yoke all day


This post is going to be short and sweet (by comparison), because I am traveling for work this week and next (more on that in a bit), but I couldn't go a week without exploring the thread between stitching and stretching, so here we are!

It's the middle of summer, I'm in Florida for two weeks, and I'm knitting a wool sweater. I know, I know, crazy. It's just that fall, cooler temps, and mountain life will be here any minute, and I'd like to actually have this completed by then, so I'm cranking the A/C, learning a few new techniques, and cozying up with my needles. 

The Yoke of Stitching 

This project is A) my very first sweater and B) the first garment I've knit that I won't have to seam! No seams, you ask? None! This sweater is knit in the round, top-down, thus eliminating the need for every knitter's favorite finishing process - that's right - seaming.  

Just like every new project so far, this is a big leap for me - knitting in the round. I am following a free pattern by Tin Can Knits (they have absolutely incredible tutorials - and free patterns too - by the way, so check them out!). Everything is described extremely clearly, but it's still a wee bit scary in its absolute newness.

The first step to knitting in the round is perfecting (or at least managing) the magic loop. (Magic!) The magic loop joins the ends so that you knit continuously in a circle without having to turn the project. It's genius and I never want to seam anything, ever again (Ha!).

The first thing I saw when I read the pattern for this top-down sweater is that it describes beginning with knitting what's called the 'yoke.' As defined by Merriam Webster, the yoke of a sweater, "refers to the fitted or shaped piece at the shoulders of a garment." For knitting, the term dates back to the 1880s, but is derived from a much earlier time, from the yoking together of working animals. This term, this derivation, is all too familiar for me. Another beloved hobby of mine is actually named after it...

Can you guess where else this term may be used?

The Yoke of Stretching

The word yoga is often defined as 'union,' but the origin of the word actually comes from the Sanskrit yuj which means 'to yoke/to join.' (Of course it does) As soon as I saw the word yoke used in the knitting pattern, I remembered that it was the origin of the word yoga, and I smiled brightly. It seems (seams) everywhere I look I see another connection of knitting and yoga. (I guess that's why we're here, after all, right?)

Different yoga teachers often attach different meanings to the translation of the word yoga. I have heard that yoga is representative of the union between breath and movement; or that yoga symbolizes the joining together of mind, body, spirit; or, if in the terms of Shiva, the so-called god of yoga, yoga epitomizes the unification of the individual soul and the cosmic soul. Regardless of what meaning resonates most with you, it's pretty clear there's a theme here. That of joining, unifying, uniting, coming together. Yoking. 

Yoking it All Together

So now I'm seeing yoking in my knitting and I'm practicing yoking on my yoga mat. I'm also noticing the practice of 'yoking' a lot more in general. Take, for instance, the reason for my traveling to Florida for work for two weeks. I'm here, along with my parents, to take the place of vacationing co-workers who work in our family business (my day job). Well, because neither my mother, nor father, nor myself regularly perform the activities of the co-workers who are on vacation, we three have to work together to get the job of one person done. Essentially, we are yoking together - by pooling our resources, energies and capacities - in order to succeed. What a lightbulb that was when it occurred to me as I sat here writing this post!

Needless to say, I will be yoking my way through the day - in all my actions - for at least the next two weeks. Wait until I tell my parents that working with them is like being harnessed together like oxen! I think I'll need to elaborate a bit on that in order to connect the dots for them :). 

Until next time, happy yoking, friends!