Elinor Brown Knits

Knitting Designs by Elinor Brown

Category: sweaters

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!


Francis: visited, revisited, and revisited again

Francis Revisited

As I said a few weeks ago, there comes a point in the middle of the winter when keeping warm becomes my primary life goal. There are many sweaters I aim to knit this winter but how can I even think straight with chattering teeth and a shivering body? In November, I cast on for the second of three sweaters (this was the first, and the third will be done soon) knit for the express purpose of staying warm. Unbelievably, I knit this in less than one week, knitting only in the evenings and during a few breaks in the day. So this is why people love to knit bulky weight sweaters!

Francis Revisited

Pattern: Francis Revisited by Beth Silverstein (Ravelry link)

Yarn: Cascade Eco Wool, 2 skeins

Needles: US 10 (6.0 mm) for the body, US 9 (5.5 mm) for the cuffs and hem, US 8 for the cowl

Modifications: I used long sleeves, garter stitch in place of seed stitch, a hemmed bottom edge and I used my own shaping instead of the pattern shaping.

The low light conditions of winter

I lengthened and tapered the sleeves, ending with a long garter stitch cuff. I intended to carry this along the cowl and bottom edge; however, each time I tried a garter edge on the bottom, it looked like a large fat roll – not exactly flattering!I reknit the bottom edge at least four times before settling on the hem.

The hem that nearly killed me

Although I am not entirely happy with the hem, I must remember that the primary purpose of this sweater is to keep me warm this winter. Period. In fact, who knows if it will even make it to next winter? I rarely knit with bulky yarns because I doubt their durability. On the other hand, Cascade Eco Wool has a surprisingly tight spin so perhaps it will make it to next winter without pilling and fuzzing.

Francis Revisited

I also recently finished a pair of fingerless mitts in the same frenzy as these sweaters. Sitting at a microscope in a cold room in the middle of winter is probably one of the underlying reasons why I have felt so cold lately. I have not yet decided if these provide enough dexterity for me to do my work but I hope they will.

Endpaper mitts

Pattern: Endpaper Mitts by Eunny Jang (Ravelry link)

Yarn: Reynolds Soft Sea Wool

Needles: US 2.5 (3.0 mm), US 0 (2.0 mm)

In general, I think fingerless mitts are fairly useless when it comes to keeping one’s hands warm. Aren’t the fingers the first to feel cold? Why would anyone take the time to knit mittens that leave the fingers open? I fail to understand the appeal of the fingerless mitt. Nonetheless, I am willing to try them out in a vain attempt to warm up!

Trying to warm up

There’s really no reason a knitter should ever be cold, is there? And yet, I feel as if I have been frozen since August. Last month, I decided to take action. I cast on for two plain, stockinette sweaters in my battle against winter.

By the numbers

I knit this cardigan without a pattern, using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in “Mist”, a tape measure, and a well-worn Wool of the Andes sweater as a gauge swatch. The result is utterly uninspiring. Wool of the Andes is such a mediocre yarn. The more I use it, the less I like it. I find it wildly inconsistent: some dye lots bleed profusely, some skeins are riddled with knots, and most egregious of all, I cannot make a consistent gauge from lot to lot (my gauge ranges between 18 and 20 stitches over 4″ on size 8 needles). It is the only yarn I have encountered with which I cannot make the recommended gauge every time I use it. So, you ask, what is the difference between 4.5 stitches/inch and 5 stitches/inch? Take a look at the shoulder line of this cardigan. It falls over my shoulder. I hate that.

Made by gauge swatch and tape measure

If I did not loathe this yarn so much, I would reknit the armholes with far more rigorous shaping. However, this is a plain, simple, quick, and cheap cardigan (can you argue with $14?), knit for warmth around the house more than anything else. My time is better served with the Skye Tweed sitting in my stash, wouldn’t you agree?

Wool of the Andes is a worthless yarn

The second sweater is one I started in early November, Beth Silverstein‘s Francis Revisited (Ravelry link), recently knit by Lolly and Parikha and Sarah. I decided to make the sleeves longer and use garter stitch in place of the seed stitch.
Francis visited, revisited, and revisited

Unfortunately, I cannot settle on a satisfactory bottom hem. At first, I knit garter stitch rows but they looked too loose and sloppy so I ripped them out. I tried again with a purl row followed by a rolled edge. This one strikes me as awkward (and still sloppy) with the long garter stitch sleeve cuffs. Perhaps I will try garter stitch knit on smaller needles? You will see more of this next week. I am not done with it yet!

A birthday sweater for Asa

Showing off the whole sweater

Hooray for finished sweaters! Sadly, this is the first sweater I have finished since my Central Park Hoodie in June! This darling little sweater is not for Beatrix – it is a birthday present for B’s very first friend, Asa. The kiddos were born two weeks apart and Mr. Asa is about to celebrate his second birthday. I actually bought this yarn to swatch Aaron’s Aran but since I settled on Ram Wools Selkirk for that project, I had a whole skein of Harrisville Highland leftover. I intended for this to be a stash busting project but of course, I ended up needing a second skein!

A birthday sweater for Asa

Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles (a.k.a. February Baby Sweater) by Elizabeth Zimmermann, knitting stockinette instead of the gull stitch pattern

Yarn: Harrisville New England Highland

Needles: US 8

For the record, I made EZ’s 5 sts/in gauge and the sweater fits my two-year-old. EZ was fond of saying a baby sweater will fit eventually but I admit I think that’s a bit of a cop out – I want a general idea of what year in the child’s life the sweater will fit. Is that too much to ask? Luckily, I did the math before embarking on this project to determine the proper fit.

This is one of my favorite worsted weight yarns but because it is so wooly, it breaks easily when pulled. I desperately wanted to use metal buttons but I was certain the yarn would not support heavy metal buttons with sizeable button shanks. Not to mention toddler wear and tear! This is what Beatrix did as soon as I put the sweater on her:

Button frustration

Right. Just as I suspected. Luckily, the owner of my local fabric store (where I bought the buttons) sent me home with a half yard of twill tape to sew onto the back of the button band. She agreed that metal buttons were a must for a little boy’s sweater and she assured me that the tape backing would provide support for the buttons and relieve most of the stress on the yarn. Only “a little hand sewing” was required.

What? Hand sewing? I dread hand sewing fabric to a knitted garment; the resulting product always appears sloppy and flimsy. Nevertheless, I dutifully pinned the tape to the back of the buttonband before skeptically stitching it by hand.

Preparing the twill tape reinforcement of the button band

And to my shock, it looks great!

Twill tape sewn to the reinforce the button band

Most importantly, I think those buttons are now able to withstand the abuse of a two-year-old.

Your cranky model

Beatrix agrees. That is a look of pure toddler annoyance.

Gentleman’s Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern

I know what you’re thinking, right? Didn’t you just see a pair just like this a few weeks back? Knee socks? Really? In August? Who knits knee socks in July and August? Well, I do. And I am not alone: Christy and Joyousknits both finished this same pattern in July and Sarah started on a pair too.
Knee socks in 5.5 days

These were the fastest socks I have ever knit: the pair took only five and a half days! Sadly, their rapid production says little about my speed a lot about the hours I spent glued to my books! As a bonus, I can cross off another Knitting Vintage Socks pattern: seven down, only 17 to go!

Gentleman's Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern

Pattern: Gentleman’s Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks

Yarn: Opal Uni in #1415

Needles: US 1.5

I did not alter the pattern at all and I found it to fit perfectly. I most certainly will use this stitch pattern again; it was fast and easy to memorize, involved little purling and produced a firm and not too stretchy fabric. I doubt I will even need to run elastic through the cuffs to keep these socks up but only wear will tell. And isn’t the texture of this stitch pattern wonderful?

Cool ribbing

The calf shaping briefly appeared to be too high but the socks fit remarkably well. I imagine the aggressive calf shaping placed higher up the leg contributes to keeping these socks up.

Calf shaping

I cannot speak highly enough of this sock pattern. Leave it to Nancy Bush to use a terribly simple stitch pattern to create a snug, well shaped and attractive sock. While not too exciting to knit, this is ideal if you need a good, mindless, on the go sock pattern.

While I have more finished products waiting to be blogged, I thought I would leave you with a preview of some current work. I’m a bit disappointed that I have blogged only finished objects this summer. When I read knit blogs, I almost prefer reading works in progress posts over finished object posts, if only because I learn more from them. In the spirit of blogging WIPs as well as FOs, here are a few of the ongoing projects I have right now:

Almost to the armholes

Aaron’s Aran is almost to the armhole divide but progress slowed to a halt when I had to rip a few inches. My love for this project has waned a bit purely because I loathe the Addi Lace needles I bought for it. I suppose some people must like brass needles but all I smell is metal: my hands, my yarn and my needles all reek of that awful, metallic smell. Ugh! I still love the sweater so I will finish it this fall but I will never buy another brass needle as long as I live.

Beginnings of a tweedy yoked baby sweater

I cast on for a tweedy yoked baby sweater to use up some New England Harrisville yarn I bought to swatch Aaron’s Aran. I will likely need to buy more yarn – so much for a stash buster project, right?

The unending Katharine Hepburn cardi

The dullest knitting project Katharine Hepburn Cardigan progresses slowly, in large part because of the painfully boring stitch pattern. The back is done and blocked but I only have half of one front done.

One Fascine Braid sock down, one to go

ONE! Fascine Braid sock by Tiennie! Go get this pattern! It’s free, easy and pretty! I only wish I had chosen a color other than brown – the pattern is barely visible with this yarn.

Irregular squares

A collection of irregular squares (pieced with scrap fabrics) for a quilt. This is a gift so I likely will not blog much about it until I finish.

Next time, there will be some more sewing FOs and a visit by Jennie!