Elinor Brown Knits

Knitting Designs by Elinor Brown

Category: stash busting


New stripey sweater

My thrumming adventure has been partially interrupted by a striped, stashbusting sweater for Beatrix that I started over a month ago. I decided to pair up some Knit Picks Merino Style with the Debbie Bliss Merino Aran that Nova sent me last year to make a toddler cardigan. Sadly, I had to set this aside for a few weeks because I ran out of yarn – both colors, in fact (yes, that was great planning). Unfortunately, I only needed a few yards of each new skein so you will likely see these colors again soon in some hat or another.

"stwipey sweatah", complete with cwazy hair

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Seamless Yoke Sweater from Knitting Without Tears

Yarn: Knit Picks Merino Style in Hollyberry and Debbie Bliss Merino Aran in #06

Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm)

New stripey sweater

I regret that the severe yoke decreases show in spite of my careful blocking. I used three evenly spaced decreases to form the yoke and if I were to do it again, I would probably place four less aggressive decrease rows in there. Also, I skipped the back neck shaping and ended with a 2×2 rib collar. The knitting was terrifically mindless, the yarn was soft and I feel certain Beatrix will outgrow this far too soon for it to pill. I would neither recommend KP Merino Style nor DB Merino Aran for any project one expected to last, however. These are soft and fuzzy yarns, categorically not durable ones. Still, I am happy with the results.

Stashbusting sweater, done

Its initial reception was not good, unfortunately. Beatrix maintained, “I don’t wike stwipes!” Fortunately, a two-year-old’s preferences seem to change as quickly as her moods and this morning, she deemed it acceptable attire.

Returning to the thrumming activities, I happily report the mittens are done!

The last of the thrumming

And what a lot I have to say about them. I decided to go overboard on these to create the most densely packed, tightly knit, wind-proof mitten ever.

This is what 600 thrums looks like

Contrasted against the Yarn Forward mittens I made for Aaron last winter, these mittens pack an incredible amount of sheep. I made the 2008 pair with Lamb’s Pride Worsted on US 6 (4.0 mm) needles and each mitten contained 161 thrums. Of course I counted, you wouldn’t have? My only complaint about them is that the wind cuts through them on the coldest days. Consequently, I knit the 2009 pair with Ram Wools Selkirk on US 2.5 (3.0 mm) needles and nearly doubled the number of thrums. Each mitten contains exactly 300 thrums. I hope they will be sturdy enough to protect my aunt Therese from the bitter cold of watching early morning ice hockey practices and games.

Sheep explosion

Yarn: Ram Wools Selkirk with who knows how many ounces of Blue-faced Leicester

Needles: US 2.5 (3.0 mm)

For the cuff, I cast on 32 sts, worked 3” in 1×1 rib. I increased to 42 stitches, thrummed every three stitches, every fourth row. After a few rows of thrums, I added one pattern repeat below the thumb to make a little more room. There are 252 thrums in the mitten body and 48 thrums in the 24-stitch thumb. I worked three K1, K2tog decrease rows at the mitten top and one at the thumb top.

Now with twice the thrums!

The sheer volume of material stuffed inside is astounding to me. You can see the contrast with the old pair. On the whole, I cannot say thrummed mittens wear well. As you can see, Aaron’s pair (oh, who are we kidding? they’re really mine) is in dire need of a shave. They pill and fuzz all over everything. They also grow with time, as the wool inside packs down.

Last year's mittens, for comparison

I cannot so much as turn a door handle wearing thrummed mittens, much less wrangle a toddler. However, I do not fear for my extremities when it’s -10 degrees during my 5:30 a.m. runs. That’s really all that matters, right? Therese will only be able to wave and clap with her new mittens but isn’t that all one needs to do at a hockey game?

Mitten torpedoes


Cozy winter raglan

Jacques is feeling sick

Have I mentioned my dislike for top-down sweaters? It’s true, I would rather knit from the bottom up. My dissatisfaction lies in the hem and cuffs. First, the stitches never look tight enough no matter how many needle sizes I drop. Second, my cast offs are always too tight. I have tried all the various bind offs out there and the only one that works adequately enough to get the garment over my hips is the sewn cast off, which yields an edge that invariably appears too loose and rather sloppy. Finally, no matter how I work the rib, my hems flip without a good blocking or gentle steaming. However, top-down sweaters are quick and fast and what do you know, I’ve just knit another one! I’m cold, remember?


Pattern: A basic top-down raglan with a 33″ bust (1.5″ neg ease) (Ravelry link)

Yarn: Queensland Collection Kathmandu DK Tweed in #406, 6 skeins

Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm)

Actually, I knit this in December but I refused to finish it until I first settled on a finished hem for my Francis Revisited. There is something about the top-down sweater that I find very appealing. It does not feel like a real sweater until I divide for the armholes. Perhaps there’s no commitment until the divide whereas I feel committed to an Adult Sweater as soon as I cast on all of the body stitches for a bottom-up garment. Who knows?


Despite my grumblings about the hem and cuffs, I love this garment! I intend to live in it! The yarn is so soft and comfortable! However, there are important things to note about the yarn itself. I used this same yarn in my DROPS 88-4 cardigan, a project from which I learned some important lessons. First, although my swatch last year grew, it did not grow nearly as much as the sweater did over the course of last winter. With this yarn on US 6 (4.0 mm) needles, my unwashed stitch gauge was 5.25 sts/inch, my washed stitch gauge was 5 sts/inch and the gauge taken from the stockinette part of the DROPS sweater was 4.89 stitches/inch! In planning this sweater, I used the 4.89 stitch/inch gauge and added 1.5″ of negative bust ease. When this grows, I will be prepared!

Short rowed neckline

The neckline was even front and back but I used short rows on the ribbing to lengthen the back neck.

Another top down raglan

After a blocking and a very, very gentle steaming, the bottom hem seems to stay in place. Still, you can see how my ribbing stitches appear loose and rather untidy. All in all, I will call this a successs. I believe the yarn makes this virtually foolproof. I originally intended to knit a cabled pullover with this yarn and I bought 11 balls. Since I only used 6 skeins for this sweater, I need to find a good way to use up my remaining stash. All stashed yarn needs a purpose, after all!

Stash busting hats

My regular knitting has temporarily been placed on hold. After tripping over a bag of worsted weight wool scraps, I decided to engage in some much needed stash busting projects. I am too cheap to toss out my scraps so it appears as though there will be many striped projects in my immediate future!

First up is a pattern of my own design.


I had less than 100 yds of these colors so I put them together for a striped hat with an 8-point, star crown. The size shown Beatrix is modeling the 18″ version.


Pattern: December Stripes Hat (Ravelry link here)

Yarn: scraps of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes and Cascade 220

Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm)



I still had a good deal of Cascade 220 left over after this hat so I used up the rest in a Norwegian-style star hat with a hidden liner, also in the 18″ size.

Stash busting hat for Beatrix

Yarn: Cascade 220 in Cream and Blue Heather

Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm)

Stash busting hat for Beatrix

Beatrix is pretty excited about her new hats! And there will be more to come!

Stash busting hat for Beatrix

Print O’ the Wave Stole

Well, I said it would be worn as a scarf and here it is!


Pattern: Print O’ the Wave Stole by Eunny Jang (Ravelry link)

Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in #1294 (“Turquoise Mix”)

Needles: 4.25 mm (Clover 6s, which are between US 6 and US 7)

Approximate size: 15″ x 76″

Print O' the Wave Stole

Despite my frustrations with this project, I could not be happier with the end product. The pattern is very clear and well-written and I would certainly recommend it. I found Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca Fine delightful to work with. The yarn is smooth, soft and shiny and it comes in wonderfully saturated colors. Furthermore, it is relatively inexpensive for the yardage ($8.75 for 440 yards). I fully intend to use the worsted weight Ultra Alpaca for a sweater in the coming months.

Print O' the Wave Stole

One drawback of the project was that the knitted on edging required more yarn and took longer to complete than the main body of the stole. I doubt I will ever again sign up for knitted on edging. Still, I admit it was probably worth the trouble.

Print O' the Wave Stole

I will need to be careful how I wear this, however; already, I’ve managed to snag a few yarn-overs (without any damage). This probably cannot become my every day scarf but it will see plenty of use.
Print O' the Wave Stole

It’s not bad for an unintended stash buster, is it?

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!