Let’s say you’ve knit some scarves, cowls, maybe even some hats, and now you’re looking for something that’s a bit more “next level”. But maybe you’re not quite ready to make a sweater. This was a common feeling expressed to me by more beginner knitters when I worked at a local yarn shop. They had finally become comfortable with the knitting basics but didn’t feel ready (yet!) to do a full sweater. This is why I often like to design patterns that are worn like a garment but they are knit more like an accessory. The benefit of this is that you start to learn about things like drape and fit, but the skills needed to make it are similar to those you use for making basic accessories (perhaps with just 1 or 2 new techniques, so it’s not too intimidating!). So these patterns act as skill-building stepping stones, moving you from beginner knitter to advanced-beginner.
Want to learn more about these “garments that are knit like accessories” patterns? Here are a few of my favorites!
Ponchetta wears like a mini poncho and as you can see from one of the pictures above, it’s knit like a big rectangle (so if you’ve knit a scarf, you can knit this!). After you have knit the length, you simply fold it in half and then work the Three Needle Bind-Off. If you’ve never done this before – have no fear. It’s the perfect place to learn it and I have lots of video tutorials that show you how it’s done. Then the last step is just transferring your neck stitches onto a smaller circular and knitting in the round just like you would a little cowl. This piece is a great way to learn about sizing, fit and drape and it’s fun to wear too 🙂 You can check out this reel I created on Instagram that shows Ponchetta “in-action”!
Addilyn Capelet can be work like a big cowl, or just push it down over your shoulders for more a capelet-type look. It’s knit from the top-down, and you start by working back and forth. Then after the button placket is created, you join to work in the round, working increases every so often. The techniques of learning the button placket construction and then joining to work in the round are common things you’ll find in garment construction, so this is a great way to practice! It also features an interesting drop-stitch knitting stitch – and tutorials for everything are included.
Penny is a drapey vest that is knit like a big rectangle, but with two armholes so you can wear it as a vest! The important skill you’ll learn in this piece is binding-off and casting-on in the middle of your work (that’s how you create the armholes) – these are techniques you’ll find in other garments so this is a great way to learn them. The pattern is written for any-weight yarn too, so it’s super versatile.
Brooklin is worked just like Penny, but with an even simpler stitch pattern and worked in chunky/bulky-weight yarn. As you can see in the photo above, it’s a big rectangle with armholes, and a simple garter stitch basketweave pattern on the back. It’s a fast knit and a great first ‘garment’ project.
Camden Hills Poncho & Happy Harvest Poncho
Both the Camden Hills Poncho and the Happy Harvest Poncho I would also consider in that part accessory/part garment realm, although they are bit more of a step toward sweater knitting than the other examples above. But because the sizing isn’t as specific as a regular sweater, I also think these are great options to consider. The thing I love about working one of these ponchos as a ‘first garment’ is that you learn about shoulder and neck shaping. The bodies of both of these pieces is very straight-forward but where you’ll learn a thing or two is up at the shoulders and neck and it’s a great introduction to techniques you’ll find in most sweater designs.
I hope some of these project ideas inspire you and help to take your knitting to the next level! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the patterns above.