If you’ve seen Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, you’ve seen the sweater Murphy McManus (Norman Reedus) wears during the opening scene. (I don’t have permission to post those, so I’m not going to.) I was asked if I could find the sweater pattern. After months and months of searching – because I’d been wanting this pattern since the movie first came out, attempting to contact the director and the costumer for the movie, I sat down to reverse engineer a pattern – strictly from photos alone.

Why would I do something like this? At the time, my brother’s wife had gotten my husband’s name for Christmas. She wanted to make him Murphy’s sweater as his present. Since I seem to thrive on challenges, and have friends that are more than wiling to help, I set out to reverse engineer the sweater.

After doing a lot of searching for every image I could get my fingers on for the elusive sweater, I pulled out my dvd and watched the opening scenes again. Any time a decent shot of the sweater was on the screen, I paused the movie and took pictures. It was through these photos we’d (friends and I) would figure out how big the cables were and how many stitchs between cables. (Key info for building the design.) I’d printed out enlarged key components, and over lunch, took a few pages of notes of what we’d found out. The only thing left to do was to decide on the yarn and needle sizes.

Strictly as an aside: It amused me to no end that I needed to build a sweater, to write the pattern, so someone else could make the sweater for my husband. I still giggle about this, whenever I think about it.

Gotta start somewhere

I began with a size 13 circular needle, 3 strands of Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool yarn, and had size 13 dpn for doing the cabling. My original cast on count was way off, as shown by the above photo. My finished goal size was to fit a size 44 inch chest with plenty of ease. This was a bit excessive. After starting and tearing out a few rows of ribbing and few times, I’d finally gotten to a measurement and stitch count I felt confident to work with. About the time I was setting up for the first row in the cables, my circular needle had a malfunction. I’m grateful I was at a good stopping point, as the fix would need overnight to set up and dry. (I reglued it, and it’s stayed together since.)

My circular needle decided I needed to take a break

Once I got into the cabling, the front of the sweater was going fairly quickly. Size 13 needles and 3 strands of yarn make for some big stitches.

The first twist in the cables

My husband, not having a clue that I was designing his Christmas present from someone else, only knew that I needed a size 44″ chest to double check my work against. He’s the only one I have ready access to, so he graciously allowed me to use his as a fitting model.

Checking for size and look of cables

So far, so good. It would take me the rest of the day to figure out where to start arm holes, stop for the neck line, and add in the shoulders. I do have a couple of books in my collection that give instructions for designing your own patterns, so I was loosely following along to their guidelines.

Front panel is done

The back panel and sleeves would all be done with ribbing at the hem/cuff and stockingette stitch. I did keep notes on how I assembled this, as I’d need to figure out how to translate my shorthand into something someone else could follow.

Front view

Back view.

Overall, I got the general look I’d been aiming for. Yes, the sleeves are a bit long. Go watch the movie, you’ll see the sweater sleeves were a bit long on Mr. Reedus, too.

In the couple of weeks I’d promised, once I decided to write my own pattern, I’d gotten the entire sweater knitted and assembled. I think I’d gotten the written instructions to my brother’s wife on the last day (or second to last day) of my deadline. I made sure to include row counts, as well as measurements, for every section. I wasn’t sure which way she kept track of stuff while she knits, so I wanted to cover as many bases as I could.

With the exception of the color of the sample sweater I made, this looks pretty close to the one in the movie. The color recommendations were in my written instructions, but are not shown here.

The actual sweater my husband received as a gift was pretty nifty. She went on to make him a knitted cap to match, from the leftover yarn she had.