Elinor Brown Knits

Knitting Designs by Elinor Brown

Category: stash expansion

Day projects

Top view, XOXO hat

In a blaze of stash busting this week, I whipped out two hats, one for my brother and the other for his girlfriend. I had almost forgotten the thrill of seeing a project to completion in less than a day. I love knitting hats! Why do I not knit hats exclusively? Perhaps if I wore hats myself, I would knit more of them. Still, they are so much fun to make.

XOXO hat

About once a year, I knit my brother a nice, warm hat in a dark color. However, single-color hats are so dreadfully boring to knit! And since I only wear hats when it is really, really cold, I find hats with a single thickness of wool utterly insufficient. The only solution worth my time is, of course, a stranded project. When I saw Tuulia’s beautiful Alise Mittens (Ravelry link), I decided to use a similar XOXO pattern in a hat. You may find a link to my free hat pattern here but really, all you need is the 8 stitch x 8 row pattern repeat and a little common sense.  Alternating gray and black provided enough visual interest for the knitter while the overall effect is dark and subtle. After all, my brother does not need a hat that screams, “My sister made this!” I also knit a 2.5″ lining to be tucked inside the brim for extra warmth around the ears.

XOXO hat for my brother

Pattern: XOXO Hat (Ravelry link here)

Yarn: Approximately 200 yds of worsted weight for each color; I used Bemidji Woolen Mills Original Homespun (in some shade of dark gray) and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (in “Coal”)

Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm), either DPNs or DPNs and 16″ circular

XOXO hat

My scrap bag is rife with browns: coffee, taupe, chocolate, mocha, chestnut, tan, you name it, it’s brown. All year, I have been meaning to put my scraps to good use and knit a Chevron Love Hat by Knitterly Things’ Julia. The chevron mittens Julia made for Maritza at our October mitten swap only further convinced me: I need to knit zigzags. Finally, with the array of brown scraps in front of me, it was time. I knit this one up for my brother’s girlfriend last weekend. I could not be more pleased with the result! It’s a good thing I have plenty of brown left over because I see another chevron hat in my future! Julia’s pattern is easy and fun and the knitting flies by! I heartily recommend this one to anyone interested in using up leftovers!

Chevron Love Hat

Pattern: Chevon Love Hat (Ravelry link)

Yarn: a mix of Rowan Magpie Aran, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, Top of the Lamb Lionspun, Plymouth Encore Worsted.

Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm)

The fiber content is not entirely pure: this hat has some acrylic blends in it. I doubt it will be much of a problem; after all, winter hats are not routinely tossed in the dryer, are they? These zigzags are my favorite! Thanks for the wonderful pattern, Julia!

Brown chevrons

Well? What are you waiting for? Go stash busting and knit some quick hats!

Please, just don’t call it a shawl

It's not a shawl, OK? It's a SCARF.

In Boston, I bought some Berroco Ultra Alpaca with the intention of copying Maritza’s beautiful mittens for Minty. Unfortunately, I did not pay close enough attention to what Maritza said about the pattern before buying fingering instead of worsted weight yarn.

What is one to do with 800 yds of fingering weight yarn that is, by my estimation, unsuitable for socks? Knit a shawl. Right. Have I shared my views on shawls? I am going to get so much hate mail for this. Here we go, this is what I think about shawls:

I do not knit shawls and neither should you.

Please don’t mistake me, I find them stunningly beautiful, technically challenging, and supremely intricate. It is not that I do not value the knitting prowess of the shawl – I do! However, I have yet to see anyone under the age of 80 successfully wear a triangular or circular shawl. As an avid product knitter, I never knit for the process, I knit for the wearable garment. Hence, the shawl appeals little to me. Is that fair enough?

Nevertheless, I returned home with 800 yards of fingering weight yarn with no intended use for it. What to do? Anything but lace would drag on and on forever at a fine gauge. After a quick Ravelry search, I settled on Eunny Jang’s rectangular Print O’ the Wave Stole (Ravelry link) but decided to make it narrower, more stole-like and less shawl-like. After all, I would not want to have to explain to you why I have just knitted a shawl, right? Right.

The not-shawl

Just before starting the edging, I did some quick math to determine how much of the yarn I would likely use. To my surprise, math says I will run out of yarn. But I have so much right now! Will I really run out? Furthermore, math says I will need 0.71 oz of a third skein. What should I do?

1) Call Windsor Button to see if I can track down a third skein before knitting the edging.

2) Knit the edging and buy more yarn only if/when I run out.

3) Go to a wedding in Phoenix this weekend with another project, leaving the yarn eating not-shawl to stew at home.

You can imagine what I chose. See you Monday!

FO: Central Park Hoodie

The toddler sewing pictures I promised will have to be put on hold a little longer, since the garments in question seem to be perpetually in the laundry. In the meantime, check out my new sweater!

As if this cardigan needs any introduction…

Central Park Hoodie in Tahki Donegal Tweed

It’s a Central Park Hoodie. You’ve seen it before. In fact, you’ve probably knit one yourself. More than 1400 Ravelers have.

Central Park Hoodie in Tahki Donegal Tweed

Pattern: Central Park Hoodie

Yarn: Tahki Donegal Tweed in #850 (“Obsidian”), every last yard of 6 skeins

Needles: US 6 & US 8

Modifications: I knit the 36″ size exactly from the pattern but I added two inches in length because I wanted to wear this as a coat.

What's with the heavy wool hoodie in June?

This is definitely an outerwear garment. Tahki Donegal Tweed is every bit as hot as you would imagine. In spite of its warmth, I have little doubt my CPH will become my most worn hand knit garment. In fact, I’m contemplating a second CPH in something softer and more appropriate for indoor wear.

Oh my god, I was so hot with all the buttons done!

You cannot possibly imagine how hot I was just taking these pictures. I could only keep it buttoned for a few minutes. Finishing a heavy wool sweater in 90 degree weather? Suboptimal.

Hood cable

While I love the tweed I chose, I admit that I regretted not using my Skye Tweed stash having seen the CPH iSeL finished recently – I even have the same color stashed! But no, that particular yarn was already set aside to copycat Christy’s Tweedy Aran.

A few weeks ago, I looked through some cable stitch books and swatched a cabled sweater for Aaron, what I’ve dubbed “Aaron’s Aran”. I initially intended to use Harrisville New England Highland but when Ram Wools had a sale on Selkirk, I bought it instead. Lots of it. Even without the sale, Selkirk sells for $5.95 for 273 yds of worsted weight yarn. In fact, my Selkirk and Highland swatches feel the same and both knit up at exactly same gauge.

Swatching Aaron's Aran

And now for the big argument: what size to make? The knitter would prefer to finish in her lifetime and to fit his 35″ chest. The tall, skinny man who buys clothes far too large for him, would prefer the 44″ size. Where is the middle ground? What would you do?

Catching Up!

Thanks for your positive comments about the new design and the new pattern! It’s good to be back. It’s been a busy month chez ExerciseBeforeKnitting and I’ve missed all of my blog friends quite a bit! Fortunately, I was able to meet up with one of those bloggers in real life last weekend! Aaron, Beatrix and I were in Portland for a family event and staying on the same block as Knit/Purl so I met Christy there for some great stash expansion and terrible photo-taking. We had a great time and we both came home with some Shi Bui sock yarn and cheap Rowan Kid Classic.


I have three or four scarves made out of Kid Classic so I thought I’d add to the color range with some red. Every summer for the last few years, my LYS has sold this for cheap at a sidewalk sale and I’ve made scarves with it. I don’t believe I could ever stand a sweater made partly of mohair but it does make a light but very warm scarf.


Since my Sunrise Circle was almost done when I left for Portland, I threw a new project in my bag so that I wouldn’t have to carry around a huge, bulky sweater. It was the most rational thing to do, really! I cast on for DROPS Jacket No. 91-8 with some Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Coal. Because I couldn’t quite make the stitch gauge, I imagine my jacket will overlap in front a bit but I’m fine with that. I’ll probably buy a nice pin to tack it closed. I now have the fronts, the back and one sleeve done with another sleeve and lots of border ribbing to go. And then there’s the seaming on the Sunrise Circle…


That’s a big pile of pieces in need of seaming. *sigh* These days, it’s easy to work in knitting time while studying but finishing requires my full attention so it will have to wait!

Yarn Diet: False Start

While some people need to eat that huge piece of chocolate cake before starting a new food diet, I apparently need one (or three) last yarn purchases to prepare myself for months of stash knitting. Truthfully, I had intended to buy enough sock yarn to make two pairs of socks for my in-laws to thank them for all the babysitting they’ve been doing; however, I bought enough for three pairs! Bad knitter!

Lorna’s Laces (I’m in love) Shepherd Sock in Pewter for my stepfather-in-law,
Louet Gems in Fern Green for my mother-in-law
and Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Chocolate for me – the reason? I only own one pair of handknit socks. I don’t even know how that is possible. And with so much work to do in these two weeks, I’ve been bribing myself with the promise of lots of sock knitting. Some people eat chocolate, I knit chocolate colored yarn. At least I won’t gain any weight, right?
Finally, slow progress on Ida’s socks. I’ve finished the first one and started the second but now I’m just knitting a few rows here and there. I’ll pick them up again next weekend. Check out the cool striping!

Finally, go check out Kelley Petkun’s blog– she and her husband own Knit Picks, my favorite not-so-local yarn store! I found the link to her blog on the much needed, newly redesigned Knit Picks site!