McCall’s 7377 – A Zip-Up Dress with…..a Knitted Sweater

As I mentioned last week, I made a serious haul on vintage patterns. Most are in the shop as I type, a few yet still to upload. And that was very hard for me, because I loved them all and wanted to keep them all. I limited myself to keeping two. That’s some serious restraint if I ever knew it. Serious.

Funny enough, I kept this little number. I liked the dress well enough. It’s cute and stylish, but I’ve never seen a sewing pattern that came with a knitted number and instructions for how to knit it. I’m fairly new to vintage patterns, so saying I’ve never seen this before may not hold alot of weight. Still, I’ve never seen this in my my sewing experience period. But I looooove it! I especially the pea green color on the model here. And I really want it. But I don’t know how to knit….

So, for all of you knitters out there, where would you start? I am by no means saying that this sweater should be one of my very first projects. Ha ha ha. I’m saying as someone who’s never knitted a single knot, what do I do first? Any book recommendations? What sort of project should I start out with? What kind of needles do I get? How many needles do I get? Do I start with chunky, medium or thin yarn?

I’ve heard of Ravelry. It’s an overwhelmingly beautiful site, but I’m looking for something more direct. A book that says, you’ll need this and this to get started. This is the first stitch to learn. Blah, blah, blah. Tell me too, where did you learn to knit? What is the best part about knitting? What should I anticipate? Is it hard? And why is knitting so great?

Input please. I’m in dire need. Someday, I WILL make this sweater. In pea green yarn, no less.

  • Jeni - If there is a stitch n bitch group near you, they usually welcome newbies and will teach you what you need to know. Check
    If you want to learn yourself, you could also check out the Vogue Knitting book ( which has lovely explanations of the whole process, including a bit about designing (more than you want now, but a good reference later on)
    There are also tons of good tutorials on YouTube.
    Of course, the suggestions from others (Ravelry and the Stitch n Bitch books) are also great!

  • Laurel - I love green! and I love that pattern. I think I have seen one other vintage pattern like that, but just the one. Can’t recall if I bought it, or left it at DI for the next lucky seamstress.
    I learned to knit when I was in grade-school, so I don’t even remember if it was hard at the time or not. I guess not, or I wouldn’t still be doing it, right?
    Mom and I taught kindergarten kids how to knit for years. For that age, they recommend using size 6 needles and worsted weight yarn, because they are easy to work with. I like Vanna’s Choice for a good, soft acrylic yarn, if you don’t want to invest in the nice stuff yet. Although, yarn for one hat or one scarf isn’t much, so you could get the nice stuff.
    Personally, I’d start with a scarf, just to get the techniques securely in my head. All that repetition is good when you’re learning.
    I like SnB, but back in the day, I used (and still refer to) the Readers Digest Complete Book of Needlework. Very good photos and how-to’s for all kinds of needlework. It’s still in print, but you can pick up used copies cheap ($2).
    Piper’s Quilts & Comforts in SLC, has knitting classes, if you want to get some personal instruction. They carry some nice yarns and needles, but it’s a pricey little shop.
    Or, you could sit in with a knitting group. SnB’s website has a listing of local knitting groups, including the one I attend every Thurs, 7pm, at B&N on the Parkway in Orem. I know there are plenty in SLC area, though. Find one, and all the gals there will give you all kinds of help and advice, for free!
    I LOVE knitting. It’s addictive. And useful. And more portable than your sewing machine. I knit just about anywhere and everywhere, all the time.
    Local Yarn Shops are about as plentiful as non-quilting fabric stores in UT, so be prepared to shop online for good deals on good yarns. I especially love Alpaca Direct
    Nothing so soft and warm as alpaca.
    (sorry – that was kinda a lot for a comment)

  • makingtime - Definitely go with wool (knitpicks wool of the Andes is a good basic yarn) and I’d say wooden needles – they give you more friction, which means more control/less fear of dropping a stitch as you’re working it. You tube is amazing for knitting, I just discovered! Craftsanity’s demo of the continental method was life changing for me – learn that way first and you’ll be on the fast track ;)
    I love knitting. A little obsessed, really. Start reading The Yarn Harlot blog for inspriration and humor – I think even nonknitters would like it :)
    and ravelry is definitely worth your while, at least once you’ve gotten the first two or three things down.

  • haruna - wooo both the dress and the sweater are so beautiful!
    I finally learned how to knit last winter after many discouraging failure attempts.(stories here at my blog
    I am still not a serious knitter like some people who knit all year around, but this year I picked up on a project early. I already made a pair of knitted/felted slippers, and now working on a hat. I had to re-familiarize myself with all the knitting terms again, as well. this site( is really good for the basic terminology and it even has lots of demo videos!
    good luck on your knitting adventure!
    look forward to seeing your knitting creations here soon :)

  • Tasia - Oh yay, look at all the helpful suggestions! I’ve been curious about knitting myself for a while now, look forward to reading about your beginner-knitting adventures!

  • Tasia - Oh and, very cool that the dress pattern comes with the sweater pattern too! I’ve never seen that either :)

  • Belinda-JustSewTall - I learnt using Patons Learn to Knit & help from my mum. I would find a book or website with good pictures and then take a class or go along to a knitting group where people can help beginners. Good luck with it!

  • mariadenmark - I learned as a child, but I always recommend for beginners. They have videos that show you to cast on,knit, purl and bind off. Plus a lot of other techniques.

  • Michelle - Basically you need to like the yarn you are working with, you need to like the pattern you are making and you need to like the needles you are working with. But that is no easy feat when you’ve never done it before. Also – keep it small. Scarves are not small (and blankets aren’t harder -they just are humongous scarves). And ideally make that first project something where fit is not a big deal. But do make sure the yarn is light in color because it is much much easier to see your stitches.
    Personally knitting did not click for me until I started using bamboo circs and wool yarn. And needles and yarn and pattern taste end up being personal. Also needles need to match yarn just like in sewing; except there is no guide, it is subjective – personally I think bamboo is more grippy/less slippy than aluminum; and generally don’t like any sort of metal needle, but there are exceptions to this. But honestly my favorites are Bryspun circs (they are a brand of plastic needle; but I hated Lion Brand plastic needles).
    I used a combination of the original Stitch n Bitch book and the videos on (I also had Knitting without Tears, but that didn’t really click until I had a couple projects under my belt). Find a good local yarn store (LYS) because 9 times out of 10 they are infinitely more helpful than any big box (and beware big box “luxury yarns” they often are not much cheaper, if at all, than a nice LYS yarn). Make use of your library – they generally carry a good number of knitting books, you just have to request them because they are often checked out and not on the shelf. Keep borrowing “how-to” books until you find one that clicks for you.

  • Haylee - I am obsessed with your Etsy shop. Seriously I want every single pattern. As soon as I figure out which one I like best, I’m purchasing pronto!