dye | knit

Waysides Yoke Sweater

December 11, 2015

Well, all I can say, is thank the knitting gods for Wovember or I might never have finished this sweater.

IMG_2018I 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.

IMG_2028I 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.

IMG_2017Despite 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.

IMG_2025The 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.

IMG_2027These 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.

IMG_2026From bottom to top you can see:

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.

Ravelled here.

IMG_2019Thank you Wovember for another glorious year and for focusing me on both the significance of my materials and on finishing the blessed beastie.

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    1. Aww! That is a super kind thing to say. Thank you! We had a cold snap today and I got to wear it for real…in summer!

  1. It is stunning, as I have said before. The ombre quality of your collections is very attractive. I can’t wait to see this piece in the flesh xx

    1. Thanks lovely, I am very very happy with how this has turned out. It was nice to be able to just use the best of the colours and in a subtle gradient. I had to dye a lot to get these 6 though!

    1. Thank Diana! I think I might need a rest from ‘knitting with meaning’ for a bit, I feel I am knitting symbols and metaphors all the time. Perhaps something straight up is required. Any suggestions?

  2. Your sweater is simply beautiful and fits you perfectly!! Using your hand dyed wool from plants in your yard and on your walks is a great idea. It’s such a shame that the mill cannot continue processing the wool which is so abundant there. Perhaps an advertising blitz might help?

    1. Dear Elaine, thank you for your kind words. I read somewhere that placing the yoke pattern low down so it dissects the bust line is great for proportionally large busts and balances out that opera singer effect that yoke sweaters can sometimes have. I am pretty pleased with how this one sits…it is very comfortable to wear. I reckon you need to come and take charge of the mill situation here…a taskforce perhaps?

  3. Rebecca this is absolutely gorgeous! Terrific job! I was going to say that I love the twisted rib. What cast on did you use, if I may ask? I really must make a yoked sweater – I think you’ve convinced me. I would love a sweater in this pattern/these colours. Just beautiful and a lovely conclusion to your Waysides project.

    1. Dear Stephanie, Thank you for those lovely compliments. You should definitely make a yoke sweater, it would really suit your frame and hang from your shoulders beautifully. You would have just fun with the yoke part, choosing the colours and design. It would be a cracker addition to SWAP. I used a long tail cast on and for the neck cast off, I just cast off loosely but maintaining the rib.

  4. Oh, what a beautiful sweater and your knitting is so exquisitely done. You couldn’t have come up with any better idea to showcase both yarns. Your handspun and hand dyed yarns seem to pop off the page instead of your initial view of seemingly dull colorways. I loved the ribbing you used and Kate Davies has certainly opened the doors to knitters all over the world, just as you have with your spinning, knitting and sewing adventures. Made me smile right off this morning while I sipped on my first cup of coffee….felt like we had a tiny visit together! Joan

    1. What a lovely thing to say Joan. A visit over a cuppa is a very fine thing. I was reading Kate Davies Yokes book last night, the bit where she interviews Meg Swansen about Elizabeth Zimmermann and her yoke legacy. I think the sign of a really great designer is the influence they generate beyond the actual designs, when their approach or innovations ripple out broadly. I think Kate has built a real colourwork renaissance and supported an intellectualism in knitting that resonates with so many. Plus, she has great finishing techniques!

  5. Beautiful, beautiful. Just the jumper on its own is perfectly lovely. The interplay of the main colour and all the contrast colours is stunning. But it is extraordinary because I remember reading about you making each of those colours and all your thoughts and emotions surrounding them. And that is just me as a reader. I can only imagine the meaning in this garment as the maker. Amazing work!

    1. Dear Becca, It is always a deep thrill to me when I realise I am sharing this knitterly journey with like-minded folks. Yes, each of those colours was hard work and an unexpectedly broadening experience. It is lovely to know that we can see the same adventures in this sweater. Those interwebs are magical sometimes. Thanks for staying the distance!

    1. Thank you Jillybean, I have always dreamed of my own little colour palette, and there it was, lying amidst the beige symphony. Theoretically with the records I have kept, it might be possible to spin up some yarn a little more suited to stranded colourwork than the EL worsted 2 ply and dye systematically for a good colour selection. Dreams and plans…just need some time now!

  6. Beautiful jumper- you should post your pattern. I love that you used your own handspun and dyed it with local plants. I hope your local mill can be revived.

    1. Thanks Helene, it is a very nice feeling to have used my handspun and the local colours. I could literally walk around the neighbourhood and point to the trees/plants I used. That is pretty darn exciting I reckon or perhaps just incredibly geeky.

  7. I am so struck by this sweater. I dye with local and garden plants here in New Hampshire, USA and enjoy trying to combine my homespun and /or handdyed yarn with commerical yarns. Your sweater is brilliant! The proportions are right on and your choice of stitch to set off the natural colors was super inspired!

    1. Dear Peg, Well met fellow local dyer/spinner! It is a bit of thrill putting it all together in a useful garment. The stitch does work well I think, especially for such different yarns. Thank the gods for stitch dictionaries!

  8. Beautiful! The stitch pattern is pure genius, pulling the different colours together. You have knitted a real heirloom. Enjoy!

    1. Dear Dawn, Thank you for your kind words. This sweater is actually very comfortable so there is a good chance I might be wearing it for quite some time. I don’t know if it will make it to heirloom but I will give it a good go!

  9. Oh, Rebecca! What a superb design! The colors are just perfect! And this stitch pattern is so inspiring! I also love twisted stitch rib – it creates an amazing texture! Congrats on this epic FO!

    1. Thanks Alina, I think that neutral natural grey is good foil for many colours, allowing them to shine without directing them too much. It is the lightest colour sweater I have ever knitted or worn but I think I am loving this a bit. Can think of so many other colour combos I could experiment with particularly with this stitch pattern.

  10. What a beautiful sweater! Your use of the gradation of colour, one from other, is so appealing to the eye. The pattern you used just makes them pop!! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Dear Marilyn, thank you. I am very excited about the colour gradation that was possible. I saw a really exquisite icelandic shawl from a museum that was all white except for the narrow lace border which was an earthy gradation of colour. The image has stayed with me and was what I hoped to achieve in a yoke.

  11. This is incredibly gorgeous. I LOVE that yoke pattern. You chose the perfect yarn to complement/highlight your hand dyed handspun local records. Just beautiful!

    1. Dear Alicia, I was just thinking before that the sweater is both a neighbourhood map and an historical document in some ways. It is nice to have the waysides project recorded in this way. Thank you for your encouragement along the way and your kind words now.

    1. Dear Kate, Phew! It has been a long road eh! And I have dragged my readers through every trough and triumph. And now here is my sweater that testifies to the journey. The lovely thing is that you can ‘read’ it in same way as me, sharing as you have in every colour story. Thanks for the company!

  12. What a wonderful culmination of your Waysides project!
    The yoke design is glorious; it showcases your feature yarn so succinctly. I also really like how your worked through your ideas during the process to reach the decision to use this stitch pattern. (Actually, I enjoyed reading about all the workings and processes and ideas of this project – it was a beauty!)
    Twisted rib is the bees knees. It’s a favourite of mine too. It finishes off this jumper perfectly.

    1. Dear Kylie, Well…those are lovely, generous words…thank you. It does feel rather satisfying that all the different stories, decisions and strands have come together in this way. The whole waysides journey has been a completely different approach to making for me, but one I would love to explore more.

  13. You’ve done it again! This is just beautiful – the restraint of the pale torso, the sympathetic handling of the differences between the yarns, all very nice. You’ve managed to switch fiber, color and texture, which is often a recipe for disaster, but done it in a way that is seamless. Nicely done Rebecca! Now, I get hot even thinking about you wearing that in November, so promise you’ll put it away until the winter!

    1. Dear Frith, thank you so much. As you say it is tricky to balance all variables, but I reckon it is one of the very great pleasures of knitting when you can puzzle out a solution…and it all worked this time, although it may not next time! Please don’t worry, it is actually a wee bit chilly at the moment but I reckon this will be the last cool till Easter. It shall be put aside for tshirts and sandals.

  14. A beautifully crafted sweater Rebecca, you must be extremely pleased with the result. The yoke detail has worked so well with the two different types of yarn. I love the way the lustre of the English Leicester yarn is evident in the photos and how it complements the matte Jumbuk fabric. The twisted cables outline the little nuggets of colour perfectly. I remember you being a bit disheartened by the similarity of the colours produced in your waysides project, but here you get to appreciate the gradation in the shades and how well they harmonise with each other. Really lovely.

    1. Dear Deborah, Yes, the lustre is really clear isn’t it? I am so glad this has come out in the photographs. The EL shines almost like silk. Thanks for your gentle remembrance of my utter despondency about the beige wilderland I ended up with. Editing is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It is a pleasure to pick out a selection of colours that work well together, something that would just not have been possible if I had not made so much beige, for in amongst the beige were quite lovely colours.

  15. This one is so classic looking. I love the shaping and especially the gorgeous autumnal colours of your dyed wayside yarns. Hope to see this one on you sometime when the weather turns again. xx

    1. Thank you Heather, I feel so fortunate we had that wee burst of autumn before the fiery pits of hellfire decended upon us. I am watching the trees wither before my eyes and cannot believe we will ever wear wool again!

  16. A lovely, lovely pullover – wonderful to have persisted with all the challenges you met on route with your Waysides dyeing project, different yarns etc and produce such a great result – and in time for Wovember! It looks gorgeous on you – suits you so well.

    1. Thank you Katherine, I am well pleased with this pullover (as you so appropriately call these woolly garments!). It will be very useful I think and has transformed the tangles of the year into a tidy bundle suitable for year’s end.

    1. Thank Mary! I am very pleased with the way the two yarns have played with each other, not harmonising exactly but certainly dancing together. Yes, the passing of Jumbuck yarns is sad, I regret I did not know them earlier.

  17. Yay for Wovember!!!!! I love your yoked sweater Rebecca. Hand spun and naturally dyed wool with minimally processed-Swoon!!!!!And so lovely to see another outcome for your Waysides project. (Looks gorgeous on you too!!!)

    1. Aww! Isabel, you are so kind to me! It is very satisfying to have another project from Waysides done. I still have some yarn left but not a stitch of an idea with what to do with it.

    1. Thank you Rachael, it certainly took its time getting here! But there is nothing like a race to the finish to help, well, finish!

  18. Rebecca, this is truly stunning!

    I am so late to the party commenting here, but as you know I’ve been dealing with a few domestic things and have hardly been online at all.

    Perhaps better than anyone I understand how hard won some of your coloured yarns were during our Waysides project. To see them showcased like this is just a joy. You are such a inspiration!

    1. No worries, Annie! Thank you very much for commenting. Yes, you more than anyone know the travail behind these colours, hard won from the earth!

  19. This is so beautiful! My hat is off to you for such a wholistic approach to sourcing your materials, creating colour from your neighbourhood and using it as beautifully as you could…

    And I agree regarding publishing the pattern- I’m sure it would appeal to a lot of us knitters!


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