I’ve got a very autumnal yoke sweater to show you today. It is particularly brilliant to blend in with the rusty orange and dark red foliage of these autumn days, but the rich dark brown main colour makes it well suited to blend in with the rugged bark of a tree should you feel inclined to do so in any season. In addition to that, the sweater is the perfect way to subtly but clearly show your alliance to everyone’s favourite wealth redistributing fox and folklore hero. I am of course talking about the Foxtales yoke sweater!
My chosen colours combined with the fox motifs makes this such a perfect autumn themed jumper that even though I knit this in early summer you could practically smell the orange and yellow leaves on a moist forest floor when you looked at it throughout the process. This yoke just had to be photographed in autumn to do the jumper full justice (although it’s been so mild here that lots of trees are still green even though we’re closing in on November). The forest was a good sport though and if you squint but a little you can almost believe this is Sherwood forest and that just outside the frame a medieval brown bear and rooster are playing a tune about phoney royalty.
Every time I come here to show you a yoke jumper it feels as though it’s been ages since I made one. I think this is mostly because for a large chunk of my knit life yoke jumpers formed the bread and butter of my knitting life where I hopped from yoke to yoke throughout the year. Introducing colourwork allovers to my knitting was what changed all that, but with knitting more socks and other smaller things, not to mention adding more other crafts (spinning etc) I’ve diversified in general since those times. So every time that I don’t do yoke after yoke it feels as though it’s been longer than it probably has. All this is to say that I need to have more time in my days or possible a family of helpful and crafty animal friends to help me get more done. When I do carve out time to make a new yoke I’m instantly reminded of all the things that I love about them and this one is no different. Seems like autumn is the time for yokes here at the Treehouse, because the last two yokes I did, The Tundra and Wren yoke also appeared on the blog in October and November last year.
Foxtales is a bottom-up yoke jumper with a round stranded colourwork yoke and colourwork details at the hem and cuffs. The jumper is designed by Weichien Chan aka The Petite Knitter who is also the designer of the aforementioned Tundra yoke. The pattern features different length options and optional short rows at the bust for shaping. Most notable is the whimsical woodland inspired colourwork with a small row of foxes as the thematic star of the jumper.
I used all sorts of different yarns from my stash for this jumper. Meaning I had limited amounts of everything and had to make do with what I had. I was particularly worried about the main colour as it’s a discontinued yarn and according to the yarn quantities specifications I should have had just about enough to make the short version in my bust size.
The yarn for my main colour is Rowan Fine tweed which was discontinued in 2016 along with many other rowan lines. It’s a quintessential single spun tweed yarn in warm dark brown with beige, red, brown and orange flecks. I used a very similarly spun bright carrot orange tweed from Trollenwol (yes, this indeed translates as Troll Wool) and a warm red tweed from Lang Yarns for the colourwork. The only odd one out of that assembled collection of yarn is the off-white for the background of the yoke. I used Holst Garn Supersoft in the colour Nougat, which depending on the colours it’s partnered with either looks light grey or off white. The Holst is a thinner yarn than the others, and instead of a lofty tweed is a woollen spun heathered yarn, more in line with Shetland style yarns. I was mainly worried because of the weight difference of the yarns, but the Holst bloomed nicely and I don’t think it’s noticeable in the finished jumper.
I used the same amount of colours as the pattern, but I did swap colours within the pattern. Notably I was meant to make the contrasting hem and cuffs in white, but such a light colour doesn’t have my preference in contrasting cuffs and hems so I made it with the orange. I also swapped some colours around in the rest of the colourwork based on own preferences. Finally and this is something that more people will do depending on the colour group they’ve chosen, I swapped my red, which I was supposed to use for the fox ears, to my brown main colour to make it more fox like.
The yoke has quite a few 3 and 4 colour rows and there are also a few of those at the hem and cuff edges. I wouldn’t advise dropping the extra colours as you’ll loose a lot of the effect of the yoke. I thought I would mention it here as the colourwork doesn’t read particularly complicated so maybe because of that you would not expect it. As always I don’t think 3 or 4 colour rows make it undoable or hugely difficult, but they do slow you down. It you’re up for that though, I think it creates a beautiful yoke.
I modified the sleeve increases, but the more visible change is that I significantly shortened the neck ribbing. I don’t like too high, floppy and wide necklines so once I got to the end of the colourwork on the yoke I regularly fitted the jumper and made adjustments according to my fit preferences.
I didn’t do the optional bust short rows, even thought I think my sort of body type is exactly why they are included in the pattern. This is again a personal preference, as every time I did short rows for shaping I really wish that I hadn’t and ended up with a worse fitting sweater. There was a time that if I sort of tried to bring this up with other knitters the implication was that I must have done it wrong. However, as with a lot of things in knitting, I don’t think there is necessarily a right or wrong way in this, I think there are just different ways of doing something, different preferences, different bodies and preferred fits and so on all of which are (or should be) fine.
While knitting the jumper I was afraid to run out of yarn of the main colour as according to the yarn requirements I should either have just barely enough or just not enough for the short length in my size. It’s why I knit the sleeves first and was prepared to make the body cropped if it looked I would be running short on yarn. Because of the contrast ribbing and different background colour for the yoke this jumper is actually a really economical choice for allocating stash yarn where you have “quite a bit of, but maybe not enough for a full length sweater”. That said I was actually able to lengthen the body of the “short” size I was knitting significantly and still ended up with 1.5 balls of the main colour left. I had something similar happening with my Tundra sweater so maybe Weichien likes to hover on the safe side and give generous yarn quantities? Or perhaps it is trickery of yarn gnomes who like to sneak an extra ball in my knitting basket when I’m not looking to unleash confusion galore!
I’m pleased at having made this entirely out of stash yarn. I’m making more of a point to just use up what I have, including partial balls and the like. Between this jumper, my Tundra and my Wren yoke I find yoke jumpers and cardigan excellent ways of using up partial balls. The brown tweed was particularly old stash. I got it long ago to make a yoke I’ve since lost interest in, since then I had it saved to be used for something truly special and it was worth the wait.
In almost every way this is the perfect colourwork yoke for me. The fit is my favourite for a loose yoke sweater with a nice amount of positive ease. The yoke depth is perfect, the chevron border, main body and stranded yoke, the tweedy yarn and the colours all work together brilliantly. The colourwork is the perfect amount of whimsical with the foxes and colours injecting a foresty woodland theme, but the rest of the geometric motifs keeps it grounded and not too much in your face.
This brings me to the end of this Fox-tale adventure. Right in time to catch a sunny autumn afternoon between the downpours to ramble to the forest, laughing back and forth at what the other one has to say, contemplating nothing but escape and finally making it, oo-de-lally, golly, what a day! Now, up next: carving a pumpkin carriage and a Samhain dinner? Wishing you a blessed last day of October and many cheers whether you spend it carving vegetable lanterns or not. Until next time!