How to Crochet a Shrug Sweater

Written by christina inge
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How to Crochet a Shrug Sweater
Crocheting a simple shrug sweater uses less yarn than a conventional cardigan. (ball wool image by Sidoroff from

A crocheted shrug sweater can be a great addition to your wardrobe in summer or winter. A shrug can be dressy and worn as an evening top over a formal dress, or it can be something casual to keep slung over your office chair to put on when it gets chilly. You can use basic stitches, or craft something quite fancy using pineapple or shell stitches. Varying the yarn from basic wools to metallics and mohair can also bring a design from simple to formal.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Yarn, sufficient to make a cardigan once size smaller than your size (consult yarn yardage reference or shop owner)
  • Crochet hook in appropriate size for yard (consult yarn label)
  • Darning needle

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  1. 1

    Crochet a swatch to determine your gauge, using the stitch with which you will be creating the body of the shrug. Measure your number of stitches per inch using the tape measure. Measure a cardigan or shrug you wear and find comfortable, and note the measurements of the back, front pieces, and sleeves. These will be the dimensions of your shrug sweater.

  2. 2

    Chain the number of stitches needed to obtain the back width of the shrug. For instance, if your shrug's back will measure 20 inches and your gauge is four stitches to the inch, you will need to multiply 20 by 4, for 80 stitches for the back. Add the number of chains needed for your first stitch, as determined by your stitch pattern. For instance, for double crochet, you will need three extra chains for your first stitch. Crochet in your preferred pattern until you have the desired back length. Fasten off the yarn.

  3. 3

    Determine the extent to which you want the front to curve, if any. Most shrugs have curved fronts, but shaping a curve requires additional shaping skills, so if you are a beginner at crochet, it is best to avoid front shaping. If you do determine to have a curved front, calculate number of stitches needed for the total width of each front piece. For instance, if each front piece measures eight inches, and your gauge is four stitches per inch, you will need 32 stitches. Subtract one-quarter of this number, in this case, eight stitches. Chain this many, and add the additional chains needed for your first stitch.

  4. 4

    Work in your preferred stitch, and increase stitch every third row along the front edge until you have replaced the missing one-quarter of the stitches needed to achieve the full front width. Continue crocheting until the front is as long as the back. Make two front pieces, remembering to make them mirror images of each other, place the curve along one side for the left piece, and along the other side for the right piece.

  5. 5

    Chain enough stitches to create the wrist circumference for the first sleeve, using the same method for calculating the number of stitches as for the front and the back. Increase one stitch crocheting at the beginning and end of every third row, until you reach your desired sleeve length.

  6. 6

    Sew the pieces together using the darning needle. Crochet an edge around the cuffs, bottom, and front in slipstitch or single crochet if desired.

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