Our Little Brownstones

Just after Tommy was born, I knitted him a little sweater that was inspired by Jared Flood’s Brownstone. I loved Brownstone, and wanted to knit it for a man at some point, but Steffen is too tall (wool isn’t that cheap), and not metrosexual enough to pull it off. Then all of a sudden I had this baby who just kept outgrowing the sweaters I was knitting him, and I figured why not? I’d never done a shawl collar before, but I’d knitted lots of raglans, with and without patterns.

tommy1

Tommy, 11 weeks old, in his Baby Brownstone, ready to head to Canada

I loved the result. It looked comically grown up on tiny Tommy, who was not quite 3 months old at the time. The timing was good, too, because we were about to spend Christmas in Canada, where it would actually be cold (as opposed to beach weather here in New Zealand). I liked it so much I decided to write a pattern and distribute it for free on Ravelry[1]. At the time, I indicated that I’d update the pattern with more sizes as Tommy grew (I had only included the 3 month size).

Tommy, at 8 months, in Baby Brownstone #2

Tommy, at 8 months, in Baby Brownstone #2

Tommy outgrew the sweater within a few weeks, and it didn’t take me very long to knit a bigger one, but I had other things to do (primarily getting pregnant, then being pregnant, then having a baby and a toddler at the same fucking time) and so I kept not getting around to updating the pattern.

12months

At 12 months. Miso (6 months) is now almost too fat for the pants Tommy was wearing here.

I’ve learned a little more about pattern writing since then. One of the more important things I’ve learned: you don’t actually have to knit every size you include in a pattern. OK, eventually a test knitter should knit it[2], but there’s a technique called grading that involves working out the instructions for different sizes (also working out the yarn requirement). It’s not all that hard… I do it with a spreadsheet, which I kind of love, but (as a programmer) it also makes me feel like I’m cheating. Oh well.

At 20 months it was actually cold out and this sweater served us well.

At 20 months it was actually cold out and this sweater served us well.

Anyway, so I’ve done it, finally: I’ve updated the pattern with not one but four additional sizes (6, 12, 18, and 24 months). I decided retroactively that Tommy’s second Baby Brownstone was an 18 month size, even though he started wearing it at 8 months[3]. It actually still fits him now, at 24 months, but it’s getting a little short in the arms.

At 24 months, the arms are a little short. Oh, and he doesn't like to wear pants anymore, but it's getting warmer out, and we're thinking about toilet training. Thinking. Not so much doing.

At 24 months, the arms are a little short. Oh, and he doesn’t like to wear pants anymore, but it’s getting warmer out, and we’re thinking about toilet training. Thinking. Not so much doing.

And now Miso has long since outgrown the first Baby Brownstone. The second has lost a button, but I might sew on a new one and pass it on to him. At 6 months, he’s a BIG boy, I bet it’ll fit better than it did on Tommy at 8 months.

Miso, 7 weeks old.

Miso, 7 weeks old.


  1. Back then I thought both software and patterns should be free. Now I don’t have a job, and don’t know when I get a job or what I’ll do, but I’m pretty sure anything I’ll do to make money will involve non-free software or patterns or both.
  2. This is something I haven’t done yet, but need to start doing: getting test knitters to knit my designs before I distribute them.
  3. Another thing I’ve learned about writing patterns is that the Craft Yarn Council has tables of standard body measurements, and the second sweater pretty much matched the 18 month measurements. Plus, it fit him really well when he was about 18 months old.
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2 thoughts on “Our Little Brownstones

    • Yeah, he was on a roof, but the building was on a hill and the section he was sitting on was at about my chest height. His very cute cloth diapers work well with the pantslessness.

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