Yoking Around, or Quiggling the Spiral

Note from Steph: Unbelievably, as the deadline approacheth…I have been able to pull my head up enough to remember that there are other things in the world besides me and my deadline, and recall that today is a most auspicious day. It is the birthday of my esteemed guest blogger and excellent friend, That Laurie. Please take a moment to wish her well in the comments…will you? She’s a fine knitter and a good person and I haven’t seen her in months and months. I miss her. (…and Laurie? Don’t blame your lovely husband. He can confirm that I was way ahead of him when he called, though he did call, his love for you being big, wide and unstoppable. Give him a kiss. He’s a dear.)

Happy Birthday That Laurie!

(And thanks again for the guest blogging.)

I am not the only one who has been tempted to knit a variation on the Spiral Yoke Sweater. Given how intriguing I have (obviously) found this design, you will not be surprised to hear that I was instantly drawn to a sweater called “Ribbing is no Yoke,” designed by Charlotte Quiggle. In fact, I have wanted to knit this pullover since it was published in 2000 (Knitters Magazine, issue # 60). Quiggle uses a shirttail hem (which you can tell that I favor in the other variations of the SYS), and her design uses ribbing in the yoke rather than traveling stitches. All very appealing.

Given all these attractions, you might ask why I waited six long years after seeing the pattern before giving it a whirl, as it were. I even had a suitable commercial yarn in my stash for the project! The answer is that I was waiting for inspiration; I wanted the perfect handspun for the sweater. My interest in the Quiggle design was renewed by a new strategy for spinning a slowly variegated yarn. I wanted to try a three-ply where one ply at a time shifted from one color to the next, along the lines of Trekking sock yarn.

The first choice I had to make was the fleece, which I purchased from Lindy Gallop at the Maine Fiber Frolic. It was a fine-crimp Romney-corrie cross fleece with a VERY nice hand; as a result, the roving was pure pleasure to spin and spun up fine enough for three-ply. Also, though it was only a six and a half pound fleece, I managed to get enough yarn from it for both this sweater and the next one in this little series. My next choices were colors: Jacquard purple, Country Classics Raspberry, Jaquard Aztec Gold (a coppery orange) and Golden Ochre.

However, to get the array I wanted, I couldn’t rely on spacedyeing the roving. Instead I did a batch of each color in my crockpot. Basically I set up the roving (about 4 ounces each) as if I were going to paint it and then submerged my pantyhose packages in the crockpot, dosed with a single color. Here is the result:


My plan for the three-ply yarn meant that I had design singles with color changes at offset intervals. My singles are reasonably even—and three-ply does even things out– so I managed this feat by weigh everything very carefully and staggering the weights, as you see in picture above. The resulting yarn looked like this:


With my yarn for the yoke in hand, I then went on and dyed the yarn for the body with a combination of purple and raspberry, matching the yoke. You can get a better sense of how this yarn experiment worked in this picture taken as I finished knitting down the yoke. I simply started from the top edge stitch number and then transformed the decreases in the Quiggle pattern into increases, always noting the number of total stitches after each series of increases. And this is what I got:


Here you can really see that the color changes did work, although there was more orange than I had envisioned. At this point in the knitting, in fact, I was overwhelmed by that orange and more than a little depressed. However, as a friend kept reminding me, the bulk of the sweater in purple would offset that appearance of excessive orange. Even as I got down to the waist and made the decreases there, I could tell she had been right:


And here is the final product, suitably photographed in Maine’s autumnal light:


While I think one of the commercial yarns with long color repeats could also work with this version of the SYS, I am glad I tried the plying experiment. Reliable sources suggest that FOUR-ply would work even better!

Next time: In which we mess around with about Nora Gaughan’s Swirled Pentagon sweater using color variations within her pentagons.