Percentage Systems


I would love to discuss the established Percentage Systems of Seamless Yoke Construction. Anybody game?

Here’s the deal,  the sweater heaped on the chair, getting ripped back was because I mistakenly went along my merry way starting the decrease rows from the method I’m use to , a ‘percentage system’ of a kind that I came up from the charts I’ve used,  completely forgetting how this time I wanted to try out strictly Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Percentage system.  (no hybrid!)  Feeling a little bit unsure with the over-all fit of another way, I am trying to anticipate the difference.  I’m laying the math out and taking a close look.

Elizabeth’s Percentage System, or cute little title of “EPS” as it is known among the Zimmermaniacs of the Modern Knitting World, I will extract from her book which I bought recently (used) called “Knitting Around”.  In EPS, the depth of the yoke is to be approximately half of the width of the main body before the sleeves are joined on (not circumferance, but laid flat, measured-across-width-wise measurement~  and then half of that is the “yoke depth”).  After joining the sleeves to the body, all on one circular needle, EPS has you knit up half of the entire yoke depth before beginning the first decrease row, and continueing with only 3 decrease rows total, dividing the upper half into halves, (quarters of the total depth, actually) with the third and last decrease at the neckline.

EPS is roughly as follows: On the first decrease row , the total stitches are decreased by 25% , with *K2,K2tog* repeat. One knits up to I suppose about another quarter section of the whole yoke depth (perhaps after a decorative pattern allows), then begins the second decrease row, where the new total stitches is decreased  33.3% , with a *K1,K2tog* repeat.  The last and third decrease, right before the short-row shaping at the back of the neck, is a decrease row which is a *K1,K2,K2tog* repeat which decreases the new total of stitches 40% and which then leaves the remaining total of stitches to be finished off method of choice.  The last remaining stitches also is around 40% of the original casted-on total of stitches.  That is roughly, a condensed summery I think, of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Yoke decreasing which I am about to try for the first time.

Now,  the other yoke-decrease method , percentage system if you like, that I’ve been using up until now, is what I’ve come up with by following the instructions of the charts of the book of Ann Budd’s called “Handy Book of Sweater Patterns”,  a great book loaded with charts so one can design just about any kind of sweater from any yarn and needle combination (within reason of course).  This book has been my ‘bible’ up to now,  along my adventure thus far of seamless yoke sweaters.

It goes something like this : The total yoke depth is likely the same as EPS,  but one begins the first decrease row after only about 1/4 , or less, of the total yoke depth (instead of half). If you factor in the fourth decrease row at the neck, you’ve got the whole yoke depth divided into thirds, with the last and fourth decrease being at the neck. So far , are you with me ? That’s one extra decrease row than EPS,  but different ratios of decrease.

The way I’ve managed to figure the math from the charts , and from my own ‘imaginary sweater’ which employs the EPS as a template ~ has had the first row decrease of 20% total stitches, with a *K3,K2tog* .  The second decrease row , about half way up the yoke,  decreases the new total of stitches  25% with a  *K2,K2tog* repeat.  The third decrease row about 3/4 or thereabouts up the yoke depth, (depending entirely which pattern one might design into the yoke) decreases the new total of stitches  33.3% with a *K1,K2tog* repeat.  The last decrease row, just before the short-row shaping at the back of the neck opening,  repeats the *K1,K2tog* pattern to arrive at the final neck finish total of stitches.

Are you still with me?  Have I made any outrageous math mistakes yet? (If so, please point them out).  So what I’d like to know, is if there are any of you reading, who has tried different yoke shapings, and can enlighten me to how the end result actually fits being worn.  Until then,  I will finish off my nieces Autumn Sweaters using completely Elizabeth Percentage System, and see for myself.  I will no doubt, be anxious to spill the beans when the finished sweaters are all blocked out.    I have a sweater which I haven’t finished (haven’t steeked yet) which is shaped through the decreases from the Ann Budd charts to compare the EPS yoke shape to.

Sit tight, and see me get giddy with my newly discovered math abilities (Yes, I’m suggesting that I always was a very bad math student).  I’ve quite astonished myself actually !  See you back on the subject in a few posts.

10 thoughts on “Percentage Systems

  1. Ah, Meg’s addition was just a change in her decrease ratios from the original 1/3, 1/3, 1/3, to 3 decrease rounds spaced at 1/2, 3/4, 4/4 of the total yoke depth.
    -25% (K2, K2tog around)
    -33% (K1, K2tog around)
    -40% (K1, K2tog, K2tog around)
    She did add another decrease round to larger sweaters, but these must have been made for men.

    • Ah Morrie, I knew I could trap you with a little E.Z. bait put out there :). So, I see E.Z.’s daughter Meg just rearranged the yoke depth… as you say, but do you not mean the other way around, that Meg changed EZ’s 1/2-3/4-4/4 *to* 1/3-1/3-1/3 ? (Budd’s way seems similar) In your emailed description of still another percentage: 1st row = 20% (*K3,K2tog* repeat) , 2nd decrease row = 25% (* K2,K2tog* repeat). Third decrease row same as the second, and then fourth decrease row: 33% (*K1,K2tog*repeat). Then I guess the AnnBudd-HandyBookOfSweaterPatterns percentage system is different again *as noted in my post*. I am curious, really, the different uses, and why the heck so many different ways… I kind of wonder if Yoke Decreasing is just as varied as one can put their imagination to. Maybe I’ll come up with a random arbitrary percentage system, but first, I have to make sure I am familiar with the established Percentage Systems. I hope that others might post their brilliant ideas. THANK YOU MORRIE !

      • Well, then we could pull up the Knitting In the Old Way by Deborah Robson and Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts and look at that decrease system :), so yes, I’m sure there are many variations. EZ’s original decrease were spaced at 1/3, 1/3, 1/3, of the total yoke depth. Meg changed that so the 3 decrease rounds were spaced at 1/2, 3/4 and 4/4 of the total yoke depth. So to clarify what I wrote above, she then reduced the severity of the initial decrease from 1/3 to 1/4 (k2, k2tog around). “In order to still arrive at the approximate 40% neck opening, that meant the second decrease would be 1/3 (but on fewer stitches, thus eliminating any gathers) and the final decrease had to be 2/5 (k1, k2tog, k2tog around)… quite a severe decrease, but on relatively few stitches…”

    • Thats fine Lizzi, you kind of have to know Morrie, she has a higher education in everything Elizbeth Zimmerman & including her daugher Meg Swanson 🙂

  2. I am not a big fan of Yoke systems as you probably get my taste by now. I like mine a little bit more fitted than baggy on top.

    Wonder no more, sista. Do as you please and who knows you may just reinvent the next “random arbitrary” percentage system. Exercise your imagination freely and wildly.

    • Yes, I am already finding I’m not a huge fan of EPS classic system, that I prefer what I’ve done all along. I think I will make my ORAPS. (own random arbitrary percentage system) 🙂

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