Crochet is an excellent craft for making blankets and scarves, but did you know that you can also use crochet to make clothes? Many people associate knitting with wearable items like sweaters and socks, but you can easily crochet a sweater (and use fewer tools to do so). And a crochet sweater has a unique look that’s just as cozy as a knit one.

Crocheting a sweater is considered an intermediate project, so if you’re just starting out with crochet, be prepared for some slightly more challenging steps. However, if you can nail down the basics and have enough patience, you’ll be donning your crochet sweater in no time.

Crochet Supplies

crochet materials
Source: unsplashAll of these items can be found at your local craft store.

One of the beauties of crochet is that you don’t need many supplies to get started. Here are a few must-haves and some suggested accouterment to help you along the way.

Crochet Pattern

A crochet sweater pattern is a step-by-step guide for your project. When you first look at one, it might seem like a lot of technical jargon. Here are the usual parts of a pattern:

  • A material list that contains suggested yarn type and hook size.
  • A gauge, or the measurement of stitches in a small sample that will dictate the final size of your project. This is very important when crocheting clothing. 
  • An abbreviation guide detailing the standard abbreviations for each stitch.
  • The pattern, which is the bulk of the work you’ll be doing.
  • Pattern notes, which explain unusual stitches or techniques.

Crocheting a sweater without a pattern is extremely difficult. If you wanted to make a blanket, you could sit down with a hook and yarn and freestyle your way to a simple, good-looking piece. A crochet sweater has several more steps and requires a lot of precision, so it’s worth investing in a pattern. There are tons available on the internet, so find one that fits your style and skill level.

Crochet Hook

There are two main things you have to consider when choosing a hook—size and material.

When you look at a crochet hook, you’ll notice they are labeled with a letter/number combination—I/9 or K/11, for example. As the numbers and letters increase, the size of the hook also increases. Consult your pattern to know which hook size to use.

Crochet hooks come in wood, plastic, aluminum, and steel, among other materials. Wood hooks tend to have more friction, which prevents yarn from slipping around on the hook. Metal and plastic hooks have less friction, which allows you to work faster, even while the yarn tends to slip more.

You may want to take a few different types of crochet hooks for a test drive to find which feels the best to you. Additionally, some hooks come with an ergonomic handle that helps ease the strain on your hand. Choosing a hook is like trying on shoes—there’s one out there that’s bound to be your perfect match, you just have to try a few on to find it.


Before you make a decision on color, there are two things to consider when choosing your yarn—size and fiber.

Yarn is also measured by number, with 0 (lace) being the thinnest and 7 (jumbo) the thickest. The most common yarn sizes for a sweater are 3 (light) and 4 (medium or worsted). Hook size and yarn size align—a medium weight yarn would use any hook I/9-K/10. 

Acrylic yarn is the most accessible and affordable type of yarn you’ll find at your local craft store. While great for big projects like blankets, using it to crochet a sweater might not be the best choice. It doesn’t breathe like natural fibers and can be itchy on the skin.

Wool, cotton, and other natural fibers, while slightly more expensive, make great choices for a sweater as they’re breathable and easy to clean. Wool is an especially good choice—it’s a classic sweater material and it’s extremely warm. 

Ultimately, you can use any yarn of the right size to crochet a sweater, so consider your budget and personal preference when choosing one.

In addition to a pattern, hook, and yarn, here are a few other tools that will make crocheting a sweater a lot easier.

  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Tapestry needle
  • Stitch markers

What Stitches to Use

crochet textures
Source: Flickr Creative CommonsAll these patterns are created with variations on a few different stitches.

A stitch has two main parts: the head and the post. The post is the main body of the stitch, and the head is the two loops at the top of the post. Whenever an instruction says “insert,” you push your hook in between the head and post. The pattern may instruct you to use the back or front loop only. In that case, you push your hook through only the one designated loop.

Some other common phrases you’ll see are “yarn over” (from back to front, put your working yarn over your hook), “loop” (any time the yarn folds over the top of your hook) and “pull through” (using the hook to bring yarn either through a stitch or a loop).

Here are some basic crochet stitches you’ll probably find in your crochet sweater pattern.

Slip Stitch (slst)

Insert hook in stitch, yarn over. Pull through stitch and loop on hook. 

Single Crochet (sc)

Insert hook in stitch, yarn over. Pull through stitch. Yarn over, pull through both loops.

Half-Double Crochet (hdc)

Yarn over, insert hook in stitch. Yarn over, pull through stitch. Yarn over, pull through three loops on hook.

Double Crochet (dc)

Yarn over, insert hook in stitch. Yarn over, pull through stitch. Yarn over, pull through two loops. Yarn over, pull through remaining two loops.

Double Crochet Two Together (dc2tog)

Yarn over, insert hook in stitch. Yarn over, pull through stitch. Yarn over, pull through two loops on hook. Yarn over, insert in next stitch. Yarn over, pull through stitch. Yarn over, pull through two loops on hook. Yarn over and pull through the final three loops.

This creates two stitch posts that share the same head. You can do this with any kind of stitch (hdc2tog) or over any number of stitches (dc4tog).

This process is known as decreasing, and it shortens the length or width of your project, creating a tapered look you would find in the sleeves and body of your sweater. The opposite process is called increasing. To increase, do two stitches in the same stitch of the row below them. 

Master the Basics

Modern Crochet: Essential Skills for Getting Started

How to Crochet a Sweater

gray sweater
Source: Creative CommonsCrocheting a sweater allows you to play with all kinds of textures.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to what you really came for: starting to crochet a sweater.

Step 1: Read the Pattern

Before you do your first stitch, take time to read through your pattern. A sweater is far more complex than a scarf or blanket, and it requires you to make multiple properly sized pieces that you will later connect together.

Jumping into crocheting a sweater will only lead to headaches down the road. Make sure you understand all the component parts of the project and have a firm grasp on the stitches you’ll use. 

Step 2: Take Your Measurements

Many crochet sweater patterns will have modular instructions—different stitch amounts to create different sized sweaters. To know which instructions to follow, you’ll have to take some measurements of your body with a tape measure. Here are some useful measurements to take.

  • Bust
  • Armpit to wrist
  • Armpit to waist/end of sweater
  • Center of neck to wrist
  • Center of neck to waist/end of sweater
  • Top of shoulder to armpit

Step 3: Create a Gauge

blye crochet
This sample piece gives you a sense for the size of your stitches.

Your pattern will often list a gauge size that you should try to match. Gauge measures the number of stitches across and how many rows high make up a four-inch square. 

There are several factors that could make your gauge slightly off—a different needle, a different brand of yarn, and the tension of your stitches can make small adjustments to each stitch that can spell disaster for your crochet sweater. 

You should try to match the gauge as best you can since it’s a proven measurement. If you make changes to the gauge, be aware that you will have to slightly change the pattern to reflect that. 

Making a gauge takes no time at all, and you’ll thank yourself later that you did it.

Step 4: Create a Slip Knot

slip knot
The slip knot is the start to most crochet projects.

The slip knot is what you’ll use to attach your yarn to your hook. Loop your yarn around your index and middle finger. Insert your hook through that loop and pull through the yarn that is attached to your ball. When you pull the tail end of the yarn, the loop will tighten around the hook.

Step 5: Make a Chain

pink chain of stitches
The chain is being measured to make sure the project’s length is correct.

The chain is the base for all the rest of your stitches. Your pattern will let you know how many chains you have to make for each piece. Yarn over, then pull through the loop on your hook. It’s that easy!

For a sweater, you’ll likely have to make a chain several times because you're creating different pieces that you’ll sew together. 

Step 6: Follow the Pattern

Every crochet sweater pattern is going to look slightly different, but there are several parts you might have to complete.

  • The sleeves will be done separately and often use increases to taper from wrist to shoulder. Sometimes they will include a cuff.
  • The body of the sweater goes from your waist to your chest both in the back and front. The bottom of the body will often have a hem.
  • The yoke is the portion of the sweater from your chest to your shoulders. Not all sweaters use yokes—sometimes the body extends all the way to the neck.
  • The shoulder is often the seam where you connect the front and back pieces of the yoke or body.
  • The neckband uses similar cuff techniques around the head hole of the sweater and can have a lot of different looks.

Step 7: Finish Off

To prevent your sweater pieces from unraveling, you have to finish off your yarn.

Finish your final stitch and chain two. Use your scissors to cut a five-inch tail on your yarn. Pull the tail through the loop on your hook. You can then tighten the tail, creating a knot that will secure your sweater.

Step 8: Sew It Together

Now, it’s time for assembly. Using the same yarn you used for your project, thread your tapestry needle and sew together the sweater pieces according to the pattern’s instructions.

Pay special attention to any place where three different pieces are coming together at one spot, like the armpits and shoulders.

Step 7: Weave in Your Ends

Finally, you’ll want to hide all the yarn tails from finishing off and sewing the pieces together. 

Thread your tapestry needle, then weave the ends into the corresponding row of stitches. It’s helpful to go back and forth across the row so that the yarn is more secure.

Time for a Fashion Show!

The final step is to gather your friends in the living room and strut your stuff. They’ll be so impressed you’ve created something functional and stylish.

And, now that you’ve mastered the sweater, you can attempt other clothing items like dresses, capes, crop tops, and shirts.

Step Up Your Skills

5 Crochet Hacks Every Beginner Should Know

Written By

Luke Field

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