Colorwork yoke sweaters are not going anywhere, that’s for sure! My latest sweater design, Emerald Chain, is a nod to the traditional Icelandic lopapeysa-style colorwork pullovers but with a modern look and modern techniques.
The traditional lopapeysa is a unisex outdoor work sweater with quite a lot of positive ease to allow for movement. To extend the lifetime of lopapeysa sweaters, they’re purposefully made symmetric so that you can wear them front to back or back to front. But for a modern, indoorsy lifestyle this may not be needed nor even practical. Unlike the traditional lopapeysa sweaters, Emerald Chain is designed for indoor wear: it's knit in fingering-weight yarn with an intended ease of approx. 2.5–5 cm (1–2").
A couple of shaping techniques are used in the pattern to make the sweater more fitted compared to traditional Icelandic sweaters. Short rows at the bottom of the yoke make a front-neck drop needed for a comfortable, rounded neckline. Waist shaping placed at the sides creates a slim-fitting silhouette. And if your sweaters have a tendency to bag at the small of the back, you might want to do some extra shaping at the lower back. The pattern includes the option of doing sway-back shaping.
The colorwork motif on the yoke contains some three-color rounds. Managing floats in stranded colorwork can be a struggle in the best of times but three (or more!) colors per round and it gets nigh on impossible. To make knitting the three-color rounds as smooth as possible, I suggest using a technique called two-pass knitting. It sounds quite technical but basically it just involves slipping some stitches – a tutorial is coming in my next blog post!
The wavy motif on the yoke is based on Quest, a colorwork chart designed by Naomi Parkhurst for her String Geekery blog. (If you’re unfamiliar with what Naomi does, she converts words into knitting charts using a special algorithm.) I extended the chart and re-colored it to use three instead of two colors. And if you’re wondering about the name… Emerald Chain is the name of the Orion-Andorian syndicate on the third season of Star Trek: Discovery. I had to throw in a little scifi reference, didn’t I?
Emerald Chain also features corrugated ribbing and rolled edges on the neckline, hem, and cuffs. Corrugated ribbing is just a fancy name for two-color ribbing: the knits are done in one color and the purls in another. Because of the floats on the wrong side of the work, corrugated ribbing is not as stretchy compared to regular ribbing. The corrugated-rib edges are more decorative than functional but you could replace them with 1x1 or 2x2 ribbing if you wanted to. The instructions for corrugated ribbing are given in both charted and written format but the stranded colorwork is charted only.
For my emerald green sample sweater I used yarn from a new-to-me indie dyer: Kaarama Rauni Single (210 m/50 g, 230 yd/1.76 oz). While the dyer was new, the base yarn I was more than familiar with: it’s the same 100% non-superwash Finnsheep singles yarn I’ve used in many a design, including the Bronze Age and Polar Lights shawls, Matcha Latte cardigan, and it’s pullover counterpart, Golden Assam. Other similar yarns are suggested in the pattern.
In my sample the contrasting colors were pretty similar in tone which – combined with the subtle halo of the singles yarn – gives the sweater a blurred, glass-painting like look. With a crisper yarn and starker color contrasts you get more distinct differences between the colors.
The pattern for Emerald Chain comes in 9 sizes from XS (to fit a 75 cm or 30" bust) to 5X (155 cm or 62"). To knit the sweater you need three colors of fingering-weight yarn, approx. 1000–2000 m (or 1050–2150 yd) of the main color and less than 300 m (330 yd) of the two contrasting colors. Size-by-size yardage requirements are listed on the pattern page.
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