"Ascension" feminist sweater pattern


The midterms. Oh, lordy. The 2018 midterm elections had our country in a near constant state of panic. But not to fear! (Well…there’s still plenty that needs fixing, but I digress.) The result was a huge wave of women being elected to Congress. Such a big wave, in fact, that it was an historic sweep with 116 women being sworn in this month.


I was inspired by this turn of events and looked to create a color work pattern that featured a feminine symbol in a sort of communal, supportive layout. I originally wanted to create something subtle based off this graphic I saw on a BBC article (at left), like a repetitive pattern whose origins weren’t immediately apparent, but were surprising and impactful upon further study. It didn’t QUITE turn out like that, but I am very happy with this more explicit yoke design. The women are standing side by side, holding hands, encircling the wearer’s shoulders in a protective halo. I named it “Ascension” due to the women ascending to positions of power.

One of the pitfalls in any kind of identity politics is the idea that it is exclusive or leaves out a particular group. This certainly crossed my mind. Not everyone who identifies as female wears a skirt or dress, for example (I almost never wear a skirt or dress). And there are certainly males who like to wear skirts or dresses or kilts even. I also wanted to avoid any suggestion of racial designation, so the entire person is filled in with a checkerboard appearance and does not feature hair at all. All in all, for the purposes of keeping the knitting itself coherent and simple, I chose to give the human figure a symbolic look so it is recognizably female. Any message beyond celebrating the number of women recently sworn into the new Congress is unintentional but I’m happy to field concerns if you have any.


Now, to get back to the knitting itself, “Ascension” is a top-down, seamless yoke pullover using fingering weight yarn and stranded colorwork. The body is increased to a roomy width, falls to a trendy cropped length, and has a slightly longer back using short rows. A coordinating band of colorwork and simple ribbing finishes this versatile and eye-catching garment. It is very flattering, too! I enjoyed wearing the prototype which fell between a M and L size, with the bit of extra weight that I “collected” this year, LOL. And my sister and niece, who have a leaner frame, loved wearing the S size and looked amazing!

The yarn I used was Bella Hand Dyed Yarn, Mendocino fingering weight, 100% superwash merino wool. I was lucky to pick some up for the prototype when I visited Vogue Knitting Live: San Francisco back in September. It was so beautiful! The dyer, Marcia, is lovely and fun and agreed to partner with me on this project. The blues are right up my alley, being both spring-like and fresh but also reminiscent of the ocean here in San Diego. I love her choices, the way the yarn worked up, and all the potential combinations in her arsenal!

You can see the sample and Marcia (and maybe me!) in person at Stitches West 2019 at the end of February in Santa Clara, CA. It will be featured at the Bella Hand Dyed Yarn booth and will also be walking the runway at the Stitches fashion show! I think Marcia may have even included it in a Stitches Scavenger Hunt. Come check out the kits and combos (and conversation!) over at Bella or, if you live in the Lafayette, CA area, the Busy Stix shop prior to the event. Enjoy and tag your WIP #ascensionsweater on social media!