Week 2 – Elizabeth Zimmerman seamless sweater with a colourful patterned yoke – #EZYokeKAL

posted in: knitting, Tips and Techniques | 13

Thank you for your enthusiasm about making your own version of the Elizabeth Zimmerman seamless sweater with a colourful patterned yoke. I am delighted that Giorgia, Helene and Felicia have started already!

Elizabeth Zimmermann seamless yoke sweater
Elizabeth Zimmermann sweater

About ten of you said you would make one along with me – and two or three said maybe later – after their holidays. Even if you can’t make the time now maybe you are interested in how to make a jumper like this. It can be made in a week (if you use DK yarn), can use up left over yarns, and is a good way to create something unique to match all your skirts or trousers. This blue one goes with all my pinks, blues, greens and yellows, for example.

A few issues have come up already, which I will try to address. As I am a beginner knitter I am certainly not an expert so I am grateful for all the advice offered already which I will also share.

More on the design

This pattern is created in stocking stitch which, if done on two needles, back and forth, requires one knit row, followed by a purl row. If you knit on circular needles you avoid the need for purl rows as it involves one very long knit row, arranged in a spiral. The circular needles allow you to create stocking stitch without purling a single stitch making it faster to knit. Additionally by knitting three tubes that are joined at the yoke we can avoid virtually all seams, meaning there is minimal sewing up to do (just the underarms which are mainly woven together at the end).

I was attracted to the pattern for this reason – it is a very neat design solution. I love clever but simple designs. The fact that it also has colour in it makes it beautiful and individual. When I consider what colours I might combine to make a harmonious and useful garment I get rather excited. The restrained amount of colour really appeals to me. But if you are worried about knitting with two yarns you can make this in just one colour. Or you could colour block using different colours for the body, sleeves and yoke.

Finally there is the issue of hemming or ribbing the jersey. The “downside” of stocking stitch is that it curls because the smooth face of the stitch is slightly smaller than the wrong side. It needs hems or another finish to stop it rolling up at the edges.  There are a range of options here, but you can decide at the end. This blue jersey has hems on it – a finish I had not tried before and I like it. I find that ribbed edges can be a bit “tight” around the wrists etc and they just don’t feel quite so stable when you pull them off.

Cuff treatments - knitting
Curling cuffs

Quantities of yarn

I explained that I hoped to make this sweater for myself (b34″) with about 300 grams of yarn. I am fairly stingy with fabric and yarn and I will make do with something close to the colour, or I will order some more, or I will make shorter sleeves or go for a cropped look. Mrs Zimmermann has lots of suggestions on how to stretch your yarn which really appealed to me. However all the good advice is to buy enough yarn to make your garment. Otherwise you will find your heart rate raised unnecessarily as you reach the end of the job. Two or three of you said that 300 grams wasn’t enough and suggested 500 grams. It is probably good advice to buy more than you need, but as my Mother in Law used to say “That is how Mr Coleman makes his money” (Coleman’s is a mustard brand – the amount you put on your plate but didn’t consume was what made the company rich).

Shape and fitting

This jersey is made of three tubes – the body and two sleeves. The sleeves are shaped a bit but the body not at all. It is more like a T shirt than a fitted blouse or dress. It has a little stretch in it, and being seamless it is not going to pull apart, but will (to some extent) mould to your body. There are plenty of nice shaped jersey patterns out there if you want something that is more waisted or more flared over the hips.

I have a fairly curvy figure – 33-26-38. However my jerseys measure 34″ across. I finished my sweater at the high hip which measures 34″ on me. In summary – a close fit on the high hip, plenty of ease in the waist and comfortable across the bust. The fit across the shoulders is good on me and I am going to assume that unless your shoulders are very large this jersey will accommodate them. The way EZ writes her patterns is that they can be scaled up or down – for a baby or child to a large adult of either sex. However there will be an assumption of average proportions I guess so if your figure is very unusual you may have to make adjustments.

Making a swatch

One commentator suggested a larger swatch  – I had tentatively suggested 20 stitches by about 20 rows. OK! I am lazy and I don’t really like making swatches. I especially dislike pulling out my knitting if I don’t need to. I have also been given good advice that you should knit your swatch on circular needles. Finally my knitting guru suggests soaking and drying a swatch before measuring it.

So why are we knitting a swatch?

If we want to create a garment that fits we need to know how the thickness of the yarn, the size of the needles, the tension of our knitting and the impact of the stitch pattern combine to create a certain “gauge”. So using needles that are suitable for the yarn you have knit a swatch – if you are a beginner your knitting maybe a bit irregular so it is suggested you make it bigger than the 20 stitches I meanly suggested.

Mrs Zimmerman would have you make a hat rather than knit a random swatch and I get that. But my cheat is to guess what you will achieve and then start to make one of the sleeves. This means you can measure how many stitches you knit to the inch in the round. And after a couple of inches you can try it on. Also, if you guessed right (or nearly right) you won’t have to unravel it.

Here is my sleeve swatch. I find that I have knitted exactly five stitches to the inch on my favourite 5mm needles, using Colourmart yarns merino yarn.

Checking the number of stitches to one inch

How to calculate your numbers

I was thinking of preparing a ready reckoner for you, or even a spread sheet. But maths is fun.

Bust (measure a sweater that fits you well) x stitches to the inch.

In my case 34″ x 5 = 170 stitches.

So cast on 170 stitches, or 200 or 140 or whatever you have come up with. And knit the length you want (somewhere between 12 and 20 inches – you decide).

And make sure you don’t allow your stitches to twist when knitting in the round.

Beginners knitting
Oh no!



13 Responses

  1. felicia

    I was happy to see this post as I was a tad afraid you would already be posting instructions for how to join the sleeve and body tubes to start the yoke! You did say this sweater could be knit in a week … I have a suggestion for another post. The body doesn’t actually have to be a tube. You could shape a waist with a few decreases. I saw someone on Ravelry wrote a post about that. I love the idea of swatching a sleeve. Too late now for me for this project, but for the next, definitely.

  2. Michelle

    Lots of helpful info, thanks. I’ve done a swatch on circular needles, checked my gauge and done the calculations. I shall cast on this evening.
    And I love your new sewing room.

      • Michelle

        Pink with pale grey and burgundy for the yoke (I need a cheerful colour for the winter). I got exactly 5 stitches to the inch on 5mm circular needles. Enthusiastically cast on last night and knitted a good dozen rounds but the stitches seemed a bit on the loose side so it all came out and I’ve started again. This could take some time!

        • fabrickated

          I wouldn’t worry too much about the tension. It will even up alot when you wash it. It’s good to be a loose knitter, especially when it comes to the colour. Also it is more relaxing. I hope you are able to make good progress now you have had a practice – it should go fairly quickly once you get into your stride. And two pinkish shades with grey will be lovely. Good choice Michelle.

  3. Maggie

    I think since I know negative ease in the hip is not a good look for me, I’m going to add some shaping to the body of my sweater. So rather than a tube, I will knit a bit of a cone. I have done this before. It’s funny, then photos of the sweater laying on the bed look like big triangles, but then in me they look straight.

    • fabrickated

      Yes, that seems to be a good idea. I hope you will share some pictures as we go as there are quite a lot of readers who would like to shape their jersey.

  4. fabrickated

    So happy you are coming along for the ride too, dear Sue. As a very experienced knitter I will be glad to have your insights and ideas. What sort of yarn are you proposing to use? And have you decided on colour yet?

  5. Kim

    I’m already knitting a sweater at present, very like this but using a purl Soho pattern. I hope to try EZ’s method sometime fairly soon as it looks great. Hopefully mine would look half as good on me as yours look.

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