The Big Rainbow Tree Sweater

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I made this last year to take with me into the woods and wrap around a big tree.  In addition to this piece, I made about ten or twelve additional tree sweaters, either hand knit or sewn together from sweater scraps.  I am most proud of the rainbow one, though.  I’d envisioned a rainbow gently swirling around a tree, and that’s exactly what I got.  I had received a request for a pattern, so I wrote this up, intending to make it public somewhere a bit less fleeting than Facebook, but I never did.  Until now.

I wanted to post this pattern to Ravelry, but apparently they need an outside link, so that’s what this is.  What am I even doing with this blog anymore?  Apparently posting knitting patterns for giant rainbow tree sweaters, that’s what.

Here we go:

Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in the brightest freaking colors I could find, at least two skeins of each color used.

Needles: 8

Notions: A tree to wrap up when you’re done.  Some cookies wouldn’t hurt either, to reward yourself when you finish a stripe.  Netflix is a helpful tool as well.  I watched a lot of Dr. Who while working on this beast.  The cat is optional.

414119_10151233874436354_1966758258_oYou can use any colors you want, as many as you want, and make it as wide or as long as you want depending on how many stitches you cast on and by making sure you increase and decrease in the same spot every time.  It would probably look really cute as a scarf.  🙂

What I did was to cast on 20 sts in each color.  You could easily adjust the width of the stripes by changing the number of “middle stitches”.  For this pattern, there are 10 “middle stitches” and 10 “border stitches” (5 on each side) for each stripe, 20 sts total.

When I worked the first row, I twisted the yarn between each color change to make sure the blocks stayed together, and continued to do so over the whole piece (like you would with intarsia).  It should go without saying, but make sure you’re keeping your yarn twists to the WS.

Cast on your colors in the opposite order you want them to appear on the right side.  For me, I cast on 20 purple, 20 blue, 20 green, 20 yellow, 20 orange, 20 pink = 120 total.

The diagonal slant is formed every 4 rows.  You could work it every 2 rows for a sharper slant, or every 6 rows for a more gradual slant, etc.  On slant rows, you decrease one st from the color block at the beginning of the piece, and increase one st from the block at the end.  You increase and decrease one st each from all other blocks.

Row 1 (WS): (P3, K2, P10, K2, P3) 6 times (follow this pattern across each color)

Row 2 (RS): Work in pattern

Row 3: Work in pattern

Row 4 (First slant, set up new color): First color block: K2, P2, K10, P2, K2tog, K2.  All other color blocks: K2, inc in next st, P1, K10, P2, K2tog, K2. After all color blocks have been worked, CO 1 st in same color as the first color block worked.

Row 5: P1, (P3, K2, P10, K2, P3) 5 times across middle color blocks, P3, K2, P10, K2, P2 across last color block.

Row 6: Work in pattern

Row 7: Work in pattern

Row 8: First color block: K1, P2, K10, P2, K2tog, K2. Next 5 color blocks: K2, inc in next st, P1, K10, P2, K2tog, K2.  Last color block: Inc in final st.

Row 9: P2, (P3, K2, P10, K2, P3) 5 times across middle color blocks, P3, K2, P10, K2, P1 across last color block.

Row 10: Work in pattern

Row 11: Work in pattern

Row 12: First color block: P2, K10, P2, K2tog, K2. Next 5 color blocks: K2, inc in next st, P1, K10, P2, K2tog, K2.  Last color block: K1, inc in final st.

Row 13: P3, (P3, K2, P10, K2, P3) 5 times across middle color blocks, P3, K2, P10, K2 across last color block.

Row 14: Work in pattern

Row 15: Work in pattern

332205_10151227148931354_640842905_oRow 16: First color block: P1, K10, P2 K2tog, K2. Next 5 color blocks: K2, inc in next st, P1, K10, P2, K2tog, K2.  Last color block: K2, inc in final st.

Row 17: K1, P3, (P3, K2, P10, K2, P3) 5 times across middle color blocks, P3, K2, P10, K1 across last color block.

Row 18: Work in pattern

Row 19: Work in pattern

Row 20: First color block: K10, P2, K2tog, K2. Next 5 color blocks: K2, inc in next st, P1, K10, P2, K2tog, K2.  Last color block: K2, inc in next st, P1.

*NOTE: From here on out, you are going to work colors in the pattern established.  Each slant row, you will K the 3rd & 4th sts from the end of the color block together in the first color block, and you will increase 1 st in the 3rd st from the beginning of the last color block, working remaining sts as follows to form the slant: (K2, inc in next st, P1, K10, P2, K2tog, K2) until you reach the end of the row.  Turn and work in established pattern for the next three rows.

When you reach the end of a color block, you will K the remaining st tog with the last st of the new first color block, cut and tie the yarn.  Work the row as established, completing a new full color block at the end.  Work three rows even in the established pattern, then begin removing/adding the next color by starting at Row 1 again.

Once you get the pattern going it should make sense and be easy to follow.  If you have any questions, let me know.  🙂

Finishing: -Weave the ends in.  Or don’t.  You’re going to wrap it around a tree anyway.

-Wrap it around a tree.

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3 thoughts on “The Big Rainbow Tree Sweater

  1. Would the tree sweater help protect the tree? E.g., pests, drought, etc. What gave you this idea? I am fascinated with the possibilities for different types of repurposed fabrics.

    • I don’t know about tree protection, they’re mainly for decoration. This one was on a tree for four days and then came down, it was part of a mini-art installation at a camping event. It actually rained quite heavily for two days during the event, so I’m glad I used Red Heart! Easy to wash. 🙂

      I got the idea because I’d been aware of “yarn graffiti” for quite some time (do an image search for “yarn bombing”), and our camp wanted to have a Dr. Seuss theme, which reminded me of colored trees and some of the cool stuff I’d seen done. One time when I was visiting Austin, I actually saw an entire installation where rows and rows of trees had been “bombed”!

      Yarn Bombing in Austin

  2. Amazing. I will have to come up with a good ecological reason to do this. It would likely prevent the deer from chewing the bark.

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