Ok, continuing on with my attempt to build a small directory of patterns for anyone wanting to make their own wardrobe basics, let’s talk about the ultimate staple, the piece no closet should be without: the crewneck pullover sweater. Honestly, the Ravelry database is full of patterns for basic crewnecks — in every gauge and construction method — but the challenge is finding the best of them. These are just a few of my personal favorites, with minor distinctions among them:
TOP: Echo Lake by Courtney Kelley is the ultra-classic sweater pattern, knit in pieces (bottom-up) and seamed together, with picked-up stitches for the neckband, which means it will also stand up to years of wear. So if you really want to go old-school on the approach as well as the sweater, this is the one. Echo Lake is written for DK yarn/gauge. There is also a Custom Fit pattern that allows you to do this same thing, a seamed basic pullover, but at whatever gauge you choose — called Tramontane.
MIDDLE LEFT: Tide Chart by Amy Miller is the simplest of the batch in terms of construction, being a top-down seamless raglan. It’s also DK weight, and like everything I’ve chosen here, it has classic proportions and good neck shaping. (So many don’t!) If it’s a top-down raglan you’re after, you could also skip the pattern and learn to improvise your own at any gauge, using my top-down tutorial.
MIDDLE RIGHT: Polwarth by Ysolda Teague is a more advanced and detailed top-down raglan. In sport weight, it has slightly shaped and minimalist raglan seams, brioche in place of the ribbing, that classic sweatshirt neck detail, and even optional bust darts. This one is just as simple and timeless as the others in its appearance, but also looks like it would be really fun to knit.
BOTTOM: Classic Hemmed Crewneck by Purl Soho has a really polished look about it, thanks to the turned (instead of ribbed) hem, cuffs and neckband. It’s worsted gauge and is knitted in the round (seamlessly) from the bottom up, so it’s a hybrid approach. Another of my favorites — also worsted, bottom-up, seamless — is Purl Soho’s Sweatshirt Sweater (free pattern), which doesn’t have the sweatshirt neck detail like Polwarth but does have a gym-class-style kangaroo pocket, which is optional.
You’ll also find lots more suggestions (not all quite so basic) and a discussion of the pros and cons of different construction methods in Pullovers for first-timers: Or, an introduction to sweater construction.
EDITED TO ADD [Feb ’17]:
I’m not sure how I forgot about Julie Hoover’s Veneto when first assembling this post, but it’s a top-notch and highly adaptable option. It is sport-weight gauge, so a finer weight, and has timeless proportions, subtle waist shaping, and perfectly shaped set-in sleeves and neckline. Also knitted flat and seamed — so a true classic in pretty much every sense. You can not only easily omit the color-blocking and make it a single color, but also tinker with the length, the waist shaping, the amount of ribbing (or alternate treatment) at each edge, etc., to transform it in any number of ways.
PREVIOUSLY in Make Your Own Basics: The button-down shirt