Fauves in the Bohus…a cardigan

June 19, 2015

Thank you dear readers for the thoughtful and thought-provoking comments to my last post. I am pondering deeply. While I am pondering, I thought I might share a recently finished knitting project.

Bohus colourwork is known for its jewel hues, subtle colour changes and knit/purl textures within a yoke structure. Bohus Stickening was a knitting enterprise that was founded in 1937 by Emma Jacobsson in Sweden. It combined the skills of local, impoverished women of Bohuslan, fine yarns and high quality design to create a luxury fashion garments. Bohus Stickening produced exquisite garments for three decades. You can read more about these beauties in Kate Davies, Yokes (2015) or Wendy Keel, Poems of ColourKnitting in the Bohus Tradition (1995).

IMG_0768I just finished a yoked cardigan for a small friend. It uses the knits and purls texture of the Bohus yokes but it is not subtle or planned in the meticulous way of the Bohus designers. It is rather the Fauve in the Bohus, expressive, wild and a wee bit random. The Fauves were a group of French artists in the early twentieth century named the wild beasts by critics for their expressive, painterly reaction to realism of Impression.

IMG_0793This is joyful knitting for me…a collection of yarns, a rough idea of stitch counts and rates of increase and no idea what will happen next.

IMG_0783The structure of this cardigan is top down. It is for a preschool child but she is big for her age and we wanted lots of growing room. The yoke will be roomy but not overly big looking and the sleeves can be lengthened as she grows. I have set aside yarn for this purpose. It was worked on two needles rather than in the round as this is knitted in worsted weight and I didn’t want a bulky steeked front. Instead, stitches were held for the button bands and knitted in a smaller needle and sewn to the body after the cardigan was knit. The yoke increases were done Elizabeth Zimmerman style, in 3 sets (a third, a third and a quarter of yoke stitches increased).

IMG_0606The yarns are an archeology of special yarns from my stash that I had been saving for their loveliness. The main body is worked in Rowan Aran Tweed that had been bought many years ago from Sunspun and knit into a cloche that never suited me! So I frogged and saved the yarn.  The yoke contains Scappa Aran from K1 Yarns in Edinburgh, bought on holiday there. It was bought for gloves for My Man which were sadly lost in Cologne and some fingerless travelling mitts for me which were not lost.

IMG_0782There is also some Noro Silk Garden, that I think I bought about eight years ago. It has been a stripey scarf since then but also frogged and saved. The rest is lovely bits of Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran Tweed from a very long time ago. Some was frogged from a sweater to make a vest and other colours were used in small sweaters for my babies.

The yarns were chosen to compliment the unusual hair colour of the wee person, for she blazes like autumn with that burnished russet of Eucalyptus nicholii. And by the colours chosen, a suite of knitterly memories was recalled in a cardigan for a dear friend’s child.

IMG_0780All the Ravelry details are here, including stitch counts and my precise method if your interest leans that way.



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  1. love and all your reusing it is a shame that people let good wool go especially if it has a hole in it there is normally still much good wool to use . I also love how you have used all the different design ideas for the cardigan. It is going to look fantastic on the little girl by the sound of it.
    One pair of mitts finished now a pair for a friend then she wants a baby blanket ,so I know what is next on my needles,hold on I am also doing Donna Druchunas Mystery KAL silly me, and this week pulled out two weeks of lace and cable knitting on my own design shawl oh well it will get finished when ever

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this. I realized as I’ve been thinking about my next sweater, that I don’t have a precise idea as to how to do it, given that I have only ever made one or two yoked sweaters. (Definitely need to read EZ. I only have one of her books but I think I need a couple of them.) I’m thinking of knitting up a few samples in different techniques, with yarn that I have in stash, to see how I go.

    I was also just reading Kate’s Yokes book the other evening and loving the sophistication of the Bohus. You’ve captured the spirit for sure, in such a lovely colour palette. Really beautiful job. The colour changes and contrasts (and texture!) are exquisite. Lucky little girl. I also like the re-using. You have a much nicer colour palette of left over yarn than I do – everything that I have is neutral or dark green or brown or blue…not for playing! This is a delight to look at and must have been a delight to knit.

    PS I’ve always preferred the Fauves to the impressionists.

  3. I took a class in Bohus knitting this winter. A lovely technique. Who knew purls could produce a pop of shimmer between colors? Well…me for one. So with a bit of knowledge on my needles it’s a delight to read Needle & Spindle this morning and see a playful, modern take on the technique paired with admirable yarn sourcing. You go knitterly person!

  4. Beautiful sweater! I’d like to make an adult-size for myself. Love the way you have used assorted leftover yarn to make a gorgeous knit that looks like it was planned that way. Had never heard of “the Fauves”…interesting and wonderful art.

  5. I think that will become much loved by its new owner,it was clearly made with yarns that mean a lot to you with affection for your friends child. It is so colourful, it sings.

  6. That is a FUN FUN FUN cardi! With her hair colour she is going to be the darling of her ‘set’ 🙂 We do tend to neglect our bits and pieces and this should give everyone impetus to get ON with it…as I should too. 🙂

  7. Such a lovely cardi – you’ve obviously had a lot of fun making it and your enjoyment shows with this gorgeous result – love to hear about the reused yarns and their stories – great skill: great result!

  8. Rebecca,
    your finished products always look beautiful. I remember knitting clothes for friends children and as my confidence increased, they would be one of a kind experiments, but I don’t think they ever looked as good as yours. I believe you could sell your work with no problems.

    Once again, thank you for sharing your eye-candy.


  9. That is the most divine little cardigan. I love those colours , the round yolk and the story.
    Could i be right in assuming the big for her age wee one is none other than my little Beatrix?
    Or is that just wishful thinking?

  10. I adore this archaeological “dig” of yarns! A beautiful mix of colours and memories, and won’t that blue just sing against gorgeous russet hair?
    Very smart tip, putting away some yarn to lengthen sleeves at a later date too. One of those things so obvious that they make you think “why have I never thought to do that?'”

  11. A most enjoyable post Rebecca with all the elements I love including history, technique, color, thrifty yarn use, and the thoughtfulness of making for a little one. And to top it all off, I think your knitting muse has returned.

  12. Such a sweet and joyful little cardigan. It sounds as though you had great fun in its creation too – knitting needs to free itself up. Sometimes I think knitters seem to suffer too much from self-imposed restrictions brought on by stitch counting, tension of all sorts and the devilish task of colour decisions. Bring on freedom! At least that is what I say.

  13. I love what happens when you unite les Fauves with Bohus! I’m sure this cardigan will be loved and worn to bits. My friend, you are a wonder. xo

  14. Gosh this is beautiful Rebecca, It’s great you’ve made it so the sleeves can be lengthened and it can be used for longer because it’s so lovely and will no doubt be a favourite. I love that it contains you’ve used pieces of yarn that hold stories.

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