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An Ambitious Plan: A Family of Yokes

November 13, 2018

Alexa’s been the one to go ‘epic’ in her personal knitting projects in the past. This has had some unbelievably inspiring results, but I always saw it as impractical for me personally. That is, until now!

I decided to use this year’s #strangebrewKAL as an impetus to really ‘go big’ with my holiday sweater plans for this year. Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but my sweater production has really skyrocketed this year! This is because I’ve been experimenting and gaining skills on my knitting machine. It’s a fabulous tool that I’ll share more about in a future post, but the long and short of it is that by zooming through some of the stockinette portions of a project I can get to the part that I love most (the colourwork! The design challenges at the yoke!) a little bit faster.

As such, I have decided that this year is the year for an epic family photoshoot from the Edinburgh side of the business! I pulled out my stash, and looked at some various options for me, John, and the kids.

Of the four sweaters, Max’s is the furthest along. BUT despite the fact that this yoke looks GOOD, I feel like ripping it and changing the colourwork somewhat might make it GREAT. I documented the design process for the yoke in this post.

My overall vision was a Christmas sweater palette that featured greens and pinks. My parameters were as follows:

  • Work from my stash as much as possible, mixing yarns fearlessly!
  • Make a colourwork yoke sweater for myself, my husband John, and my kids Neve and Max following the Strange Brew recipe pattern
  • Document my design process, in order to provide learning support and examples for knitters!

A coordinated palette of sweaters

The body colours I settled on, after much back-and-forth! The olive tweed is for John, the grey tweed for Max, the deep red tweed for me, and the lovely pink is for Neve!

One sweater I was instantly certain of was John’s. I have been saving this lovely sweater amount of olive green Studio Donegal yarn. It’s super soft and exquisitely tweedy, and a great match for John’s beautiful green eyes. I have (gasp) NEVER knit my husband, father of my two kids, a sweater. To be fair, since we’ve been together I’ve been pretty busy building a business and then producing two beautiful children, but is that really an excuse? Yup. It is. But very good excuses notwithstanding, I think the moment for me to complete a sweater for John is NOW.

So that was the body colour for one sweater nailed down; and as you can see in the photos above, I’ve got a few ideas for palette options for the yoke colourwork.

I couldn’t resist this pink!

Next, I had recently become obsessed with some soft pink yarn dyed by my friend Nina at Rainbow Heirloom. She dyed this colour ‘birthday suit’ on a base called Brit Light, which is 100% superwash British BFL. It’s a plied sock-weight yarn, so it will be durable but soft; perfect for a kid’s sweater. I took the plunge, bought the yarn, and got started selecting colours to coordinate at the yoke.

I’m using Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumper Weight at the yoke, as I want to use Fair Isle style blending with LOADS of colours… Learn more about this colourwork technique in this post.
I’m part-way through the design process on this yoke, which I’m working from the top-down. I’ve stalled a little bit, so I’m swatching some more before I rip and re-knit the yoke.

Third was the sweater for me, and I struggled to choose among several options for a body colour. I have this exquisite ‘vintage green’ from Rennies, a deep blackened red DK weight from Green Mountain Spinnery, and this voluptuously soft deep red custom spun 4-ply which I made at The Border Mill in the summer.

The deep red is the main colour; and I think I’ll choose a single CC to keep the colourwork for this design quite simple.

Looking at the colours together, I decided that the best option to coordinate with the other two body yarns was the Border Mill Alpaca. Possibly I was also seduced by its opulent drapeyness and outrageous softness? I can’t wait to get this on the needles!

The concept I have for my own sweater is a drapey, boxy body with a high-low split hem. It will have quite a bit of positive ease (4-8″ I’m thinking). The sleeves will be long, and slim fitting. So at the yoke join I’ll modify the Strange Brew pattern to mesh the large body size to the smaller sleeve size. The concept is a single colour body and sleeves, with a yoke that has a large-scale transition pattern. I haven’t cast on yet.

Last I had to fill in the blank, and choose a body yarn for Max’s sweater that would coordinate nicely with the three already chosen. I thought perhaps a mid green would be best, but then I found a sweater’s amount of this grey tweed that had been languishing in my stash boxes, and decided it had a delicacy that would round out the palette quite nicely!

I’ve made the body and sleeves for Max’s jumper working bottom up. I did the sleeves by hand. I hand-knit the body rib, and then worked the stockinette portion on the knitting machine. Then I joined it all together, adding in a few stitches for the steek (they’ll be lost when I cut and pick up the button bands).

So the decision about the main body yarns made, I’ve been slowly chipping away with the process of working from idea to completed sweater for each of us! Will I finish before the end of the KAL? Hmmm I’m not holding my breath. Will I finish before Christmas? Hmmmm still not certain! But I’m enjoying the process nonetheless!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2018 1:12 pm

    Love your Rainbow Flax sweaters. Great eye candy!!!

  2. Sara Wutzke permalink
    November 14, 2018 7:26 pm

    These are so awesome!

    We’ve just started an intro to colorwork class at my shop using your anthology recipe. Love it!

    You are motivating me: I inherited a knitting machine from my aunt that had never been used, and i have still not taken it out of the box…i have an instructor that will teach me how to use it so I’m scheduling time this winter…the ability to make sweaters more quickly?! Yes please!


    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Beverly J. Killick permalink
    November 13, 2018 11:16 pm

    You are just the best – and received your book – of course, its excellent. You get a person so interested, they do a better job of knitting, as they want their knitting to be just as good as yours. Thank you for the inspiration you draw from an individual.

    Bev Killick

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