My grandmothers were avid and efficient knitters. They made hats, socks, mittens, slippers, sweaters, cardigans and so on. They would reuse yarn from well loved sweaters and knit hats or socks.
These skills and knowledge were not past down to me. They taught me repeatedly how to make a scarf in garter stitch but my motivation and attention span of the 8 to 10 years old child that I was didn’t get any further.
When my kids learned to knit in first grade, I joined them. I knitted numerous misshapen sweaters (a total of 3) that my sons very kindly wore outside the house. They would enthusiastically flap their “wings” and play pretend to be birds. They were adorable, the sweater were funny. I couldn’t give up.
At that point, I discovered a great tutorial about improvising a top-to-bottom raglan sleeve sweater. It was very comprehensive and was able to knit several sweaters with this fit-as-you-go technique.
Another great resource to learn to knit from top to bottom are the Tin Can knit patterns and website. I used their Harvest Cardigan and Flax Pullover pattern repeatedly with minor modifications to fit my figure.