Elizabeth Zimmerman seamless yoke sweater

Kate from fabrickated recently threw out a challenge to participate in a knitalong for the Seamless Yoke Sweater from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s book “Knitting without tears”. As I had the book I decided to join in and had a fossick in my wool stash for something to knit with. What I came up with was a very gaudy yarn bought in Philadelphia many years ago. It’s Cascade Yarns Casablanca which is a wool/silk/mohair blend (60/20/20). Sadly I see that it’s made in China so I wouldn’t be buying this now, but back then I wasn’t as fussy.

Due to the stripes and multiple colours I knew that I couldn’t do a multi-coloured (fair-isle?) pattern on the yoke, which was an intention of the pattern, so I decided to do a knitted design on the yoke instead. I had a hunt through some books and found a design called “Reed Pipe” in a 1940s book belonging to my Mother. It had a 17 stitch repeat which was exactly right for the number of stitches on my needles. I didn’t factor in the K1, K2tog method of decreasing which I had to do twice in the yoke. I did lots of maths for the first lot of decreasing and felt that I could work them in fairly well, but by the second set of decreases I threw caution to the wind and didn’t worry about the pattern. It all worked out surprisingly well, but if you are OCD about patterns lining up, look away now!


Elizabeth suggests doing an inch of stocking stitch after joining the sleeves and before embarking on the pattern, but I decided to launch straight in as I wanted to pattern to wrap under my arms. I’m not sure that this was a wise decision as the pattern sits lower on my chest than I would like.

The pattern also calls for the hems to be added later but I couldn’t really see the point of this – and let’s face it, picking up stitches is so tedious – so started with ribbing with needles two sizes smaller than my main needles. I am still pleased that I did this for the bottom hem and sleeve hems, particularly with this yarn, which tends to stretch.


Please note my perfectly matched sleeves, and yes, that’s a smug look right there! This did not happen by accident; I had to unravel my yarn ball until I could start the second sleeve in the same place as the first. They also match fairly well with the body of the jumper.


The Zimmerman method is really interesting and I’m surprised I haven’t tried it before. One thing that I did do when I got a twist in my circular knitting was to zig zag it, cut and resewed. Normally I would frog the rows and reknit. I have to say that the cut method works pretty well and although I have a tiny seam, it’s not actually that noticeable.

When I tried the jumper on when finished I was thrilled with the fit. It was exactly the right length and width and the neckline was just high enough. The pattern had a fair bit of texture too.


I blocked it and was really dismayed at how much it grew. It went from upper-thigh length to mid-thigh, it was much baggier, the sleeves were too long and the neck too low. The pattern went completely flat, losing its textured look. I can only assume that the silk in the yarn stretched out and didn’t spring back. All I could do was to toss it in the dryer and hope for the best. What you are seeing here is the result, which is quite wearable and really comfortable. I also note that the stitches don’t appear to hang straight and I’m not sure why, although it may have happened in the dryer?  I did knit most of this using Continental knitting rather than English, but can’t think that made a difference. It did make a difference to my hands though, the relief was instant.

One of the things I shall do is to add a couple of rows of sew in elastic to that neckline as suggested by EZ. I think this will bring the neckline up a bit more. I forgot to take a photo of my underarms, but they are grafted to the body with kitchener stitch and this works really well. I really enjoy doing kitchener stitch for some reason, especially on fairly short rows where I have no fear of being interrupted.


The jumper goes so well with my new  Jalie Éléonore Pull-On Jeans. I am also looking forward to wearing it with blue and black denim jeans.




36 thoughts on “Elizabeth Zimmerman seamless yoke sweater

  1. Your looking very proud of yourself and very well deserved! Love the colour and design is gorgeous!

  2. I think it worked out great Sue. We all need a bit of brightness in the wardrobe. I find when I go for a walk I don’t want to wear commoflagenbut something cheery. Just in case I get lost! I especially love the sleeves. Your adaptions are very clever. I am also glad you made the twisted join, cut and sewed up. I would now – nifty tip, eh? Super well done and thanks so much for the lovely interesting write up and for looking so beautiful in your New Jersey.

    1. Fixing the twist is a really nifty tip and one I am sure I shall need to do again. I am really pleased to have rediscovered the EZ book, thank to you!

    1. I try to buy Australian made wool whenever possible these days – in fact I try to buy totally locally produced wool, so Western Australian, handspun is my wool of choice.

  3. clever idea to texture the yoke area with the multi-coloured yarn. It looks like a great sweater to work in with your wardrobe.

  4. Good work on this sweater, but I did smile when I read you comment about kitchener stitch. I love it too especially for scarves I have been making recently, but I have to shut myself away with a how to you tube video and something playing in the background, or else I end up having to unpick the thing. Whoever discovered this stitch is a genius

  5. Great jumper, Sue! Not the classic yoke jumper à la Elizabeth Zimmermann, but a nice and original interpretation of her clever method. As for the neckline, did you use her short rows technique to raise the back a little bit? Oh, and I wish I could tame continental knitting as you did! This is one of my knitting goal. xx

    1. I did do the short rows at the back but it’s hard to see. I can only do continental knitting on plain stitches so knitting in the round is perfect!!

  6. Lovely, especially the organic wind blown look of the lacey texture at the top. And wonderful colors on you!


  7. Great jumper – and I love the bright colours 😃. I am planning to try following Kate’s instructions to make one of these jumpers. Her instructions look pretty clear but is the book worth making space for? I really ought to check out continental knitting as my hands are starting to moan a bit when I knit. It would seem to have suited you but was it difficult to change the knitting habits you had?

  8. Yay, such a happy sweater, those colors are great! I think silk and mohair both tend to stretch out and I’m glad you were able to rescue the sweater. The book sounds interesting, maybe I’ll have a look at it 🙂

  9. this looks absolutely fantastic Sue! I love it completely. I’ve read rainbow striped sweaters are supposed to be pretty trendy in the coming season.

  10. You deserve to be smug about that stripe matching, that sort of thing makes knitting a headache for me and I don’t knit like that. So sorry it grew so much as it is a fun jumper that would work with a lot in your wardrobe.

  11. I got to go to EZ’s knitting camp, circa 1986. She would definitely approve–she loved it when people took her ideas and ran with them! Is the yarn plied or a single? Sometimes singles want to bias a bit. It happened with a Cascade single in a sweater I just finished but haven’t blogged about yet.

  12. I love this sweater! The colors look fantastic on you and the entire design is strikingly beautiful. And you have every right to be proud of that stripe matching! Perfection!! 🙂

  13. Love the thought that went into the design process! That being both silk and a single ply yarn knit in the round explains both the stretch and the tendency of the stocking stitch part to bias or spiral as it is wanting to do. Single ply silk and silk blends with more than a small amount of silk GROW, so I only use silk and silk blends for shawls, scarves and other things that do not need to fit properly. That said, gorgeous sweater!

  14. Thank you Dez, I still enjoy wearing this and it has stood up to the rest of time. I do have some of that spun sari silk and that can only be used for a shawl.

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