YOKES! Have your say


As you know, I’ve been working on a new book / design collection for most of this year. My work has involved . . .

. . . examining a huge amount of yoke patterns . . .

120 Jpeg

. . . thinking about the differences in styles, proportion, shaping, and fit of yokes over the past 60 years . . .


. . .thinking about the distinctions and differences between regional styles in what is essentially a Northern (even Nordic) garment . . .


. . . thinking about the practices, politics, and economics of creating yokes . . .

(Chrissie Johnson examining a yoke that has been hand-knit onto a machine-knit body. Shetland museum and archives.)

. . . and thinking about the practices, politics, and economics of wearing yokes too.

(Twiggy in a Shetland-style yoke)

(Dorrit Moussaieff in a lopapeysa)

I’ve also designed 10 yokes, in a wide range of different styles and yarn weights – my hope is that there will be a yoke in the book to suit everybody. I am really very happy with my patterns, and can honestly say that this is the most enjoyable design project I’ve ever worked on. Indeed, I’ve more ideas than I have been able to accommodate in this collection, and feel there are more yokes in me yet. Shortly, I will be off on my travels again, to conduct more interviews and archival research. As I was preparing the final research questions I’m going to be addressing, it occurred to me that you might like to add your thoughts about yokes for me to consider. I’m interested to hear about your experiences of knitting yokes, of wearing yokes, and indeed would love to know more about your general feelings about yoked knits. Please feel free to add a comment below for everyone to read, or, if you felt like writing to me at greater length, you can email me at:


I’m particularly interested in hearing from you if, at any point over the past 60 years:
1) you have experience of designing or knitting yokes for retail purposes – for a shop, a knitwear company, or your own business.
2) you are in the US or Canada and wear / have worn a yoked garment made in Shetland, mainland Scotland, Iceland, or Sweden.
3) you associate yokes in some way with your own regional or national identity
4) you have particularly strong feelings about knitted yokes – be they positive or negative.

I will respond personally to all messages.

Thankyou all in advance for participating in this discussion.

143 thoughts on “YOKES! Have your say

  1. I have little experience of knitting yokes but in the 70s I lived on Benbecula in the Western Isles for two years as my husband was working for the M.O.D. Many of the Army wives either knitted the jumper bodies on machines or hand-knitted the yokes for a local business so interesting to see you mention it as brought back memories also perhaps folk don’t realise that these sort of garments were made at home and not necessarily by local people!

  2. I love the look of yoked sweaters but I don’t believe they suit every body shape – particularly unflattering for short dumpy figures with sloping shoulders like mine! I would love to knit them for my granddaughters though.

  3. My struggle with wearing a yoke is that I’m full-busted (11″ difference between my under bust and and my full bust – I wear a 32GG/H UK), and if the yoke pattern comes down too far, I’ll look 25lbs heavier than I am. I’ve bought and given away several yoked sweaters that looked adorable on slimmer torso’d women and made me feel awful.

    I’ve since learned that short rows are the trick to making a knitted sweater work, and so to knit a successful yoked sweater, I’d need a pattern with the yoke up high enough (or simple enough) to allow me to work in short rows.

    I’d love to have a yoked sweater that works on me, and I’m looking forward to your collection!

      1. Thanks, Lina! I have that in my favs, actually – isn’t that cute?

        I also was thinking about Ysolda’s lopi pattern – it’s also not too deep.

    1. I love them but I’ve yet to knit one that fits just how I’d like. The closest is from a Lopi pattern which is steeked as a cardigan and was knit bottom up. Others are too low at the back and too high at the front, the search for a truely comfortable sweater continues. I’m looking for the perfect top down yoke…

    2. Agree! I think traditional deep yokes which go across the shoulders and dive deep into the chest are awfully unflattering on busty women!

      I saw a blog post somewhere about a bottom-up sweater which solved this problem. After the body was knitted, short-row wedges were inserted at both sides to raise them. And then the yoke pattern was started. This kept the yoke pattern on top of the shoulders (not spilling over them).

      So the colourwork in the yoke effectively acted as a deep scoop neck — really flattering on busty shapes! I’m trying to replicate that for myself.

      1. Body types, fit and yokes.
        This discussion very precisely adresses my main concern with yokes. I am busty myself, and I would not make a yoked sweater for myself unless it was a casual, dressed down affair. Such as this cardigan I made: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/enile/colourwork-yoke-cardi
        I love that cardi and it is amazingly cozy to wear, but I wouldn’t say it is flattering on me. I actually knew that from the get go, but “looking my best” wasn’t my main objective. This was designed as a cozy, warm jacket that I could easily breastfeed in, and fit a baby-carrier underneath.

        I do think there are female body types on whom the yoked sweater is very flattering. I am co-designing a dress together with my best friend. She has broad, square shoulders and a small-ish bust. She looks amazing in that dress. If I were to make a yoke-styled sweater for a male or masculine person, I would consider how broad their shoulders are in relative comparison with the rest of their body, because a yoke could make sloping shoulders look even more smaller.

        Finally, I am wondering if a yoked lower shoulder could be combined with the seamless hybrid with shirt yokes (Zimmermann) http://www.ravelry.com/projects/enile/seamless-hybrid-with-shirt-yoke. Replacing the raglan shaping in the lower part with decreases evenly distributed in colourwork?

      2. Hi Limescented, the one you mention with a scoop-neck sounds perfect and what I have been looking for, however, I don’t have your skills and could never work such a pattern (or any pattern come to that!) for myself, I’m just not made that way … sadly. However, if you do manage to write such a pattern I would be be very interested, So, please, keep me posted if possible. And good luck!

    3. This is my experience as well, but I’m more modestly proportioned. While I dearly love yoked sweaters (my fav one as a child is very similar to the Shetland one above), they do have a tendency to bulge out just under the neck. I guess this is a result of the decreases not matching body shape?? The flat knitted ones do avoid this some how. Any thoughts?

      Really looking forward to seeing your book of yokes, Kate. Very hopeful there is one in there for me.

    4. I’m afraid I have to agree – being full-busted myself, with broad, straight shoulders a yoked sweater is the most unflattering silhouette out there for my body type. I look like an American football player all padded up. The closest I can come is with a top-down raglan (with deep v neck) – and even there I nearly always have to have more increases and add more stitches than the pattern calls for so that I can fit my shoulders in comfortably.

    5. I totally agree with you. I am a 32G and yoked sweaters either make me look too heavy or give me the dreaded waistboobz!

      1. …(afterthought)I think something might be done with the patterning starting fairly high in a cardigan (to break the line) and darker colour below. I’d love to see what you come up with, Kate.

  4. I always admire your designs so much – on you. You, with your lovely small frame and narrow feminine shoulders. However, yoke jumpers for those of us with shoulders like American football players? I made your beautiful Owls design. I am quite slim, but it made me look the size of a bus! Please, please do something nice for people like me!

  5. I am just dying to try knitting a yoked sweater-I love the look of them. I prefer the look of a pullover rather than a cardi. Can I also just say that I love your newsletters.

  6. Kate, your blog is my favourite, inspiring, informative and beautiful. We share a lot of interests but sadly I do not have your figure to look my best in hand knitting so I hope you will accept my less than enthusiastic comments on yokes. They look great on slim people, eg children and Twiggy, such an iconic image from my teens and yes I tried to knit a fair isle jumper with a yoke but I still didn’t look like her. Mind you that picture of Dorrit in her loppapeysa is stunning and she’s far from flat chested. Good luck with your book.

  7. One of the first sweaters I made was a yoke design of my own using Elizabeth Zimmermann’s percentage system. I, too, have a fairly large bust and wide shoulders, but my design was simple and I loved my sweater.
    I saw an exquisitely beautiful display of Bohus sweaters, tams and mittens at the Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. The sight raised the hair on my arms and brought tears of appreciation to my eyes.
    I intend to purchase your yoke design book and looking forward with delight to publication.

    P.S. Loved the pic of Twiggy- I experimented with those little “twigs” of eyeliner in my youth. Quite fun.

  8. Hello Kate! Yoked sweaters look very good on big women, which is just one reason why I love them. I have collected a good many patterns over the years — many of which were not written in the round. Which meant that they did not get made, naturally. Didn’t the tradition begin in Scandinavia, imitating the beaded yokes of Greenlandic costumes? Can’t wait for this book.

  9. I live in Canada and can provide some info about a sweater company here that makes yoked sweaters. It is Cottage Craft and they are in New Brunswick. Unfortunately, they had to close for a while to repair or rebuild their lovely, historic building and will reopen soon. That’s why there is no web page. If you google it, many links come up but go to their Facebook page and look under photos. You will see many sweater designs but scroll down to see their yoked sweaters. They offer them in kit form in many different colourways. They used to offer them as specials in “Canadian Living” magazine. I have knit a couple of them early in my knitting career. They are beautifully designed and easy to follow.

    1. I bought my first yarns at Cottage Craft! A friend recently told me they reopened a couple weeks ago–their waterside heritage property narrowly avoided demolition by the town.

      The yarns are spun at Briggs and Little, also in New Brunswick, in Grace Helen Mowatt’s early 20th century colorways–There’s a book available on the history of the company, also.

  10. I love all your designs! Your Owls sweater was the first yoked project I ever attempted and it looks perfect on my slim 17 year old daughter! Thank you for your never ending inspiration and good luck with the new book.

  11. I have always loved the look of fair isle yoked cardigans, I think harking back to the fifties and my childhood, where they had a fawn background and lovely colours round the yoke. I can remember ‘woollen mill’ type shops selling kits where the fair isle had been done, and all the plain knitting remained – and wishing they sold the opposite. I have knitted a couple for one of my daughters, and two for me. One from a traditional pattern never looked right, the second, Plum Frost, I like over a shirt to hide the not perfect neckline. (Though I noticed same daughter had borrowed it last week…). I like them in 4 ply, adding less bulk. The only thing I am not so keen on is getting the neckline to look right. I just never want it to be as high – I guess with short row shaping one can get the slightly lower rounded neckline that we are used to?

  12. I can’t knit, and I too have a short dumpy figure with slumping shoulders, but from a purely outsider’s view, I’d love to see a yoke that is modern and edgy–perhaps of a tribal nature, or sketchy, or delicate and barely there, or a shadow of a yoke, or graphic, or asymetrical–something ‘new’. I love your work! You don’t have to answer me.

  13. My first yoked sweater was your Blaithin and I adore it and am now in love with yoked designs! I’m a wide-shouldered, big woman and do hesitate with some designs being too horizontally focused in those areas I’d like to not focus on, however I haven’t let it stop me yet! I have sloped shoulders, which makes wearing yoked sweaters a little more difficult since the shaping is so generalized.

    I can’t wait to see your designs and get your book!

  14. Hi,
    I am from the US, I have never written, but have stalked your blog since your first blog post after your stroke. I love it and have for all the years I have been reading it. I have not knit a yoked sweater yet, but it is on the bucket list, I would love a V Neck, as I too feel sweaters that ride up around the face ie crewnecks, turtlenecks add weight to the wearer.

  15. I am being totally selfish here. I love the lopapeysa for me. It is beautiful and would be flattering. I love the Shetland and Icelandic but would like a Cardigan style. Would you make these for me pleaseeeee! Unfortunately I am a size 16. I am waiting. Seriously, I love this blog.

  16. Hello,

    I have to agree with many of the previous comments in regards to the how unflattering a yoke sweater can be. I love the process of knitting the them but have always given them away because I just don’t look nice in the raglan sleeve or the neck. I would love to see a twist on the yoke sweater with a more structured shape in the shoulders and maybe a V-neck. I have to say if anyone can come up with a beautiful yoke in a flattering style, you can. I love everything you design! Thank you for all of your hard work and lovely blog. I always look forward to seeing your beautiful photography and reading what you have to say.

  17. I’ve always loved yoked sweaters. You could say.they are the reason I learned to knit! When I was in college in the early 80s the Icelandic yoked lopi sweaters were very popular but also very expensive in the States. I learned to knit and the first item I made was a lopi yoked pullover that I still wear. It’s taken on the soft, comfortable go-to aspect.of a favorite sweatshirt. I’m really looking forward to your collection!


  18. In 1983 my wonderful Grandmother made me a burgundy lopi which was all the rage in the Maritimes just then (I lived in PEI), Canada. I remember most of them being hand knit as well – and the most stylish kids in school had them. While I couldn’t afford expensive, trendy clothes like some we could buy the yarn. What a great equalizer hand knits can be! I wish there was a trend of something hand knit at school for my children. I am working on two Cloud hoodies just now for school. Can’t wait for the new book!

  19. I agree with many of the comments about the larger bust. A yoke can too easily create a ‘mono-boob’-shelf effect. I love your designs though and have knitted a Blaithin and cardigan version of Owls. I find that the cardi style divides the ‘shelf’ and is far more flattering, even when worn fully buttoned ie as a sweater. I have toyed with the idea of a yoked sweater where the pattern flows on down the front….
    Anyway, I am really looking forward to seeing what magic you conjure up next.

  20. Hi Kate
    I love knitting yoked sweaters. It’s so satisfying when you get the body and sleeves together and then just play with patterns or fair-isle designs. I’ve made several, including some of your patterns, which are lovely. I also have just made some up using Elizabeth Zimmerman’s method. They always seem to turn out OK. I also like making cardigans this way and am doing one at the moment for my granddaughter, (steeking, using your method of course!). Many thanks for your blog I always look forward to reading about your life!

  21. Hi, I love yoked sweaters. Mostly the Shetland Fair Isle sweaters. And yes, I have owned many Fair Isle sweaters over the years. Many years ago I purchased a Shetland sweater from Scotland via mail order. I wish I could remember where I got it. I first became interested in the 70’s when I saw Paul and Linda McCartney wearing them. I thought they were so cool. That is actually how I came to find your blog. I Googled Fair Isle sweaters when I was looking to purchase something last winter. Good luck with your book.

  22. Yokes are my favourite garments to knit and wear and have been for ever. I have a beautiful yoked ‘jersey’ knitted by my Mother in the sixties and I have the pattern! It was one of several knitted by my mother for me, all in 4 ply wool from women’s magazines. It was knit on 2 needles and the yoke circularly on a set of 5. I would be happy to photography both for you. All these years later (I am in my 62nd year) I still love knitting and wearing this shape . I do think they look good on me and are so comfortable to wear. In fact the majority of my jerseys are yoked . I am thrilled, waiting in anticipation of any book written by you Kate but a book on Yokes now that is a dream come true.
    All good things to you and yours.

  23. Kate- Your book sounds exciting, especially the history of knitting yoke sweaters. As a knitter, I have made some Lopi ones, as well as oddly constructed Swedish designs. I feel that the exciting part is the stranded yoke section, but getting to it can be a slog in terms of plain knitting. I like to add a bit of pattern at the beginning of the sleeves and at the hem.

    Looking forward to your book- as I am sure we will all look at yoked designs in a new way.

  24. I’m very interested in your new book on yokes. I’ve tried to make yoked sweaters but my family and I have very square shoulders and yokes don’t seem to allow enough ease. I notice in your pictures above that the squared shouldered people wear shorter yokes (i.e. ones that don’t extend down the sweater as far) – is this the secret? I’m hoping you will do your usual thorough research and help us to fit these sweaters properly. I can’t wait –

  25. I LOVE yokes! And have recently been eyeing up a few that have been appearing on blogs, thinking I’d like to have a go. So, I’m looking forward to your designs being published! x

  26. Your book sounds fascinating, and although I’m not a very good knitter (I can knit a dish cloth but can’t talk at the same time!) it’s going to be on my book wish list as I figure I can look at the lovely pictures and dream away ……
    I love yokes, I think they look absolutely beautiful and can only vaguely appreciate the vast amount of time and love that goes into knitting them them (not being able to knit that well is why it’s only a vague appreciation if that makes sense…)….those vintage jumper patterns at the start of your post have made me drool, the one on the pink cardigan is just fabulous……I guess I’d have been pretty horrified if I had been knit a jumper with a yoke when I was a teenager (I was one of those stroppy teens that only wore black) however now I’m older and wiser, I wish with all my heart I had a jumper with a yoke that my great aunt had knit (she was a proper knitting marvel…she didn’t even seem to look at her knitting while she was doing it…I think she could play a hand of whist, knit, drink a cup of tea and talk about the news from her parish all at the same time and not drop a stitch!)
    I’m afraid I’ve never thought anything about the politics of certain types of knitting, so am looking forward so much to reading about the history and importance of yokes. Reading your pieces about knitting and textiles makes cloth and yarn come so alive…thank you.

  27. I want to echo Mary’s desire for yoked cardigans – I am broad-shouldered with a large front porch and find that cardigans generally are much more flattering, particularly if there’s anything in the yoke area that calls attention to those aspects of the anatomy. :) Dorrit in the photograph looks wonderful, but note that she has dressed with a V-neck, and also has a small waist relative to her shoulders. Am looking forward to the publication of your fascinating book! Your dedication to preserving the history and testifying to the skills of our fore-mothers is inspiring to me.

  28. I like yokes, but have never ‘studied’ them. I am impressed with your ideas for the book. I have knitted two sweaters. I have a problem with bunching around the upper arm. It isn’t from too many stitches, but I think it is the shape of my shoulders. I think the picture of the brown Shetland sweater shows what I am talking about. I like the Swedish style that blends the yoke into the design of the body of the sweater. Hope you have some of those. I do like the Nordic styles, although I live in an area of the US that heavy Nordic sweater are impossibly HOT! I like that you will be showing different weights of wool in your new book. Good luck. I can’t wait until it comes out.

  29. Really looking forward to your book on yokes and as a small busted shorty find they generally suit me. With the better endowed amongst us in mind would a lower neckline, undone buttons at the neck cardigan style or split front yoke (v-neck effect) be more flattering? I imagine the size of the pattern on the yoke and its placement can also have the effect of drawing the eye up or down?

  30. I knitted a yoked sweater in 2013 for a competition. The pattern was put out free by Lopi for their 20th anniversary. I enjoyed knitting it, though I had some problems joining the sleeves in neatly. Years ago I bought a Lopi pattern book, used handspun wool very successfully to make yoked sweaters for sale. One pattern we simplified by using a multidyed yarn together with a solid colour, rather than changing the colours row by row. Worked well.

  31. Echo the concerns about the fit of a yoke for those ‘blessed’ with a fuller bust, but tbh, my thoughts on most of the patterns printed was yuck, high/tight/throttling necklines which bring back bad memories of itchy constricting hand knits of my childhood. I knit but avoid anything that has a high neck – preferring ‘v’ or deep crew, neither of which seem to be yoke adjacent. Having said that if I was going to even consider a yoked knitting project your lovely puffin coloured sweater would be tempting! If you consider the average shape of a persons upper body and the semi-circular shape of a yoke it’s immediately apparent that fit is going to be a problem – upper bodies aren’t semi-circles! But I can see that in order to get a pleasant and knit-table pattern the gradually decreasing round yoke has an appeal. I’m not that sure that this ‘circle can be squared’ but if anyone can do it, you can.

  32. One aspect of yoked sweaters that has always seemed interesting to me is that they come closer to being (and being advertised as) unisex garments than almost any other type of garment in eras which otherwise shied away from anything that wasn’t definitely feminine or masculine.

    I’m very much looking forward to your new book.

  33. Of course I have knitted many yoked sweaters. I loved the Lopi patterns in the eighties and nineties. I never really liked how they fit which was always a problem for me as I am built like a pear, small shoulders and a very large bottom. As I became a better knitter I got braver. I started redesigning patterns to fit larger women with my build. I found that if I followed the yolk pattern the length would be too long for me in the shoulders. I had to cut out one pattern line to get the right length but I had to increase the width of the entire pattern to allow arm movement. I added an extra pattern reapeat from the beginning. As I knit the base of the sweater I just added stitches to make it many inches wider and kept going to make it longer. I do not put pattern designs on the bottom of the sweater. That just draws the eyes to my biggest part. On one sweater I finished it then decided I didn’t like the way it sat on my body so I cut it open down the front, stitched it on my sewing machine like I had steeks then created a cardigan band down the front matching the yolk pattern to make the sweater bigger. I finished the whole sweater off with ribbing all around. It made a great sweater and one of my favorites for many years.

    I do love yor paper dolls sweater but I haven’t quite decided how I would redesign it to fit me yet but one of these days it is on my list to make. I look forward to your new book as I love your work you are really quite an inspiration.

  34. I grew up in the U.S. (Indiana) in the 70s and 80s and the first color-work yoked sweaters to impress my consciousness were always called Shetland sweaters and were properly worn with corduroy knickers, knee socks, and clogs. I strongly associated them with Lady Diana Spencer, Englishness, and a fantasy version of collegiate life. As much as I admired them, they were too itchy for me to actually wear. (I’ll note that as a grown up, there is no wool too itchy for me!) A little later, in the mid to late 80s, as more oversized sweaters were becoming fashionable, my mother gave me a gorgeous lopapeysa, very subtle and dreamy, that I wish I still had. Very chunky South American colorwork yoked sweaters also became popular around the turn of the 80s to 90s; they were cheap and warm and had much scruffier associations–they usually smelled like nag champa, pot, or armpits.

  35. What a wonderful outpouring of responces, I am moved by the passion that is held by so many and has been released into the world by your simple invitation.Thank you Kate for your great generosity, I too look forward to your book having wanted to make a Shetland Fair Isle style sweater for some time now especially after seeing Victoria Beckam wearing one with lots of black in the pattern.

  36. I’m in the process of knitting my first yoke pullover via a Crafsty class. Actually, it’s my first pullover period. I just started the yoke colorwork section. The hardest part for me so far has been deciding when to start the yoke. The arms on some yoke pullovers look like they don’t actually go up into the armpit area, they connect to the body lower down on the side of the body, and the yoke starts just a few rows higher. That doesn’t look comfortable to me and would restrict how high I could raise my arms. But if I knit high enough into the armpit area then the yoke didn’t seem like it was going to work out properly across the shoulder. I’m not sure I’m explaining this well enough for you to understand me. I’m looking forward to seeing your book. The more I read the more I learn and hopefully I’ll eventually have a better understanding of the whole process. By the way, I really enjoy seeing the photos you post. I long to live in such a beautiful and serene location.

  37. I have a yoked sweater I bought on a trip to Iceland twenty years ago. It’s beautiful, and I love it, BUT I live in Texas. Sigh… it’s doesn’t get a lot of wear.

  38. Very much looking forward to your book! I’ve always loved the look of the yoked sweaters. I’ve knit a few using EZ’s percentage system but found I always needed to make adjustments for being full busted with big arms, but a smaller waist. I’ve always longed for a graceful, pretty yoked design that draped nicely around the shoulders without drooping over the top of the arms, so I guess I need a smaller yoke shape that stops at the point of the shoulders rather than forming a drop-shoulder effect. Living in California, there’s really not much need for heavy sweaters and so I’ve also longed for a lighter-weight cardi option: a versatile, lightweight, beautiful yoked sweater…

  39. Hi Kate. I love yoke sweaters especially for babies and children. I think it is the fact that once you have knit all the pieces it all comes together with the yoke and I find that very exiting. May not apply so much to designs that are top down. They also feel so comfortable to wear.
    So looking forward to your book ( and maybe a follow up if you have so many designs).any ideas about what yarn we should be stashing to save a stampede as happened with a Hap for Harriet . ( not a criticism )Which btw I love and am still knitting.

  40. WELL, WELL…….what a wealth of information/thoughts/comments!! I have not knitted a Fair Isle yoked sweater (but have done Everything else!!) and I think what put me off was the colours that were used………think Prince of Wales :) However the colour combinations I saw on Ella Gordon’s site of the old samples she had been given were to die for, esp the green and brown combinations. So it looks like one of yours is in my future! No comment as to my shape and fit, no idea, …..do love ganseys though.

  41. My first yoke sweater, was your puffin design, which suits me very well despite having a ‘full’ bust – I love that term it so much nicer than many of the usual descriptions. I am looking forward to your new book and hoping there will be some cardigans with yokes.
    In the 1970’s my mother brought a kit to make a yoked sweater, the yoke was ready stitched probably by machine and she had to hand kint the sweater. If memory serves the kit came from a mill in Morayshire, but I may be mistaken here. I do remember recieveing jumpers with yokes from a great aunt in Glasgow, who kintted without a pattern – which seems miraculous to me as I am still a novice knitter.

  42. Once upon a time….when I was young and my aunt taught me to knit I was thrilled to be given a kit for a yoked cardigan but horror of horrors when I opened it the yoke was pre-knitted and only the boring parts were waiting to be completed! The good part was the colour scheme which was mainly soft cream and russet autumnal colours.

    1. LOL! Thea, so happy there was one good part! Sometimes a good color scheme is the only thing making it worth carrying on.

  43. In Canada circa 1970’s, many children wore Lopi yoked pullovers (really don’t remember seeing cardi’s with yokes at that time) to school and at play. The Briggs and Little Co. who rebuilt their mill after a devastating fire was one of the bigger yarn suppliers for these types of sweaters, at the time. I believe they still have yoke patterns to choose from. There are still many people in my area of Ontario who continue to knit yoked pullovers….although the designs are a tad more updated it seems.

    A dido from me about football shoulders being an issue for yoked sweaters looking crisp and sleek on the wearer. I am wanting to knit a yoked cardi soonish… which I think will solve my shoulder issue. I so relish reading your research into fibre, history, techniques etc. I am very grateful to have been introduced to your blog and your beautiful designs. My hat is off to you…it makes your designs so much more fulfilling to knit, having such wonderful stories/history to go with them…if you know what I mean. You feel like you are knitting a real piece of history with each design.

    Thank you! Can’t wait to see the next book!

  44. Not a huge amount to add, but I think yoked cardigans, like this one http://www.jamiesonsofshetland.co.uk/kaila-cardigan-1204-p.asp but especially in natural shades, have really made a come back in Shetland over the last 5 years or so. I’ve never seen so many people wearing them to weddings etc (even bridal parties), and even teenagers wearing them just now. When I was a teenager (10 years ago) hardly any of us wore knitted anything. Now I’d say yoked cardigans are even more popular than Fair Isle hoodies (though that’s just a guess and not based on any sales figures!)

  45. For my eighteenth birthday my parents gave me a hand knitted Icelandic cardigan with a circular yoke. It is still in great condition 38 years later. I also have a commercially knit pullover in about fingering weight with a shallower yoke and dark main color. I must admit that it is more flattering to me with my petite but busty build than the Icelandic which has a deeper yoke and a cream colored main color. Shallower yokes with dark over the bust are VERY flattering to the more generously endowed. If you want, I can send you photos.

  46. I grew up in New York state. Back in 1960, when I started college, I fell in love with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s blue and gray yoked sweater, shown on the cover of Bernat’s booklet 67 – School & College Look (1958). I had knitted garter stitch dishrags from an early age, but somehow had never learned how to purl. As I remember, the yoke was knitted in the round and the rest was knitted in pieces. It was only when I put everything together that I realized that I’d twisted every purl stitch by wrapping it the wrong way, and there was a clear difference between the yoke and the rest of the sweater. An expensive lesson, but I wore the sweater anyway.

    I love your beautiful blog, and I look forward to your book.

  47. The one thing I would like to comment upon is in regards to yokes and busts. I do love a yoke knit and would love to wear and make one. But they don’t seem to ever be photographed being worn by busty women, only petite and perky. l ‘d like to be shown how deep a yoke pattern should be on a goodly sized bust- too often the Yoke that is far away from the bust apex creates the illusion that the bust is too large for the top, and the amount of the plain part of the jumper far exceeds the amount of the colourful part. I would like to read a pattern that caters for different bust sizes or provides suggestions for colour, pattern and depth of yoke for various bust sizes.

  48. I have knit your Puffin sweater (my favorite of the maybe 25 or more sweaters I have knit) and also Hazel Tindall’s Eid Top. They were both fun. I loved the way Hazel shaded her colors (of course) in the Shetland way. And I loved the contrast of the Puffin beak colors with black.

  49. Echoing so many other people here, I have a big bust, and worked sweaters tend to look terrible on me, because of the high neckline and lack of anything breaking the area over the cleveage. I want to knit and wear beautiful yokes, but onset hat suit me.

  50. I used to make a lot of yoked sweaters. I learned the technique in Elizabeth Zimmermen’s book “Knitting Without Tears” and found the formulaic shaping technique especially easy. One problem I did encounter occasionally is not everyone is shaped the same; ie, not everybody is the same length between shoulders and neck, so some sweaters “rode up” and were exceedingly annoying. And, if the yarn was single-ply, the yoke eventually stretched as there is so little structural strength in the design. That said, I have wide shoulders and the style is not flattering on me. So, now I’m more interested in the boat neck and its possibilities. Everyone looks good in a boat neck. The Norwegian ski sweater is a great inspiration as the yolk provides space for design work. The addition of a “saddle” shaping around the shoulders or even some seams would help with the structural part of the sweater so it maintains shape. I know this is a rambling account, but I’ve never articulated my thoughts about the yoke issue. I hope it is useful for you.

  51. Here in Southern Ontario, Canada, back in the 90’s, I knit two Lett-Lopi wool sweaters, one for my teen daughter and one for me…they’re still going strong. I also have a Dale of Norway cardigan that I bought on Ebay and I have a kit for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic sweater by Dale that I still need to do. I loved the sweaters I saw on my recent Midnight Sun trip (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Shetland and Iceland) and brought home lots of yarn…I am going to try to make an Icelandic zip cardigan for this winter. Looking forward to reading your new book.

  52. Just finished my first yoked sweater this weekend and in 20 years of knitting it has the best fit and finish of any sweater or whatever I have made. It was, of course, a Puffin (green colourway). I’m a chunky size 14. I’m sure that the flattering fit was down to the method of construction and being able to ‘try it on’ as I progressed. No seams seems to help as well. Tweaks were made and I’m so delighted with the fit that I raided my yarn stash to start another Puffin on Sunday afternoon (pink colourway). Looking forward ‘Yokes’ in anticipation of more designs which can be ‘tried on’, tweaked and have no dratted seams.

  53. I am from Scotland, but now live in Delaware. I grew up in Fife and as a child I had to wear the kilt, frequently, almost always with a YOKED sweater. In fact, the sweaters, often knitted by my grandmother would be colour-matched to those of my family tartan (dress Ross). I love the idea of yokes for their splash of colour, and their inclusion of Fair Isle, without having to knit a whole garment as such. Also, most important, and, sorry Kate, no steeks. I knitted up the Hare and Tortoise sweater a wee while ago, prepped the steeks as per all the tutorials, only to have all the work unravel on me when I picked up around the raw edges. And, yes, I used the Blacker yarn. Still getting over that.

    Yokes can also seem like a beautifully placed halo, sitting firmly on our shoulders, their colours softly reflected on our faces. No make-up required!

  54. Am so looking forward to the book. The first jumper I ever knitted successfully was yoked and, come to think of it, the first jumper I ever knitted, unsuccessfully, was also yoked, but I draw a blanket-y veil over that.
    Yokes provide such a neat focus for pattern, whether lace or colourwork, when an entire garment in the pattern might overwhelm the wearer or the knitter.
    The colourwork yoke can be an excellent way of using up yarn, I believe, although I find it so hard to limit myself that consideration of a colourwork yoke usually causes my stash to multiply.
    When knitting, patterned yokes are like the jam in a doughnut or in a scone; something to look forward to especially, although the rest of the doughnut or scone or knitting is enjoyable.
    Warming up my needles and sorting my stash in anticipation :-)

  55. In the early 1980s in the southern United States Shetland yokes were All The Rage. Every girl had to have at least two to be considered stylish. Dean’s Shetland yoked sweaters were the specific brand we favored. I remember sweating through many sultry afternoons, refusing to take off my beautiful Dean’s sweater. It was a gorgeous pale yellow with a lace yoke with a 3 button placket.

  56. I love the look of a yoke on men and girls me not so much. However If the yoke on Katherine Hepburns dress in Adams Rib could be duplicated in a fair isle sweater. It would be lovely, a sexy,yet discreet ,neckline that would suit and flatter any size or shape. could be worn off both shoulders or one yet has the extra bit of fabric, that conceals and stops bust from falling out.
    Scrool down about 1/4 ways down the page for image

  57. I’m live in Canada and my grandfather is from Iceland. I travelled to Iceland for the first time in 2012 with the only souvenir I wanted was Icelandic wool so that I could make my own lopapeysa. I’ve made two, one a full sweater (http://sachagud.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/an-authentic-lopapeysa/) and the other a zippered (http://sachagud.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/zippered-lopapeysa/) . I love looking through the Icelandic pattern books my family has given me and I’m planning on tackling a couple more this winter.

  58. Hi Kate, I too live in Canada. I’m in the province Nova Scotia. I love yoked sweaters! My first sweater was a yoked sweater from Cottage Craft Sweaters here in the Maritimes. The company Briggs & Little is a mill that is over 150 years old & they produce the wool for the Cottage Craft Sweaters. The Color dying is a secret and they do not sell some of the colours themselves but you have to buy them from Cottage Craft. Their yoked sweater design has been around for at least 50 years or more, they even went as far as producing wool fabric in the colour of the yarn so you could make “slacks” or “skirt” for an outfit.
    My earliest memory is when we went camping my Mom would take a lawn chair & put it in the water where we kids were playing in the water, she would sit there knitting a Cottage Craft sweater. When I took up knitting after being taught by both Grandmother and Mother the first sweater I knit was a Cottage Craft.
    This sweater is still sold today in a lot of our tourist area, where local ladies will knit up sweaters & put them out for sale.
    The wool is a DK weight and is mostly heather shades. With names like Live Lobster and Fundy Fog. The design sit high up on the sweater very much like the Shetland Fair Isle.
    If you would like to see a picture of it I could scan & send a picture to you.
    So looking forward to your new book & hoping much success for you.
    Hugs Susan
    P.S. Oh, if you need a test knitter I would love too.

  59. I’d love a boat- neck or ballet neck yoke. Would that even be a yoke. Like other well endowed knitters, round necks do me no favours. Can yokes be adapted in this way – you are bound to know the answe Kate!

  60. In the late eighties I knitted lopi yoked sweaters for my son, then a small child, and loved them – lovely and snug for him and so easy to knit (the plain knit bit) while I hung around at ice arenas and swimming pools! But when I knitted one for my Mum, my lack of stranding skills led to awful tension problems and dreadful fit.
    At this point I think I have developed better technique (we’ll see…), so am super excited to have another go with a contemporary design. And with contextual info – it will be another great book, I’m sure.

  61. Kate, this is not a helpful comment, but I have a burning question… when might the yoke book be published?! I have wool, and I’d love it to be a yoked sweater by this winter, and I’d love it to be one of yours… but will there be time?!

  62. In 1976, I was working for the U. S. Forest Service in Oregon. Because it was nearly impossible then to buy decent, rugged work clothes for women, especially boots and socks, most of my knitting was boot socks — and finding actual wool sock yarn was very difficult. Finding real wool anything was difficult.

    My boyfriend and I decided to splurge a whole season’s fire-fighting wages hosteling through Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Scotland for three months. We hitch-hiked and lived on dried soup and bread, to stretch our meager savings to the max. There wasn’t all that much left after the air fare …

    Iceland was heaven. I bought a yoked sweater in natural colors in a huge wooden warehouse in Reykjavik — that was the warmest sweater I have ever owned. I wore it for years, until it fell apart. Somewhere I have a picture of myself wearing it. I loved that sweater.

    From the same store in the warehouse, I also bought a delicate camisole with a tiny lace patterned yoke and matching tap-pants, knit in pale lace-weight Icelandic wool. I couldn’t resist them but never wore them (too itchy).

    About yokes: years ago in some vintage knitting pattern book, I saw a monotone pullover sweater with a yoke knit in reverse stockinette. It was subtle but very graphic, like a large sectioned five-pointed star with a point at center front, like a deep V. It was very flattering (at least on the model). It was knit in something shiny and fingering weight, like silk or rayon. I have searched and searched for that pattern to no avail. Hint, hint.

  63. I guess this is isn’t really my personal experience of yokes but it’s a different viewpoint and IMHO worth sharing. My Gran was one of the women on Shetland who hand-knitted yokes onto machine-knit bodies to supplement her meagre crofting income while her husband was at sea. Every week or two the bodies would be dropped off and the finished jumpers collected and Gran got paid a set amount per completed jumper. That meant that there was a great deal of pressure to get them finished, especially the night before the collection was due. To maximise efficiency it was my mum’s job, as a young child, to darn in all the ends. The lasting legacy of this is that my mum does not knit. She can knit but gets no pleasure from it having grown up in an environment where knitting was pressured, hurried and was work, rather than a hobby. Since my Gran died I have, for sentimental reasons, taught myself to knit fair isle but have never progressed beyond a square cushion cover – maintaining pattern while shaping fills me with dread! Maybe one of your new patterns will inspire me to give it a try. I have just come back from Shetland with a heap of J&S heritage as my souvenir and it’s looking for a project!!!

  64. In 1987 I found an ad in an American magazine for a “Fair Isle Knitting Pack” from St Andrews Woolen Mill in St Andrews, Scotland. The kit came with a finished yoke and enough yarn to knit a pullover or cardigan. It also included instructions. This was very early in my knitting life but somehow I managed to knit a very nice sweater that fit perfectly. I still wear it today. I like the connection of my California life to knitters in Scotland! About a year ago another St Andrews kit turned up at our knitting guild auction…….yoke nicely knit with plenty of yarn to complete a project. I have all the paperwork and a receipt for $21.00.

    Since 1987 I have made many Fair Isle sweaters. The sweaters I knit with Fair Isle yokes were mostly Lopi patterns. I steeked some of them. Most of the time I follow Elizabeth Zimmermann’s methods and adapt yokes that I like from books and magazines. Look forward to your Book.

    Gerri Leichtenberg

  65. The first yoked garment I knitted was a tunic from the Drops website (http://www.ravelry.com/projects/lilyboot/114-15-tunic-in-eskimo-with-short-raglan-sleeves-and-pattern) – with colour work across the yoke. I was delighted with how easy the construction was – as opposed to picking up stitches for sleeves or sewing them in later. I also loved how the colourwork created a yoke that was so warm – it’s like wearing a shawl with your jumper! I wonder if that’s one of the reasons colour work yokes became so popular in the northern climates – those extra layers of wool created an extra thick fabric that added warmth – I notice it every time I wear this tunic.

    It was such a good experience I have sought out yoked patterns since – I knitted your Blaithin (http://www.ravelry.com/projects/lilyboot/blaithin) and Owl jumpers (http://www.ravelry.com/projects/lilyboot/owls) for my daughter. Again, I found the construction really satisfying – it’s such a thrill when you have the body and the two arms ready and then round you go and bam! You’ve got a jumper!

    Last year, I found a really funny old wool in an opshop – Twilley’s Spin Knitting – it was one huge skein of continuous yarn that wasn’t plyed at all and full of lanolin – when it broke, the instructions said to rub the two ends between your fingers to rejoin it – it worked. I bought some Lopi to go with it (same weight) and knitted a yoked and zippered cardigan (http://www.istex.is/Files/Skra_0015475.pdf). The zipper was a nightmare but the colourwork was delightful. I find that colourwork knits up much faster than plain knitting – I think it must be because I’m always counting the rows and looking ahead to see what comes next. What strikes me when I wear this cardigan is how the yoke hugs me around the shoulders. It almost limits my arm movements but I think that’s more to do with the funny old Twilley’s wool then the yoke. It really is so shawl like.

    This year I have knitted three yoked jumpers – two top down yokes that have radiating increases (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/jackie-7) – such an easy pattern and I love how the increases create the sunbeam look, and another Lopi sweater for my daughter. One thing that strikes me with the traditional Lopi construction is how simple the instructions are. They are rarely more than half a page and then the charts. It makes for knitting you can do anywhere and do so easily – until you get to the yoked bit. Makes me think they really are intended to be very practical, everyday working wear jumpers – and ones that can be knitted up quickly making them efficient, especially if you’re doing them for sale. I also really liked the bands on this pattern – the first six (?) rows are knitted in stocking stitch and then they start the ribbing – this allows the bottom to curl up nicely and it looks like an icord – really nice finish I think.

    I’m not little – I’m tall and a bit chubby – and I don’t think yokes look any less flattering on me than any other style of jumper. I often think our perceptions of what looks good is influenced by how it’s presented to us – if we constantly see Twiggy in a yoked jumper than we associate yoked jumpers with negative ease and stick like figures. When I look through traditional Lopi jumper patterns they are rarely worn with negative ease and are worn by the whole family regardless of age or size – to me, this speaks again to the practicality of the design. I think some of our notions of what looks lovely are very warped by our culture and time – all my jumpers from the 1980s are so baggy and we thought that was fantastic and so flattering. I remember my Nanny knitting my Mum a red cardigan for work in the late 1980s – and it was suction tight – Nanny thought it was terribly smart but Mum thought it was hideous and spent hours with the iron and damp cloths stretching it :-) Then by the 2000s when Nigella was pottering about her kitchen in her little cardies, Mum was cursing she’d ever done that to the red cardie!

    I’m so looking forward to your Yokes book – I’m hoping it will be out in time for Christmas and I shall be able to sit by the beach on our summer holiday and knit away like I did with your Shetland book – you may remember, I’m the one who was sitting by the sea knitting when two pages of the Puffin jumper pattern blew away and you so kindly sent me a pdf of that pattern :-)

  66. Here is some more on the lines of Leora’s story above. I was raised in New England. In the 1960s my mother knit several Lopi sweaters using the Reynolds yarn company patterns and their imported Lopi. In the 1970s in high school and college I treasured what we called Shetland Sweaters: the hand knit yokes attached to a solid colored body, much like the picture you featured. The heathered yarn colors were so soft and beautiful. I wore them as Leora describes, over a cotton turtleneck with corduroy straight legged jeans and Swedish clogs. I also wore them with denim overalls.

    I dream of knitting a lopipaysa jacket for myself but can’t decide on a pattern. I knit your owls sweater using Briggs & Little natural Unscrubbed wool. but I modified the pattern extensively to shift the shaping around and add more depth to the yoke and from shoulders to the underarm. I wear it as my winter hiking outerwear over a turtleneck and sometimes with an extra cowl if the wind is cold.

    Finally, if you haven’t looked at Julia Farwell-Clay’s new designs, please so so. She is doing some amazing new interpretations of traditional yoke designs. She is brilliant.

  67. I am so looking forward to your new project! I’m thinking this may not be specifically what you are looking for but thought I’d add to the discussion- I have a particular fondness for Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “Fair isle Yoke Sweater” that she published in her first Newsletter (1958) after a bad experience with a publisher who changed her instructions from knitting in the round to knitting flat. This sweater seems so important to me on so many levels chiefly because that experience launched Elizabeth as an independent designer.

    The pattern has always had special meaning for me as it was published the year I was born. I have knit it twice and enjoyed the experience tremendously. The second time I made use of Meg Swanson’s notes in the “Opinionated Knitter” and was really happy with the fit.(these notes address some of the issues people have mentioned above having to do with the fir on larger sizes) I used motifs from Mary Jane Mucklestone’s “200 Fair Isle Motifs” to design the yoke and used Elizabeth’s Percentage System for the cardigan itself. I’d have to say this is my favorite knitting project to date! You can see both cardigans on my project page on Ravelry. My user name is Fidlstix.

  68. Hi Kate,
    I adore yoked knits. One of my very favourite ever sweaters was a red, yoked jumper I had when I was about 11, or 12. It came from a Scottish shop – perhaps the Edinburgh Woollen Mills – in Cheltenham, where I grew up, and whenever I wore it I felt deliciously comforted and beautifully adorned. I never really thought much about why I felt like this when I wore that jumper… but at the age of 42, I found myself in an eclectic clothing store in my new hometown of Melbourne, staring at a very similar red, yoked woollen jumper. This one wasn’t made in Scotland, but I bought it nevertheless, because it was so evocative. Sadly it was a little too small, and quickly got a bit threadbare under the arms, so I haven’t kept it, but these days, I am knitting avidly, and have a few Icelandic yoked patterns, plus one of yours, in my Ravelry project queue. (In 2000, I went to Iceland, and loved it…)
    Now I am in Tasmania, back on an island, albeit at the bottom of the world. While I love this place, I am always just a little bit homesick, and traditional knitwear has definitely taken on a new level of symbolism for me. It’s a point of connection between me and the northern cultures of home. Yet traditional knits are also a thing of Islands, so I am drawing that thread down here too. Symbolic thinking is a baseline for me these days, in my work as a Jungian psychotherapist, and I often contemplate the meaning of clothing, the emotional connection between us and what we wear, particularly when clients bring dreams of beautiful apparel….
    I look forward to your book of yokes, as the time has come for me to knit my own yoked jumper – and ones for my children also….. Thank you for this opportunity to reflect on garments and traditional crafts, and the personal meaning they always carry – whether we are conscious of this or not….. Best of luck with everything!

  69. Being brought up on the island of Tasmania in the 1950s, all things British were in vogue. My mother knitted and sewed most of our clothes. I have a photo of me wearing a knitted hood featuring a yoke with snowmen. As a grandmother she knitted a yoked jump for my husband who is 6’3″ and yoked jumpers for my two sons who wore them with frilly shirts à la mode Prince William. I also knitted a gorgeous Lopi yoked jumper with a hood for my eldest son when he was two years old. It was so warm and snuggly in our cold climate. I am about to pass it on to his sons. When visiting Scotland thirty yers ago I bought a soft yellow yoked fairisle jumper and wore it for many years. i also have some Laura Ashley vintage Fairisle cushions. Your blog is utterly fascinating and I am always sharing information from it with my mother and MIL. Just look at today’s post! It has evoked so many wonderfully warm inter-generational memories for me just from knitting. Thank you for that Kate xxxx

  70. I’m finding it interesting that your research is based around Shetland / Iceland / Sweden yet in Germany stranded yoked jumpers commonly go under the name Norwegian Sweater (Norweger Pullover). I wonder if the Norwegians have their own distinct style and why they firmly made it into the German vocabulary (much like Fair Isle has become the blanket name for all stranded knitting in the English language.)

  71. Another Tasmanian here! Kate it is such a joy to read your blog and absolutely love and appreciate your considered views and carefully researched information. I am sure your are in touch with the Bohus Museum and of course Kirstin Olssen, having been a major Bohus designer from 1958 to 1969 when the Bohus industry sadly closed. I just love her Swan Island sweater and of course all the others she designed too.

    In regard to size however, I shall weigh (sorry for the pun!) in to say that again, I too am a heavy busted and short individual …….. prior to childbirth, I used to look athletic!! Where did they come from?? Well, sadly in the genes and like all the women on my Father’s side of the family ….. we changed! So, what I have found is that I can still wear some patterning but if a sweater it needs to be a deep V neck so a collared shirt can be worn underneath and a cardigan works best of all but patterning should be kept above the bustline and simpler…. perhaps too, with less colour contrasts so it does not look too busy.

    Those that are forever slim…. like my Mother, who remained a tiny size 8 (US 6) with no effort, and with narrow shoulders and hardly any bustline, even after 4 children, can wear nearly anything and look wonderful in many clothes.

    Meanwhile, just enjoy reading everything you share with us and your books which makes even more knitting and technique accessible to us all. On top of that, being a lover of history, it is simply wonderful that you care about all that has gone before and it will not be lost. All the best with your research and the book Kate.

  72. As a college student in the late 80s, I wanted a yoked Lopi sweater so bad, I commissioned a friend to knit one for me. About five years later I learned to knit so I could knit one for myself. It was the very first thing I knit. I still own it and love it. I’ve knit Fair Isle style sweaters, Icelandic sweaters, and one of my favorites is Tangled Yoke from Interweave Knits a few years ago. I’m not sure they are the most flattering on me, but I love to knit and wear them.
    I went to Iceland about two years ago, and bought so much yarn from the Lopi factory, I had to check an extra bag on the way home. I can’t wait to knit it up into sweaters. I’m looking forward to your newest book!

  73. I absolutely love yoked sweaters. I’m especially interested in knitting a yoked cardigan, as cardis are more practical for the layers-on-and-off type of climate I live in. I guess I should learn to steek!

  74. I am looking forward to reading your new book! I’ve knit a few lopi sweaters & really enjoy the process & the result. I live in the deep south of the US now so I use worsted or fingering weight yarn & steek them to make them more wearable in a warmer climate. I would really love to read a book just about steeking & how to create v – necks & other neck shapes by that technique. Your next book please?

  75. As soon as Islandic and Norwegian/Bohus yoke patterns became available,I knit them and wore them all thru school( Gymnas),I made them for family,friends,boyfriends,and Husfliden.

    I don’t agree that they make anyone look large! They have been made for men also right from the start!
    Anyway,who really cares! It’s up to how you feel and how well you love your knitwear!

    I knit my own versions of them using local patterns and adding whatever I could to make them fun to knit. I still have a few. They are over 40 years old now! And most are in huge sizes that fit great!

    Once again,I want to remind people not everything knit w/more than one strand of colored yarn is NOT always FairIsle.

    If you are unaware of pattern differences from nordic/north european country to country then please use the term Stranded Knitting.

    It’s very annoying to us Scandinavian knitters to hear the term FairIsle for patterns that we know are Norwegian and I know the Swedes have a conniption when Bohus is called FairIsle. They are very proud of the designs and knitwear from this period. It is national pride. Don’t mess with that! :.))

    I agree with many of the knitting public as to sizing.Perhaps you could design items that will fit the majority of the public that uses larger sizes,instead of just a few that fit sizes 38 or 40. I’m sure you will find someone to help you with the math.
    Also, a high neckline is not something anyone really cares for. I used to knit shape my neckline quite deep before I picked up stitches and knit a collar,sometimes round,sometimes in a “v”.

    Good luck with your book!

  76. Third Tasmanian! I wonder what it is about us seeming to feel a particular sort of kinship with Scotland/northern places and traditional crafts – perhaps the similarly changeable temperate climate is a factor, or a distant sense of roots for those of us descended from ancestors from those regions. Iceland and Scotland have always been near the top of my list of places to visit once I’m no longer a broke teenager ^^

    But back to yokes! I’d like to second Knitsofast’s vote for a boat- or ballet-neck yoke adaptation, if such a thing were even possible and you ever have a mind to design one, Kate.

    I haven’t ever seriously considered knitting a yoked jumper for myself before, despite how beautiful and appealing I find them, but never stopped to consider just what causes that tiny aversion. I think it’s probably a combination of the much-mentioned fuller bust and wider shoulders fit issues, but also the fact that I just can’t stand to have anything at all pressing up against my throat, however gently a knit neckline may do so. I tend to find a slightly lower, wide neckline the most comfortable and flattering.

    No need to respond; I don’t suppose this is all that useful, I’m afraid. Very much looking forward to the YOKES book; your writing, photos and research (not to mention patterns) are always a treat to read and well thought out. Best of luck!

  77. Hej
    You can visit a great facebook group “koftegruppa” there is a huge range of old patterns from old and new norwegian yokes and traditionel cardigan s
    Best regards from Denmark:-)

  78. Hi. I am a Danish woman, who has both a strong positive experience with these sweaters, and a quite new experience as a designer. As I was about 12 years, my mother knitted me a ‘greenlandsweater’ – it was so beautiful, it looked like the beadwork the greenlandic women make for their national clothing. I was so proud of it, and I’ll never forget it. Did you know about the greenlandsweater?
    Now, where I’ve stopped teaching, I have taken up knitting design. I have so much fun, and I am constantly trying to make Things, that are beautiful, easy to knit and comfortable too. The yokee-design I have made in two different ways. One knitted from below and one knitted sideways. I will send you a Picture on your e-mail. Best regards from Bente

  79. Living in the upper penninsula of Michigan I love knitting and wearing warm sweaters and yokes are my absolute favorite.
    Most of the discussion here has focused on color-work yokes. I would like to suggest for your book some patterns and ideas for cabled yokes as well. Thank you, Kate, for asking for our thoughts. Very much looking forward to your book.

  80. I live in Canada and yep I have worn yoked sweater from Iceland and Shetland while growing up. For me, the yoked icelandic is a pullover. I used to think of them as skating sweaters or ski sweaters. When I took up skating again, I really wanted to make a “skating sweater”. I had tken up knitting before. The Iceladic sweater I had I wore over my school uniform, sweater and kilt, for dashing aroung between classes, skating and when I went on student exchange in Quebec, for skiing too. So I have a view of yoked sweater as casual sporty thing worn by young people.

    Yoked cardigan is not something I have much experience of, but I could give it a whirl.

    As for connection to my cultural heritage, I am Chinese, born inTaiwan, but I grew up Canadian, been here 40 years. I knew these sweater arr from these Northern European lands, while growing up, but I did feel a connection to the culture. By wearing these traditional sweaters, i was exploring the world. I was a great one for authenticity, so to speak, so I wanted a ‘real’ Icelandic, a ‘real’ fisherman’s gansey, and so on. There was a bit of fitting in to my new culture, as well as a traveling the world impetus behind my yoked sweater love. My mum and sister don’t even like wool, so it was a real struggle to get my parents to buy me these things, and in some cses to get my mum to knit them for me. I had to assure her, that it really was not too itchy! Funnily enough my mum got married last year, moved to England, went on her honeymoon in Guernsey and sent me photos of herself and her new husband in matching Channel Island sweaters!

  81. I’m afraid I’m going to say what everyone else has: boobs. Yoked designs look great on men, and small-chested women, but they do draw attention to the bust line, usually in an unflattering way. It’s as if the style of the garment doesn’t take the bust into consideration, and modifications, though accommodating the shape of the body, don’t sit well with the design details.

    Whenever I cast on for a garment I remember a remark you made on your blog, that knitted garments are basically tubes. For me, I’m afraid they need to be more like blocks, with bumps and definite corners. I’ve knitted Owls and Manu, loved knitting them, but couldn’t wear them for feeling so self-concious about my boobs poking out, interrupting the lines.

    I do think yoked designs work well for more shapes in oversized 80s styles. (I have a lot of old knitting books.) It’s probably too soon to say that 80s knitwear is back in fashion, but judging by the vintage shops here, and the way anyone under 25 is dressing, it can’t be long now. And a loose, long sweater in something DK or bulkier would be going in my Ravelry queue soon.

  82. My first yoke sweater was a mast itchy Icelandic wool one in my teens and untill last year I had not done another one (well apart from your owls does that count ?) I did a traditional surgeons yoke for my sister (a jamieson and smith one) and loved it so much that I have just taken delivery of the wool to do one for myself . My mum who taught me to knit tells me she did a lot of yokes in the 1940’s when wool was scarce to use every last bit of yarn . Can you let me know when the book will be available or hold a copy for me if it’s available now

  83. I have two experiences of knitting yoked sweaters, one positive, one negative. The positive one was your Owlet, which I knitted for my son, then one; done within a week, adorable and warm. I followed the pattern without any adaptation and it was his “smart” jumper all winter.

    The negative; I tried to knit the Shalom cardigan by Megan McFarlane (adapted to have sleeves, which many have done) and had no end of trouble, none of which was the fault of the pattern, I don’t think. I think it’s partly the top-down construction, which was new to me, and partly a lack of confidence about how long to knit the yoke. I have a larger-than-average chest too and I couldn’t quite find a length that I was confident would look right.

    I do think it’s possible to find a length that’s right; I just don’t have the experience yet to work out what it is.

  84. I’m with Dawn on looking forward to something either edgy (although I may just look and admire); or, to solve the busty problem for me, a higher yoke that is subtle in terms of colour contrast. Can’t wait for the publication – is there an ETA?

  85. Like the above comments, the fit and look is the issue. I tend to have them not sit right on my bust (i
    am on the cuppy side) nor fit my upper arm. I love the idea of the yoke especially since one side of my family is from Scotland. I wonder if I can ever knit one for myself though

  86. Your item on yoked sweaters brought back memories. I knitted one in the early 70s and it was fawn with light blue flowers around the yoke. I do wish I had kept the pattern. In those days it was not an easy matter to get circular needles to knit the yoke – especially in Weston-super-Mare where we lived. I managed to track one down and it was an awful thing. A plastic tube with wooden needles stuck in the ends. I really did have to persevere to finish the yoke. We then came to NZ to live and I really didn’t wear it any more. Such a shame. My first experience didn’t put me off as I am a big fan of circular needles now though and use little else except for DPNs.

  87. I have LOTS of thoughts on yokes, not all of them good, so get a cup of tea at the ready:

    I am a 68 year old American, knitting since I was 13. My first yoked sweater, knit when I was 17, was from a pattern from Womans Day magazine. You paid $! and sent a self addressed stamped envelope, and the sent you a packet of patterns, entitled “Ethnic Sweaters”. I still have it, hoarder that I am, and I would be happy to send you a copy should you want it.
    The sweater that I chose was called “Swedish Sweater”, and I know now that it was actually a Bohus design. The magazine commissioned several designs from Bohus, and this was one of them. I have seen the original at an exhibit at the Swedish Institute in Minneapolis (where I now live) . This was my first attempt at stranding, and I figured it out myself. The result was somewhat cone shaped, and hard to wear, but I was SO proud of it, that I did. It was a cardigan, and it could be worn unbuttoned without the cone effecting the look too much. When I saw the actual Bohus original, theirs was actually more cone shaped than mine…a vindication after 50 years.

    My second yoked sweater story involves a kit which my mother purchased for me when she visited Scotland in the late 60’s. The sweater was much like the one pictured above (brown with a blue and white yoke). Mine was green, with a pine tree motif. The yoke was knitted, the steek was cut, and it was my job to knit the body (boring, after all that Bohus!). I wanted a pullover, and did not know what to do with the steek edges, so I knitted a little placket, and let that button up the back. Ialways thought the yoke was a little skimpy and I did not love it as much.

    I have to agree with KB, I have grown up to be a small shouldered large busted woman, and the round yoke does nothing to flatter me. By the time I have achieved sufficient width, the armhole is too deep, and the round area hangs too low, and consequently the front hangs down, or in a cardigan, it flares out. I avoid this style completey, and even if all these issues were addressed in a pattern, it still would not be my style choice today, having little desire to dress as I did when I was in college, although I would admire the pictures and reminisce.

    Should you want the Womans Day patterns (there is also one in there called “Scotish Sweater”, I believe), email me the postal directions, and I would be happy to send it.

  88. Dear Kate, I have been a lurker on your blog since the days when drawings of your cat Jesus adorned the header, and always look forward to a new post. Echoing other commenters, I have to say I’m thrilled you are doing a book on yokes, because clearly many of us like to make them and love how they look (especially on other people) but sometimes find them difficult to fit.

    I have been knitting for a long time now, though I would not care to say exactly how long… As the little poem says, “My father and mother are Irish, and I am Irish too” but I grew up in New England in the US. Yoke sweaters were very popular here during the 1970’s and 1980’s, but at that time I hadn’t taught myself stranded colorwork, so I couldn’t make them. It also was very hard to find wool yarn, let alone the authentic stuff, so the proper materials were lacking. Just before Christmas 1978, I went to the Jordan Marsh department store in downtown Boston, and bought two yoke sweaters as presents for my mother and aunt. They were cardigans with ribbon button/buttonhole bands securing cut edges, one fawn and the other a light green heather, with tree-and-star yoke patterns in delicate coordinating colors, and no seams (the sleeves were grafted to the bodies at the underarms; if the yokes were also grafted they were expertly done and I could not detect the joins). The tags said they had been handmade of pure Shetland wool in Scotland, and they cost $50 apiece. I was still in school then and didn’t have much money to spend, but I had been knitting since the age of 7 or 8, so I knew what I was looking at. I plunked down the fantastic-to-me sum, and the dizzy spell that ensued did eventually pass! My aunt, who was an accomplished knitter herself, said it was the nicest cardigan she’d ever had. Both sweaters were worn until they basically disintegrated, so they must have been very comfortable. Subsequently, I tried to find similar sweaters, but never came across ones of that quality again. I did buy a colorwork yoke sweater for myself in the early 1980’s, which was made in pieces that were sewn together by machine—even the ribbed collar band was stitched on by machine (horrors!). I do not like a high neckline that presses on my throat, as many yoke sweaters seem to do. This sweater looked nice from the outside, and it had a Henley style neckline that could be worn open, which helped with the too-high front neck thing, but the wool was coarse and with all those scratchy, bulky seams it was uncomfortable to wear.

    During the 1980’s, I (along with everyone else in the world, it seems!) knit lots of Lopi sweaters with patterned yokes, both pullovers and cardigans. Many of them fit me (or their intended owners) quite well, but others of them had some type of fit problem at the neck and shoulders. The yoke patterns may have been too deep (or the rate of decrease to the neckline may have been too regular, or the number of stitches around the body-plus-sleeves may have been too low, or something) so the sweaters bunched up around the neck, and the front necklines were definitely too high and uncomfortable. There was one particularly pretty Lopi sweater that did not suit me at all, but turned out to be perfect for my grad-school roommate. I remember thinking as I was knitting that yoke section, this is shaped very differently to the yokes of the last couple of Lopi sweaters I made. But I pressed on, as the pattern was so much fun to knit and I did not want to abbreviate it. (My knitting motto has always been: This is bound to fit someone! And so far, I’ve not had a problem finding homes for handknit sweaters…)

    Since that time I have made a lot of vests, sweaters and accessories, not to mention babies and children’s items, with partial or allover stranded colorwork, and have been well pleased with most of them. Many of the accessories and children’s sweaters were not made from patterns — I just made the patterns up as I was knitting along, and they turned out fine. However, I recently tried to make for myself a yoke pullover in Shetland wool—and failed! I concocted the pattern using the Elizabeth Zimmerman percentage system, adding a little waist shaping and short rows to raise the back neck, putting in (on a larger-size needle to maintain gauge in the stranded section to match the plain knitted sections) a tree-and-star multi-color yoke pattern cribbed from various Shetland pattern libraries. It looks absolutely lovely on my sister-in-law with her narrow, sloping shoulders and long, graceful neck—but terrible on me with my square shoulders and rather short neck. I concluded that, pretty though they are, the regular decreases of the trees made the overall yoke shape reminiscent of an upside-down funnel, which is not the ideal shape for me. (But perhaps poster CarolJChristie would have good luck with this type of yoke?)

    So, I’m happily anticipating your new book, and hoping you’ve undertaken the problem of adjusting the degree and spacing of the yoke decreases to accommodate wearers of different shapes. Just from seeing the neckline of the Puffin sweater, I’m confident that you are already on to this and other fit conundrums of yoke sweaters—and will save me from having to puzzle the solutions out for myself! Thank you for writing your wonderful blog, and please give our regards (including those of our dog Tandy) to the handsome and energetic Bruce, whose blog posts are particularly entertaining.

  89. Perhaps a yoked baby cardigan? Could be an easy way to get started and good practice for a beginner before spending time and money on an adult size, especially if the adult is one of the larger sizes. Kate, I have to say I love all your designs and enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for sharing with those of us who dream of spending time in Shetland!

  90. Oh dear, I’m a yoke refusenik. I think this is probably something to do with being dressed throughout my entire childhood (oh, OK, I know it can’t have been, but boy did it feel like it) in small yoked fair isles and wee fair isle berets, often with pale yellow as the main colour for some reason, possibly the possession of red hair. This – together with what I consider to be completely normal, ho ho – bust development have ruled them out for me / scarred me for life. If you can come up with any sort of yoked sweater that doesn’t make women with boobs look like pouter pigeons, you’ll be doing knitters a great service.

    But please, no pale yellow (hides behind sofa)….

  91. I’m a Canadian of Scottish decent. My grandparent emigrated from Dundee in the early 1900’s and one of my gr-gr-grandmothers came from the Island of Skye. I grew up with knitting around me, a lot of it various fair isle garments. As I recall a cardigan with a fair isle yoke was standard garb in the 1950’s. In the 1980’s I actually wore out two real Shetland pullovers – the sort sold to tourists. They were great for cross-country skiing in northern British Columbia winters. And I still own a 25 year old wool cardigan with a fair isle yoke purchased from Eddie Bauer (an American company) that says it was made in China!
    As I prefer lace and cable knitting I haven’t done a lot of fair isle knitting, but there has been at least one vest covered with snowflakes and two Swedish cardigans with yokes – made in the round and steeked. They were great fun but I now live in a warmer part of BC and such heavy sweaters are not needed.
    I am surprised that many don’t feel yokes work for large breasted women as they come in so many variations that there should be a yoke style that works for any body shape.
    I look forward to your book!

  92. I have always though yokes a bit old fashioned, at least where I grew up no hip and happening person wore them. But now I do like them so much that I will be making one of your designs….perhaps I am less hip and happening as I age ;-).

  93. In 1968, as a 20 year old new bride, the woman who owned the yarn shop where I worked (in East Haddam Connecticut) decided she wanted to sell the business and my husband and I took it over. A customer wanted to knit yoked pullovers for everyone in her family, but she was afraid of the color work. So she knit the stockinette bodies and brought each sweater to me to knit the yoke. I thought that was great. She did all the boring work and I got to do all the fun parts. Sorry, but I don’t remember the pattern or the yarn.

  94. I both design and knit fairaisle sweaters many of them have yokes, one good source of inspiration for patterns is a kaleidoscope of course for muted colours you should use different colour ways top up or down they are a warm comfy garment

  95. Old Norwegian cardigan (kofte) patterns and cardigans (always steeked) have become incredibly popular in Norway. There is a (closed, ask to join) group – koftegruppa – on facebook with over 20,000 members, where people share old patterns that have no copyright, or ask to find the name and pattern for old cardigans they remember. Many kofter are designed with steeked armholes, but there are quite a few with round yokes as well. The stitch patterns and colour variatìons are just amazing, it’s a joy just to browse the pictures.
    Personally I prefer yokes with patterns that stay above theapex of the bust, and that end before the drop of the shoulders, and I’m not particularly busty.

  96. Yoked sweaters have a special place in my heart because one was knitted for me back in 1961 by Lila Collins who became my mother in law 4 years later. I was in high school and was dating her son. She knitted me a red sweater and her daughter a medium blue one. At this point I can’t remember what kind of yarn she used but I suspect it was 100% wool. I learned a huge life lesson from Lila as I watched her rip out one of the sweaters FOUR times to get everything just right. At the time it astounded me but I’ve learned the lesson well and will never forget her as I pull out knitted or other mistakes I make.

  97. Dear Kate,
    I am so excited about the upcoming yoke series from you. I love yokes and I love your pieces.
    I would say that I have a fairly large bust – 36F and to make yokes work I always add lots and lots of short rows – so the patterns sit on top of my shoulders to frame my face. Even yokes patterns designed with short rows included, I often double the number of short rows to make them sit nicely and not fall off my shoulders.

    I think it would be wonderful if you could include some information in your series to assist less confident knitters to understand what the inclusion of short rows will add to the pattern and give them the tools so they can add the right number for their figure.

  98. Love reading all these great responses. Ever since you went to Iceland I have been very curious about what you would design. I am eager to see your work, Kate.

    I love a yoke sweater. I am not small an American 16 or XL. I think I look fine in a yoke sweater. It may be that I have worn them all my life and love color. I have knitted a few which have turned out great. I especially love Lopi sweaters. I am huge fan of Fair Isle yoke work as well. I lean towards more traditional knit wear.

    As a knitter I like the variety of colors one can use to jazz up a sweater which might have a quiet body color. I like the wide variety of designs that seem endless. I love the cozy feel a yoke sweater gives me.

    For me, when I learned to knit, I felt I arrived as a knitter when I could knit color work. I love the history of knitting and how so many depended on it for their families. I also enjoy that knitting was a social venue for women and today it still is a social event—with technology!

    My only question is this: is ther a better way to joining the sleeves to the body? That area seems to me could be prettier and sturdier.

    Looking forward to your work!

    1. I agree about joining sleeves to body. It leaves little holes and I’m not happy just using the ends of the yarn and randomly “filling in” the holes. Could one put a little gusset in to make the sweater sturdier there, so you could really reach for things and move your arms about and not worry about the sweater? I can’t visualize how to do that.

      I remember the blog entry when you made yourself a sweater from gift yarn and something about the colors and pattern placement gave you “waist boobz.” Hmmm.

  99. Dear Kate,

    I’m surprised to read all the comments regarding difficulties with the fit of yoked sweaters and their suitability for larger busts. I’ve always thought they were a very forgiving design, fit-wise, and that the same sweater would fit people with a variety of shapes. For example, the yoke has no armhole seam to match up with a person’s own shoulder and will not look “wrong” on a narrow shoulder or a broad one. I think this would make the yoked sweater an ideal design for knitting sweaters to sell. The method of construction, too, has an elegant simplicity to it. And yet, the yoke offers almost endless opportunities for the designer, given that the decreases can be shifted around somewhat to accommodate the patterns chosen, never mind the choice of colours.

    I agree that while a yoked sweater may fit, strictly speaking, that does not mean it will automatically be flattering. For myself, however, I consider my yoked sweaters the most flattering of my collection and I’m not flat as a pancake (I wear a DD cup). They all still fit and look good, even though my size and shape has changed quite a bit in the last 30 or so years. I own four yoked sweaters, all with stranded colourwork yokes:

    1. Knit by my mother for my brother, sometime in the 70s. It’s an Icelandic pattern, but the lopi that was called for wasn’t available and so it is made with a more tightly spun and plied wool.

    2. Also knit by my mother, for me this time, in the early 80s. The body has a lice pattern and the yoke has three bands of traditional fair isle motifs.

    3. Purchased as a gift for me in the late 80s. It’s a cardigan that was hand knit in Norway. The label says Norsk Husflid, which I think means Norwegian Handicrafts. This sweater has a traditional Norwegian star as part of the yoke pattern. The steek is beautifully finished. I see that you are asking about Shetland, Scotland, Iceland and Sweden as regions for the yoked tradition. Yoked sweaters do come from Norway, as evidenced by the one I own. Do they not have the same kind of tradition as the others?

    4. Purchased from Eddie Bauer, also in the late 80s, and made in Hong Kong. The yoke on this one is a scene of horses, trees, mountains and a blue sky with white clouds.

    My mother taught me to knit when I was four, but I’ve only recently taken it up again and have been dreaming of a yoked sweater. I’m looking forward to being inspired and informed by your book. I live in Calgary, Canada.

  100. All these comments are so interesting. I received a Swedish style yoked cardigan (I did not even know it was Swedish till reading this tonight) from my Grandma when I was in high school. It was very blocky in shape and oversized, so I quit wearing it after a few years. (My Grandma was of Swedish descent, the sweater was purchased, not handmade.). Later when I was moving to MN I knew I needed a warm sweater and purchased a red yoked sweater from Eddie Bauer (colorwork in charcoal and neutral colors) that was very classic in my opinion. It was wool and I ended up wearing the day my husband proposed. I just learned to knit a few years ago, and after a few projects decided to try knitting the OWLS sweater. Being a new knitter I pulled out and redid about 9 times till it really looked good, and got to the bust area and found out the sweater was not going to fit unless I learned to do short rows. That was almost two years ago and I took a craftsy class to learn short rows, but now am intimidated to go back to the sweater because it has been so long. I still have my “MN sweater” and wear it once in a while, but it definitely does not look as good on my post-children shape. I am really interested to check out some of these other patterns mentioned in these comments.

  101. I forgot to add in my email…V neck! Can you have yoked sweater pattern and a V-neck at the same time without looking odd?

    I am average size with narrowish shoulders (love Raglan sleeves, hate boatneck) but still stay away from the big bulky sweaters or patterns that make me feel big.

  102. I am quite late to the party but desperately want to add my two cents worth. I have been working yoked sweaters of my own design in the past few years and have yet to feel any sort of mastery of the garment. Here are links to my project pages.
    Baby fair isle http://www.ravelry.com/projects/danielsj/fair-isle-baby-cardigan.
    Ottoman crescent http://www.ravelry.com/projects/danielsj/ottoman-crescent
    I’ve also knitted those of others.
    cabled yoke pullover http://www.ravelry.com/projects/danielsj/ottoman-crescent
    Baby Sweater http://www.ravelry.com/projects/danielsj/baby-sweater-on-two-needles-february-2

    I have had some difficulties with fit and yoke depth and shoulder “slope” so I really look forward to your book and insights that I might gain. I also still want to make “Owls” having bought the pattern years ago.

    Thanks, Kate, for your wonderful writing, histories, designs, and photographs. I read your blog and your patterns with great interest. Enjoy your visit with Kerstin Olsson.

  103. I am ashamed to say I was not in the line of the tradition of family knitters of which Kate I am proud to say continues

    One in which the matriarchal figure my grandma knitted to supplement her income ,my mum knitted to ensure my sister and I as well as her grandchildren including Kate were well kitted out .My sister also continued the tradition .In those days of two needles I could never perfect my “purl “ -Imagine the shame !

    So after the “women’s weekly ” had been passed around the womenfolk including aunts ,as the youngest and last in the queue I would have already heard the pros and cons of the latest designs .I always wanted what they termed a “fair isle “But the knitters were wary preferring embroidering onto the cable pattern So we came to a great compromise . The first person I managed to wear down would knit the body and then I took over on the yolk

    My cup runneth over when the Nepal hats were featured for then I could be totally self reliant in my endeavours

  104. I recently found out from my aunt that my grandmother at one point took up work knitting lopi jumpers at home for a company in either Scarborough or Derby. I found this amusing as she was a prolific knitter of the traditional English style of knitting and it just seemed odd to me that she was hand knitting lopi sweaters to be sold elsewhere. This would have been in the late 70s or early 80s. I could try to find out more if you are interested.

  105. hi just to add information which doesn’t seem to be in the comments (surprising), yoked jumpers have gone though many different changes here; from (I’m pretty sure they were in during the ’30 but as wasn’t around I ‘m not certain, stranded knitting definitely was) the smart fitted jumpers/cardigans of the ’50’s into the more rustic of the ’60’s as shown in the twiggy pic; then the back to the land movement happened and handspun natural colour undyed wool or natural dyes (here using native plants) were the thing; everyone was spinning and yoked jumpers were the most popular thing to do with your wool. These jumpers were wonderful but often had a life of their own they would either grow and grow becoming enormous, shrink but not evenly or felt up at the first wash (many people did not wash them in fear of this and as many of these were spun in the grease they announced their arrival long before you could see them) ( I actually know people who are still wearing theirs 35- 40 years later- hopefully washed) if they felted and still fit you would end up with a garment a bit like boiled wool which for all intense purposes was virtually rain proof – very handy for gardening in. Then in the ’80’s commercial dyes were in favor again and with Jenny Kee and other Australian designers kangaroos and koalas with native flowers were on our yokes in bright primary colours. I love yoked garments and high necklines and think that while many of the hesitations for large women are true, a lot has to do with colourway and design, even reversing the colours makes a huge difference and the shapes of the yoke design as well, hopefully your book will give some options. Looking at photo’s until you find something that looks great -on someone your shape is always a good start then you just play with the colours to match your colouring. Kate I know that everyone will echo this but I think we all feel so happy for the changes this last year has brought you, new home, great location, beautiful renovation and space in your life to blossom. It reminds me of an oak tree I once saw, a storm had hit the oak and it had been knocked partially over, it then kept growing and curved back up to the sky, except for the lowest branch which kept growing straight out until it reached the light and then curved up towards the sky. This branch made the best seat, under all the foliage it was a beautiful bower, wide enough to sit and read a book or lie on your back and rest in the dappled light, it was wonderful and only possible because the tree had been knocked down. I have been following you blog since before your stroke as have ancestors from both Scotland and the Shetland isles and came to look at the photo’s (from one of you trips I was so happy -a knitting hiker who was going to the places I wanted to see and taking great photos) and was so shocked when you had your stroke, but you have got up and grown so amazingly in the time since and we are all cheering you on, great thanks to Tom for his support and to Bruce (we all love Bruce) thanks for sharing your journey Hope this info helps (still can’t believe no-one mentioned the thousands of raw wool handspun yoked jumpers maybe this was an Australian phenomenon?) Maybe because we have the most sheep in all the world (NZ has more sheep than people but we have more sheep- theirs are mostly carpet sheep and they grow the best carpet wool in the world) love wool!!! We are producing the softest merino you could image I itch with wool but can wear this against the skin and it’s soft enough for babies and it glows, it actually shines like it is silk, amazing.

  106. There is a very prominent Icelandic community in Manitoba, Canada. Because of my husband’s Nordic heritage, we took a trip to Iceland about ten years ago. My best purchase there was my Icelandic sweater; it was the only thing that kept me warm in July! I have since knit a few Lopi patterns, my most favourite is the Kedja that is pictured in your post. I also taught myself to carry one colour in each hand, so my wool did not tangle.

  107. I´m a collector of Swedish knitting magazines from 1946 until the beginning of 1970 and I have a several of numbers of “Stickat” ( knit ) , “Feminas stickbok”, ( knittingbook ) and Marks ( witch is a swedish yarn
    brand ). Those ( theese?) ( sorry for my bad english! ) magazines have a lot of different models with round yokes knitted in colour patterns or in lace patterns. If you are interrested I can send you some copies with examples of swedish knitting fashion from old days . Most of theese patterns are probably not knitted in round, most of them are knitted in flat, down and up and must be sewn after knitting. I´m sure it is possible to arrange the patterns to knit from up to down and in the round.
    My mother knitted a lot for me and my brother in 1960´s but I have no memorys of round yokes . I have to look at my old fotos from thees days. Me myself love to knit cardis and sweathers in the round and like the nice shape of the round yokes. If you check my blog you can find some of the magazines presented in: “sticktidningar”.
    And I really hope you like your visit in Sweden! Sorry, I live too far north from Gothenburg.

  108. Kate….I too would love some information on modifying for “fuller chests”…ahem. Seriously, I have acquired the yarn for my second puffin…should I put it on hold waiting for the book to come out????

    Have a fabulous time in Bohus country…we look forward to your reports.

    And thanks to all who have commented on this post…great discussion.

  109. How nice to ask that question ! I have knitted several yoke sweater (icelandic) and, like someone else wrote, I had problems with the collar, too high on the neck. It wasn’t so agreable to wear ! And it was too tight (I have a quite small bust but large shoulders…). How could I check that I’m knitting the correct size ? or which modifications I should make so that it fits ? That would be great to find an answer about it, I’m quite puzzled trying to find by myself !
    (sorry for the english, not my mother tongue…)

  110. USA here. As a college student in the late ’70’s I wore the ubiquitous Dean’s sweaters (google for images). In my second year of college I knit a Lopi sweater. It was a pullover and I’ve kept the pattern book as I’ve always intended to knit the cardigan version.
    I love the look of yoke sweaters, but my fit issue is that you have to get the yoke length right. I have a very small frame, with small shoulders and very short armcyce. I am busty and I think a big part of busty people having issues with yoke sweaters is that they aren’t fitting right to the underarm. The last one I knit I shortened the yoke a bit too much and every time I wear it I contemplate re-knitting it for the third time.

  111. I’ve only knit one yoke sweater back in the late ’70’s or so. It was a Paton’s pattern. A new knitter back then and using acrylic yarn. I didn’t know to go up a size in needles for the yoke, if the stitches seem a bit tight and they were, but I knit away anyway. I was pleased with the results at the time. The sweater is long gone to charity.

    Will I knit another one? I’d love to, especially the Bohus and with proper wool this time. It looks lovely. My only concern is, I have very narrow shoulders and wonder if the style would be suitable. Now, if I could just find one in the stores and try it on!

  112. I had quite a good pocket money source knitting Lopi sweaters for friends at school 1979-81. I also made quite a few for my parents (who did NOT have teenage girl figures) at the same time. All fitted well, but I think that some of this is due to the relatively soft handle of Lopi when knit to gauge. Certainly I noticed that my parents’ sweaters tended to mould to their shape with wear. Also the blocky outline with a lot of ease was equally unflattering to all :)

  113. Thanks for the opportunity to talk about yokes!

    I have to say that the yoke is my favourite design style. I’ve made eight or so yokes and have a list of other yoke patterns queued. I’ve also bought a few in my travels to Iceland. Yokes let me play with colour, design and texture without having to commit to completing an entire sweater in colourwork, say. At the same time, the plain stitch outside the yoke, frames the design, making it all the more striking. I’ve had real fun playing with the design of yokes, including creating a mixed-media sweater with more ideas in mind for others. I’ve painted with colour from the Scottish landscape in yokes as well and truly enjoyed this. My love of Icelandic design also makes yokes a favourite.

    I do agree with some of the comments that a yoked sweater might not be the most flattering for those of us who are not as thin as we would like. I rarely wear the yokes I’ve made or bought that were knitted from the bulkiest Lopi wool for this reason. I tend to make yokes now using 4-ply or lighter weights with added waist shaping and an overall A-line shape and find that these are actually quite flattering.

  114. A yoked cardigan is my favourite design as it seems to fit my upper body more comfortably than set in sleeves. Raglans don’t suit me at all as they make my shoulders look like a footballers and are often too restrictive in the armhole. I am stockily built and bottom heavy, so I find the yoke visually balances my lower half. I have found that I need to short row the back neck to avoid the front neck riding up too high and becoming uncomfortable. I usually also find that I need to increase the number of stitches cast on at the armhole to fit me comfortably (I am a medium bust). I do find yoked cardigans hang best when done up, they don’t seem to hang well when unbuttoned. I have some of the amazing Iris Bishop patterns for imaginative machine knitted yokes featuring all kinds of fantasy and floral designs, some of them coloured in afterwards with fabric crayons, which I hope to try one day.

  115. I’m relatively new to knitting but I love the look of a yoke. As others have mentioned previously, large busted gals (such as myself) can look bigger in a yoke style. However I think it’s all about proportion and using color to draw the eye where you want it to. I love the possibilities of a yoke- cabled, fair isle, even skulls!

  116. Sorry, this comment has come rather late to the table – but my favourite ever childhood jumper was one my Mum knitted one Christmas [1966 I think] it was white, but the yoke was a “FairIsle” type pattern, knitted in ‘Lister Lochinvar’ wool which was random dyed in shades of green. I was SO proud of it. Years later, she told me she got bad migraines, knitting the complex pattern late at night when I had gone to bed! I think the pattern might have originated from one of her magazines [Peoples Friend or My Weekly] I should love to find that pattern again!!

  117. In the 1980’s I made a beautiful yoked sweater using a fine wool and muted colours. It was a favourite sweater, it fitted well and was not too hot. I have also made yoked sweaters with heavy “icelandic” wool for my husband and children but they were always too hot and “itchy” So much work and so little wear!!!!! I will search your book for a a pattern for me.



  118. I have your owl yoked sweater pattern and need it to be for a 54″ bust and am.not sire how to enlarge the whole pattern to accomendate a 54″bust and 60″hip. Could you help me ? I was supposed to have the sweater done for Christmas ? I have the bulky yarn for knit picks just need the right sized pattern. I love the owls!

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About Kate Davies

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