"Spalle" is Italian for "shoulders," and since the shoulders are the focus of this design, I thought that would be an appropriate name. Published in the Winter 2015 issue of Twist Collective, the Spalle Pullover is worked seamlessly in the round from the bottom up, with a yoke construction that has an effect somewhat like saddle shoulders (although I think of saddle shoulders in connection with drop-shouldered, loose-fitting sweaters, and usually the saddle is joined to front and back without additional decreases). I was experimenting with different ways of yoke and shoulder shaping, and when I decided to try using only paired decreases along the tops of the shoulders, I realized early on that this went well with ribbing, which has a lot of stretch and helps the fabric to conform to the body. I really liked the way that the decreases caused the ribs to converge and overlap.
Above is my original sketch, with short sleeves (the Twist Collective editors preferred a 3/4-length sleeve); I stuck with a closely-fitted silhouette throughout, using the same type of decreases to shape the waist.
I was delighted when I received the yarn for the sample (Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silky Victoria), and saw that it was a gorgeous red-orange, quite similar to the color of the heavy worsted (#4 Medium) weight yarn that I had used for the swatches. But then I saw that it was a sport weight (#2 Fine) yarn, which was much thinner than I had expected, and I started to worry that knitting the sample would take much longer than I had planned. Luckily I found after swatching that I could use US #6 needles and get a gauge of 24 sts to 4 inches. This was still higher than I had originally planned, but the resulting fabric was so light and springy that I was very happy with the end result. The Silky Victoria was wonderful to work with-- the silk content gives it a nice sheen and impressive tensile strength. And there are so many lovely colorways that I was actually glad I didn't have to choose just one-- Beryl? Jasper? Mermaid Tears? Winter Blues? If you order yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, they dye it to order, so the number of colors available is truly amazing. And if at first glance it appears that the yarn is expensive, at $36 a skein, note that each skein is 695 yards; the sample I made only took two skeins.
The design process for Spalle was relatively straightforward; the only major change I made to my original concept was to add more waist decreases, placed like princess seams; in order for these decreases to become a visible design element, as shown in the sketch, I needed more than four or five decreases. But too many decreases would either have made the waist too small, or I would have had to start with too large a hip circumference, so for half of the decreases, I added compensatory increases along the sides. Both the decreases and the compensatory increases are visible in the above photo.
This pattern lends itself to adjustments such as making the body longer or shorter (just add or subtract rounds before beginning the waist shaping), or lengthening or shortening the turtleneck. The sleeves could easily be made short, as shown in the sketch, by casting on the number of stitches after all sleeve increases are completed, and working even for a few inches. Since the ribbing is very stretchy, they could also be made full length by casting on the same number of stitches as for the 3/4 length sleeves, and recalculating the increase frequency (but keeping the number of increases the same). There might be a very slight belled effect at the cuff, but it would be subtle.
I don't think I'll get the sample back in time to wear it before spring arrives (hint to Mr. Groundhog for tomorrow!), but I'm looking forward to wearing it next winter!
(Top photo copyright Twist Collective/Crissy Jarvis)