Oystercatcher yoke


Autumn has definitely arrived in Scotland and it is, as they say, sweater weather. I have been very busy making samples for the Seven Skeins club, so there has not been much sweater knitting around here of late. But the other day I found something that I knitted up a while ago that needed adapting into a sweater. . . my oystercatcher yoke


Oystercatchers are one of my favourite coastal birds. Skittish and characterful, I love their high pip-pipping alarm, and the warbling noise they make in the evening is one of the most familiar and lovely sounds there is of the Scottish Summer. They are also fabulously graphic birds, with their bright orange beaks and eyes set against the strong black and white lines of their plumage.


I have numerous bird-inspired ideas knocking around in my design notebooks and my oystercatcher yoke idea was one which, for a while, I considered including in Yokes. In the end I decided against it: the yoke uses a combination of intarsia and stranded colourwork, plus three-shades-in-one-round over some rounds. It seemed a little too involved for such a simple sweater . . . plus I had already come up with a good Alafoss Lopi idea when I designed Jökull. So other ideas went to the top of the list, while the oystercatcher was rejected. This didn’t mean I couldn’t knit it for myself, though!


As you can see the yoke features bold motifs which recall the oystercatcher’s beak and eye. I knitted the bottom half of the beaks with intarsia, shifting to stranded colourwork further up the yoke, and working the three-shade rounds using Elizabeth Zimmermann’s slipped technique, (also deployed on my Foxglove design).


For reasons which now elude me, I originally knitted this as a dress. But I soon discovered when I blocked it that it was, as a garment, pretty unpractical. Knitted in Alafoss Lopi, it was unbelievably warm, a wee bit baggy, slightly unflattering and not particularly comfortable. So today I unravelled the bottom of the dress, knit on an edging at sweater length, and finally made my oystercatcher wearable! The lopi is still super-warm of course, but there is less of it: the effect is similar to one of those ubiquitous padded gilets that suddenly appear on everyone’s backs at this time of year. It is ideal, in other words, for October.


I am very happy with my re-adapted oystercatcher and can see myself getting a lot of wear out of it this Autumn. I’ve made this design for myself only and do not intend to produce any kind of pattern for it. But if you were interested in knitting an Oystercatcher yoke, then please feel free to improvise your own.

Happy knitting! Pip pip!