Elinor Brown Knits

Knitting Designs by Elinor Brown

Category: My Patterns

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!

Hedge Fence Pullover

Center cable, Hedge Fence Pullover

For as long as I can remember, I have been searching for the perfect cabled pullover. Sometimes, I wonder if this is the real reason I learned to knit. I have very strong opinions about aran-style sweaters. As far as I am concerned, they must

1.) feature symmetrically placed cables;

2.) be heavily cabled, but not be so overwrought so as to include bobbles or a waffle stitch cable;

3.) include some kind of set-in sleeve (no matter how traditional the drop shoulder, I find it sloppy and droopy looking)

4.) not include a mock turtleneck;

5.) not be knit with 10″ of ease;

6.) not make me look 30 lbs heavier.

Is that so much to ask of a sweater? Off the top of my head, Lucy Sweetland’s Lillian and a bobble-less version of Kim Hargreaves’ Demi are the only ones I can think of that come close  – both are in my queue to knit! I have yet to make a sweater that satisfies all of these criteria, but I think this new pattern comes close to meeting my standards.

Front view, Hedge Fence Pullover

Aaron owns and wears more sweaters than anyone I know (knitters included). Unfortunately, it is difficult to find a store-bought sweater to properly fit a very tall, thin man with monkey arms. If something fits in the chest, the arms and body are 4″ too short. If the arms and body are long enough, the body is impossibly wide. Consequently, most of his sweaters are ill-fitting and gigantic. He has been asking for a cabled pullover for years and indeed, I have always wanted to make him something that actually fits. However, I could not find the right pattern. More importantly, I doubted whether he would actually wear what I made him. After all, he has been wearing too-big clothes all his life. Once, when I convinced him to try on a 40″ shirt, he reacted like a cat with tape on its paws. “It’s so tight, I don’t think I could concentrate,” he protested, as he squirmed around in 7″ of positive ease. Sometimes, I wonder if he thinks my clothes fit like spandex. I refused to knit him a sweater as ill-fitting as anything he could buy. But after years of listening to him talk about wanting a handmade cable sweater, last summer, I decided it was time to give it a go. I took some cable patterns from stitch dictionaries and put them together until I found a combination I liked.

Side view, Hedge Fence Pullover

I measured his favorite sweater and found it to have a 46″ chest, 13″ larger than his 33″ chest measurement. We split the difference, and I planned a 39″ size. With still 6″ of ease, I had to aggressively decrease at the armholes to achieve a fitted shoulder width. We are both delighted with the result. I know this pullover will enter Aaron’s winter sweater rotation. And if it doesn’t, there’s always divorce.

Hedge Fence Pullover

Pattern: Hedge Fence Pullover

Yarn: Ram Wools Selkirk (which is really Briggs & Little Regal, don’t ask me why there are two different names for the same yarn) in Brown Heather, 7 skeins

Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)

I am happy to offer the unisex pattern in 12 sizes: 31 (33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 46, 49, 51, 53, 55)”. The garment takes its name from Hedge Fence Shoal, a shallow sandbar on the far west side of Nantucket Sound, just northeast of Martha’s Vineyard. I have been contemplating a series of fisherman-style sweaters and I decided to go with a naming scheme based on the waters I sailed so much as a child.

The pattern is available as a Ravelry download for $8.50.

The body and sleeves of the garment are knit in the round to the armholes, after which point the knitting is done back and forth. The only seaming required is the sewing in of the sleeve cap. The shoulders are joined by a three-needle bind-off, the underarm stitches are grafted together, and stitches are picked up around the neck for the neckline ribbing. The pattern comes with text instructions, a set of body charts for each size, and a set of sleeve charts for each size. None of the cable instructions are written out – they are all charted. In addition, I have included several pages of notes on how to modify the pattern to achieve the best fit for your body while maintaining the integrity of the center cable panel. Fortunately, the side cables are small enough to allow for quite a lot of flexibility in terms of sizing. The only real challenge in modifying the pattern is to ensure the center cable still flows cleanly into the ribbing at the bottom edge and neckline.

Hedge Fence Pullover

More information about the pattern and a detailed schematic can be found on the Hedge Fence Pullover page or on the Ravelry pattern page.

More photos of the finished garment here.

Min Ulla Set

Min Ulla Set

What was that bit about not having winter accessories to wear together? I am happy to report that problem has officially been resolved. Thank you for all of your lovely comments and encouragement along the way.

Min Ulla Set

Let me introduce the Min Ulla Set! The scarfhat, and mitten patterns are available as Ravelry downloads for $6.00 each. The set of three patterns can be purchased for $15.00.

Min Ulla Set

Pattern: Min Ulla Scarf, Hat, and Mittens (Ravelry link)

Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in #6289 Charcoal mix and #6201 Winter white, 4 skeins each color for the entire set

Needles: US 6 (4 mm)

In early October, I approached Berroco, Inc. with a swatch and sketch for this design and the company generously donated the yarn for the project. As I mentioned before, I tried this pattern out on a hat with Harrisville Designs New England Shetland leftovers, but it was clearly the wrong choice. Can you imagine how long it would have taken me to knit this at a fine gauge? I still have not yet finished that sample hat! I really wanted a worsted weight yarn, and one with a bit of a halo to it as well. Berroco Ultra Alpaca was a great choice because the yarn is smooth enough to show off the stitch definition but soft and fuzzy enough to make a really warm set.

Min Ulla Scarf

This Scandinavian-styled scarf is made in the round as a tube, its ends grafted together in the finishing process. Symmetrical about the center point, it is comprised of many very simple peeries of small repeats, along with a few more complicated snowflake and XOXO peeries. The scarf pattern is given as a series of10 charts. I broke the pattern up this way to make it a more portable project since smaller charts are easier to read. Although the charts may seem complex at first glance, upon closer examination, one will find that at the level of the individual round, the patterning is quite simple. After a while, the charts should only be truly necessary for the XOXO and snowflake patterns, or when starting a new peerie. Trust me, it’s true.

Min Ulla Set

The hat is knit in the round with a contrasting liner tacked to the inside of the brim for extra warmth. I could not decide on a brim pattern for the hat, so I included four different versions in the pattern. Two versions include small peeries like the sample hat shown, while the other two versions feature traditional snowflake patterns. Between this scarf and the other projects I’ve made with snowflake patterns, I was feeling a bit burned out on snowflakes by the time I started the hat; therefore, I settled on a version with peeries only instead. In the end, I think I prefer the look of the small peeries to large snowflakes at the brim. Each version of the hat is topped with a lice stitch, spiral crown.

Min Ulla Hat, Version A

This is the first pair of worsted weight, non-thrummed mittens I have made in a long time. I seem to have forgotten how quickly mittens knit up when not done at 10 stitches per inch! Amazing! Each mitten took me a day – a day with plenty of distractions too. I think I still prefer tightly knit mittens over worsted weight ones; however, these will certainly prove at least as warm as finer gauge mittens I’ve made because of the lining!

Min Ulla Mittens

Although I love lined mittens, my one complaint is that a lined thumb renders it practically useless. The last two pairs of lined mittens I’ve made have featured keyhole thumbs in the lining. Bonus? Not having to knit a second thumb.

Mitten with keyhole mitten liner

More photos can be found here.

Finally, I have one last pattern coming out in the next week – Hedge Fence Pullover – and then I swear, I’ll be done for a while. I have a baby to deliver, you know.

Plum Frost Pullover & Cardigan now available

The pattern is up! Thank you so very much for your kind comments and positive feedback! I cannot believe almost 300 people entered the contest! I am pleased to announce that by random selection, Nancy is the winner of the kit. Congratulations Nancy, and many thanks to all who entered!

For those interested in the pattern, please take a look at the pattern specifications and schematic before purchasing. The pullover version requires no steeking and would be a good introduction to stranded knitting. Please be advised that the cardigan version is steeked and will require, in cases of yarn substitution, a feltable wool that is not machine washable.

Finally, there appears to be some disagreement about Harrisville New England Shetland yardage, which I suspect comes from the washed/unwashed (skeined/coned) offerings – some say 217 yds/skein, others 197 yds/skein. I made all of my calculations assuming 197 yds/skein to ensure that you will not run out of yarn.

Plum Frost Cardigan

Plum Frost Pullover & Cardigan

Knit seamlessly in the round from the bottom up, this simple, versatile, women’s pullover/cardigan pattern features a classic XOXO stranded pattern in the 6-color yoke, with stars occupying the lozenge positions. The main color (charcoal) fades out to nearly white within the stranded pattern while, at the same time, a light purple darkens toward the center of the band. Hourglass waist shaping and fitted sleeves outline a flattering style to most sizes and shapes. The bottom band, button bands, neckband, and sleeve cuffs are worked in K1, P1 rib and employ tubular cast-ons and bind-offs. The cardigan version is steeked open; however, it is essentially the same pattern as the pullover, measuring 1″ wider in the body only because of the button band. The pattern is designed to fit bust measurements from 33″ to 51″.

The pattern is available as a Ravelry download for $6.50.


Intermediate (pullover), Advanced (cardigan)

Skills used

Tubular cast-on, knitting in the round, decreasing, increasing, reading and working through a color chart, tubular bind-off, grafting together stitches, crocheting a chain (cardigan only), steeking (cardigan only) picking up stitches (cardigan only), sewing on buttons (cardigan only).


To fit bust: 33 (36, 38, 43, 47, 51)”

Model shown in size 36 with a shortened back waist.

Finished measurements

Bust (pullover): 32.75 (35.75, 37.75, 42.75, 46.75, 50.75)”

Bust (cardigan): 33.75 (37, 39, 43.75, 47.75, 51.75)”

Back length: 20.75 (21.5, 22.25, 23, 23.75, 24.25)”


24 stitches and 32 rows = 4″ in stockinette stitch on US 4 (3.5 mm) needles

24 stitches and 32 rows = 4″ in stranded stitch pattern on US 6 (4 mm) needles

Full view, Plum Frost Cardigan


Harrisville Designs New England Shetland [100% wool; 197 yd (180 m); 50 g skein]; color: #49 Charcoal, 5 (5, 6, 6, 7, 7) skeins; #19 Blackberry, #20 Purple Haze, #72 Lilac, #47 Suede, #45 Pearl, 1 skein each.


US 2.5 (3 mm) circular needle, 29″ or 32″ long

1 set of US 2.5 (3 mm) DPNs

US 4 (3.5 mm) circular needle, 29″ or 32″ long

1 set of US 4 (3.5 mm) DPNs

US 6 (4 mm) circular needle, 29″ or 32″ long

US 6 (4 mm) circular needle, 16″ long

Size B (2.25 mm) crochet hook (cardigan only)


Stitch markers – two different colors (blue and orange used for illustration purposes)

Stitch holders

Scrap yarn – the scrap yarn used for the cardigan’s crochet chains must be feltable wool (i.e. not superwash)

Tapestry needle

7 3/4″ buttons



Plum Frost Cardigan

More photos can be found here.

Plum Frost Pullover & Cardigan

Plum Frost Cardigan

Back in February, I found myself playing around with some simple XOXO fair isle patterns and color fading. As soon as I swatched this one in Harrisville Designs New England Shetland, I knew I had to make myself a sweater with it. Regular readers will hardly be surprised to see me knitting yet another garment with this yarn. What can I say? It works! I carefully planned out the pattern in six sizes from start to finish. Like every other project I had going, it immediately began collecting dust when I became pregnant in March. I returned to it in August, committed to knitting up the sample in spite of my impossibly large middle. Although it hardly fits now, with the baby due in December, I hope to squeeze at least a few months of wear out of it this winter.*

Plum Frost Cardigan

I am happy to present Plum Frost Pullover & Cardigan! Knit seamlessly in the round from the bottom up, this simple, versatile, women’s pullover/cardigan pattern features a classic XOXO stranded pattern in the 6-color yoke, with stars occupying the lozenge positions. The main color (charcoal) fades out to nearly white within the stranded pattern while, at the same time, a light purple darkens toward the center of the band. Hourglass waist shaping and fitted sleeves outline a flattering style to most sizes and shapes. The bottom band, button bands, neckband, and sleeve cuffs are worked in K1, P1 rib and employ tubular cast-ons and bind-offs. The cardigan version is steeked open; however, it is essentially the same pattern as the pullover, measuring 1″ wider in the body only because of the button band. The pattern is designed to fit bust measurements from 33″ to 51″ . It will be available for purchase from my Ravelry shop for $6.50 beginning Wednesday, October 7.

Back view, Plum Frost Cardigan

I could not be happier with how well this particular garment turned out. Harrisville’s Shetland yarn is such a delight to use. Just as I began to find my stranding rough and lumpy, I soaked the pre-steeked version and it was instantly transformed. The yarn blooms so well, filling in errant gaps between stitches, smoothing out the yoke, and blending the colors together. I really cannot speak highly enough of how magnificently Shetland blooms: I’ve never experienced anything quite like it with any other yarn. While it is unmistakably a very woolly yarn, it is somehow soft enough that I can wear it next to my skin without itching all over. I have used it often in the past (e.g. Vine Lace Pullover, Scoopneck, Vespergyle Mittens, Ivy League Vest), and I will certainly return to it again. Besides, now I have leftover bits in lots of colors!

Yoke detail, Plum Frost Cardigan

One of the things I needed in a yarn for this piece was a color choice that included three close shades of each color (i.e. gray and purple). There are only a few yarn companies that offer such thorough color palettes: Harrisville, Jamieson’s and Knit Picks are ones that come to mind. I do not care for Knit Picks’ Palette yarn, and Jamieson’s is both out of my budget and unavailable locally. Not only that, my local yarn shop carries the full line of Harrisville Shetland – all 56 colors – on cones, which makes it quite an economical option for me. Another thing I love about all of Harrisville’s yarns is that the lines and color offerings are so stable. As long as I have a color card on hand, I know exactly what I will be getting when I pick out colors. How often do other companies discontinue colors or particular yarns altogether? I still miss Magpie Aran and Skye Tweed – surely we all have our own personal, discontinued favorites. Anyway, I appreciate the wide selection and stable offering. Without it, fair isle projects would surely be much more difficult to plan!
Yoke detail, Plum Frost Cardigan

Because I like the yarn so much and want to support their business, I contacted Harrisville Designs about this particular pattern. The company has generously offered to donate the yarn for one lucky commenter to make a Plum Frost pullover or cardigan! Please leave a comment by Wednesday, October 7 at 8 a.m. CST to be entered in the contest. I will use a random number generator to choose a winner to receive the yarn and a free copy of the pattern. I hope you will love both the yarn and the pattern as much as I do!


* Can you believe I actually published that link?? I felt it was only honest. You’re welcome.