Well, all I can say, is thank the knitting gods for Wovember or I might never have finished this sweater.
I cast on for this yoke sweater in August without a firm design in mind. That was OK. I knew I wanted the sleeves and body plain with some waist shaping in the torso to take some of the bulk away. So I set to work on those bits using the wonderful Jumbuck Wools Gold Label in natural silver. These are beautiful yarns, minimally processed, natural fleece colours, raised, processed and spun in Victoria. The fleeces are mostly from local Corridales. At least they used to be. Jumbuck Wools is small family owned yarn and knitwear producer that has operated since the seventies but with rising production costs associated with the wool processing side, they could no longer sustain that part of the business. Whilst they continue to manufacture knitwear, Jumbuck Wools no longer mill their own yarn.
I came across them after they had ceased yarn production, when Susan from Jumbuck Wools contacted the blog and shared the Jumbuck story. There are small amounts of yarn left of the original Victorian product and I bought some specifically for this project.
At the yoke I stalled…for quite some time. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do here. Whilst I wanted to showcase the best of the Waysides dyeing project, the English Leicester handspun wasn’t really working with the Jumbuck in a colourwork pattern and lace just seemed all wrong. Part of the problem was that they were such different yarns. The Jumbuck was dense and matt, the English Leicester was loosely plied, hairy and lustrous. Finally, I decided that their difference was the solution and separated the yarns completely by using a slip stitch pattern where the English Leicester handspun could be framed by the Jumbuck. The stitch pattern is Snowballs from The Harmony Guides Vol 3, p 85.
Despite deciding the stitch pattern, I was still stalled until I realised that if I could finish by the end of November which was then two weeks away, I could put the sweater in the Wovember WAL, which I have always wanted to enter. This deadline got me knitting again and I cast off the neck just in the nick of time to take a pic, post it on Instagram and be part of WAL 2015.
The yoke has 3 decreasing rounds, the first is 1/3, the second 1/4 and the third 1/4. I then decreased 10% for the final next ribbing. There are two sets of short rows to lift the back, 1 set of 4 pairs of short rows just after uniting sleeves and body and another set of 4 pairs after the last set of decreasing but before the neck ribbing. All the ribbed sections have twisted knit stitches, a lovely effect I discovered from Kate Davies Yokes book.
These are my very best colours from the Waysides project, dyed with plants along my habitual local walks using rainwater and modifiers scrounged mostly from the backyard or laundry. The yarn was hand spun by me using rare breed English Leicester sheep fleeces that were free from Collingwood Children’s Farm.
Ornamental grape (alum/iron), Ornamental grape (alum/washing soda) and Dock flowers (alum/washing soda). Then Eucalyptus viminalis bark (alum/washing soda), Eucalytpus nicholii (alum/iron), Eucalytpus nicholii (alum/washing soda) and Eucalyptus sideroxylon (alum/washing soda).
If you click on the links to those plants, you can read about each colour on the Waysides journey.
As I said in my Instagram post, this sweater represents both the death of local yarn production and my hope for its renewal in the wake of building interest and understanding of yarn processing, origins and the profound importance of maintaining local products.