The Writing Capelet, Part II: Colour work

afmaeli composite png.pngafmaeli cape 1-1-1If you recall last week’s post, I recently tried (and failed) to design a DIY capelet. As you can see above, a new capelet has been designed and is done. It had its very first outdoor wear during a recent trek through the woods. The day’s ample sunlight also provided the perfect opportunity to capture some of the capelet’s colours. The next step is to don it during a proper indoor writing session; I hope this garment will help me to produce many words.

A big thanks to Andrew for the photo help and company on the hike, and a big thank you to Donna at Yarnify! (my not-so-local LYS) who helped me choose the green you see here (Cascade 220 in the Lake Chelan colourway).

If you feel inclined, I’ve included some sections on the capelet’s making and design process below (a few more details can be found on the project’s Ravelry page).


The Idea: A Garment Mashup

After frogging my first try at this garment, I took to Ravelry for ideas. I came across the classic Afmaeli sweater and knew that I had to use this yoke pattern (I have been swooning over it for more than a year). Not long after, I came across the Boden and Sweetie Pie capelets, respectively.  Working from the reference pictures, I decided to combine the three garments’ different design elements: the Afmaeli yoke, the hemline and fit of the Sweetie Pie, and Boden’s loose and flattering neckline.

capelet composite
Left: Afmaeli © Istex;   Top right: Boden © Nice and Knit;   Bottom right: Sweetie Pie © Loop Knitting Ltd.  Image Source: Ravelry.

Adapting the Afmaeli Yoke 

To adapt the Afmaeli yoke for capelet purposes, I started by noting that the yoke’s colourwork chart uses a pattern that repeats over 16 stitches. I made sure, then, to choose a stitch-count that was a multiple of 16 (a trick I picked up while reading Andrea Rangel’s Alterknit Stitch Dictionary). I was knitting with worsted weight at a gauge of 19 sts over 4″ / 10 cm. At my gauge, my magic number was 192 sts. This would produce a cape-width of around 40″ around the hemline.

Modifying the Yoke Decreases

I first assumed that I could work the Afmaeli yoke exactly as the pattern directs to produce a capelet, but I came to learn that these aren’t interchangeable! Because I was working fewer stitches than the actual sweater-pattern called for (16 sts fewer, to be exact), working the original pattern ended up producing a triangular, funnel-like, neckline, rather than one that fell neatly on the shoulders. “Icelandic funnel” was not quite the look I was going for.

I frogged the latter half of the yoke and found that it worked best to perform the cape’s decreases at 2 critical points: a) 1 row of evenly spaced decreases, a few rows into the stranded yoke (as directed by the pattern), and b) successive rows of decreases over, roughly, the last 7 rows of the yoke before the neckline. This produced a much better shape: the cape begins to ‘taper in’ only where it’s needed, on the shoulders (no funnel!).

With 84 sts remaining, I finished off the neckline by working 2 rows of purl, then ~5 rows of k1 p1 ribbing. Regular bind off in-pattern.

Modifying the Colourwork Chart

Because I decided to bypass some of the original pattern’s yoke decreases (to keep the width of the capelet more or less constant until the shoulder decreases, as described above), I ended up with more stitches on my needles than the pattern called for on the last few rows of the yoke. This is the area of the yoke where the tiny ‘tulips’ are. The original tulip-pattern called for a 12-stitch repeat; at that point, my stitch-count was still a multiple of 16.

My stitch-surplus required a little bit of tinkering with the chart. Using Stitch Fiddle, I adapted Afmaeli’s original 12-stitch tulip-repeat by adding 4 extra stitches to make a 16-stitch repeat. This little bit of problem-solving was lots of fun.

Afmaeli chartI did have a blunder (or two) working my tulip pattern, however. Two tulips at the beginning of the round, in particular, had some trouble making the transition into the new version of things.

afmaeli cape 6 closeup.jpg

The one on the left seems to have started melting, and the tulip on the right has decided to break into full on Pacman mode. It’s ok. They’ll stay that way.

A final thought on blocking 

Recall that a common source of stranded knitting trepidation comes from the very real potential for puckering. As I was working, this anxiety seemed all but confirmed. There was plenty of pucker apparent on the WIP, especially at the transition where the colour work led to a section of regular knitting. Stranded knitting does tend to knit up tighter than straight stockinette:

afmaeli poncho WIP.jpg
This looks like smocking.

I charged ahead, however. I am glad for it: a lot of that apparent pucker came out after blocking! I performed a light steam block with a coloursafe cloth over the steam iron (and some light, low-heat pressing on the colour work). It was eye-opening to see just how much steam alone relaxes stitches and evens out the fabric. Until blocking happens, apparently, what you see is not quite what you get in the realm of stranded knitting (I imagine that a full wet block might have evened out the fabric even more).


Phew. Between the mods, the frogging, the work on tensioning, and experimenting with different yarn holds, this capelet-mashup was a knitting workout! There was a lot of trial and error (and more error). And, it helped to treat the mistakes with a light touch. Knitting, after all, is partly the business of providing others and oneself with a little warmth and comfort; the process ought to mirror the product, no?

I hope that this week, however the weather, finds you enjoying something fun – project or otherwise!

Do you have a favourite DIY design garment? I’d love to hear about your design adventures in the comments!

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22 thoughts on “The Writing Capelet, Part II: Colour work

  1. It looks great. I have been thinking of knitting something similar to wear when I work at my computer. We don’t like a “hot” house in the winter and for some odd reason when I am in front of a computer I don’t like heavy sweater arms. 🙂 Anyway, now I will make one!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by to read, Karen! I think it will make a great computer-work garment (lots of positive ease for computer work). I hear you about not wanting the sweater arms, too. Go for it! 🙂

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  2. Can I give you some type of awesome knitter award for that piece? Wow Shirley! Just wow wow wow! And you look fabulous in it (lovely hair cut/style)! You have really set the bar here on knitting…I guess I will just keep plodding along with my garter stitch for now, ha! I do not have a favorite DIY design garment but I plan to in the future, I did buy a book on making tunic tops and I would like to make a wearable (how awesome to wear something you mad). Congrats again on your finish of this lovely project! 🙂

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    1. Aw, thank you, Tierney, for your kind words and comments! Your posts have inspired me over here to get out onto those trails more often (perhaps I’ll meet my own version of Luna the BMD!). 🙂 And, ooh, tunics! There’s nothing like a nice, comfy tunic. I’m sure if you made one, it would be absolutely beautiful! Go for it! 🙂

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  3. I love it! I love the colors you chose, the pattern, and you two wonky tulips! And now you’ll be warm when you write! (I may be using lots of exclamation marks here, but I need them all; well done!)

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    1. Thanks for reading, Mandy! (and for the exclamation marks!). 🙂 The wonky tulips appreciate your support, too. 🙂 I was so very inspired by the beautiful colour work sweaters you’ve done recently, and finally pushed myself to try a stranded yoke. They’re really fun to do!

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  4. It’s perfection! And I loved reading all of your construction notes. the bit about the yoke decreases is particularly useful. And I agree–the magic of washing and blocking does wonders for projects 🙂 it’s so fun to watch them relax and bloom into themselves. Andrew’s photos are lovely. I hope you had a great hike before the hot weather hits!!

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    1. Thank you, Melissa! 🙂 Thanks for reading. I’ve been inspired by your Better Sweater Series to start getting creative with garments again, so thank you for all the great work you do there. And the wonder of blocking – I don’t think I’ll ever not block a project again. Cheers!

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  5. Oh wow, Shirley! Your capelet looks brilliant… Definitely worth all the frogging and pattern tweaks! I loved reading through your design notes, and the photos from your hike are lovely too. Nice work… Now it just has to pass the library test! Oh, and my favourite handmade garment is a very fine snood I made a few years back. I’m not really one for lace, but I placed deliberate “ladders” at random intervals through the pattern to add a little interest, and I used a super-soft hand-dyed yarn I picked up on a trip to London. Wearing it every year is the best thing about winter!

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    1. Thank you, Helen! 🙂 I’m bringing it to the library the first chance I get! And yes, getting to enjoy a nice warm thing at the end makes all the sweating and frogging worth it (and thank you, again, for the tip on keeping the floats on the outside of the knitting. I will definitely try that one and report back on the results!). 🙂 Ooh, and your snood sounds very lovely! Between the design and the soft hand-dyed yarn, I can understand how wearing it each year would be a treat! Cheers!

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  6. I always keep your blog posts on the “to read later” list because I like to have time to read your posts slowly. It’s just like eating a favorite chocolate bar. It never disappoints.
    You nailed it with this capelet – well done, the colors work well together and on you, especially with the denim shirt under it. You look great ! I hope it keeps you as warm as you want it during your long writing sessions.
    And indeed, blocking is where a lot of the knitting magic operates. Great job !

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    1. Thank you for reading and your thoughtful comments, Agnès! 🙂 I’m flattered to know that you enjoy the posts (not least because that’s how I like to read and enjoy your knitting/process posts as well!). You have a thoughtful and soothing writing voice and are a joy to read! Thank you for the kind words on the capelet. It has been getting lots of use. 🙂

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  7. Omggggggggggg it’s amazing!!! Styled with the denim collared shirt and the hiking scenery, it’s soooooo 90s Ralph Lauren – I’m in love! I can’t even see the so-called blunders…. must be blinded by my admiration and awe at your skills 🙂 I look forward to hearing that it passed the arctic library test. Well done to you, Shirley!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Weekes. 🙂 Your comments made me smile! I hadn’t realized we were channeling 90s Ralph Lauren while photo-taking, but I reckon you’re right about the influence, haha! Your eye is on point! (now, we just need a personal yacht and/or yacht-stuff for any and all future 90s RL photo shoots). 😉 And, the poncho does pass the arctic library test, thank you! Cheers, and hoping your week is off to a beautiful start!

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  8. It’s beautiful!! And functional! And exactly what you wanted!!! What could be better?! I love it! And the photos are stunning. 🙂

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