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When the Stars Come Out

Winter is slowly giving way to spring but the nights are still cold. Here's a garment that'll keep you warm when going stargazing.

When the Stars Come Out :: sweater dress knitting pattern

When the Stars Come Out is a cozy, circular-yoke sweater dress worked seamlessly from the top down in two colors of DK-weight yarn.

It's quite common for colorwork yoke designs to have the interesting bit up top and the rest of the garment in one color. With this design I wanted to turn things around and keep the yoke rather simple. When the Stars Come Out features just a single row of stars on the neckline but the rest of the yoke is knit in one color, working few sets of increases at progressively increasing intervals.

When the Stars Come Out :: sweater dress knitting pattern

Truth be told, this also made it fairly easy to grade the garment. Normally with colorwork yoke designs you have to find the right balance of yoke depth, circumference, shape, and rate of increases — all within the confines of a single colorwork chart. Separating the colorwork from the increase rounds meant that I didn't have to think about simultaneously achieving the correct size and shape for all 10 sizes of the garment. They could all be tailored individually to achieve the best fit.

Looking back on the neckline design now, I think it could've been more balanced with a few additional rounds worked between the contrast-colored ribbing and the colorwork. It looks as if the colorwork starts right after the neckline but there are actually two rounds of main color separating them — the same as on the hem and cuffs. If I could re-knit the dress now, I'd increase that to perhaps five rounds. Hindsight 20/20.

When the Stars Come Out :: sweater dress knitting pattern

When the Stars Come Out has some of my usual shaping techniques for a great fit. Raglan increases and short-row shaping to lengthen the back yoke are worked simultaneously before dividing the body and sleeves. This lowers the front neck to give the garment a well-fitting, rounded neckline.

The body is worked in stockinette with waist shaping decreases and increases placed at two sides of the center front and center back. On a sewed garment these would create fish-eye darts which gives an hourglass-shaped figure for the dress.

There are more increases worked below the waist than there are decreases above it. This, in turn, creates an A-lined hem, allowing you to both sit and move about in the dress. But pay attention to your colorwork tension in the hem! You don't want the wide colorwork band to cinch in and restrict your movement. Working colorwork inside out can help with this.

When the Stars Come Out :: sweater dress knitting pattern

The big, four-sector stars are like the cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west) on the compass. The colorwork design builds on this idea: the big stars make another appearance on the sleeve cuffs, this time dappled within a field of smaller stars and distant points of light.

The hem colorwork expands on it even more. The big focal point of the dress and — I must admit — my favorite part of the design is the wide colorwork panel on the hem with even more stars surrounding the central ones in a zigzagging pattern. Just like the neckline, the hem and sleeve cuffs are all finished with a bit of 2-by-2 ribbing in the contrasting color.

When the Stars Come Out :: sweater dress knitting pattern

When the Stars Come Out comes with two variations for sleeve length: full length or tee. I'm eternally cold so I opted to make my dress with the full-length sleeves pictured here. Long sleeves are made with decreases tapering towards the cuff, then finished with a section of colorwork and ribbing. The short sleeves are worked both without decreases and colorwork but end similarly in contrast-colored ribbing.

And if you wanted to knit it in sweater length instead of a sweater dress, you could make the hem shorter and leave out some of the increases to size to your hip circumference but making sure the hem stitch count is evenly divisible by the colorwork motif width.

When the Stars Come Out is graded for 10 sizes (XS to 6X) with a finished bust of approx. 82–183 cm or 32¼–72¼." The pattern is intended to be worn with approx. 4–5 cm or 1¾–2" of positive ease.

My sample dress was knit with Jalovilla Uuhi, a DK-weight, 100-percent Finnsheep wool yarn using the turquoise colorway Sinilevä for main and ashen-gray Tuhka for contrasting color.

Jalovilla Uuhi in the colorways Tuhka (front left) and Sinilevä (back right).
Jalovilla Uuhi in the colorways Tuhka (front left) and Sinilevä (back right).

To knit the pattern you'll need DK-weight yarn in the following amounts:

  • for the main color: approx. 1000–2340 m or 1100–2560 yd

  • for the contrasting color: 190–370 m or 210–400 yd

  • or for the short-sleeved version: about one skein (200 m or 220 yd) less of the main color.

Detailed yardage requirements are on the pattern page.

When the Stars Come Out :: sweater dress knitting pattern

When the Stars Come Out is now available for purchase in all my pattern shops on Payhip, LoveCrafts, and Ravelry (seizure warning). Share your own creation and check out some of the test knitter projects on Instagram using the hashtags #whenthestarscomeouttunic and #talviknits.


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Stay cozy and stylish with When the Stars Come Out sweater dress! This circular-yoke design, worked seamlessly from the top down, features a colorwork star motif on the neckline, hem, and sleeve cuffs. Choose between full-length or tee-length sleeves, and enjoy the fitted, feminine silhouette with waist shaping and a tunic-length hem. Available in 10 sizes (XS to 6X). #knittingpattern #sweaterdress #colorwork #circularyoke

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2 commentaires

Question - did you use the traditional way of sizing garments for this design or Kim McBrien-Evans' representative sizing? I was intrigued by your earlier posts about KME's sizing charts and am just wondering if you are applying it to all your designs now. Thank you!

26 mars 2023
En réponse à

My grading is now based on Kim McBrien-Evans' representative size chart. Any time you see a reference to upper bust circumference as opposed to full bust, that's what I'm using.

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Susanna Winter is a knitwear designer, creating timeless and elegant pieces with clean lines. She has been knitting for over 20 years, knit blogging since 2007, and designing knitting patterns professionally since 2016.

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