Cowl weather is coming

Before I became a voracious knitter, decades ago now, I didn’t know what a cowl was. Now I sometimes even wear them in the summer or to take the bite out of an air-conditioned chill. This cowl is Purl Soho’s freebie: Floats Cowl. I knit mine out of Heritage Yarn’s Prime Alpaca. It’s a 100% alpaca sport weight.

I had difficulty with what should have been an easy knit. It’s a 2 row pattern and you work it looking at the non-public side. In other words, the floats, formed from slipping two stitches, form on the inside. On the next round, you purl the slipped stitches. For me, it was very difficult to look at my knitting and know which round I was on. Even when I started counting rounds, “odd round are slip stitch rounds and even rounds are plain rib,” my brain would lapse into the wrong stitches. Plus, it’s a very hard stitch to fix when you goof–at least it was for me. And every mistake shows up very obviously. I tried stitching a repair in one spot. That worked…poorly,

I tried working the stitch facing the public side. It doesn’t look the same. Moving the yarn before and after you slip the stitches anchors the yarn (or something like that) and it gives a different look.

I am typically good with really boring knits. Miles of garter stitch bore many experienced knitters. But not me. Apparently knitting something that’s only a bit boring and I lose my concentration and screw up. Sigh. This cowl is very warm. I’ll get good use out of it.

I knit the full 11 inches that the pattern called for. I blocked the cowl after soaking it in Eucalan, toweling out the moisture, and laying the cowl flat (without using any pins). I had lots of yarn and didn’t worry about the gauge. Mine came out to be 42 inches in circumference and 11 inches deep. A worthwhile knit. And because there’s a few mistakes in it, I will keep it for me!

This next cowl is Jenny F’s No January Blues Cowl. The blue is Tosh DK by Madelinetosh, a beefy DK that matched Mirasol Yarns Umina, which is actually a rather light worsted. Jenny F says “This DK/light worsted weight cowl uses 2 colors to create a gorgeous melange accessory that will effortlessly fit into your wardrobe.”  I knit this awhile back, as part of a mystery knit-a-long (MKAL). Honestly, I have been following the bandana cowl craze with disinterest and I don’t think I’d have knit it if I knew what I would end up with.


But it’s a pretty thing. I wore it, once, and people commented on it without mentioning that it’s a melange accessory. At least they didn’t ask if I was getting ready to rob a bank.

Here’s an easy peasy one, Boxing Clever, in bulky-weight Duo, by Jarbo-Garn. It’s an acrylic gradient-like yarn. Quite beautiful. This freebie cowl, designed by Susan Ashcroft of Stichnerd Designs, includes instructions for changing the size and yarn weight.

I cast on 108, despite this being a bulky-weight. This was me in stash-down mode, which continues apace. So I used up nearly all my remaining skein by working 5 rows of boxes, 60 rounds. It’s a wonderfully extravagant major cowl that you can easily knit in one night.

Wrapping me up

Isn’t this a pretty thing? It’s Michigan’s own Chris de Longpre’s Wrap Me Up. Instead of knitting it with worsted weight, as the original pattern calls for, many knitters (me too) knit this sampler wrap in fingering weight sock yarn. In sock weight, my version of the wrap turned out to be 14 inches wide and 55 inches long. So, still quite substantial.

I started out with these three somewhat mismatched skeins of Opal sockweight. I got each skein on sale and I suspect they are all discontinued colorways:

And, this one, my favorite of the trio:

For each new section of the sampler, I tried to use a different skein. Sometimes the colorways needed to be butted up against the same colorway for at least part of a section.

Here’s a closer look at a few of the sections:

I find that some of my favorite projects are those that let me do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. In this pattern, all the sections are knit onto others as you move along. Except for one. That long section of stacked garter stitch triangles is knit separately and then worked onto the main piece with picked up stitches and the magic of mattress stitch.

My only modifications are that I knit section 4 in all one colorway. And I added bobbles to section 21, a narrow ending strip.

If I make this again, especially if I’m working with colorways that share some of the same colors, I’d not thread so many sections with the yarn you’re working with, as the pattern directs. I’d use waste yarn instead. The stitches tighten up some and picking them up to work with again was difficult at times.

The two long-side edgings are worked after the body of the wrap is blocked. This needed a very aggressive blocking and a few of the sections refused to be completely tamed. But I still like it!

One I made several years ago is a wrap I’ve gotten a lot of wear out of. Here’s a link to some closeups of the first one I knit back in 2010:

Lonesome Dove

This is Susan Mills Knits Lonesome Dove, not to be confused with the awesome Larry McMurtry 1985 novel of the same name. I’m often curious why designers name patterns certain names and always welcome their explanations. But the pattern gives no explanation. I don’t see a dove, lonesome or otherwise in this wrap.

But I do see a wrap that drew me to it from the first time I saw it. In fact, I was so enamored of the pattern photos that I decided to work the wrap in exactly the yarn and colorways of the designer’s sample. I don’t do that often. Actually I often goof on colorway choices so maybe I should just be a blind follower more often.

The yarn is Plymouth Yarns’ Hearthstone, a marled sportweight in 80% merino and 20% alpaca.

I don’t work much in sportweight anymore. The yarn was a bit splitty, but that was sufficiently tamed by working with my sharp needles.

Here’s a closer look at a section of Lonesome Dove.

It was mostly a fun knit. A zillion bobbles will test a knitter’s stamina. But you get into a rhythm and then the work moves along quite nicely. With the knitting changing directions and yarns, Lonesome Dove is good for brushing up on your picking-up-stitches skills.

I’m confident that this wrap is going to work well with my wardrobe, which is deep but not wide. My four pairs of jeans are going to look great with it, as will my collection of black, gray and navy blue t-shirts!

Another good-bye to Classic Elite Liberty Wool

All of Classic Elite yarn is discontinued now that the company has folded. I’ve already discussed how much I wish it were not so. I’ve been working through some of my stash of Classic Elite recently, including their workhorse superwash worsted, Liberty Wool. It is, or was I guess, surprising yarn. It could even be a challenge to be sure you got the same colorway when buying multiple variegated balls for a project because, depending on where in the sequence the skein was wound, the balls would look quite different.

These four balls of Colorway 7581 wouldn’t have been my first choice in colors. But choices are very limited these days, if you do happen to find some still available. And 60% off made me more accepting of that St. Patrick’s Day green with the browns.

7581 turned into Molly, by Susan Mills Knits. A friend remarked that this Molly will go with any color coat. True. And folks will see you coming!

Molly’s a big fav of mine. Check out others I’ve knit here and here.

I won’t spill the beans in case you decide to knit Molly. But prepare yourself for a FOUR row pattern. Yep. Four rows, over and over and over. The scarf is reversible. But each side of the ruffle is different. And the sides are flipped along the ribbed spine of the scarf.  There are hints on Ravelry about how to read your knitting on this pattern and most of them involve marking right sides or wrong sides. That didn’t do anything for me. The “trick” to keeping your place in this pattern, which consists of two repeated rows followed by another two repeated rows, is to remember: if the ruffle you’re looking at has 2 ridges, work a row 1. If the ruffle you’re looking at has 4 ridges, work a row 2. And don’t forget that rows 2 and 3  aren’t done until you work across the entire width of the scarf. I know that won’t make any sense until you purchase the pattern and give it a try, but it really does tame Molly’s short rows.

I also still had 2 balls remaining of Colorway 7824, acquired in the same 60% off sale as my Molly yarn.

This colorway interested me more, at least from what I could see on the outside of the balls. Everyone who’s a color persnicketee buying this yarn knows to gently poke around in the center of the ball to see what colors are hiding within. Honestly, I didn’t much care. Let it be a surprise.

And it was:

How’d all that blue and green hide out in that center? I think it livens up the skein quite remarkably.

These mittens are another Susan Mills Knits pattern: Mitered Mittens. They are knit in one piece beginning with the cuff. The seams are sewn along the outside of the hand and around the pointed top and on the inside of the thumb. Either mitten fits either hand because the thumb gusset is worked on the side.

The large size is a perfect fit for me. And if the random variegated Liberty Wool doesn’t strike your fancy, try a self-striping worsted. I didn’t have any in my stash, but some of the striped versions of this mitten look great.

2-color slip stitch hats

Kelbourne Woolens is releasing a free hat pattern each month in 2019 as part of their Year of Hats series. They’ve gathered a good group of designers. Each hat is designed for worsted weight Germantown. Good old  Germantown. I used to buy it at my local “dime” store. I’m pleased that Kelbourne rescued that workhorse. Month-by-month, these freebies are available on Ravelry. A number of the patterns are standouts, this one included.

This is the June Hat, designed by Meghan Kelly.

You have to be willing to purl in the round, but that never troubles me. The basic technique is that you switch the yarn color each round, and the lines of raised stitches are created by slipping a stitch of the contrast color (at controlled intervals) in one round and knitting that stitch in the next round. Very clever.

The pattern doesn’t mention it, but it will be known by any except an absolute newbie, that you have to move the yarn to the nonpublic side of the work before and after slipping the stitch.

The pinwheel crown decreases are totally clever!

My June Hat is knit in a new-to-me yarn: Denim by Nako. Denim is 60% cotton, 40% acrylic. It reminds me some of Berroco Comfort, both in its feel and its handling. It’s very soft and would make excellent hats for the itch adverse or for chemo caps. I worked with my lacepoint needles because, like Comfort, for me the yarn was a bit splitty. Your mileage may vary, of course.

I was quite taken with the yarn, and with the slip stitch technique, so I looked for another pattern using slip stitches.  I’ve had Marina Hayes’s “Prepared for Vancouver?” hat in my queue since sometime around the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Some may have purchased the pattern through Knit Picks, where it went by the name Blue Ridge Hat. Vancouver uses stockinette as the slip stitch basis.

Here’s another view.

Vancouver alternates colors every 2 rounds. The raised lines of slipped stitches are formed by slipping a stitch in the first round and knitting that same stitch in the second round. Honestly, I find the result quite remarkable. It doesn’t seem like such a technique would end up looking like this.

And, again, the crown decreases work out well.

A new yarn and, for me, a hat-building technique I’ve not used much before. Great fun!