Miss Rachel’s yoke and gauntlets (a closer look!)

As discussed in the previous post, this design is inspired by an early nineteenth-century shawl, collected by Rachel Kay Shuttleworth, and now part of Gawthorpe Textile Collection.


The colourful, ribbon-like bands of the shawl immediately reminded me of one of my favourite colourwork motifs, a small, simple pattern which resembles an interlocking vine. The pattern is used to good effect on this vintage cardigan I own.


Its an interesting pattern, with a few variations – my favourite of which repeats over a small number of rows (6) but a largish number of stitches (18). Because of the length of the repeats, if you are penickety about the vertical symmetry of your colourwork patterns, it can be a bit difficult to work with, unless placed in isolation (I vividly recall my Shetland buddy, Sandra Manson, describing this pattern as tricksy). But its an appealing pattern nonetheless, and what is probably most attractive about it is its horizontal continuity, and easy sense of undulating motion. It works really well on its own, and I think that, when placed in bold, colourful bands, the small size of the motifs, coupled with the pattern’s undulating effect, make it visually very pleasing. So this is what I tried to achieve in my interpretation of the Gawthorpe shawl.


In all of my previous yoke designs, I’ve been a bit of a stickler for vertical continuity. But this design was all about bands of colour – not vertical wedges – so I had to loosen up a bit. When I swatched the pattern bands, inserting some shaping into the plain rows between colour changes, I found that the combination of small motifs and horizontal continuity meant that the pattern worked really well, without having to be remotely matchy-matchy on the vertical.


This combination of small motifs and horizontal (rather than vertical) continuity is characteristic of much more sophisticated yoke designs than mine, such as those Kerstin Olsson produced for Bohus Stickning. I’ve designed many yokes, as you know, but this was the first time I’d used small, horizontally continuous patterns, and I found it really interesting to explore a new-to-me method of writing yoke shaping. It has certainly made me familiar with how multiples of 18 work across a wide size range!


I’ve paired six shades of Buachaille in this design – Hedder with Islay, Macallum with Furze, and the two greys – Haar and Squall – together. This paired patterning is repeated on the accompanying gauntlets, which can also be used to swatch, before one embarks on the sweater.


I swatched many different colour combinations before settling on this one!


While I was in no sense attempting to reproduce the pattern of the Gawthorpe shawl, I did want my design to convey a sense of its overall effect, and I hope this is what I’ve done!



These photographs were shot at one of my favourite spots, on one of my favourite daily walking routes between Balmaha and Milarrochy Bay. There is a wee bit of picking ones way over rocks to get to this corner, and, especially on a still day, I think the view north and west from here across Loch Lomond is particularly lovely.


We walk here several times a week, and the highlight of such walks for Bruce is to throw himself off this rock, into the loch with wild abandon. On fine days, I sit here and watch him splash and swim. But I’m afraid he was not allowed to go swimming that day – as the water was so beautiful and still, and we had to take these shots!


Somewhat randomly, while Tom was squished into the gorse bushes with his camera, and I was standing on this rock in my sweater, we encountered a knitter (Danish? or German?) who was out for a walk, who recognised me, and who had made Paper Dolls. Hello, mystery knitter! I hoped you enjoyed your walk along Loch Lomond on that fine, still February day!


Before I finished the design, I asked Gawthorpe’s two Rachels (Rachel Terry, and Rachel Midgley) for their thoughts about a name. As the shawl which inspired the design was one of Rachel Kay Shuttleworth’s favourite pieces, and as she was universally known as “Miss Rachel” we all agreed that the design should be named for her – Miss Rachel’s Yoke and Gauntlets. Though all the work is finally done on this design, I’m afraid these patterns won’t be released for a couple of weeks yet – its part of my plan for Edinburgh Yarn Fest to release kits for it there – and these kits will appear at the same time in my shop too (for those of you who can’t come to EYF – watch out for the special offer in the newsletter!). I seem to have a lot to tell you about at the moment – another new pattern – as well various other things – it is certainly going to be a busy few weeks!


Tom is cooking spatchcock chicken, so I’m off to enjoy my supper. I hope you have all had a lovely weekend! xx