Wednesday, 1 October 2014


 I spent a lovely evening with knitwear designer Kate Davies a few weeks ago.  Kate is the author of Colours of Shetland and many beautiful knitting patterns and was in Shetland recently to do research for her next book "Yokes".  We spoke a lot about knitting and wool (of course) and we looked through some of my old photos.  

Yoke cardigans and jumpers to a lesser extent, have become very fashionable in Shetland in the past few years, when walking across Commercial Street in Lerwick it would be very rare not to see someone wearing one.   I remember having a Shetland wool jumper with lace yoke that my great aunt knitted to match a kilt (with attached nylon vest thing to make it into a pinafore), which I had a dislike for, Shetland wool was unfashionable at the time and the pinafore thing meant that the jumper really couldn't come off when running around made me too hot.

I have spent a lot of time lately going through old photos and concentrating on the knitwear in the pictures.  Here is the only photo I can find of said yoke jumper, I wish I had it now, I would wear it without hesitation (if I was still that size of course).  Its funny how times change.

I recall my Granny Maggie very often wearing a yoke jumper, these jumpers were (and still are) had a machine made body and sleeves and the yoke was made by hand.  Many Shetlanders recall of the man of the house making the bodies on their knitting machine and the women knitting the yokes and finishing the garment by hand.  

This is my maternal Granny wearing a traditional yoke and being herself! My Granda is on her left.
Granny's Craft group, note the traditional yokes and cardigans
While looking through old photos belonging to my granny and parents I came across the first ever yoke I knitted.  It was made from Icelanic Lopi in circular wires, I think I was bout ten at the time.  We had been snowed in a lot that winter and I remember sitting next to the Rayburn knitting it.

Chunky yokes were also very popular as I was growing up, I remember my paternal granny, Jackie made them to sell and my Dad was very rarely seen out of work not wearing one.

You can also see some more yokes on Ella Gordon's blog  - in her latest post she documents some of her knitwear collection, make sure you click on the link at the bottom of the page, this will take you to another site showing all the lovely garments in her possession.

Louise from wrote a blogpost titled "The Charm of A Yoke" a few months back - here she speaks about different types of yokes and even features my felt yoke jumper brooches - thanks Louise! 
With the rise in popularity of the yoke and with an increase in people wanting something more individual, the timing of Kate's book is perfect.  It will be launched during Shetland Wool Week, on Thursday evening at Jamieson and Smith.  I am very much looking forward to seeing the finished book and patterns and you better be quick, this is going to be a popular one.