Point Gammon Pullover

Last winter, back when I was really pregnant, hopped up on hormones, and a little bit crazy, I sketched out 483902734890294023573489573489 ideas for future knitting patterns. Next, I proceeded to do something a woman preparing for many sleepless months with a newborn and a likely move thereafter should not have considered: I submitted several full-sized sweater ideas along with a battery of stranded mittens and hats. I don’t know what I was thinking, but fortunately (and, quite miraculously), everything worked out well.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Point Gammon Pullover, published in Interweave Knits, Fall 2010, is the first in a series of works that will appear in the coming months, the result of my knitting in the middle of the night with a new baby, en route to medical school interviews, and while laid up after tearing my calf muscle playing soccer. I knitted like a fiend this winter and spring, and I cannot wait to share my projects with you!

Copyright Interweave Knits

This follows in a series of cabled knits inspired and named for the waters I sailed on Cape Cod, Massachusetts as a child. Point Gammon is a somewhat obscure lighthouse marking the outcrop of Great Island into Nantucket Sound; it is a point reachable only by sea, as the land upon which it sits is private. Growing up on Lewis Bay, the bay whose entrance the lighthouse announces, Point Gammon Light seemed at once both intimately familiar and utterly foreign to me. I always admired the peculiar structure, wished I could see it up close, and wondered what the view must have been like from the other side of the bay, the private, off-limits side.

I designed this pullover with the lighthouse in mind, intending the central cables to evoke a lighthouse beacon.

In keeping with the ocean theme, I placed netting cables up the sides. In my opinion, both cables that extend from bottom hem to neckband and cabling at the underarm in place of a seam signal a well planned, hand knitted garment. Any machine can churn out a cabled something or other, sew it up the sides, and slap on disjointed bands. Cabling done well should be difficult to recreate in a factory.

The fit is trim (i.e., 2″ of positive ease, if I recall correctly); both the ribbing and the set-in sleeves emphasize this. As I have said before, despite the traditional form, you will not find any drop shoulders around these parts, thank you very much. The sleeves are little more than basic rib sleeves with cables interspersed at the same intervals as on the body, with one cable running down the center of the sleeve. I love symmetry, I can’t help it.

While it may appear difficult to work out how to run the cables into the neckline like this, it is not very hard. Once I determined how many repeats of the cable pattern I wanted down the front, I centered the repeated section, then held stitches at the base of the neck instead of binding off and picking up for the neckline.

One benefit of a side cable is that it can be completely bound off at the underarm, so there is nothing left to keep track of. And, it looks complicated while completely avoiding the question of how to treat the seam. Although it makes shaping more difficult, one could certainly work decreases along the flanks of the side cable. I briefly contemplated making a shaped version for me, but you know I never knit anything twice unless I have to, right? Of course.

Because Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes was unfamiliar to me at first, I knitted a positively gigantic swatch. I do not feel terribly confident about my gauge with refined, luxury fibers, as the fabrics knitted in those fibers often grow. I swatched, I measured, I washed, I measured, I blocked, I measured. Anticipating this post, I thought I would show a picture of the pre-blocked body (missing sleeves, of course). It was so tiny, despite needing to fit a man (albeit not a large man).

Before washing and blocking, it had a 30″ chest.

After blocking, the chest measured 36.75″. Be wise: swatch aggressively and believe in your swatch, do not second guess yourself!

I thought I would include a photo of the underside of the sleeve blocking. Is there a secret to getting ribbed increases to block to straight lines? I can never make mine perfect!

Let us take a minute to discuss the yarn, shall we? Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes might be the nicest yarn I have ever – or will ever – work with. Once I finished the garment, I had to try it on, even though there was no way it would fit me well. I have told anyone who will listen that wearing a sweater made in this yarn feels like wearing a hug. I have one sweater’s worth of it in my stash, which I am saving for The Best Sweater in the History of Time; the yarn really deserves the perfect pattern.

Initially, I worried it would be too heavy for a men’s cabled pullover, as its yds per gram ratio is only 1. For other worsted weight yarn comparisons: Cascade 220 has 2.2 yds/gram; Berroco Blackstone Tweed 2.6 yds/gram; Harrisville Designs New England Highland  has 1.9 yds/gram. Thus, for the same yardage as another worsted weight sweater, Worsted Hand Dyes yields a garment that is twice as heavy. Indeed, the finished product is heavier, but it’s one of the things I loved most about the fit. There’s a sentence I never expected to write, but it is absolutely true. I think its weight combined with its softness make you feel as if you just wrapped yourself in the most lovely cocoon that could possibly exist. It’s expensive – very expensive – but as the cheapest knitter you will ever meet, I say it’s worth it if the pattern is perfect for you.

On that note, I hope some men out there find this pattern perfect for them! As for the rest of you, go check out the rest of Interweave Knits Fall 2010 (or see it on Ravelry) – it is the best issue in ages! I could make full-time work of knitting all the sweaters I want to make in this one issue alone!

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28 comments so far

  1. Susan on

    That is one fantastic sweater! I’m going to hunt down that yarn just so I can pet it.

  2. Jocelyn on

    Lovely design. Totally agree about the yarn. It’s my favorite of all-time.

  3. Madmad on

    Stunning – and I really enjoyed the post explaining the process, from start to finish. Very interesting!

  4. Alyssa on

    Wow! That sweater is absolutely gorgeous! I look forward to seeing more of your designs in print :)

  5. Caro on

    It’s beautiful, E! Well done. Those side cables really make it that much better. As for blocking the ribs, do you have any of those super fine blocking wires? The bendy, flexy ones for curves? You could probably weave those in without any fabric distortion and straighten out the ribs.

  6. Patty on

    This is definately on my list of “to do” sweaters.

  7. Jana on

    If I knit that sweater for Kevin will it look like that on him?

  8. Rebekah on

    I love it! Great work.

  9. Amy on

    I love that you signed up for all this stuff while you were pregnant. Point Gammon is stunning, and just the right blend of interesting to the knitter and wearable for the guy.

    Great job!

  10. susan on

    Beautiful!! And I look forward to seeing what you come with for yourself out of the same yarn. Congratulations on another wonderful design.

    Question about the sweater growing – do you think that has anything to do with the fact that there is so much ribbing? I think it’s hard to measure gauge when you have a stitch pattern with a lot of stretch. Not that I don’t believe you, of course!

    I agree about this issue of IK. I think they had some make-up work to do considering the last couple issues!

  11. mary jane on


  12. Ann on

    I really enjoyed reading the ideas behind your design. You have done a fantastic job!

  13. Maryse on

    I agree with you this issue of IK looks awesome! Congratulations! Now is time to enjoy the result of all that work! Very nice men sweater!

  14. Pinneguri on

    I wonder what kind of fire you have that make you go on and on and on like this?
    It’s a beautiful and well crafted sweater too!

  15. mai on

    wow, elinor, this is beautiful! i love the cable up the side especially. it looks really great on aaron. and i love that you’re designing for men since we so rarely see patterns for men these days!

  16. Jeannie on

    I just discovered your blog a month ago and love,
    love your designs. Without writing a book, I want
    to tell you that I am as passionate about the Cape
    (especially living here in NC now)and absolutely
    love your writings about the Cape. It just makes mme smile from ear to ear when reading this last one. I go to the Cape every Sept for a few weeks to get it out of my system (haha). This design is
    just gorgeous on every level one can think of. I am so happy and agree with you about the drop shoulders patterns and love that you are very traditional in your designs. I clearly am a huge fan of your designs and look forward to many more although I am sure you won’t have time after starting med school. Good luck!! My heart really belongs on Cape Cod! Thanks for making my day.

  17. gaylakraus on

    Beautiful design. Love the tips on blocking this as well.

  18. Kathy on

    amazing. I can’t finish a cardigan and I didn’t have to design it, I have no kids, no move, no medical school, no torn ligaments. Sigh. You rock!

  19. Camille on

    You are awesome! The sweater looks great – and what a hunk it’s on! I got your pkg – thanks – I had forgotten about that one. Good luck in med school! Hi to all

  20. Jennifer O. on

    Your sweater is gorgeous!

  21. Shelby on

    I think this is a very classy and clean looking sweater, very stylish! I wish I could make something like this for my husband to wear!

    • Robin on

      Why can’t you, Shelby? I’m so pleased I’ve finally found a cabled jumper my husband actually wants me to knit for him!

      • Robin on

        And I meant to say thank you to Elinor for such an elegant, masculine and WEARABLE garment!

  22. Joanne on

    I have become a fan-at-first-sight. It’s been quite a day. First, I saw your “Hedge Fence” pattern and bought it. Then, I saw your “Plum Frost” and bought it. Then, your “Hallett’s Ledge” and bought it. Now, I’m about to head out to pick up the Fall issue of Interweave Knits! I like your designs. They are classic and timeless and match my tastes very well. I’ll be watching for future designs, and I’ll have my credit card ready!

  23. Jane Prater on

    Bravo on the set in sleeves. I hope you’ve started a trend.

  24. Gabriella Kardos on

    Dear Elinor, I love your design. I made it as a thank you present for a very dear friend of us.
    Of course now my husband wants one too. I got the yarn, but can’t find the fall issue of Interwave. Trying to remember the top part of the main pattern, but keep making mistakes. I Ordered a new copy of the magazine , but it will take several days to get it. Would you be so kind and help me out. If possible send just that pattern?! His birthday is in 19 days and I’m really trying to finish it by than.
    Thank you.

  25. Starting over | irina lapko on

    [...] swimming in the swimming pool outside my window. It didn’t bother me. And as soon as I saw Point Gammon Pullover designed by Elinor Brown, I knew this is it – the project, a sweater for my [...]

  26. Judy Tergis on

    I am having problems with the chart since there are cross overs on the wrong side and all the chart diagrams are for the right side. I ended up with a miss-mash of wrong directed cross overs. What am I missing?

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