Elinor Brown Knits

Knitting Designs by Elinor Brown

Category: hats

On wool

Ivy League Vest

Last winter, it became clear that I would not be able to continue my half marathon training without warmer clothing. Specifically, I needed better coverings for my head and hands. I walked into the local outdoor gear shop looking for the appropriate accessories. Now, some of you will point out the contradiction of a knitter buying synthetic mittens. This point was not lost on me; I felt appropriately ashamed but cold, nevertheless. Actually, I had decided my enemy was not cold, it was wind. Not only that, but who wants to knit mittens to cover sweaty hands during a long run? Not I.

So there I stood, talking to a salesman about the accessories to buy. He showed me some brand name, very expensive hats to block the wind. Neoprene, polypropylene, wind-block fleece, all materials designed to keep you warm. When I said I needed something specifically for a long run-a run lasting about two hours-he quickly abandoned the hats he’d shown me, instead turning to a different line. The answer, he said, was wool. Specifically, a $50 wool hat whose materials had been specially engineered to keep one warm in the cold and provide enough ventilation to prevent overheating. What did he mean by specially engineered materials, I asked. Isn’t that just what wool does? Generations of sheep represent the only technological innovators on this front, as far as I was concerned.

I’m not saying there is no room for technical fabrics. After all, I would never be able to run through the winter without fleece-lined, polypropylene tights. However, it is clear to me that no amount of human engineering can compete with thousands of years of selective pressure on sheep to produce the most effective insulation from the cold.

I need not tell you how I made it through the rest of the winter, of course. I am cheap and unabashedly so. I dug out an old wool hat I knitted years ago and stole the tufted mittens I knit for Aaron. To my amazement, 5 a.m. runs in -15 degree weather were no big deal. Actually, to be completely honest, the 5 a.m. part was still a big deal but the bitter cold was not.

I’ve been considering this experience lately, as it comes time to find Beatrix some warm winter clothes. I decided to design a heavy wool jacket for her as a cheap alternative to a winter coat. In fact, I find some of my heaviest wool sweaters far warmer than my biggest parka. Although my sense of parental guilt will likely drive me to the store this winter to buy her a coat she’ll quickly outgrow, I hope this heavy sweater lasts her two winters.

Grow Like a Weed Jacket

Last week, I sent the pattern to a handful of test knitters. Hopefully, I will be able to offer it to you soon!

In the meantime, I have some stealth mittens under way at the moment. I will certainly share them with you next week when they have met their intended recipient. Until then, I’ll leave you with the beginnings of Bryant’s Slipover vest (Ravelry link), a project I’m knitting for my cousin Ida. I promised to knit this last year but I found myself sidetracked by other things. Since I will be seeing Ida in Boston next week, I decided to finish it so I could leave it with her! Wish me luck on that one, the gauge is 7.5 sts/in and I’ve not yet reached the waist.

Pretty slipped stitch pattern or 1970s uphostery?

FO: Flore Hat in Knit Picks Shine Sport

A baby hat in four days, can you believe it? That’s like taking a week to knit a bootie! This is one serious hat! Unfortunately, while I was quite sure that B’s head was 17″, she has apparently grown a bit since that measurement so that hat is too small. No matter, it will go to a baby due in late summer. Nevertheless, Beatrix will be your model because she’s all I have on hand.🙂

Pattern: Flore by Knitwhits
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Sport, remnants from other projects (colors: Violet, Orchid, Blush, Apricot and Grass, I believe)
Needles: US 4
Modifications: Since the suggested yarn was Tahki Cotton Classic which is a bit heavier than Shine Sport, I swatched, made some calculations and cast on 90 instead of 114 sts.

First of all, let me just say how much I love the finished product – it’s unbearably cute, cleverly designed and interesting to knit. Baby Kaya has a great one too in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino too. The construction is well thought out and the petals are joined by a k2tog row, which cuts way down on the seaming. With those qualification, I must say that only a really, really, really special baby will receive one of these hats from me because both the knitting and finishing were, as Theresa suggested yesterday, “fiddly”. That’s nothing against the pattern authors at Knitwhits, it’s just the nature of the beast. I can’t think of any pattern modifications that would make this less painful to knit, but be forewarned that this is certainly a slogalong project.

To begin with, the pattern calls for two 16″ circular needles and a set of DPNs. That’s fine if you happen to own all of those needles in the appropriate size but I didn’t and there’s no way that I would ever buy so many duplicate needles for a baby hat (maybe for a sweater but certainly not for a baby hat). Thus, I was forced to fudge it a bit. I knit each new petal on DPNs and put the lower parts of the hat on a 32″ US 0 circular. Why? Because that’s all I had – it essentially functioned as a stitch holder, although I admit I spent a lot of time transferring pieces from one needle to another, something that might not have happened if I had not been too cheap to buy more needles. If you decide to make this hat, I guarantee that it will be easier if you follow instructions and use all of the suggested needles.

The finishing seemed to take forever, although my patience for end weaving and the like is minimal. Each layer had six tips to tack down so that the petal would lie flat. Six tack downs multiplied by five… that’s a real drag, if you ask me.

So there you have it: an absolutely adorable hat can be yours with a little crankiness and a lot of finishing! Take it for what it’s worth!

Finished Winter Sunrise

Thank you so much for all of your well wishes for Aaron’s grandmother. She’s had good days and bad days but we’re hoping that with better pain management, she’ll be on the road to recovery.

This is going to be a quick post because we’re off to Boston tomorrow to see my family. I’ve been meaning to blog all week but we’ve been too busy preparing to leave. Nevertheless, I thought I’d post a picture of my latest FO. I’ll post better pictures and the pattern when I get back next week. For now, I give you Winter Sunrise:

Happy New Year!

Stash Expansion, Part II

Laura thinks I’ll have enough of that Woolarina yarn for two Endpaper Mitts so I think that might be my Christmas project. We’ll see. It sounds promising to me!

OK, stash expansion. Here goes. Five 100-gram balls of Regia sock yarn purchased from Wollsucht. Each ball will make one pair of socks. It’s much cheaper to buy Regia from Germany – I couldn’t believe the price difference! From left to right, Regia India Cotton 4301, India Cotton 4302, Canadian Colors 4732 (Toronto), Canadian Colors 4730 (Alberta), and Rellana Flotte Socke Jubiläum 3 4410. I’m not much for variegated yarn but I’ve never tried self-striping (mostly because I’ve never found a self-striping sock yarn that I liked). These seem nice in the sample poster so we’ll see how they turn out. The last is a bit loud for my taste but I thought I’d experiment. After shipping, it came out to about $8/ball – not bad for a full pair of socks, eh? OK, that’s it for the stash expansion… sort of. Does something count as a stash expansion purchase if you’ve already used it up??? I present the Traditional Bea Ellis hat in Black and Cream Heilo. As it turns out, I’m not the only one who has recently found a Bea Ellis kit to knit. The cotton headband liner is what is rolling up on the brim. I hope to sew it inside the hat this weekend. I’m still debating about putting some tassels on this hat. This is another hat for Aaron and he’s not really all that keen on tassels but because so many stitches are drawn up at the top, the hole at the top is larger than I’d prefer for a tassel-free hat.
I like the pattern but I cut it short a full inch. The pattern suggested knitting for 8″ past the brim before starting the crown shaping. While the shaping is only 6 rows, I find 8″ awfully long. I was also running out of white yarn so I stopped at 7″ and it’s still a bit long.

Next, here’s Aaron modeling that gray hat I worked up last weekend. I’m thinking about felting a knitted flower to add to it to make the effect less “meuh”. It’s not my favorite but I now have one less skein of yarn in my stash so that’s OK. Those of you who are making some snide remark about how I just added 17 new skeins to stash? Shut it.🙂
Did any of you hear Dorie Greenspan’s cookie piece on All Things Considered with Michele Norris? I decided to use her three cookie recipes for our holiday cookies. Let me highly recommend them! WOW! Sandies, World Peace Cookies and Rugelach! Here are some of the latest cookies:
On that note, I wish you happy holidays and lots of vacation knitting time!

A Reprieve from Sock Knitting

Thanks for all of your comments and encouragements about my return to running! I’m pretty excited about it. I know that it will be hard to find the time (not to mention the daylight hours) to run without Beatrix but I’m committed to it. If I get desperate, I can leave her with Aaron and run on the treadmill at the rec center down the street from our house.

I have no finished socks for you. I haven’t picked up the socks since I last posted. Instead, I engaged in a few stash-busting projects. Using some Araucania Nature Wool, two wool soakers for Beatrix using the Picky Pants pattern. Note the fancy elastic waist (I learned a new skill)! And look how close I came to running out of yarn! Eek. That’s why the 2nd pair ended up as shorts and not pants. I just love the pants but they fit more like capris. I forget that Beatrix is a really long and skinny baby. I’ll add a few extra inches to the legs the next time I make a pair.
My second stash-buster was an Odessa hat for Aaron using Lamb’s Pride Worsted. I omitted the beads for a more masculine-looking hat. I made him a really basic hat from Henry’s Attic Alpaca a few years ago that he wears all the time. It’s a bit light for really cold days so I thought I’d make him a hat with something heavier.

Finally, I cast on for another hat using more Lamb’s Pride Worsted. I’m not too fond of the hat but I don’t have much left so I’m just going to tough it out.

Meuh. As you can see, it’s nothing to write home about. I thought I’d use a picot banded edge but it just looks lame in fuzzy gray yarn. I knit much of this hat in the car on the way to buy this:
That’s a Dyson DC17 vacuum. Why, you ask?


One word: Petunia. Well, that and a baby who will be crawling in a few months, of course!