How do I Choose the Best Knitting Project for my Skill Level?

Sheri Cyprus

Sometimes, choosing the best knitting project for your skill level is straightforward, but other times it isn't. For instance, projects designed for knitters with a few years of experience may be called "intermediate," yet the stitches and techniques in these patterns tend to differ greatly. Some feature many different colors worked in a picture or pattern, while other intermediate knitting projects include difficult shaping techniques or cables. The best way to choose a knitting project is to carefully read the entire pattern before deciding whether to make it. If the pattern includes stitches or techniques you're not familiar with, it's a good idea to practice with scrap yarn before buying all of the materials for the knitting project.

Knitting a sweater is better for advanced knitters.
Knitting a sweater is better for advanced knitters.

To avoid becoming frustrated with a knitting project, it's always best to either stay at your current skill level or go just a little beyond. For instance, a cardigan sweater pattern with one new stitch or shaping technique that you've mastered with scrap yarn makes sense to take on, while a garment with several stitches and shaping methods that you haven't worked with before is only likely to prove to be frustrating. By choosing a knitting project with one new element that you practice first, it's possible to keep learning new techniques and stitches gradually. Over time, you'll then be increasing the skill level of your knitting projects.

Knitting needles and yarn.
Knitting needles and yarn.

Another way to approach choosing new projects is to remake a knitting project at your skill level. For example, if you've completed a knitted sweater successfully before, you could use the same pattern for a new project by adding differently textured stitches or creating a multi-colored garment from a previously plain pattern. Or, rather than using new techniques or colors, you could remake your successful pattern with a more expensive yarn.

Simple knitting projects should have a consistent stitch pattern that provides more leeway for mistakes.
Simple knitting projects should have a consistent stitch pattern that provides more leeway for mistakes.

Since you've already made the pattern successfully, using a more expensive yarn of the same weight, or thickness, should result in a quality finished piece. Even if that didn't end up being the result, you could unravel your attempt and use the yarn to make something even simpler. For example, scarves are beginner skill level projects for knitters, but once you've made several and have mastered them, you could buy an expensive luxurious yarn such as mohair or another natural type in beautiful colors. By upgrading the yarn on projects you're already confident making, you can create quality pieces for yourself, your home or to give as great handmade gifts.

More advanced knitters might make gloves as a gift for someone.
More advanced knitters might make gloves as a gift for someone.

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Discussion Comments


I recently saw a knitting show on TV where they were making some felted knitting projects. Has anybody ever done this?

In the segment I was watching they took an old knitted sweater that was stretched out and felted it.

They ended up making a nice bag from this knitted sweater. Instead of throwing this worn out sweater away, they recycled it and made it into something useful again.

I can see how you wouldn't want to use something that you really loved and felt it, but there are a lot of knitted items I have around the house that could probably use a little recycling.


@bagley79 - A knitting club sounds like a great idea. I imagine the socialization is just as fun as the knitting.

All I have ever accomplished with my knitting are making scarves and slippers. Most of these are one skein knitting projects that don't take a lot of time.

I am ready to move on to something more challenging, but have never got around to it. Joining a club might give me the extra motivation I need.

I have found that I love working with yarn because it is so forgiving. If I realize I have done something wrong, all I have to do is unravel the yarn and start over.

Even though I have lost a little bit of time, I am not out any money, and I don't usually have to start completely over - just get back to where I made the wrong stitch.


A few winters ago I was looking to learn something new and thought I would give knitting a try. My grandma had taught me how to crochet, but I wanted to see if I could master a new skill.

At first I bought some books on knitting and watched online videos that showed some easy beginner knitting projects.

I wasn't making progress very fast and found myself getting frustrated and ready to give up. That is when I discovered a knitting club that met every week not far from my house.

This was the best thing I could have done. There is a good mix of seasoned, experienced knitters and a few newbies like me.

I have found most women are more than willing to show others how to get started and offer their advice and expertise. If it had not been for this knitting club, I probably would have given up a long time ago.


@robbie21 - I had a similar situation your sister was referring to regarding knitted hats for newborns.

I have never learned to knit the traditional way, but picked up a set of knitting looms at a local craft store. One of the main reasons for this was because I was looking for some easy knitting projects for babies. My plan was to donate these hats to a local hospital.

These knitting looms are a great project for kids and adults, and making a hat is one of the easiest and quickest projects you can do.

I found out the smallest loom, which was supposed to be for newborns, was too small. Thankfully, I had not made a lot of them before realizing that.

The loom that was the next size larger ended up being the perfect size. At first it looked like it would be much too large, but it is better to have something a little big than too small to use.


I got a book from the library called "easy knitting projects for beginners." All of the projects were as simple as could be but they did a good job of explaining the fundamentals and guiding you successfully through projects.

After I finished the book I went back to the library to see if there were other books by the same author. I was glad to find out that she had many more, including an "intermediate" and "advanced" book. I have worked my way through many of them and now consider myself a pretty accomplished knitter. It really helped having a careful guide to follow even as my skill level increased.


The first and probably most important step is to be honest about what your skill level is. No one wants to admit that they are not very good at something. But knitting is tough, especially some of the more complicated knits, and I often see people inflating their skill level.

It is good to be ambitious but there is no reason to pick a project that is only going to frustrate you and end in a horrible tangle of yarn. If you have barely pulled off a sock it is probably not best to jump right into a patterned sweater. Be realistic about what you are capable of and you will have more fun and end up with better results.


@EdRick - I have a grandmother like that! And I've heard complaints from my sister, who is a nurse, about charity knitting projects. Well, complaints is too harsh a word, but she says that people are not always as thoughtful as they should be.

People like to knit hats for NICU babies. But there are a couple of misconceptions; one is that most NICU babies are three months premature. They're not! Most are full-term. The other problem is that the very tiny babies are usually too sick to wear hats. People like to knit these tiny, doll-sized hats, but most of them can't be used in the NICU. Hats for a full-sized baby or larger preemie are more likely to be used and the nurses and parents do appreciate them.

The tiny hats are actually often used for "demises" - early stillbirths or preemies who don't make it. These babies are dressed in clothes for their parents to see, and I'm sure the hand-knitted hats are a sweet, sad touch.


This might sound silly, but remember that whether you like baby knitting projects or adults or whatever, one important thing to keep in mind for choosing a project is whether it will be *useful.*

My aunt Susan is a dear lady and she likes to knit while she watches TV. Then we all wind up becoming the recipients of her largesse. But I don't *need* any more hats. The one I got last year is still in good condition, thanks.

And then there's the baby knitting. I know that knitting for baby girls (I have one of those at home) is fun, but those adorable knitted jackets? Horribly impractical. Aunt Susan has no children, so I suppose she doesn't understand how they spit up and turn knits yucky pretty quickly!

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