Have you ever found yourself dreaming of a colourwork sweater?
One with a colourwork yoke that’s relaxing to knit?
Well, so was I and, as it turns out, so were the ladies in the Stolen Stitches studio!
You can see the final sweater below and if you’d like to find out more about the design process, the knitting pattern and/or yarn kits read on!
Before I dive into the design process of the yoke itself, let me answer some common questions around these sweater types so we are all on the same page.
The Yew Mor sweater is a circular yoke construction, the ‘colourwork’ is in addition to this but not the main feature of the construction! So it’s a circular yoke construction. It can be top down or bottom up. Having the increases in concentric circles allowing you the maximum surface area to knit your colourwork motifs.
What is a Colourwork Yoke Sweater in Knitting?
A colourwork yoke sweater is when you have a band of colourwork all the way around the upper part of the sweater. It is typically knit from the top down, starting with the neck, with increases working in concentric circles around the the yoke. It is also possible to knit it from the bottom up with decreases around the yoke instead of increases. The benefit of this construction style for colourwork is that it gives you a large area to work your colourwork across.
How is a colourwork yoke different to a raglan?
A top down circular yoke construction has no visible increase lines around the yoke. Instead increases are worked in concentric circles, getting more spaced out as the number of stitches increase. A top down raglan sweater also begins at the neck, but a raglan has a designated ’seam’ lines at each side of the shoulder. Typically raglan increases are worked every second round on each side of the seam, for a total of just 8 increases during an increase round.
How big should a yoke be?
The yoke should be big enough to fit comfortably, and should increase quickly enough to allow it sit well on your shoulders and give good arm movement. By the time you reach the bottom of the yoke you need enough stitches for both your chest and sleeves (less any underarm stitches to be added).
Okay, so now that we are all caught up with colourwork yoke sweaters, let’s dive into the design process behind the Yew Mor sweater.
Still have questions?
Pop them in the comments below!
Swatching for a Colourwork Yoke Sweater
Have you ever fallen in love with a yarn and only wanted to knit with that yarn?
Well, last year, Deas came in through the doors of Stolen Stitches for the first time. It was our brand new yarn for the Celtic Knits Club 2023, a mix of merino and mohair yarn. We completely fell in love with it!
For the club, it was primarily being used with cabled and textured stitches, but I wanted to experiment with it as well. The subtle tweedy colour variations and soft mohair halo just called out for some colourwork and simple stockinette stitch.
So I started playing.
I took one of my favourite colour combination, subtle Loam and rich Turf, and started testing out colourwork patterns. I tried a few different ones, but I was looking for a more dramatic, graphic motif that would work well with an Aran weight yarn. I began first with a fern/tree like motif that had dramatic vertical lines. This first test had no increases worked into the pattern.
This motif is fairly deep (nearly 4″/10cm) so it was really asking a lot to put this into a yoke with no increases.
For anyone who has worked a top down circular yoke pattern, you will know that if you have no increases in your colourwork panel, it needs to be very narrow. Otherwise the band of colourwork is too tight for that part of the body and to ‘fit’ it will slide up your shoulders. This causes the neckline to gap or flair out. So after trying it without increases and having a poorly fitted yoke I ripped and went back to swatching. Learn from my process and remember:
This is the second half of the Yew Mor design swatch, but with increases introduced.
You can see how it changes the motif, creating a more triangular, tree-like pattern. When I knitted this into the yoke, I loved the result. It looked great AND just as important, it fits really well!
I wanted the sweater to be all about the colourwork yoke, so all the other details in the sweater are kept simple. It has short row shaping across the back of the neck for a good fit, gentle a-line shaping and a shorter fit. All of the sweater edging is finished with simple ribbing for a tidy, cohesive look and feel.
Knitting tip: I will always work the neck ribbing at the end. This gives you the option to modify your neck easily, plus it allows you to keep the neck edging snug and prevent it from stretching out.
What do you think of how it turned out?
Yew Mor Pattern Details
For those of you looking for the quick reference details, you’ll find them below. The Yew Mor pattern also comes with an accompanying FREE tutorial series on our Teachable platform and a dedicated chat thread in our Knithub community. This means you’ll have all the support you need to knit a tailored-to-you sweater perfect for the cooler season ahead.
To Fit Actual Bust Circumference Up To: 31 (34.25, 37, 40, 43.25, 46, 48.75, 52.25, 55, 58.25)” / 78.5 (87, 94, 101.5, 110, 117, 124, 132.5, 139.5, 148) cm
2-4” / 5-10 cm of positive ease recommended.
Bust Circumference: 33 (36.25, 39, 42, 45.25, 48, 50.75, 54.25, 57, 60.25)” / 84 (92, 99, 106.5, 115, 122, 129, 138, 145, 153) cm
Size 39” / 99 cm modelled with 3” / 7.5 cm positive ease.
Length from Back of Neck 22.75 (23, 23.75, 24, 24.25, 24.75, 25.25, 25.75, 26.25, 26.75)” / 58 (58.5, 60.5, 61, 61.5, 63, 64, 65.5, 66.5, 68) cm, not including neckband.
Stolen Stitches ‘Deas’ (86% Merino Wool, 14% Mohair; 202 yds / 185 m per 3.6 oz / 100 g);
MC: Loam, 4 (5, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7) skeins
CC: Turf, 1 skein
MC: 766 (823, 898, 937, 987, 1035, 1107, 1171, 1228, 1299) yds / 701 (754, 823, 858, 904, 948, 1014, 1073, 1125, 1190) m
CC: 45 (50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 70, 74, 78, 83) yds / 42 (46, 49, 53, 57, 60, 64, 68, 72, 76) m
NEEDLES & NOTIONS
US size 8 / 5 mm circular needles, 32”/ 80 cm long (or longer for larger sizes) & 16” / 40 cm US size 8 / 5 mm dpns if magic loop not used for Sleeves
US size 7 / 4.5 mm circular needles, 32”/ 80 cm long (or longer for larger sizes) for Body & magic loop Ribbing
US size 7 / 4.5 mm dpns
US size 7 / 4.5 mm circular needles, 16” / 40 cm for Neck
Always use a needle size that gives you the gauge listed, as every knitter’s gauge is unique.
Tapestry needle, waste yarn, markers.
17 sts and 24 rows / rnds = 4″ / 10 cm in St St with larger needle, after blocking
17 sts and 22 rows / rnds = 4″ / 10 cm in Colourwork with larger needle, after blocking
19 sts and 28 rows / rnds = 4″ / 10 cm in Ribbing unstretched with smaller needle
Yew Mor Yarn Kits
The Yew Mor sweater is knit with our Deas yarn.
Soft, light, and rustically Irish, Deas is 86% Merino Wool and 14% Mohair. This is a woollen spun yarn with a hint of a halo and complimentary colour nupps worked into each strand. All of this combined allows Deas to add an extra dimension to your knitting, which you can really see when you knit stocking stitch or colourwork.
Over in our shop Laura and Mags have put together yarn kits for our Yew Mor sweater and worked out swatches for each one so that you can take the guesswork out of how these colours will work up for you. So pop over here to take a look.
By now, you should have all the information you need to think about your own Yew Mor sweater. The only question left is which colour would you choose?