Anticipating Yokes

September 4, 2014

The Scotland-based, knitwear designer Kate Davies is writing a book about yoked sweaters.  She has been researching different yoke constructions and designing a series of yoked sweaters. I, along with many others of the yoked persuasion are waiting for the publication of this book with great anticipation.

In a recent post, Kate Davies shared some pics of yoked sweaters from her pattern collection and it got me wondering what yoked sweaters might be in my pattern collection.

Alas, I only found a handful but curiously they are all constructed quite differently.  They are also all from Australian yarn companies.

The collection begins with the Australian Wool Corporation’s interpretation of a Shetland yoked sweater from their Traditional Knitting with Wool book published in 1982.

Patons yokeYoung men just don’t wear enough headbands any more do they?

These sweaters are knit flat in separate pieces. You can see the raglan seam clearly on the gentleman.  The raglan seams are sewn and then the shallow yoke is worked from live back, front and sleeve stitches.  If you are going to do a yoke anyway, I am not sure why you would introduce these ugly raglan seams as well.  Was raglan construction so fashionable that every sweater had to have them?

From a very shallow yoke to a very deep one…

Villawool yokeThis pattern is from Hand Knits by Villawool and was produced by the Villawood Textile Company, an Australian yarn company based in Sydney in the 1960s and 70s. This cardigan is worked back and forth in one piece. The sleeves are knit separately back and forth and then joined at the yoke. It has seven sets of decreases which occur between the colour work.

A nostalgic aside…all the accessories and clothing in this pattern book were provided by Fletcher Jones and Company, the once great, worker-owned,  Australian clothing manufacturer.

This next one was the treasure though.  The pattern book is a Sun-glo Knitting Book…another old Australian yarn company and was published during the Second World War.  The booklet contains the proviso ‘…the bulk of our production is now requisitioned for the Defence Department…please make allowances for our difficult war-time manufacturing problems, and remember the greater needs of our men overseas.’

It was given to me by my former neighbour and friend, a few months before she passed away aged eighty-five.  These were her patterns which she knit to the radio and I treasure them.  The one I want to share with you is called Sunny Hours.

Sunglo yokeIt is knit in pieces from the bottom up. After casting off and shaping the armholes, the middle portion of the back and front (just under the yoke) is cast off, then each side is decreased by one at the neck edge on every row till only two stitches are left.  The sleeves are then worked and set aside. The yoke is picked up along the shaped back and front, casting on stitches for the shoulders. The yoke features cables against a purl background. The decreasing takes place in the purl stitches in three sets, preserving the cables.  The sleeves are seamed to the front and back at the armholes and gathered into the yoke at the top, along with some knitted shoulder pads of course.

In the pieced construction and picking up of the yoke, Sunny Hours is similar to the Wool Corp sweater but the set-in sleeves are a much more elegant and ingenious version than those very visible raglan seams.

I hadn’t looked at my vintage patterns for a long time and this wee mission was a delight. Of course, I want to make most of them now.  Perhaps I can squeeze a vintage knit in before Kate publishes more yokes?

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  1. Oh my goodness! The 80s one is such a hoot! I agree about the headband – he’s clearly channelling his inner Bjorn Borg. As for the raglans, I totally agree with you but I don’t know that many people in Australia knitted in the round. Both my grandmothers were avid knitters and supplied their children, then their grandchildren with all their winter knits and they were always knitted flat then seamed. When my maternal nanny first saw me knitting with a circular needle a few years back she was utterly baffled / intrigued and said she had never known anyone – except some of those postwar refugees from Europe she met in Benalla! -to knit a jumper in the round. That huge yoke is fabulous! Well – it does make her look like a Dr. Who extra – but there’s some lovely patterning in there 🙂 I too am SOOOOO looking forward to Kate’s new book – hoping it will be just in time for Christmas 🙂 Thanks for the lovely look back!

  2. The Sunny Hours is my favorite. It appears to fit the model quite well. While the other sweaters are pretty and colorful, they don’t seem to have enough stitches in the yoke area–they look too tight.
    Anyway, I, too, am looking forward to Kate’s new book, Yokes.
    I did manage to find a lot of Fair Isle sweater patterns with lovely yokes on the internet, very nicely charted.
    In one of her sample sweaters Kate was using Lopi yarn. I wonder if most of them are this weight? Sometimes I get tired of the fiddly little needles and thin yarn for Fair Isle!!

  3. Ah I love a stroll through vintage patterns. Have you knitted anything from a vintage leaflet? I haven’t, and I understand that it can be a bit of work with the different yarn weights available. So lovely for inspiration though and lovely that you have the memories of your friend attached to yours.

    Yokes are not a look I favour especially but I will probably buy Kate’s book just for the history, which she does so well. I also agree with your commentary on the men’s sweater with the yoke and the raglans. Not sure why one would introduce both into a pattern.

  4. Oh my! I must admit I don’t think I have any yoke sweater patterns. Maybe I haven’t looked deep enough!
    They have just never called my name………I do have some old (strange) Aran sweaters though! Priorities haha
    But I am looking foreward to Kate’s book and will buy it. I really liked the yoked tree sweater she teased us with.

  5. so much vintage gold!! Funnily, the Villawool cardigan (with the deep yoke) is very reminiscent of a current Marie Wallin jumper out of her ‘Windswept’ book. Everything old is new again 😉

    I think you could absolutely fit a vintage yoke knit in before Kate Davies releases her latest, too!

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