Cowls

It’s definitely not summer anymore here in Michigan. The boat is stored. The dock is out of the water. The colorful Adirondack chairs are trussed up in their winter covers. And we’ve had our first snow squall. So it’s now officially wear-your-cowls weather.

This is Tanis Gray’s Republic of Splendor Cowl, knit in a Showstopper Gradient pack from Leading Men Fiber Arts. The yarn is 552 yards of light fingering weight in 75% merino and 25% nylon. Here’s what it looked like before my knitting kicked it into gear.

As with many a gradient set purchased without a specific pattern in mind, this one lived in my stash for a few years before I decided what to do with it. Someday I probably need to grow up to be a more disciplined stash enhancer. But pretty much everything ends up being used. At some point. Gray’s pattern was designed specifically for this yarn.

I like the final result. A lot, actually. It’s beautiful and I’ll get plenty of wear out of it. But, despite the color changes, the process of knitting it got a tad boring. And I’m not a huge fan of working pairs of 1 over 1 cables. The fact that I sometimes have a meandering attention span span doesn’t merit marking the pattern down, though. If I were talking to Dick Clark it would be “Good beat. Fun to dance to. I give it a 10.”

Here’s another view of Republic of Splendor.

GlassHead is asking why this cowl is called Republic of Splendor. The only thing that comes up in a google search points to a company’s $26.00 Republic of Splendor “B-Line Eye Pen.” I’m not familiar with eye pens or even with make-up in general. The pen is “the ultimate quick-change artist,” and “crosses smoothly from smoky-eye to cat eye–” whatever that means. It has a “silky matte finish [that] can fake a full night of sleep.”  Doubtful that was the inspiration for the cowl’s name. It’s a great cowl even though it can’t fake a full night of sleep.

Some cowls sit for awhile in my gift stash while I consider whether I want to keep them for me. This next one, Melissa LaBarre’s Elyse Cowl, bypassed the gift stash and went straight to my neck. It’s designed for worsted weight. I used Mirasol’s Umina. It’s 50% alpaca, 50% merino. Ravelry classifies it as an Aran weight. For me it worked up as a worsted.

It’s been a long time since I’ve knitted welts. In fact, my last welt adventure was in 2013. It was the difficult to photograph/impossible to wear Sediment Collar. (If you check out that old post there’s a happy ending to the story. One of my adult nieces actually liked the thing.) Turning to this new welt project. It’s a success!

Knitting a welt, which nowadays most folks call a tuck, involves dropping down a set number of rows and knitting the back of the stitches below into the stitches on your needle.

The welts are a tad tricky to get consistent. I didn’t succeed 100% of the time. I modified the pattern by knitting a total of 4 repeats of the pattern, rather than 3, before working the closing pattern rounds. I had enough yarn and I was very much enjoying the process. To make it easier to pick up the stitches from the rows below, I used a short double-pointed needle 4 sizes smaller than the circular I was working on, so a US 3 rather than a 7, and slipped the lower stitches onto the smaller needle to help complete the join.

My cowl turned out to be 6.25 inches wide and 58 inches long. I didn’t block it because it didn’t need it.

I wanted to make the edges look more finished so I used the so-called “Chinese waitress” cast-on and the matching double chain bind-off. Both create a very tidy, tubular edge.

I have a confession to make on this next one. Pine Sway Cowl is a beautiful freebie cowl pattern from the very talented designer Juju Vail. She’s associated with Loops of London. Pine Sway is designed for the somewhat pricey Fibre Company Cumbria, which is 60% merino, 30% masham, 10% mohair. My Pine Sway is not, in my view, a success.

I had two skeins of Cumbria in my stash, Hellvelyn and Purple Moor Grass.

 

So, to me they looked like they were a “go” for Pine Sway. Admittedly, the Purple Moor Grass was more electric looking than my skein photo showed. But it’s exactly the yarn the pattern called for.

 

Hmm. I don’t think so. The colors don’t do well together. I believe it’s likely that Pine Sway is going to be frogged soon. Very soon. Maybe this evening. Alone, these two skeins will make two great accessories. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t have to show it to you. But I shouldn’t be prideful about my knitting. Most of it works. Some of it doesn’t. Pine Sway is a wonderful cowl. It was a fun knit. It is beautifully extravagant and covers your shoulders and is totally cozy. Don’t shy away from the pattern because my color sense failed me.

Being prideful about my knitting, I decided I’d end this post with a success. This next cowl is Iris Schreier’s Puffy Cable Cowl. The pattern doesn’t seem to be downloadable but the Ravelry entry identifies where it’s available. Mine was included in a kit that also included 170 yards of DK weight Cashmere Glitter by ArtYarns. Normally, this kit is one of those take-out-a-mortgage kits. But I purchased mine very deeply discounted at a shop closing.

‘Tis a small thing. But sweet. Lovely loping reversible cables. A little bit of glitter that isn’t captured in my photos. GlassHead says she always knew she was glamorous and this cowl proves it. I told her not to get a big head because hers is already stuffed with colorful vintage mohair and that’s not one bit glamorous.

Waiting for the Sun

I thought about just posting this shawl, telling you it’s Ute Nawratil’s Waiting for the Sun, and maybe saying nothing more. I like this shawl so much I can barely find the words.

First, what it’s made of. That’s easy to write about. I used exactly what  Nawratil used in the main pattern photo: Lang Yarns Mille Colori Baby in colorway 14 Infrared and Schachenmayr-Regia Uni 4-ply in the Athrazit colorway. The color-changing Mille Colori is 100% merino. The Schachenmayr-Regia is basically a sock yarn, in “75% wool, 25% nylon.” The sock yarn was totally solid to work with. The Mille Colori, not so much. It’s thick, thin, very thin, and a bit fuzzy. But the colors! Goodness, the colors, There were stretches of the Mille Colori that were basically black and I, as well as Nawratil, cut out those sections as I encountered them. This patterns works best when the solid color isn’t repeated in the color-changing yarn.

My Waiting for the Sun is 66 inches along the top edge and 25 inches at its deepest point. This result is after I soaked it and laid it flat, pinning only the top to ease the shawl into a semi-circle shape.

Here’s a closeup.

And yet another look.

I am in awe of people who can design stuff like this. I was fearful of knitting it. And there were a few “technical” challenges. You can read more about those here if you want a deeper dive into the pinhole caston, the directional shifts, or that long I-cord bind-off that is partly knitted on with picked up stitches and partly worked on live stitches.

I bought my yarn about two years before I cast-on. I kept looking at the yarn, and at the pattern photos, and at the projects and notes of 96 Ravelers who’d knit this before I did. I gobbled up every bit of advice I could gather–even before I actually purchased the pattern. I did what I don’t characteristically do (but should). I read the pattern before I started to knit it.

Do you remember being in say, 6th grade? Do you remember looking at your math book at the start of the year?  Stay with me now. Those first few chapters looked manageable. But the last few chapters? Didn’t they just scare the bejesus out of you? I mean, heavens to Betsy, I’ll never be able to do that. Let’s see if I can convey it with yet more archaic phrases. One of them might make sense to at least some of you.  For crying out loud, this is way too hard. For Pete’s sake, I’m toast.

When I do read a pattern beforehand I fairly regularly can’t make heads or tails of it. But once my needles are in my hands, it makes sense. This time I read the pattern first. Some made sense. A number of the sections left me scratching my head. I felt like that 6th grader taking a peek at the back of the math book.  So I put off knitting Waiting For the Sun.

Finally, I trusted the pattern. The pattern didn’t fail and didn’t let me fail. I am so very glad that I stopped waiting and knit this shawl. It’s already a favorite on these chilly fall days.

Cradle bag and itty bitty doll clothes

All together now: make your happy sound. Like you’re 5 and expected that your grandmother was going to knit your “lovies” the backpack and pillows you asked for (and received) but then she knit this too. It’s Frankie Brown’s Cradle Bag.

The pattern is free and includes the cradle, with its combo sleeping bag, and attached pillow. Here’s one of the best parts of this:

You pull up on the cradle sides, gather the cords together, and your doll is packed up and ready to go. As with all Brown’s patterns, this one’s a freebie. The pattern calls for DK weight yarn. I used Sandes Garn’s “Smart,” a washable wool. I’ve not used this yarn before. It feels great and worked up very nicely.

I had trouble finding a quality 5 inch doll. I purchased my Berenguer Itty Bitty 5 inch baby doll from this Etsy seller. I am tickled with the Cradle Bag and with the quality of Itty Bitty.

Clearly, she needed some itty bitty clothes.

This is Frankie Brown’s freebie Mini Doll Summertime, wearing the hat from the companion rompers included in the same pattern.

I knit mine in Kate Davies Milarrochy Tweed. I bought these colors of this pricey yarn for a special project that didn’t work. But I’ve had fun using small amounts of it in other projects.

This next one is from the same Mini Doll Summertime pattern. Brown calls them “rompers.” Same hat as the red one, but I added a band and a tiny knitted flower. I knit this set in Brooklyn Tweed Peerie. These tiny outfits use so little yarn that I was able to knit them in small amounts of leftovers from other projects. You need about as much yarn as you’d use in the heel of a sock!

Rather than make two straps and fasten them in the back with a small sew-on snap, as the pattern directs, I decided to criss-cross the straps in the back. Then I sewed them both to the ribbed band. Why? I didn’t have any small snaps. My hack makes it harder to dress the doll. But my granddaughter quickly figured it out. You put the feet in first, bring the dolls arms down next to her body, and then the arms go through the straps easily.

Next up Itty Bitty is modeling a heavily modified version of Angelica Dress for 5″ doll by Taffylass. The original is cute, but the size was coming out way off for me, even when I went down a number of needle sizes. The hat is Joyce Summers freebie Sun Hat for 5-inch Doll. The white and yellow are the same yarn as the Cradle Bag. And that green is a bit of Plymouth Yarn Superwash Merino DK.

Here’s the same hat knit in the Plymouth Yarn superwash.

These little bits are such quick knits that even a bilnd follower knitter like me is tempted to experiment. The diaper cover is my experiment. It worked out just fine. I cast on 24 stitches in the round. Then I knit 3 rounds of k2, p2. In the next round, I knit 4, made 1, around the round because Itty Bitty is fat, fat the water rat. I’m sorry, I meant to say that Itty Bitty is chubby. Then I knit 5 rounds. In the next round, I k2 together, k 3 all around the round to the last 4 stitches, k 4. For the top ribbing, I K1, p1 for 3 rounds. I reversed direction and bound off loosely, knit wise. To create the leg holes, I just stitched through the middle stitches at the bottom of the ribbing.

So far, the knits were easy and not really fiddly. These last two were admittedly fiddly, but I like them best of all. This one is Frankie Brown’s Mini Doll Bedtime. My granddaughter reached for these first off. She seems quite taken with these pjs. They are knit in Wobble Gobble SW Merino Fingering Weight.

Brown is really a major knitting talent. And her doll outfits are just the tip of a very big iceberg. This next set is from her Mini Doll Wintertime pattern. It’s a frilly skirt and hat in Socks that Rock leftovers and a sweater in Peppino by Rhichard Devrieze.

Here’s a look at the whole set. You’ll see me experimenting with a pair of underpants. And there’s a pair of pants too.

And, finally, one more look at Frankie Brown’s sweet cradle bag.

My dad might have said it’s “the greatest thing since sliced bread.” What’s the greatest thing before sliced bread, you might ask? The expression derives from a 1921 advertising campaign for Wonder Bread that bragged it was “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.” Somehow our collective brain thought that funny and transposed the expression from wrapping bread to pre-slicing it. This little cradle bag is an old idea. Maybe it helped a child occupy themselves when they needed to be quiet. Like in church. My granddaughter thinks it’s…the greatest thing. Period.

A few new shawls

This is Kirsten Kapur’s Cladonia minus its lovely loopy picot edge because, alas and alack, I ran out of yarn. So, mostly alack. I was determined to give the edging a try. With ten inches remaining I ran out of yarn. ARGGH. Honestly, though, I’m not a big loopy fringe person so I’m totally satisfied.

As cool a shawl pattern as this is, and it is, my guess is what captivates is this yarn. This yarn is Gauge Dye Works MCN fingering yarn, self-striping. I’ve had the yarn long enough that my ball band is from the before-times when this company called itself Caterpillar Green. Here’s my skein of their Olive Branch colorway.

It’s spectacular yarn.

I am very pleased about the name change because I knit this shawl in late July and early August during the height of a serious gypsy moth infestation in my neck of the woods. The assault of the caterpillars and their frass (as in from-r-ass) was totally disconcerting. Usually I save a ball band until I’ve completed a project. This one I discarded quickly. It conjured up evil feelings as I contemplated having to abandon our deck for almost two months while the wiggly ones ate our big oak tree. Ugh. Back to the sublime. My pretty shawl. Here’s a close-up.

Cladonia is easy peasy worked from the top down. The lace work at the end is simply accomplished. And by then a knitter is committed to the project and that helps concentration.

With Gauge Dye Works yarn the yarn does all the color work. You find the end with a length of undyed yarn, snip it off, and then–at least in Olive Branch–you’re good-to-go. Triangle and half circle shawls work well. And by poking around on Ravelry or participating in the Gauge Dye Works group you can see how various yarns work up in various patterns.  My skein was 170 grams, just under 600 yards.

Here’s Cladonia spread out to to show off its full wingspan of 54 inches across the top and 27 inches at its deepest. This yarn makes the somewhat boring stockinette main section of the shawl interesting. You can’t help but look forward to the next color shift.

If you’re interested in purchasing Gauge Dye Works yarns your best bet is to sign up for their emails. Because once a batch becomes available it sells out super-fast. The price is, well, a lot. But I think it’s totally worth it to have this much of a yarnie adventure.

It’s definitely time for me to post my version of Laura Aylor’s Summer Camp small shawl. In a calm non-jewel-toned moment awhile back I purchased two off-white skeins of Rhichard DeVrieze Peppino. That’s his wonderful merino fingering weight yarn. So I had 450 yards of yarn that begged to be combined with something else. My something else turned out to be a 438 yard skein of Wobble Gobble‘s merino fingering weight.

Summer Camp is very lightweight. I wanted something that I could wear on cooler summer evenings while being feted at the pizza place in the back of the BP station, a major Hillman activity hub that also houses a Subway. It could even dress up my Dollar Store shopping trips. Not that there’s been any out-on-the-town dates of late. Or any non-essential shopping trips. Not this year. But we can still knit!

Summer Camp is a wonderfully clear pattern. Aylor even includes a row-by-row stitch count chart, laid out stripe-by-longer stripe. I started mine with the solid color so that the scallops in the bind-off would end in the speckled Wobble Gobble.

Here’s a closer look at the Wobble Gobble I used. Wonderful yarn.

White knits

So far I’ve recently written about my new orange, blue, brown, and red knits. I know. Not really much of a way to organize my presentation. This is the last planned post that plays with just one color. And this time it’s white and sort-of-white.

Didn’t this turn out sweet? It’s Knitwise Design’s Hunting Season Hat. In my version, I’ll have to dub it Snow Season Hat. This is my third time knitting this hat and I’ve yet to knit it in blaze orange. This version is knit in Blue Sky Extra. There’s a bit of story to that. I bought my Extra in New Orleans on a business trip at a wonderful shop in the French Quarter. I knit most of it up in my Minnie. It’s a wonderful Aran weight yarn, in 55% merino 45% alpaca. And the extra must refer to extra soft because it definitely is.

I had extra Extra, so I lengthened my Annie Baker Designs Minnie to an extravagant 69 inches. It’s 11 inches at its widest point.

It was such a pretty thing. “Was” is the operative word. I simply couldn’t figure out how to wear it. I watched some videos on how to wear shawls and scarves. I got advice from friends. I finally decided to wear it once and someone told me it made “a bit of a statement.” Indeed. I frogged it. The yarn had been garter stitched for more than three years when I unravelled it and rolled it into a nice big ball. It was very kinked up but, honestly, I just didn’t feel like going through the effort to wash it and re-skein it. I just knit my hat, kinks and all.

I couldn’t be more pleased with it. Here’s a look at its crown decreases.

Hunting Season Hat barely made a dent in my frogged Extra. So I decided to knit Antonia Shankland’s Hello Cowl. It’s a Ravely freebie.

It knitted up very kinky looking and needed a complete soak to relax into the pattern. The soaking caused the crispness of the patterning to disappear. But I still like it. A lot actually. I cast on 130 stitches rather than 110 to widen the circumference. We’ve had some very chilly pontoon rides on the lake this week. I wore the cowl, some of the time, as Glass Head is modeling it. Sort of a snood.

I know I will get much more use out of this hat and cowl than Minnie. Minnie is a very sweet pattern, though. Don’t shy away from it just because I couldn’t get it to look quite right on me.

Maybe you remember that I totally overbought on my Paintbox Yarns Simply Aran when I knit two Canada Geese for my grandkids?  The pattern said one skein of white. I was making two geese. I bought two 100 gram skeins.  Think about a Canada Goose. Their only white markings are a neckband and their chest. So I had gobs of acrylic Aran weight yarn left to work with. Hats. Knitting hats in warm weather is a thing with me.

This one is Lea Petäjä’s Neulepipo Novita 7 Veljestä. When I put the title into the Google translator it translates as “Knit Hat from Novita 7 Brother.” Novita 7 Veljestä is a yarn from Novitaknits, a Helsinki company. I’m a fan of no-nonsense pattern names so “Knit Hat” suits me.

It’s an excellent combination of meandering cables and nice beefy bobbles. I’ve always enjoyed working a rolled brim when the rolling is tamed by ribbing. And the crown decreases work well too.

My white Paintbox Aran yarn Canada Geese purchase still wasn’t exhausted. This next hat from the goose stash is another Ravelry freebie: Foryla by ArtbyTekora.

Foryla means “whirl” in Cornish. These alternating medallion cables do have a whirl quality to them. They were a boatload of fun to knit. The crown decreases got rather untidy though. But unless someone is filming a drone video above you that doesn’t matter too much. This time, I think that the body of the hat makes up for it. And it’s entirely possible I goofed on following the crown decrease instructions.

For a closing laugh since I know how many of you are not dishcloth knitters, here’s Evelyn A. Clark’s Bathtime Blossoms, a Fiber Trends pattern. I knit mine in sportweight Appalachian Baby Design US organic cotton. Call it a spa cloth if that better suits. This yarn was left over from a baby hat kit I knit up years ago. Such a pretty thing! Using up oddments  is yet another good excuse for dishcloth knitting. If you need any excuses, Dot, now that you’ve begun your journey into dishcloth knitting.