The ‘Brennan Cardigan’

[Edited note, Dec 2013 – I’m no longer able to make this pattern available. Many thanks to those who have knitted and shown interest in it! I’ll be sure to keep bringing  my attention to new designs in the future 🙂 ]

So, a couple of posts ago I mentioned how my sister had just finished a really awesome sweater, and was going to let me talk about it over here. It’s really a stupidly geeky knitting story to be honest, but since I know I can’t possibly be the only television-obsessed knitter* out there, I’d go ahead and blather about it.



The first thing that you need to know is that I regularly watch the show Bones. And when I say ‘regularly’, I mean that it’s become the only show that I have to watch when there’s a new episode out. Most of my other shows that I was addicted to are now either off the air (things like Alias or Buffy), about to be going off the air (Gilmore Girls), on painfully long hiatuses (Battlestar Galactica) or sucking so hard that I don’t even want to bother any more (Top Model, Grey’s Anatomy). To be fair, I don’t think Bones is about to win any awards any time soon. I enjoy the cast and I enjoy the series of books that the program is (loosely, VERY loosely) based upon, but the writing is pretty darned mediocre. Most of the time, I enjoy the pretty. If there’s a new episode airing on Wednesday nights when I choose to go to Lettuce Knit for Stitch ‘n Bitch night, I get M to tape Bones and then we watch it later.


So, we spent a lot of the first season mocking the wardrobe and jewelry selections for the main character, Dr. Temperance Brennan. Sure, the woman’s a top-ranked forensic anthropologist and spends half her day bent over lab tables or mucking through crime scenes in boots and jumpsuits, but whatever! That’s no reason she can’t look like she walked off a Vogue cover shoot, right? Riiiiigghhhht. Thankfully, by late Season 1 and now in Season 2, her clothes have started to look more like things a 30-something modern professional might actually wear, and occasionally (like when she’s busy brooding over family history issues), she gets a sweater to wear.

This one (pictured in a few scant shots above) was what she wore in a couple of scenes in the Season 1 finale almost exactly a year ago, and M and I both fell in love with it. The shawl collar, the extra-long length, the bits of v-shaped ribbing at the sides, mmmmm. We wanted it. I was emailing with a friend of mine later that same week, who also knits and also watches Bones, and asked her, “Is it wrong that in my head I’m trying to reverse-engineer that sweater Brennan wore in those 2 scenes on Bones?” and she said, “No, because I want one too and if you write up a pattern you have to give me a copy immediately.” And it just so happened that at the time, M had been staring over this heap of worsted-weight 100% wool that she’d gotten for a song from a friend’s sister, and had been pestering me to write her up a pattern for some kind of long cardigan sweater. Well, my fannishness and knitting obsession combined, and I did my best reverse-engineer job that I could. It ain’t perfect, but it’s darned comfy:



Check out that detail on the side:



It took M the better part of a year to execute it, in between putting it down to work on other things. Also, she and I will both freely admit that the diagonal v-shaped ribbing at the side, while gorgeous, slowed things down a whole lot more than if it had just been plain stockinette. Also, while I did my best at pattern-writing, a lot of stuff got filled in later and so there are gaps in my orignal notes with things like, “do stuff with short rows here”, or “figure out how to write this on a chart later”. So if I can go back and figure out how to fix these things, I’ll happily post the pattern here later.

The other thing I failed on with this first attempt is that I should have made the neckline much lower – you know, for that bit of decolletage for when Agent Booth shows up late at night with Chinese food – and made the shawl collar wider. But M is pleased and so am I. I’d like to make myself one, too. You know, when I get done knitting the list I already have that’s a mile long of course. Hah.

Incidentally, there are only 2 more new eps of this show left this season, which makes me kind of bummed. I’ll need to find some more cracktastic viewing for the summer…

*I recently discovered during my time of injury that my television addiction is not nearly as strong as my knitting addiction. Go figure, eh? 😉


  1. That’s a really cool sweater! And even if the diagonal rib was a pain in the butt, it looks really freaking cool. It’s the difference between a normal sweater, and an awesome one!

  2. Good work from the knitting team! It’s a really lovely cardi and that diagonal ribbing does look fab. I’m really interested to hear the history of this one and understand why it is the Brennan cardi. I’ve read some of the books, don’t think we have the series yet in the UK.

    We do have Grey’s though – second series – and I’m watching the first one simultaneously on DVD – love it so much – but am concerned to hear it’s not so great now – is it the third series you have?

    I definitely watch more TV now that I knit – I like to have something in the background.

  3. I love this! I would knit this, if you posted the pattern. But would I be able to afford the yarn? Maybe if you recommended elann yarns….because it’s a lot of yarn! But it would be the perfect transitional coat thing that I always wish I had and never do….I love the diagonal ribs. It makes it much more fitted, less sack like (the problem with lots of coat sweaters).

  4. that is a great sweater – good work reverse engineering it!!!!!

  5. Ahahahahaha!
    A Brennan sweater. That is AWESOME. Since I’m still in S1, I’m still falling prey to the “what is she WEARING?!” phenomenon, but I also think I’m becoming desensitized to it. Nothing fazes me these days.

    Anyway: lovely sweater. I think Temperance herself would approve.

  6. Oh I LOVE it. Super job!

  7. The Brennan sweater is absolutely fabulous…I am just in awe of your brain processes!
    About ‘Bones’….having read the books which I love, and which my mother had turned me on to…the TV series are stories taken from early on in her career….before she quit drinking for instance. I would love to see the characters in her ‘newer’ books, the folks in Canada especially.

    Fantastic job on the sweater to you both!

  8. Wow! I love the detailing……….and am looking forward to seeing your pattern. 🙂

  9. I adore Bones, (yes we do have it in the UK), and I also watch every new episode avidly. I haven’t read any of the books, maybe I should try them.

    That is such a great sweater. I agree about the decolletage though, it just needs to be a little lower 😉

  10. […] wore the Brennan Cardigan and I was flattered that several people admired it. I have GOT to finish writing up the pattern and […]

  11. […] anyone just tuning in, my full explanation of why I wrote this pattern may be found in this post from May. The name belongs to Dr. Temperance Brennan, the main character in the television show Bones, and in […]

  12. Love the sweater! It caught my eye, too. Always thought knitting was faster than crocheting. Stumbled on this when looking for a Brennan-like lab coat. LOL!

  13. Do you have the pattern??? I’d love to try this!!!

  14. […] a pattern for determined knitters to create their own cardigan. (For more details, check out her first post and her second post on her blog about […]

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