Boxpleat Jumper

When Rachel Atkinson told me she was working on producing a yarn, using her dad’s flock of Hebridean sheep, I just knew it was going to be something really special. I love the deepest, darkest shade of chocolate brown you get from naturally black sheep, and Rachel’s yarn, aptly named Daughter of a Shepherd, really does the Hebridean sheep justice.

Daughter of a Shepherd Yarn

Rachel’s Daughter of a Shepherd yarn: a luscious, deepest, darkest chocolate brown

Despite the colour, it shows up textured stitches really well, which was a good thing, because my love affair with Cecelia Campochiaro’s Sequence Knitting is still going strong. One type of fabric you can create with sequence knitting is a broken garter stitch (alternating columns of garter stitch from knit stitches, garter stitch from purl stitches,) which give a very strong vertical texture, enhanced by columns of slip stitches, a type of fabric Cecelia calls “boxpleats,” as it has a 3D quality to it.

Sequence Knitting in Boxpleat pattern

Boxpleat pattern from Cecelia Campochiaro’s groundbreaking work, Sequence Knitting

Waiting for the right project to come along, was some of Elizabeth Johnston‘s handspun Shetland yarn, which she made from grey Shetland wool, overdyed with madder. It wasn’t much, but enough to provide a pleasing accent of colour. I took measurements from a French workwear smock, and after swatching, I cast on and mostly made design decisions as I went along.

My good friend Jeni Reid has taken all the pictures following below, and I’m using them with kind permission and they are credited to Jeni Reid/Small Window. You may have spotted her at yarn festivals with a big camera in hand, and being a knitter and spinner herself, she manages to capture goings-on with a knitterly eye.

tomofholland boxpleat jumper in daughter of a shepherd yarn

Me looking mighty pleased in my boxpleat jumper

tomofholland boxpleat jumper in daughter of a shepherd yarn

Boxpleats for armhole shaping. I love all the movement in the back shoulder area

The armholes are shaped using actual box pleats and I’ve gathered the sleeveheads, so there is volume along the arms to show off the boxpleat fabric, but keeps the shoulder saddles neat and tidy.

The boxpleat pattern is best knitted flat, so the jumper was knitted in pieces, and then seamed together using a three-needle bind-off. I’m a real fan of the three-needle bind-off for seaming. Sure, it takes a while to pick up stitches along each seam edge, but the resulting seam is strong, yet it retains some stretch quality, something that was really important here, as the jumper is very heavy, and therefore I anticipate it will grow longer in wear.

tomofholland boxpleat jumper in daughter of a shepherd yarn

The hems are finished with a split

Although knitted in pieces, the over-all shaping is more or less based on the classic Elizabeth Zimmermann seamless saddle shoulder pull-over.

tomofholland boxpleat jumper in daughter of a shepherd yarn

I was in a very studious mood…

Last but not least, I used a lot of gradually differing needle sizes. The sleeves start at the cuffs in 2.5mm needles, and by the time I reached the sleevecap, the needle size had increased to 4.5mm. This created a gently shaped sleeve, allowing for the boxpleat pattern to do its pleating at its best. To stop the jumper from flaring at the hems, I knitted them on a slightly smaller needle to gently draw in the fabric. The neck is finished with a funnel neck, highlighting the non-curling quality of the boxpleat pattern.

I thoroughly enjoyed designing and knitting this jumper, and as you can tell from the pictures, I finished it just in time to put it away for summer.

tomofholland boxpleat jumper in daughter of a shepherd yarn

Boxpleat jumper

With special thanks to Rachel Atkinson for letting me buy a few more skeins for this special project, and to Jeni Reid for taking such beautiful pictures, as this jumper provided a photographic challenge, due to the colour.

21 Replies to “Boxpleat Jumper”

  1. It’s so clever what you said about changing the needle size to make your sleeve increase, I always learn someting new when I read your blog… I bet your jumper smells just as fantastic as it looks as I know Rachels yarn smells like it wants to start bleating.

  2. When a potter makes a master work the glaze exactly integrates with the form. I never had the same sense with knitting until reading this story of your box pleat jumper. A union of fibre and form and knitting mastery. Inspiring.

  3. What clever construction. I love it! Nice that you knitted some of it flat.I love tucking a straight needle under my arm to knit faster that way

  4. I’ve been waiting and waiting to see this sweater (I’m in the US, obviously) and it is even better than I expected. You really make art with your knitting. Congratulations and I hope when it gets cold and you wear it again, someone will take pics so we can see more of it! Beautiful work.

  5. I love working with the very dark natural colour of the Shetlands and Hebrideans. What a splendid sweater, top job! Thank you for sharing

  6. Beautiful! And timely for me. I was contemplating using a sequence from the same book for a top-down raglan in the round. Swatching made me realize that you completely lose the rhythm of many of these unless you knit flat. And, oh the math(!) of moving from the neck down. I may have to modify this whole idea and incorporate your shaping through changing needle sizes, thus preserving the sequence concept and my sanity. Also found your seaming technique intriguing and wonder how it would compare, in terms of sturdiness, to one sewn with single crochet. Thanks so much for the post.

    1. If using changing needle sizes for shaping than be prepared for change in drape where using much smaller needles. Also the shaping possibilities are limited. I happily let go of pure sequence knitting when I think it’ll work better. I think single crochet and three-needle bind off for seams are similar in sturdiness.

      1. Thank you for those extra thoughts. Loss of drape at the wrists may be perfect for those of us who continually push up our sleeves and stretch out our lovely sweaters – ha! I’m with you on letting go with the pure sequence, but it is a wonderful opportunity to end up with a product that’s more than stockinet, but no less easily meditative, when that is what my brain desires. I was just about to refer you to this gorgeous sequence hap when I recalled it was designed by some man . . . back from google . . . indeed, you are already quite familiar with that beauty!

  7. Pingback: kal & cal winners

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