2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

I had a realization about yarn and seamless sweaters while knitting this gorgeous thing: The more a knitting project feels like playing with Play-Doh, the more fun I find it. The joy in being able to mold and remold a thing until it’s exactly what I want …

Let’s recap: When I first set out to knit this sweater — which began from Courtney Kelley’s St. Brendan pattern — it was going to be my least improvisational act of knitting. I loved the black-and-tan sample sweater so much that my plan was simply to copy it, straight from the pattern. Same yarn, same colors, same bottom-up construction. I was knitting on US9s instead of suggested 8s, to match gauge; I planned to make the size 45 lower body and decrease to the size 38 counts by the time I joined the sleeves; I used my favorite tubular cast-on; and I knew I was going to shrink and shape the neckhole when I got there. Minor stuff.

Instead, I knitted the body and yoke as intended except with phantom sleeves, had (my own) fit issues with the yoke depth, and severed the yoke from the body, at which point I also realized it might suit me better without the colowork on the lower body and sleeves. I put the yoke back on the needles and reknitted the body and sleeves downward to my own fit specifications, omitting the colorwork. Then for the upper few rows of the yoke and neck, I did the following:

– Modified the last three rows of Chart E — the one that takes us from the colorwork to the neckband — since I no longer had a CC1 (tan) to transition to, and instead was transitioning back to my MC (black). I basically created a grey diamond but with a decrease in Row 4, so it’s more of a diamond-blob than a true diamond. Or a sawtooth — let’s go with that. This additional decrease round brought the stitch count from 108 to 81 sts, and I made it 80 on the following round.

– On Row 6, I worked a set of short rows (with 6 turns) to raise the back neck a bit, which created the wedge of black you see between the colorwork and the neckband in the back. I also worked my last pass around that short-row round as my bind-off round, closing the short-row gaps as I encountered them. So Row 6 was the last row, the short rows and the bind-off all in the same round. (For the short rows, I placed the first 4 turns at the equivalent of each “raglan” position, then the last 2 in the back, slightly closer together than the raglans. I have no idea if that’s how anyone who actually knew what they were doing would do it!) It’s a pretty slight drop between the back and front neck, but just enough to make a difference. If I were to do it again, I’d put a set of short rows just below the colorwork yoke.

– And I then picked up 72 stitches (at a rate of 7 out of 8) and worked a folded neckband. This sweater, with this yarn and my changes, feels very vintage ski-sweater to me, and I wanted to play that up by giving it a sort of retro neckline — high and round and with the folded ribbing. It’s already stretched out a bit (as neckbands will do, which is why I insist on working them from picked-up stitches, and even then try to make them smaller than I ultimately want them, knowing they’ll grow) and I’m tempted to pull it out and pick up 68 sts instead.

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

I’m head over heels in love with this sweater. Visually, the most obvious changes I made are that it’s 3 colors instead of 4, and there’s no colorwork on the lower half of it, which definitely makes it a very different sweater from the original. But for me the more meaningful change is in the fit. If you look at the left sleeve cap in the two photos below, you can see the difference in the yoke depth. The pattern has only 4 or 5 rounds of MC knitting between the underarm (sleeve join) round and the start of the colorwork. I wound up putting more like 18 or 20 rounds in there — bringing the total yoke depth to 9″, which is much more comfortable for me. No longer being beholden to the stitch counts for the lower colorwork charts, I was also able to simply knit to all of my own desired measurements (most notably a 42″ bust measurement for 8-ish inches of ease).

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

Oh, and of course I also knitted the sleeves flat (with 5″ fold-up cuffs and tubular bind-off) and added a basting stitch for side seams.

Now can we talk about the yarn for a minute? This is the new Arranmore and I would like six or seven sweaters in it, please! It reminds me a lot of the first yarn I ever fell in love with — the discontinued Kathmandu Bulky — but in aran weight. I adore it. Between the yarn and how good a circular-yoke sweater feels sitting on my shoulders, I would love nothing more than to wear this sweater every single day.

I’m calling it my Tennessee Lopapeysa, since I can get away with wearing it as outerwear here, the way Icelanders wear their lopi sweaters — although this winter, it’s not even that. Our upper-60s January has given way to mid-70s February, so I’m afraid I may not get to wear it until next year. Maybe it will be my Rhinebeck sweater! Finished well in advance.

2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

Pattern: St. Brendan by Courtney Kelley
Yarn: Arranmore by The Fibre Co., in Malin Head (black), Glenveagh Castle (grey) and St. Claire (ivory)
Cost: $7 pattern + $168 yarn = $175*

You can scroll through all of my posts on this sweater hereInstagram posts here, and put a heart on it at Ravelry if you like!

*Given the frogging and extra skeins purchased and there being no way to know what percentage of the sweater’s finished weight is the MC yarn, I’m guessing at how many skeins of black actually got used, but then I also used less than a skein each of the ivory and grey. So this is a rough estimate that probably slightly overstates the true cost.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Striped pullover

40 thoughts on “2017 FO-1 : Black yoke sweater

  1. It looks beautiful! The longer I make my own clothes the more I realize reworking, frogging, etc. are a sign of improving skills, not the opposite. Thanks for sharing your process!

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  2. you’ve done it again!!! finished another sweater that I want to knit lol seriously, it looks amazing. I love the dark colorwork yoke sweater, without the bottom colorwork it’s very striking!!! I would like to try arranmore!!

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  3. Your sweater turned out great and I 100% agree about Arranmore! I made the Carrowkeel design (with a modified neck) and, can’t believe I’m saying this, would like another cold day or two to wear it again. And I definitely will make more sweaters with this wonderful yarn!

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  4. Beautiful-definitely a retro ski-vibe! It was fun reading your notes on how you did the short-row shaping for the neck, very similar to how I “winged-it” also. Now I just want to knit another color-work yoke but in a smaller gauge.

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  5. Looks fantastic, and suits your style better than the original pattern IMO.

    I live not far from the mill that makes the Arranmore yarn, and believe I saw it in its fledgling stages of production! Donegal tweeds are my overall favourite yarns to work with.

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    • Mine is just off of Amazon. I bought it to use for display when we have a booth at shows and for photo purposes like this. So I really don’t use it for fitting or draping or anything like that. She is a *completely* different shape than I am, so it would not be of use to me for that purpose. But I also have no idea how to do that stuff! So it’s fine for my purposes … sorry, I’m not much help on this subject!

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  6. so beautiful! i love the start to finish process that you document so well. from need to have and wear. inspiring on so many levels.
    you’d be able to pop on an icelandic in the bay area this year. it’s cold and rainy and wet and cold. toss in a day or two here and there for reminders of glorious sun~I am in heaven! hope all is well for you and Bob. I do miss you both a piece.

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  7. well, that came out just perfectly, didn’t it? I love your mods and they echo the other black yoked sweaters you’ve posted about before (most notably the Lighthouse Pullover). the tweed makes this all the more cush.

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    • I love it so much both ways. I still have the original body and spent a fair chunk of time one night holding it up in front of me/the sweater, then taking it away, putting it back, taking it away. They’re completely different sweaters, but both amazing and I wish I could have both!

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  8. You’ve scored a bit hit once again, Karen! I applaud your diligence in staying “the boss” of your projects (my knitting group’s motto is “Your knitting is not the boss of you!”), despite any set-backs or reconsiderations you encounter. I’ve come to appreciate that the ability to admit things aren’t going as you’d like is not a sign of failure but maturity in designing/knitting skills. You clearly have mastered this process as well!

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  10. I love every change and think for you the design is perfect. Each of us has different proportions and we need to learn to emphasize our best and disguise the lesser but you hit it out of the park. I would love to learn more details on how to create strength by blind stitching seams and reinforcing raglans and would purchase an ebook or pattern detailing your process in a second. Those of us that knit but are not seamstresses would learn a lot.

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  12. I’ve been loving your photos with your tubular cast-on. I’ve been struggling to learn a method for it that comes out looking as tidy as yours. Do you by any chance have a tutorial? If so appreciate the help! Thanks :)

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  13. Gorgeous! I had to start another colourwork sweater after seeing this one! I’m curious about your favorite tubular cast-on, which one is it?

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