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The Perfect Sweater Alternative: 3 Simple & Charming Patterns for Ponchos

Beat the chill with these 3 fabulous and easy poncho patterns–they’re the perfect alternative to sweaters

Are you looking for a fabulous knitting project for cold weather?

Maybe you (or someone you love) need something that offers a bit more warmth than a shawl. But maybe you’d rather not knit a sweater, because that’s far too much of a commitment.

What you need is a simple project that still has serious warming power.

Look no further, friend. A poncho knitting project is your answer!

Why Poncho Knitting is a Great Alternative to Sweater Knitting

Poncho projects have so many benefits over sweaters. To wit:

  • They don’t require a perfect fit.
  • You need not worry about sleeves or shaping.
  • It will be on and off your needles in very little time, particularly when you use thick yarn and big needles.

You can knit ponchos for just about anyone, both child and adult. The following are three ridiculously simple poncho projects to cast on and complete within a matter of days!

3 Free Knitting Patterns for Ponchos

Simple Triangular Poncho
Photo: Eric Haschke

1. Simple Triangular Poncho

This poncho is knitted in a similar fashion to the famous “Grandma’s Washcloth” pattern.

What you’ll need: Large circular needles (US Size 12 or larger) at least 40 inches long; any kind, color, or texture of yarn, at least chunky or bulky weight.

Step 1: Cast on 3 stitches.

Step 2: Knit every row, increasing 1 stitch at the beginning of each row. (I find that the knit front and back method works best.)

Step 3: Repeat this row until the longest side measures the width of the intended recipient’s wingspan, from wrist to wrist (with hands extended out to either side).

Step 4: Bind off.

Step 5: Repeat steps 1 through 4 to create the second triangle.

Step 6: Seam the long edges of both triangles together, but leave a space in the middle for the recipient’s neck hole.

And that’s all there is to it!

Simple Rectangular Poncho (All in One Piece)
Photo: Eric Haschke

2. Simple Rectangular Poncho (All in One Piece)

This pattern is just as easy as the first, if not easier!

What you’ll need: Like the triangular poncho, you’ll simply need large circular needles (US Size 12 or larger) and a good quantity of bulky/chunky weight yarn or heavier.

Step 1: Cast on 80 stitches.

Step 2: Knit every row until the piece is long enough to wrap around you, or your intended recipient, sideways, around the upper half of your body.

Step 3: Bind off, then sew the cast-on and bind-off edges together.

Step 4: Turn the work on its side. Seam an open edge, but leave a space in the middle for the neck hole. This seam will give the piece “shoulders” while offering a space for your head.

(See the diagrams below, drawn by my fabulous older kiddo Chris, for a visual!)

knitting patterns for ponchos
Drawings by
knitting patterns for ponchos
Chris Haschke

3. Simple Rectangular Poncho, in Two Easy Pieces

Simple Rectangular Poncho, in Two Easy Pieces
Photo: Eric Haschke

This poncho is a variation of #2. In this version, you’ll knit 2 rectangles rather than one, with each rectangle comprising one half of the full poncho.

What you’ll need: Like with the other two poncho patterns, you’ll simply need large circular needles (US Size 12 or larger) and a good quantity of bulky/chunky weight yarn or heavier.

Step 1: Cast on 80 stitches.

Step 2: Knit every row until the poncho half covers the width of the intended recipient’s upper body.

Step 3: Bind off.

Step 4: Repeat steps 1 through 3 to knit another rectangle exactly like the first.

Step 5: Seam together the short edges; that is, the cast-on and bind-off edges of each piece.

Step 6: Like Step 4 of the other rectangular poncho pattern, turn the work on its side and seam one open side to create the shoulders, leaving a space in the center for a neck hole.

One of the best things about these three patterns is that, simple as they are, they offer many opportunities for creativity and variety. You can create stripes. You can use different stitch patterns. You can use different textures of yarn. You can even hold 3 or 4 different-colored worsted yarns together to create a “bulky” yarn bursting with color.

So the next time you want sweater-type warmth without the sweater-type commitment, why not give a poncho pattern a try?

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2 Comments

  1. How did you know I’ve been looking for a poncho to make in a new stitch for an 18″ doll? I’m thinking of trying out Debbie New’s Scribble Lace (UNEXPECTED KNITTING), and your adaptable templates give me just what I need to try it out. Thank you!