Amazing Technicolor Dream Cowl

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It started with this. All true yarnies know that this is pretty much irresistable. As long as the bills are getting paid and food’s on the table, Knitted Wit Gumball fingering weight in this kitted-up configuration is going to end up in a knitter’s shopping cart.

Knitted Wit Gumball is the yarn that Shannon Squire recommends for her Amazing Technicolor Dream Cowl. It’s a slip stitch (mosaic) pattern that’s easily mastered. And the result?

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The result is a wonderful cowl.

I made a few modifications, more on that in a bit, but have a closer look at the front. That’s if I can pry it off my glass head, because she’s gotten a bit possessive about it.

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A raid into my mom’s and my grandmother’s button box found three mismatched buttons that completed the look.

This is knit as a tube. I used circular needles, rather than “magic loop.” I decided not to make this the project where I finally learn Judy’s Magic Cast On. I’ve tried that before, and I hear it’s a great cast-on. But I’ve watched the recommended videos and I still can’t make it work for me. Instead, I did an easy provisional crochet cast-on. (Here’s Lucy Neatby’s great video on that one.) When I was finished, I just “kitchenered” the cast-on together to flatten the tube. Kitchener was already called for at the end section, anyway, soon after the three buttonholes are knit on both halves of the tube. I found that the buttonholes needed to be stitched together to make the cowl easier to button.

Squire provided the same clearly important caution about the order of the colors in different ways. I found the directions confusing. Color A/Color B, AND 2nd color and 1st color, had my head spinning. In case you have the same problem, this is my interpretation of the directions arrived at by studying the pattern sample photos and other cowls posted on Ravelry.

Cast on in whatever color you want to start with, white in my case. The next pair of the gumball pattern (in mine) is skyblue, white, skyblue, white. Next is medium green, skyblue, medium green, skyblue. Next is light gray, medium green, light gray, medium green. Then, brown, light gray, brown, light gray. In other words, each time you start another gumball pattern, you start the pattern so that the color you used first in the previous set of rounds becomes the color you use second in the next set of rounds. Sigh. I’m not sure if that’s any more clear. But once I understood it that way, well, then I understood it.

Here’s a look at the back:

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I knit the wider/shorter version, rather than the skinnier/longer version.

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Novelty hats

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This is “Owl Be There” from Lauren Riker’s “Family of Animal Hats.” I knit mine in Valley Yarns, Valley Superwash Bulky. I’m not typically a big fan of bulky weights, but this WEBS merino house brand won me over. This hat was worked in leftovers from Evelyn’s Welcome Home blanket. Unlike most bulky weights, the balls only rarely had any knots. Machine wash, gentle. Tumble dry, low. Perfect for kid stuff.

Speaking of kid stuff. Here’s Evelyn, at 6 months, wearing her new bonnet.

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To keep the edges from rolling, I added an applied I-cord border instead of the recommended blanket stitch trim. That worked well. And I just continued the I-cord to knit the ties instead of using braided ties. I also couldn’t quite make gauge in this yarn, so I knit the child size instead of the baby size and it all worked.

I thought I’d also knit my grandson a hat he won’t want to wear once he gets a tad older. Grandmothers are supposed to do the “even Steven” thing, right? So, this next one is Isaac’s Rainbow Trout Hat. It’s a Mountain Colors kit, worked in their 3-ply bulky wool, and designed by Diana McKay.

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Earflaps and a tail. Excellent candidate for pre-school “Silly Hat” day this year.

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Fair Isle worked in bulky weight doesn’t show off the technique to good advantage. But with the tail on the top of the hat, I think most viewers will recognize that this hat’s got a fish theme going.

It’s probably not fair to feature a hat on this novelty hat post just because it, and its yarn, have silly names. But, I’ll not be talked out of it. This next hat is Robyn Schrager’s Bambloom Beanie knit in Universal Yarn’s Bamboo Bloom Handpaint. I call the hat Bambini for short.

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Bambini started out its fibery life in my stash as this.

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It took me  a good long while to figure out what it wanted to be. But I am well-satisfied with the result. And so was my niece when she chose Bambini as one of her holiday presents.

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The pattern calls for a crocheted do-dad.  But I’m seriously crochet-impaired and needed to come up with something different. My knitted flower is “Flora Bunda” from Nicki Epstein’s book, “Knitted Embellishments.” Instead of doing 28 tendril repeats, I did 16. Once I spotted a perfect color vintage button in my mom’s button box, the one that incorporates her mom’s button box, I figured I’d produced a hat that one of my stylish nieces would like. And, as I recall, this hat took the honor of being the first hat chosen at the 2015 “pick-your-knitted-gifts” party.

Comforting Windschief

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This is a stand-by knit for me. Mindless. Always comes out just the way it’s supposed to. I often knit this close-fitting cowl in Berroco Comfort worsted weight. Those who say “no way” to wool cowls can be convinced to try this on and it will pass the itch test.

It’s Stephen West’s Windschief, one of his older patterns before he got into theatrical presentations of super-creative stuff. I rather like the old West. And this is a great little pattern.

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My young neighbor chose the purple Windschief as one of his pick-your-gifts this year. He promptly pulled it up over his nose and struck a ninja pose.

I knit this next one during a long car ride over the weekend. And, yep, I was passengering. Another Comfort cowl. Comfort comes in a great range of colors. But, for this one I decided a dark dignified gray would work.

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This gray one was my 7th Windschief. Here’s a few I’ve knit that show off the Comfort Colors to good effect.

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This cowl pattern has a nifty extra. West provides instructions to work a crown decrease rather than that top ribbing. The resulting hat is super-cute.

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Shifting Silk Scarf

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Sally’s Shifting Silk Scarf certainly seems simply stunning. (Try to say that tongue twister three times fast.)  Karla Krueger’s straightforward design shows off these difficult-to-work Loom yarns to great effect.

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Risoni. Speck. Fusilli 80. May we never meet again. Lordy. I did not like knitting with thread. There’s no other way to describe this stuff. Let me try again. Maybe I can capture it better. I did not like knitting with lumpy thread. The only yarn worse than Fusilli 80 was Risoni. Speck, the lightest orange in the bunch was better to work with. What made this doable for me were my ChiaoGoo lacepoint sharps and my conviction that a certain knitworthy friend of mine was going to like this a lot. (And she did.)

The Shifting Silk Scarf kit is the one you may have seen in shops stuffed into a clear plastic small container with a hole in the top to feed yarn through. The pattern is planted in the kit, through the hole, clipped to something that looks like what a florist stuffs into an arrangement to hold the gift card. I saved the container because that little gizmo may come in handy for wrestling with some future unruly yarn.

Here’s another view.

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The scarf needed wet blocking. But, once blocked, it’s basically kept its edges uncurled. The pattern cautions to block the work dry and then wet it down because otherwise the threads may snap. Believe me I took that caution to heart. That was the nightmare scenario.

This was 490 yards of mindless knitting. Despite all my grumbling, I pronounce it a wonderful result.

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Morehouse Farm creations

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I’ve been a fan of Morehouse Farm patterns and kits for decades. What’s not to like about quality merino wool from a family-owned company that raises sheep, gives away a free pattern every day, writes a quality newsletter, and has great patterns. And I’ve never purchased a Morehouse Farm kit that didn’t leave me with lots of yarn left over. So none of that super-fast knitting as you get to the end of a kitted pattern to try to make sure you won’t run out of yarn.

This is Marina Merino Doll. The pattern is also separately available for purchase on the Morehouse website. It has its challenges, but the knitting is well worth the effort.

Effort? Your wondering what effort something so simple takes? Check out Marina’s lovely curls:

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(And don’t notice that seam in her skirt. Merina is very forgiving about her frocks and we should be too.)

This is knit in Morehouse Gator Yarn, a sportweight 2-ply with a fairly tight twist. Knitting the hairdo is honestly not the most fun I’ve had in my knitting life recently. But I really like the result. The pattern calls for tossing the doll in the washing machine to lightly felt it before stuffing. I decided to just steam before stuffing and I’m satisfied with the result.

This next Morehouse kit is Ziraffe (with a few modifications).

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I think one of the most prominent features of a giraffe are its ears. But Ziraffe had no ears. So I cast on 8 stitches, purled one row, and did sort of center decreases. Then I knit a second set slightly smaller than the first. I sewed the sets together, shaping them a bit. My ears are OK, I think. I also added a pair of small velvety horns.

Then I kept looking at him thinking that every giraffe I’ve met has quite a muzzle on him and a tongue that just won’t quit. So I experimented and ended up knitting sort of a small doughnut and sewing it in place. Then came the tongue. I’m satisfied. After all, he’s a ziraffe, not a giraffe. Here’s a look from another angle.

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By then modifications started taking over. Instead of a looped mane and tail, I decided ziraffe needed a fancier mane. So I cast on 30 stitches. Knit two. Then I increased 6 stitches in the next stitch. Next, I bound off those 6 stitches and then knit one stitch. I just worked through the 30 stitches this way until all cast-on stitches were worked. Knit one row. Bind off. I sewed the strip of mane on instead of doing the looped mane. It’s just a look I prefer. I also did a thicker braided tail–using 9 strands of yarn, doubled through the body, so there were 6 strands in each section of the braid.

Margrit of Morehouse Farm was the heart and soul and grit of the company for many years. In October of 2015, the sad news was released that she’d lost her long battle with ovarian cancer. A few months before she died, Margrit bravely wrote that she seemed to be losing that battle in what she called her “good news” “bad news” email to customers. She publicly announced her illness and that she was looking for a buyer for her business. And then she offered us great sale prices on items in her shop.

Without fail, working a Morehouse Farm critter scarf or critter pattern brought smiles. Margrit’s patterns and yarns have been a great gift to the knitting universe.