary to popular belief, knitting a cardigan is not as difficult as it may seem. With the right pattern and some practice, even beginning knitters can create a beautiful cardigan.
To help you get started, I’ve compiled a list of 25 easy and free knit cardigan patterns. Whether you’re looking for a simple and classic style or something more modern and trendy, there’s sure to be a pattern on this list that’s perfect for you.
How to Knit a Cardigan
There are a variety of different methods for constructing cardigan sweaters. Generally, they can be broken down into two categories: seamless construction and pieced (seamed) construction.
Seamless cardigans: Seamless cardigan sweaters are knit all in one piece on long circular needles. Seamless cardigans are often knit “top-down,” which means the sweater is knit from the collar down to the hem.
Seamed cardigans: Seamed cardigans are knit in pieces and then seamed together at the end. For example, you’ll knit separate pieces for the back panel, two front panels, and two sleeves. Then, you’ll assemble these pieces with a mattress stitch or other seaming technique. Most seamed cardigans are knit “bottom-up” or from the hem up to the collar.
Can I Knit a Cardigan as a Beginner?
Yes, you can knit a cardigan as a knitting beginner! Just be sure to choose a pattern that is rated as “easy” or “beginner friendly.”
Here are some more guidelines to help you search for simple cardigan patterns:
- Look for designs made from simple, rectangular pieces that will be seamed together.
- Look for patterns made with basic stitch patterns, like stockinette or garter stitch.
- Slouchy sweaters might be more forgiving than fitted styles, especially if you are concerned about your gauge being correct.
- Choose patterns made with bulky yarn if you want your project to work up more quickly.
And if you’d rather knit a pullover style sweater instead, check out this collection of our favorite free knit pullover patterns.
Favorite Yarn for Knit Cardigans
Within this list, you’ll find sweaters knit with various yarn types and weights, from fingering weight all the way up to super bulky. For your convenience, I’ve listed a recommended yarn for each pattern right here within the post. Don’t forget to check your gauge before getting started!
Still not sure what yarn to use? Here are a few of my favorite, cozy cardigan yarn choices.
- Lion Brand Coboo (DK)
- Lion Brand Jeans (worsted)
- Hue + Me (bulky)
- Wool-Ease Thick & Quick (super bulky)
Knitting Techniques to Know
Here are some common knitting techniques that you’ll need for cardigan knitting. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the stitches and techniques used in your pattern before getting started on your cardigan. If there are any techniques that you’re unfamiliar with, practice them first – you’ll be glad you did!
Increases and Decreases: Increases and decreases are essential for shaping your cardigan.
Knitting in the round: Some cardigan patterns will instruct you to knit your sleeves “in the round.” To knit in the round, you’ll need some circular needles or DPNs.
Seaming: If your cardigan is knit in pieces, you’ll need to sew them together at the end. Most patterns will suggest using the mattress stitch to do this step.
Tips for Knitting Cardigans
Here are a few more tips and tricks for knitting cardigans.
Choose the right pattern for your skill level.
Before choosing a pattern, think realistically about your knitting skill level. If you’re just starting out, look for a pattern that includes simple rectangles, basic stitches, and a forgiving fit. For more advanced knitters, you may want to choose something more challenging to keep your interest.
Most patterns include a suggested skill level for your convenience.
Make a gauge swatch to test your tension and yarn choice.
Even if you purchase the exact same yarn as the pattern designer, remember that every knitter has a unique gauge. It’s crucial to knit a gauge swatch before getting started on your sweater in order to ensure the best fit.
Read the pattern thoroughly and review any new concepts or techniques.
Don’t let your pattern surprise you with tricky or new techniques when you’re already halfway through! To avoid frustration, read through your pattern thoroughly to get the full picture and familiarize yourself with all of the techniques and stitches you’ll need to know. Don’t be afraid to practice any new skills before getting started.
Check the fit as you go.
One of the best parts of knitting your own sweater is that you can make sure that it fits you perfectly! Hold the cardigan up to your body, or try it on a few times throughout the knitting process. This way, you can easily adjust if certain pieces are too large or small or if you want it longer or shorter.
Block the cardigan for the best results
To achieve the best shape, block your sweater when you’re finished knitting. Blocking includes wetting and drying your knit cardigan to set its shape.
Looking for knit pullovers instead?
For a collection of free and easy knit pullover sweaters, check out these 25 easy sweater knitting patterns.
More Free Knitting Patterns
When you’re ready for more, check out these other free knitting patterns.
- 25 Free and Easy Knitting Patterns for Beginners
- 27 Free & Easy Knit Hat Patterns
- 27 Free & Easy Sock Knitting Patterns (Great for Beginners!)
- 27 Free Fingerless Gloves Knitting Patterns
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Sarah Stearns has helped thousands of makers find their next craft project with free patterns and step-by-step tutorials on her blog, sarahmaker.com. Read more.
Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, Good Housekeeping, Vox, Apartment Therapy, Lifehacker, and more.