If you are relatively new to knitting, a sweater shrug is an appropriate first-garment project. If you can cast on, knit and purl, you can make a simple shrug. A sweater shrug keeps your arms warm without the bulk of an entire cardigan, making it a convenient accessory to have on hand. Toss a shrug into your tote bag and you'll always stay warm even when you have to go into chilly places.
Measure around your arm in the location where you want the shrug sleeve to begin. If you want a full-sized shrug, measure around your wrist. If you want a short-sleeved shrug, measure around your upper arm. Call this measurement "A." Get someone to help you measure from this point on your left arm to the same point on your right arm, across your back; this is your wingspan measurement. Call this measurement "B." Measure from the starting point to your underarm area, on the inside of your arm. Call this measurement "C."
Knit a gauge swatch. Cast on 20 stitches and knit in the following pattern across the row: knit two, purl two, repeat. Continue in this pattern for 10 rows, and then measure across the width of your swatch. Count the number of stitches horizontally in the length of your A measurement. This will be the number of stitches you need to cast on; round up to the nearest even number.
Cast on the stitches you determined in step two. Knit in the knit two, purl two pattern for a total of 3 inches.
Switch to stockinette stitch for the body of the shrug. Add a garter stitch edging to make sure the shrug edges won't curl in too much. To do this, on the next row you will knit all of the stitches in the row. On the following row, knit the first three stitches, purl all of the center stitches and knit the last three stitches. Repeat these two rows until the shrug measures 3 inches shorter than measurement B.
Switch back to your knit two, purl two stitches for the last 3 inches of your shrug. Bind off loosely and leave a 15-inch tail.
Fold the shrug in half lengthwise with the right sides facing. Use a large-eye blunt needle and your extra yarn tail to sew a seam from the outside edge of the shrug toward the center; the seam should be as long as measurement C. Finish off and weave in your loose ends, then repeat on the other side. Turn the shrug right side out and slide your arms inside. If your seams were too short or too long, adjust accordingly before wearing.