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Love Note Sweater: Yoke (3/6)

June 18, 2020
Back detail of Nina is wearing a sunny yellow lace yoke sweater.

This post is step #3 of the Love Note Tutorial series. Other posts in this series include:

  1. Yarn choice and sizing: How to choose a fabulous yarn combination and find the right size for you.
  2. Construction: An overview of the process and how the sweater is constructed.
  3. Yoke (this post): How to work the provisional cast-on, lace pattern, and raglan increases.
  4. Body and sleeves: Creating the high-low hem and picking up the sleeves.
  5. Neckline: How to pick up stitches from the unzipped, provisional cast-on, plus tips for ensuring the perfect fit.
  6. Finishing: How to finish off your beautiful sweater!


For a perfect fit at the neckline, begin with a provisional cast-on. This means you’ll come back after knitting the remainder of the sweater and finish the neckline later. Why? Because the neckline is, in this sweater, the most critical point for achieving the fit you want. The entire garment ‘hangs’ from this point, so a comfortable neckline is a must.

We tend to use either the crochet chain provisional cast-on method or the needle and hook method. There are other provisional cast-on options out there – use whichever method pleases you.

a circular needle with provisional cast on in white yarn
Here we’ve used waste yarn and the crochet needle and hook method to cast on provisionally.
a circular needle with provisional cast on in white yarn and first row knit in copper colour yarn
When you work a provisional cast-on, the first row is knit, and THEN you can join for working in the round.

Plain rounds and increases

After casting on, follow your size instructions, knitting in the round and working increase rounds until you reach the section titled ‘Lace Pattern.’ It helps to count your stitches before proceeding to the lace section – to double check that you have the correct number.

There are many types of increases out there, and lots of them will work just fine for this sweater. We like to use an m1 increase.

a section of copper coloured knit fabric worked from a provisional cast-on
For this size 6-8 yr, we have 4 rounds, an increase round, and 2 rounds.

A note about circular needle length: When you find your stitches are too ‘bunched up’ on your needle, it may be time to switch to a longer circular needle. Some knitters prefer their stitches packed on the needles, while others like them a little more spread out. Do what works for you!

Lace section

Now you’re ready to work the lace section. You can follow either the lace chart or the chart’s text instructions. This lace pattern has increases (yarn-overs) and decreases (k2tog, ssk, and sl1-k2tog-psso) on every round. Note: there are no ‘plain’ rounds in between, like some patterns have.

If you’re new to lace knitting, you might want to check out our tutorials on how to read a knitting chart or how to knit lace. If any of the techniques are new to you, click the links to learn more: k2tog, ssk, sl1-k2tog-psso. Just don’t fret! If you take it step by step, we’re confident you can tackle this as your very first lace project.

Moving the marker

One of the ‘tricky’ bits about this lace pattern is a shift in the beginning of round (BOR), which occurs at the beginning of round 5. Each time you come to the start of round 5, remove the BOR marker, k1, and then replace the BOR marker. This shifts the BOR over by 1 stitch. Then, work round 5 as described in the chart or the written instructions (starting with k4, yo, k1, yo, etc.). This is necessary because the final instruction of the repeat is a double decrease (sl1-k2tog-psso), which will require that ‘extra stitch’ that you just moved to the other side of the BOR. Don’t worry too much about how it works. If you follow these instructions precisely, it WILL work.

Note: If you’ve placed extra markers to note each repeat of the lace pattern, you’ll need to shift each of these markers in round 5.

This BOR shift occurs each time you work round 5, and the marker never moves back.

a provisional cast-on knitted fabric, and lace pattern on circular needles
Ready to work round 5!
knitting project in progress, with a stitch marker

knitting project in progress, with a stitch marker, and annotation showing the final three stitches of the round to decrease

knitting project in progress, with a stitch marker and a double decrease stitch worked

Once you have worked the number of chart repeats for your size, the lace band is complete. You’ve nearly finished the yoke! There are just a few more rounds before you can move on to the body and sleeves.

doughnut-shaped lace yoke in progress
Lace section complete!

Next, you’re going to work one last increase round before beginning the raglan rounds.

Increase round 3: knit, increasing 4 (0, 8, 4, 4, 4, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 8, 20) sts, evenly spaced.

For an ‘evenly spaced’ instruction, divide the number of stitches you have by the number of stitches you want to increase – that will give you the interval at which you will increase. It’s not critical that these increases come exactly evenly spaced. You just want to avoid having them all really close together.

Example: You are knitting the 6-8 yr size. You have 168 sts, and you need to increase 4 sts. 168 divided by 4 = 42.
This means you’ll want to increase a stitch every 42 sts, so you’ll work [k42, m1] four times.

There’s a note here that says ‘BOR is located at centre back.’ This means that the location of the BOR is at the point in the yoke that corresponds with the centre of your back. This is useful to know because it may help you visualize what comes next.

Raglan shaping

There’s a short section that increases a few more stitches and adds a few rounds to the yoke. First, work a set-up round, placing 4 place markers (PMs) on the needles in between stitches. These markers indicate where the raglan increases will occur.

doughnut-shaped lace yoke in progress with marker placements noted
lace knitting in progress with locking stitch marker shown
We recommend using a different coloured marker or a locking marker (as shown here) to distinguish the BOR from the raglan markers – that way you won’t accidentally add raglan increases at the centre back.

Raglan increase round: [knit to 1 st before marker, m1, k1, SM, k1, m1] 4 times, and then knit to end [8 sts inc].

This means you’ll knit from the BOR to the point where one stitch is remaining before the first marker. At this point, you’ll m1, knit the last stitch before the marker, slip the marker (SM) from one needle to the other, k1, and then m1 once more.

For the m1, we like to use an m1R before the marker and an m1L after the marker, but whichever increase method you like best is just fine, too!

Because the instructions are in square brackets [instructions], you’ll repeat those instructions a total of 4 times, and then knit to the end of round (BOR). One round increases the stitch count by 8 sts. Work the Raglan increase round as many times as called for by your size.

Note: There are no ‘even’ knit rounds between raglan increases in this design, as you may have seen in other raglan patterns.

Bodhi, standing in a field of flowers, is photographed from the back to show off the lace yoke of her rusty orange sweater.

Next step

Congratulations! Your yoke is complete. The next step in this series is body and sleeves. Head there now!

23 Comments leave one →
  1. Angela permalink
    November 26, 2020 6:00 am

    I forgot to move my stitch markers in row 5 but only realized this after completing the lace section completely (read all the repeats) I dont want to rip it back – will it look horrible if I just keep going and move the BOR marker over the required # of sts – Help

  2. jenni permalink
    November 7, 2020 4:41 am

    Hi was wondering…I am on row 5 of lace am at the end of round I have slipped stitch but only have one stitch left before end of round so can’t knit two together and then pass slipped stitch over before end of round. Do I just knit one then pass stitch over then start round 6

    • November 9, 2020 2:15 am

      At the beginning of round 5, you must follow the chart instructions for the BOR shift. They read — BOR shift – before beginning this chart round, remove BOR marker, k1, then replace BOR marker. Then begin the chart round indicated. — When you begin the round this way, by moving the BOR marker over one, then you’ll have that extra stitch at the end of the round that you need to complete the sl1-k2tog-psso.

      Hope this helps! Em

  3. robyn permalink
    September 18, 2020 4:55 pm

    I didn’t do the provisional cast on. Can I pick up the stitches to complete the neckline or am I doomed to frog?

    • September 21, 2020 2:08 am

      It should be fine to just pick up stitches, as long as the current neckline as cast-on fits over your head?

  4. Ana permalink
    August 27, 2020 8:30 am

    I’m making the size small and how many times do I repeat the lace chart..??
    The instructions say once, but your pictures look like it should be twice…

  5. Lisa Johnstone permalink
    August 19, 2020 1:34 pm

    Do you have a secret trick for joining in the round and making it look seamless? I’ve just ripped out my first 4 rounds because I still have a large gap between the last and first stitches. I’ll try again tomorrow!

  6. Donna Preston permalink
    July 27, 2020 1:03 am

    Hi, can you please help me, I’m kind of an experienced knitter but I make mistakes often. With the round 5 and moving the BOR marker, I ended up 1 stitch short what have I done wrong?

    • July 27, 2020 9:38 am

      Hi Donna

      The marker is moving, but that stitch is still there, it’s just at the end of the round, rather than the start.

  7. Amanda Hamilton permalink
    July 17, 2020 1:37 am

    Just wondering if the drape would be right if I used a cotton dk from araucania that I have in my stash and would I still use same size needles. Thank you

    • July 17, 2020 10:22 am

      Hi Amanda – I’m afraid I don’t have enough experience working in cotton to give solid advice on that. I would do a swatch in the lace and give it a block to see if you like the way the stitches fall.

      • Amanda Hamilton permalink
        July 17, 2020 12:45 pm

        Thanks x

  8. Sandra permalink
    July 15, 2020 8:06 am

    Hi, I love this’s my second sweater project!

    So my question is probably a real beginner question. I haven’t knit lace before. I’m on row 2 of the chart. I’m at the first yarn over from row 1, I believe I’m supposed to yo again here. What do I do with this yo stitch before I make the yo of row 2? Do I drop it off the needle then do yo for row2?

    • July 17, 2020 12:52 am

      Hi Sandra –

      When you begin round 2 of the lace pattern, you will be working on top of the previous round’s lace patterning, because this lace pattern has lace stitches (increases and decreases) worked on every round, which actually isn’t typical.

      So, as you begin from the BOR marker, you will knit 2, then work a k2tog. That k2tog will combine a knit stitch, AND the k2tog from the previous round. Then you will knit 1 more stitch, which itself will be the yo from the round previous. So that yo stitch, which is just a loop over the needle, rather than a regular knit stitch, is knit, not dropped off the needle. THEN you work yo, k1, yo, which is the centreline of the pattern repeat. That k1 stitch is aligned over the k1 of the previous round. Then, again, you will knit into the yo from the previous round (the left-hand one), just by inserting your needle from front to back, and knitting into the loop, the same way you’d knit into a knit stitch.

      I hope this clarifies! Don’t drop the yos from the previous round, or your lace pattern won’t work out; you want to knit into them.


      • Sandra permalink
        July 27, 2020 12:02 pm

        Thank you Emily for the great explanation! I finished two rounds of the lace pattern and feel awesome about it! I’m looking forward to the rest, and eventually wearing it!
        On a side note, I purchased the Strange Brew book and I have 8 inches completed on the Icefall sweater, a knit along I am doing with a friend. Your patterns are lovely, I hope to get through the whole book and create family heirlooms for for my sons and their wives.

        Thanks so much, I’m having a great time with these designs!

  9. Evelien permalink
    July 6, 2020 11:21 am

    Maybe a stupid question but I started to knit with the lager size needles according to the pattern. When do I switch to the smaller size needles? Love the sweater ! Thank you.

    • July 6, 2020 11:23 am

      Hi! Don’t worry, the smaller needles are coming. We used them for the hem, cuffs, and ribbing at the neckline.

      • Evelien permalink
        July 6, 2020 11:50 am

        Thank you for your quick reaction!

  10. cyndi shepard permalink
    June 18, 2020 3:41 pm

    ould you have any suggestions as to how to keep the tension consistent in this little leaf lace pattern? When I tried to knit this sweater the stitch at the base of the leaf ended up so long and wonky looking–enough so I frogged the whole project.

    • June 18, 2020 10:14 pm

      Hi Cyndi – I’m not 100% sure what your problem looks like, and there are many things that may be contributing. Had you blocked the lace to see how it looked before you frogged it? Also, what yarn were you using? One idea – it’s possible you might get better results if you switch to a slightly smaller needle, just for the lace section, then switch back to the needle with which you achieved the design gauge for the remainder of the sweater? Also, the lace IS quite open and splayed at the bottom, as you can see from the photos.

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