Fall is here and so is my new sweater pattern: Tulip Route!
In this post I'll first detail the design features in this colorwork design. This is the first of my patterns to be graded using a new sizing schema. Towards the end of the post I'll write a bit more in detail about representative sizing, what it means, and my (and my test knitters') experiences with it.
Tulip Route is a relaxed colorwork yoke sweater worked seamlessly from the top down in two or three colors of DK-weight yarn. The sweater starts with a ribbed neckline followed by colorwork pattern on the round yoke. The pattern is named after the Dutch version of the Japanese hanami: an annual scenic sight-seeing drive that takes you on a tour amid the tulip fields in bloom. There are several of these Tulpenroute or "tulip routes" in the Netherlands' world-famous bulb region.
Tulip Route features a vivid three-color colorwork motif on the yoke, hem, and cuffs. Although the pattern is knit with three colors, at most two colors are used per round! In addition, for the most part there are no long floats except at the very bottom of the yoke between the tulip blossoms. All this makes the colorwork in this sweater fairly simple to knit. You could also use just two colors: a main color and a contrasting one. The design works either way!
The body and sleeves are mostly stockinette in the round in the main color with a little bit of colorwork in the end. Both are finished with colorful 2x2 ribbing. For my sample I swapped the contrasting colors for the hem and sleeve motifs but you can make them matchy-matchy if you wish to (many of my test knitters did).
As with all my round-yoke patterns, short-row shaping at the bottom of the yoke is used to create a well-fitting, rounded neckline. But with this design I experimented with even more fit-improving techniques.
When separating body and sleeves in top-down, one-piece garments, the full circumference of the sweater is often divided so that you have the same number of stitches for the front and back pieces. With Tulip Route, front and back pieces are unevenly split, allowing more stitches for the front than for the back. This makes more room for the front chest (read: boobies) and reduces bagginess at the back. In simpler terms, sleeves are moved a few stitches backwards.
An uneven front/back divide is one way of taking away extra fabric from the back piece. In addition to this, Tulip Route incorporates waist shaping on the body at so-called princess seams: decreases and increases are placed at two sides of the center front and center back. Placing shaping at the small of the back rather than at the sides helps in creating sway-back shaping.
Tulip Route comes in 10 sizes from XS to 6X with a finished full bust of 80–183 cm or 31½–72 inches. As with all my patterns, a schematic of finished measurements is available for you to peruse even before buying the pattern. Starting with this pattern, I've now included finished upper bust measurements on the schematic, as well. Why's that? Read more below on representative sizing.
To knit the sweater you need two or three colors of DK-weight yarn. For my brilliantly blooming sample sweater i used Garnstudio DROPS Soft Tweed (50% wool, 25% alpaca, 25% viscose, 130 m/50 g, 142 yd/1.76 oz) in the colorways Marzipan (light tan, main color), Cherry Sorbet (fuchsia, contrasting color 1), and Guacamole (green, contrasting color 2).
This was my first time trying this yarn and I found it quite pleasant to work with, although it takes a bit of getting used to. On the skein the yarn feels a bit rope-y and splitty but it puffs up beautifully when blocked! I already have my mind set up on working Kristin Drysdale's Linnea (from the cover of The Nordic Knitting Primer) using Soft Tweed...
You can also use just two colors for Tulip Route. One of my test knitters (@sonja_wik on Instagram) did the sweater in two neutral colors. Gray never looked so good! To knit the pattern you'll need 700–1600 m (or 800–1750 yd) of main color and up to 140–280 m (150–310 yd) of the contrasting colors. Detailed yardages for both the two- and three-color versions are included on the pattern page.
Representative Sizing: What Is It?
Tulip Route is the first of my patterns that's graded based on Kim McBrien Evans' representative size chart that contains completely updated and revamped measurements especially for larger sizes. Starting with this pattern, the sizing on my garment patterns will now go from XS up to 6X.
There are three major differences in this sizing chart compared to many other size charts, including the industry standard put forth by CYCA that's used, for instance, by major knitting publications.
The first and foremost is what Kim McBrien Evans suggests as the primary measurement for determining size: upper torso or upper bust circumference. This measurement is taken at the highest part of the upper torso above any breast tissue, with shoulders relaxed and arms at your side. In contrast, most other size charts use full bust circumference as the primary measurement. The benefit of determining size based on upper bust is sweaters that have a more flattering fit in the shoulders and upper torso.
Speaking of full bust, that's the second big difference is this size chart. The most-widely used sizing chart (the CYCA one) is graded for a B cup in all sizes, that is, a two-inch (or 5 cm) difference between the upper and full bust circumferences. In the representative size chart, on the other hand, cup size increases with body size. Full bust measurements are divided into three blocks: sizes XS to M are graded with a B cup (as before), sizes L to 4X with a D cup, and sizes 5X and 6X with an F cup. (Note that garment and bra cup sizing are not interchangeable. Bra cup sizes are defined as the difference between full bust and underbust measurements.)
The third key difference in Kim McBrien Evans' sizing is bicep measurements. In general, the bicep measurements in her size chart are larger than the CYCA upper arm circumferences. The differences are especially pronounced in the mid-range sizes (L to 2X). This measurement is the one I had mixed results with in the Tulip Route test knit. Test knitters in the middle of the size range remarked that the upper sleeves were too loose for their liking. On the other hand, some larger-sized testers found it refreshing for once to have a sweater that's not designed for stick-figure arms (that's a direct quote). A little tweaking of the size chart is still required to make both groups happy with the sleeve fit. I'm still not certain what the best approach is but for Tulip Route I ended up adjusting the upper sleeve measurements downwards ever so slightly.
With my previous garment pattern, Rockweed, I tried an extended test knitting deadline for the first time, allocating two weeks extra for test knitters of the larger sizes. I did the same again with Tulip Route but was unfortunately not able to find test knitters for sizes 3X and up. If you'd like to knit the pattern in any of these sizes, I would be happy to provide you the pattern free of charge in exchange for your feedback. Contact me for details!
The pattern for Tulip Route is now available in my pattern shops on Payhip, LoveCrafts, and Ravelry (seizure warning). I'd love to see your version — in two or three colors! Share photos of your sweater on Instagram with the hashtags #tuliproutesweater and #talviknits.
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