Norah Gaughan’s Murray Pullover: A First Sweater Pattern to Savor

I’ve been knitting for well over a decade, but until now, I never tackled a garment with sleeves. Call it an irrational phobia; so far I’ve always stuck to accessories and sleeveless garments. That all ends as I knit the deliciously verdant Murray Pullover from Wool Studio Vol. IV, the Norah Gaughan Collection.

When I finally finished the last of my holiday knitting commitments in February—not bad in my book!—I knew it was time to kick this sleeve phobia to the curb. For many years, I felt like I was some sort of knitting imposter because I had never knitted a sweater. I no longer feel that way. Everyone has their own hang-ups and challenges when it comes to knitting, and it’s best to enjoy the journey. Nonetheless, I’ve always dreamed of wearing handknit garments and fear has been the only thing standing in my way.

The Murray Pullover is a sweater knitting pattern that uses hand-painted variegated yarn.

This beautiful, oversized pullover makes stunning use of two hand-painted colorways from Ancient Arts Yarn.

I chose this design the moment I read about the yarn: Nettle Soft by Ancient Arts Yarns. Ancient Arts is one of my absolute favorites, and this particular yarn features about 1/3 nettle fiber mixed with superwash merino to lighten things up and lend a bit of crispness. I hadn’t really realized you could spin nettle fibers, but apparently you can. It’s similar to the process for retting and spinning flax! The name of the variegated colorway Norah used in her sample is called “lichen in my crevices,” which clinched it for me: the Murray Pullover would be my first sweater pattern.

I’m using the exact same colorways as in the sample, but my knitted fabric looks very different from the magazine. With hand-painted yarn, every sweater is unique! I’m getting the best results by alternating skeins of “lichen in my crevices” for an even more random effect. Once you get to the mesh pattern that makes up the majority of the sweater, you knit a long section in variegated yarn, then start slowly adding a more solid hand-dyed colorway, “fog warning,” in this case, in gradually more frequent and wider stripes until the color transitions completely. I’ve just started the color transition, and it’s such a pleasure to watch the different tones and shades melding.

My in-progress Murray Pullover is so beautiful!

Just showing off how gorgeous this yarn is! And the new-to-me alternating cable cast-on!

Because it’s knitted in DK yarn, the body of the pullover is materializing much more quickly than I expected. I’m hoping to be able to update you with a finished garment, sleeves and all, in April! I can’t wait to see how that mesh pattern opens up with blocking.

If you’re on the hunt for a great first sweater pattern too, or if you’re an experienced knitter looking for a simple but luxurious first knit, you’ll want to add the Murray Pullover to your queue! Hand-painted colorways, DK yarn, and the fun novelty of knitting with nettles? What’s not to love?

Yours in Stitches,

Model photography by Harper Point Photography. WIP photography by Andrea Lotz.

What will be your first sweater pattern?