today’s inspiration

Kerstin Olsson in Karen Invarsson’s Bohus design “The Swan”.

Twiggy iconic in Fairisle

The McCartneys in Shetland

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Yoke design by Unn Søiland (1951)


Yokes, knitted & crocheted pre-1950

Can you guess what my next book is going to be about?

51 thoughts on “today’s inspiration

  1. Having just finished the enjoyable yoked sweater grettir by Jared Flood and wearing it for the fourth day on the trot since completion, I await your new book with much excitement!

    P.S. I’ll be most likely wearing this jumper until it drags itself to the laundry basket.

  2. Really looking forward to this. Just did a lace yoke sweater for my daughter (Snowflake by Tincan knits) and in the middle of Plum Frost from Exercise before Knitting. Bought the Poems of Colour book, but I am so excited about a ‘yoke book’ from you. Now that I have conquered the steeking fear with Blaethin and Ursula, anything is possible.

  3. I love Kerstin Olsson’s work and I’m glad you mentioned that the Swan sweater was not her own design, there’s a lot of bits out on the internet that get that little detail wrong. Look forward to seeing what’s next from you (do you ever sleep? :)).

  4. Looking forward to this one. Back in the 60s when I was at Primary School, my Mum knitted me a yoked ‘Fair Isle’ jumper using Lister Lochinvar [marketed as ‘instant fair isle’]

  5. This makes me very happy! I love yoke sweaters and I find these old photographs very inspirational indeed. I look forward to your new book, but most of all I wish you best of luck and much with writing it!

  6. OH!! I love these bohus designs they are so feminine in fine wool and tiny stitches. looking forward to your book and posts!

  7. I am ridiculously excited by this hint. Having become somewhat obsessed with yoked jumpers in recent years (thanks in part to you!) I will be saving my pennies up for the book…:D

  8. It would be great if your book will cover a little on the historical use of them and their usefulness before they became decorative…I have a feeling it must have had to do with warmth…

    1. You are spot on! And also because of superstition. Open spaces on sweaters were bad luck, a place evil spirits could enter. That was why Norwegian sweaters always had dense patterns near any opening (neck, cuffs, hem). The body was then less in danger, but one could not leave it open, so a single stitch in a different colour were distributed say 5 stitches apart, and a few plain rows in between. (Google “setesdalkofte” to get a visual.) The same ideas are found in architecture, where large, open spaces were avoided.
      Source: Annemor Sundbø “Norske vottar og vantar”.

      1. Wow! Never heard about that! It’s going to be educational too! I love historic and background informations in Kates’ Work.

  9. Bastienne Klein (et al?): it looks—from a little cursory research—as if garment use of “yoke” comes directly from how the animal or human yoke works. “5. A piece of a garment that is closely fitted, either around the neck and shoulders or at the hips, and from which an unfitted or gathered part of the garment is hung.”

    Also, “A yoke is a shaped pattern piece which forms part of a garment, usually fitting around the neck and shoulders, or around the hips to provide support for looser parts of the garment.”

  10. Eggs, their influence in knitwear design, with egg inspired patterns as well as a comprehensive section on the history of the egg cosy.

    More seriously, a book on yoke sweaters sounds super-amazingly great. I love that instathingy pic of the fair isle insides and the ribbon binding.

    I’m currently plotting to head my sister off her idea of me knitting her a Christmas sweater with a nice Owls sweater.

  11. This is quite exciting. I’m almost ready to start practicing with the Mucklestone books. Poems in Color is really quite a good read!! Wonder what Twiggy looks like now?

  12. How lovely! I’ve got to tell you, in case you don’t know, that there’s this Norwegian group on Facebook called Koftegruppa,, where people publish old out-of-print patterns for Norwegian cardigans and ski sweaters. The group is of course in Norwegian, but looking under files and photos, you will find hundreds of pictures and patterns – and people are really helpful and nice.

  13. love those sweaters and can’t wait for you to work on it.
    P.S. the date on the McCartney pic can’t be quite right. The McCartney kids were born ’62 (Heather, Linda’s daughter who is most probably the elder kid on the right), Mary ’69, Stella ’71 and James ’77. If the younger kid is about one year old on the picture it could be either Mary in ’70-’71 or Stella in ’72-’73. There is no McCartney kid that young in ’76. If I remember correctly, the McCartneys were in Shetland about 1970, so the young kid might be Mary. Which would date the picture to 1970. Sorry, things like that just bug me.

  14. Dang, I thought it was about pointy boobies. Guess the yoke’s on me! Thanks for the ever beautiful, ever thoughtful and erudite blogging and designing!

  15. I think it´s going to be patterns with round yokes! I´m collecting Swedish vitage knitting magazines and there are so many different ideas with round yokes! I used to show those magazines in my blog!

  16. No sweater for the baby. If it’s goes badly, this can ruin a whole life. McCartney or not.
    A worried hare and prophet of doom.

  17. Kate, I can’t wait! :-) I am going to take a year and knit nothing but your designs. They are so very special! Best wishes ~Take care!

  18. that jumper twiggy is wearing – or one very like it, came as a knitting pattern and she was the model on the front. i HAD to have it and my dear mum obliged. we bought the wool for it in haworth’s in rochdale, the exact colours she wore in the pattern and i thought i was the bee’s knees.
    i wish i still had it, happy days !

  19. I was voting for haircuts. Do you have to have an interesting and possibly unlikely haircut (and/or aviator sunglasses) to wear a yoked sweater?

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)