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 🙂 ]


For 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 the Kathy Reichs series of novels upon which the television show is based. Dr. Brennan wore a sweater very similar to this one in an early episode of the series, and quite frankly, I wanted to figure out how to knit one for myself. Thus, this pattern was born. I believe this is a modern, flattering, stylish looking garment which is also comfortable and cozy, and it is only for the sheer volume of projects I have in my ever-changing knitting queue that I haven’t actually managed to start up on one for myself.

I am now pleased to offer this pattern for free in PDF format (download link appears below) in 5 sizes, measuring 32[34, 38, 42, 46] inches across the bust. I would recommend 2-3 inches of ease for a close but comfortable fit. I would like to add another size, possibly two, when I have another spare few moments to devote to it. Also, it is entirely likely that this pattern will still have errata, so I am comfortable putting out this version into the world as-is and making adjustments as necessary.

Why am I offering this pattern for free, you might ask? Well, there are several reasons. But really, the main reason is that, as will be clear from my previous post, this design very obviously takes close inspiration from a commercially-made garment, and as such I do not feel comfortable charging $$ for it. (The pattern instructions and sizing, however, are all the product of my own brain, so you can bet your ass I’m quite happy with that.) I will note, though, that my sweater is not a completely exact replica. There are some details in the inspiration garment that do not appear here. (Don’t worry, if you really want me to charge money for stuff, I’m quite sure I’ll find other new designs to do that with in the future 😉 )

If you download this pattern and find value in it, I would recommend taking whatever money you think the pattern deserves and giving it to Knitters Without Borders, or, failing that, another deserving knitting-related Enterprise For Good.

This pattern assumes the knitter has already had some experience knitting sweaters, as it will provide some challenge through the use of short-rows, extensive seaming, work with a cable-needle, and working set-in sleeves. It is a garment constructed in pieces, and the back and two front pieces are both worked in sections, including long pieces of ‘diagonal ribbing’ which seam up at the sides to create a v-shape style at the side. (See picture below). This is the biggest challenge of the pattern. My sister Martha who knitted the pattern, and who is shown modelling the sweater, will happily tell you that these diagonal ribbing sections nearly did her in. This pattern also makes use of an “at the same time” instruction, for the front pieces, which involves working the armhole sections at the same time as the neckline decreases. In this pattern I also assume that you already have a comfortable method of working your decreases and increases at each side, for example, which is why the pattern instructions do not go into detail about whether you should ‘k2tog’ or ‘ssk’ any particular decrease. Other than that, I hope you will find that the pattern is worked in a very similar format to other standard knitting patterns.

Two small changes I have made between the sample pattern and this version is that I have made the front neckline slightly deeper, and the sleeves are slightly more fitted.



As for yarn and gauge, this pattern requires worsted-weight yarn knitted in a Stockinette gauge of 5 sts/6.5 rows per inch. There are a wide variety of yarns available in this gauge, which means you should feel at liberty to choose what best works for you and the pattern. My preference is for something woolen or wool-based, since it is light, warm, and keeps its shape well. Ubiquitous and priced-to-own yarns like Cascade 220 or Patons Classic Merino would work just fine. The sample in the photos was knitted with Brunswick Sheepswool, 100% worsted-weight wool. If you choose a non-wool fibre, I would recommend something which does keep its shape and isn’t very heavy (i.e. not 100% cotton!)

[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 🙂 ]

Download the pattern:

If you choose to knit this pattern I would be pleased to hear from you, and if you discover anything that needs adjusting I will be happy to start up an ‘errata’ page. Happy knitting!



  1. wiscjennyann · ·

    Hey congrats on finishing the pattern and for sharing it with us, your adoring public! It really is a lovely sweater. Can’t wait to give it a try. Of course it will have to come second to my studies… haha.

  2. ..Glenna, you DO rock! and how incredibly generous are you to share with us…very.
    It’s a beautiful design and of course I love the diagonal ribbing, so totally cool!
    Thank you!
    (I have made a donation to ‘Knitters without Borders’ and talk about rockin’ the world, Steph’s total just keeps climbing!)

  3. I love it! It’s going on my short list — which isn’t very short!

    I love the diagonal ribbing. That must have been a pain in the neck to figure out.

  4. Looks awesome! You ROCK!

    I am slightly amused that the model versions of both sweaters you designed are turquoise – esp. given the predeliction for pinks and purples ….

  5. Glenna, it’s absolutely fantastic!

    I’m honestly in awe that you could put together a pattern like this. The patience, the planning, the designing – and you’ve got that blinking thesis on the go as well! The ribbing looks great and must be worth the angst?

    And I don’t watch Bones, so haven’t seen the ‘original’ cardie, but I’ve read Kathy Reichs’ novels, so I can sort of pretend to get into it!

  6. mayhemgolgotha · ·

    that looks comfortable to wear around the house

  7. It’s gorgeous! Thanks for sharing and for free too, that is very generous.

  8. Thanks Glenna, not too sure whether I’m up to this one yet but once I have a few more jumpers under my belt I’d love to try it. Thanks so much for writing up the pattern.

    Bones isn’t on UK TV yet but I’ve put the DVDs on my rental list after you made it sound such fun when you talked about this cardi originally.

  9. Wow, that looks great! I am still boggling at the construction but it looks fascinating! Hmm, have to go check out the stash…

  10. LOVE the sweater! I think it shall be added to my ravelry queue. 🙂

  11. I’m excited that you’ve posted the pattern! I’ve been waiting ever since I saw the finished version modeled on your blog. The cardigan is just beautiful!

  12. […] Serrano & The Brennan Cardigan […]

  13. […] this fine Tuesday: Tonight, this blessed night, my top guilty pleasure and favourite tv show (as if that wasn’t obvious already) returns to television screens down here North-America-way, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. […]

  14. […] 13th, 2007 by Glenna C I owe a few blogging things – FOs for one, and some pattern errata for the Brennan Cardigan for another (thanks for the catch, Rae!), but this 12 of 12 post will start to go stale if I […]

  15. I love, I love, I love!

  16. Hi Glenna,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you (!!) for this pattern.

    I’ve been hunting around for a long cardigan like this for the longest time!
    (I even thought of buying ready-made ones from stores, but later convinced myself to make one and feel the Satisfaction.)

    I can’t wait to make this!

    Thank you, once again, for your lovely work 🙂

  17. […] Brennan Cardigan–a great shawl-collared sweater coat design, and the pattern is available for free. […]

  18. Hi there, Your cardigan looks so good. I am going to have a go at making it. Do you have a pattern for 5 ply wool at all. I am wanting to knit myself an office cardigan. 8 ply is a bit too thick for the office. If you can help me at all I’d be very grateful. Thanks and kind regards Pam

  19. […] the brennan cardigan gefunden bei crazyknittinglady hier der pdf download […]

  20. I love your knits! I am a beginner knitter and have so much more to learn about knitting. I want to knit scarves, hats and warmers of sorts for my family for this winter. I want to knit cardigans, too! But I’m overwhelmed just by looking at it. Anyways, I just dropped by to say how gorgeous your creations are ♥

  21. […] finally starting a dream project. One of my favorite TV shows is Bones and I found a pattern for a sweater that Bones wore in the first season’s finale. I’ve been thinking about making this […]

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

  23. Sandra Davenport · ·

    I’m having a problem with the back shaping and checked the errata page but didn’t see it addressed.

    Working the center back with 102 stitches (for the XL size), then decreasing two stitches per decrease row a total of ten times should leave 82 stitches, but the number the pattern says I should wind up with is 74. The math is not adding up.

    I’m trying to decide whether to squeeze in more decrease rows to reach 74 stitches or stick with 82 — do you have any advice for me? I’m leaning toward staying with the 82 because the corresponding front sections also call for only ten decrease rows, but I need to study the armhole and shoulder shaping to see how that stitch count will work out.

%d bloggers like this: