Monday, April 21, 2008

The Triangle Coat

I had always wanted to create a garment using a sheep fleece. Whilst camping on a Welsh sheep farm last year I asked the owner Mary Raw . if I could buy some fleece to learn to spin. She asked her son who gave me 2 white fleeces and one black. Thank you both.

I came home to sunny Nottinghamshire and scoured the web to find out how to scour the fleece and then how to spin it. It seemed I learned a whole new language; words like scour, rollag, sliver, fingering, slub, knop, and noil became part of my vocabulary along with top and bottom whorl. I was hooked but

I couldn’t afford a spinning wheel.

I found a U tube tutorial on how to use a drop spindle:-

By entering the search terms drop spindle basics.

I found web pages on how to use and how to choose a spindle:-

Then I bought one from EBay:-

I took a few weeks practicing and made enough yarn for a hooded jacket which I designed as I went along. I loved the natural colours, the warmth and the fit but found the texture coarse. Also as my spinning improved I kept adapting it to be more functional even having a pocket for my iPod, one for my phone and two for my hands.

My husband realized I was quite interested in spinning by then ( I cant think how!)and bought me a book; ‘Spin it’ by Lee Raven. It made it all seem so simple.

My friend Jacqui who visits farms all over England in her job presented me with a fleece from Yorkshire from a breed apparently prized by spinners; Texel. My spinning took off in leaps and bounds. I wanted to make a coat so I did. I first thought of making a huge circle by joining triangular sections and inserting sleeves, this felt too heavy as it progressed so then I hit on the idea of pinning the triangles to my tailors dummy to see how they draped.

The triangle coat was born.


You will need: - one pair size 5mm to size 7mm knitting needles, and approx 750 to 800 grams of yarn. One Large button and a bikini fastening or hook and eye.

My yarn was handspun single ply which varied in thickness from a little thicker than double knit to some very fine stuff which had to be knitted double.

Cast on 80 stitches and knit in k2 p2 rib for three rows then decrease once at either end of the next row.

*Continue to work in rib for two more rows and decrease once at either end of the 3rd row. Repeat from *until 3 stitches remain cast off.

You now have a triangle.

Make 5 more triangles in the same manner, some may start with 70 stitches and others with 90 stitches or you can do them all the same. The variation gives individuality to the finished coat.


The back of the coat is made starting with the collar; one triangle is centrally placed so that it points downwards and the short edge drapes over the shoulders from behind folding as it does so to form a collar/revers.

The rest of the coat is built around this so to speak.

Two triangles are sewn to the lower sides of the initial triangle starting at the lowest point A(The centre of the back) and working up towards the arm holes. Thus three triangles form the upper back like pieces of a pie or segments of an orange. A further (the smallest) triangle is sewn along one of its’ longer sides to the bottom of the back piece forming a short pointed drape for added swing; don’t worry it won’t trail on the ground.

You can do this best using a tailor’s dummy.


You then take two triangles and pin them so that they meet the collar one at either side where the collar begins to curve down the front. Sew them in place from about 25 cm along the collar edge allowing the collar to fold over the tip of each triangle for around 15 cm.

The armholes are left open about 20cm as the front panel triangles are joined to the side pie segment triangles.

The lower edge of this coat is intended to be irregular and to swing as you walk.

The banding and blue colour shown in the photos is due to the hand scoured fleece still bearing the farmer’s I.D. marking dye; it washed out when I washed the finished item.


The sleeves are worked by casting on around 54 stitches and working in rib straight for around about 20 cm to the elbow then decreasing at the end of every 3rd row until it reaches from your shoulder to your wrist then decrease each row to cast off at a point on the back of your hand

Insert the sleeves by sewing their side seems and then sewing them into the armhole making sure the seams lies on the inner arm.

(I know; the one in the picture started out too wide I had to adjust it and start afresh with fewer stitches!)


I found that the coat pulled down from the button fastening point so I chose a very large button and reinforced the front yoke by picking up around 25 stitches from the armhole front edge and working a strip of ribbed knitting to the fastening edge behind the button. This formed a double layer of knitting across the bust area which I sewed in place to reinforce the yoke.

I did the same from the other armhole edge to the front edge and then continued in rib to the centre of the tab and turning for two rows and then picking up the stitches from the other side of the tab and knitting and turning them for two rows then knitting across these stitches keeping the decreases constant until the casting off point. This made a button hole. I then added a button and a hook and eye behind the button tab to finish this coat.

With any luck your finished coat should look something like this:-

Unique; even if you did manage to follow the pattern!

Since I finished this coat I have had a few felting classes and have made a few bags and pictures. I have learned to ply with my drop spindle and also experimented using acid dyes. I am now waiting the next batch of fleece which may include a llama fleece from yet another friend. For the time being it is time to practice writing up my knitting patterns and using up my not too insignificant yarn stash. Roll on May and the shearing season….