Knitting Knews: Knitting Mr. Rogers’ Iconic Sweaters

Excerpted from New York Post article by Raquel Laneri, 11/21/19.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the biopic about the iconic Fred Rogers, has just been released to critical acclaim, and I’m so looking forward to seeing it. Who else could have been cast as Mr. Rogers except Tom Hanks, another well-known nice guy? I never really thought about Mr. Rogers’ famous zip-up cardigans until this evening, when I read an article that popped up in my news feed, all about the knitter who was selected to make identical copies of them. One of his red ones is actually in the Smithsonian now. All of them were Christmas gifts handmade by his mother.

Anyhow, meet Yasmin Esmek, a talented tailor who helps create costumes for operas, Broadway shows, ballets, and other productions.

Ms. Esmek now lives in New Jersey, but grew up in Germany, where she learned to knit as a child. She studied knitwear design at NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology. She also had her own line of knitwear featured at Barneys. When she agreed to recreate some of Mr. Rogers’ sweaters, she first researched his work in children’s TV and thoroughly familiarized herself with his signature look. Her first task was to locate some appropriate yarn, making a trek to my absolute favorite yarn store, Webs of Northampton, MA. After making up swatches from the many yarns she considered, she and the costume designers chose a cotton, and determined which particular sweaters to replicate. Ms Esmek would knit 6 cardigans, 2 in red and 1 each in mustard yellow, purple, teal, and green. She made them all over the course of nine weeks in 2018. Two were made on a machine, to represent those that Rogers bought after his mother had died.

Can’t wait to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, as much to check out those cardigans as to watch some evocative acting performances! Thanks to the Post and writer Laneri for their fascinating story.

Little Girls’ Smocked Cardigan

Just posted today by Classic Elite on their website. This little beauty comes in sizes 18 months to 6 years. The one pictured is made with Princess yarn, and because it’s made in one piece (my favorite kind), it requires 2 circular needles, size 5 and 6 (US).

The pattern can be downloaded here.

Madge, Part Wrap and Part Sweater


What a find in my email this morning! Meet Madge. Today’s Lion Brand newsletter contained this awesome original pattern, designed by the knitter Katy Smith, who writes the Philigry blog. She developed it because she wanted a garment that combined sleeves with the look of a wrap. It can be symmetrical or asymmetrical depending upon where you place the snaps, and she describes it as a rectangle with holes for sleeves. And it looks super in Woolease, an inexpensive yarn that comes in many colors. I use it often and have found that it really holds its shape after many washings.

Pattern can be found here .

Sprout Cardigan

imageI’ve knitted all sorts of sweaters in my time. Cables, side to side, Einstein, oversized, mesh, lace, cardies, pullovers, vests…. You name it, I’ve made at least one. At this point, it takes something a little different to snag my interest, and the Sprout Cardigan, just posted this week by Classic Elite Yarns, fits the bill. Simple, yes, but intriguing in its vertical design. I tend to be skeptical of one piece patterns, as they don’t tend to fit very well, but do tend to sag or slide around. Nevertheless, I’m going to try this one, which looks very manageable. One thing I’ve learned – if you want your sweater to look like the one in the picture, you’d better spring for the featured yarn. Lime green is a fave for me, so my order will go out this weekend.

Requires a size 9 US circular needle, 32″.

Find the free pattern here  .


Casual Comfort Jacket

Image of Casual Comfort JacketThis just up on the Lion Brand website. I don’t usually use thick yarns, but I like the color gradations on this jacket. If I decide to make one, I’ll probably cut the length to about the hip line. Usually unlined jackets bag around the seat when they’re too long. This does look cozy, doesn’t it? And I like the self finished edges without buttons or button holes.

Just talked myself into it! Requires three skeins of Homespun Thick and Quick, and a 36 inch circular needle, size 13. First you make the front and the back, then cast on for sleeves.

Knits for Fall: Sapporo Cardigan

Yes, I know, it’s hot and muggy out there today, but it’s time to start planning for fall and winter knitting. I like short sleeve cardigans with pretty yokes for winter, wearing them over shirts or turtlenecks, sometimes adding a scarf. Less bulky under coats, this style is still warm, and very comfortable. This week posted a really pretty one, in a yarn that is soft, inexpensive and drapes so nicely. Pretty colors too – what could be better?!