Neck stuff

This is Erika Florey’s Callowhill Cowl. Knit in Kelbourne Woolens Scout, a 100% wool DK weight. I’ve knit this cowl once before after Craftsy bundled the pattern and Cloudborn Superwash Merino DK for (basically) 23 cents. OK, not that cheap but very very cheap. I enjoyed the knit but found the yarn wanting. I found the pattern fun to knit, with wonderful texture. But as the pattern is written it’s quite a small circumference cowl. A bit smaller circumference than I’m comfortable with.

This time I knit it with excellent yarn. I’ve not used Scout before but I definitely enjoyed working with it. The stitch definition was great even in this heathered colorway. And, duh, I cast on an extra 16 stitches to add about 3 inches to the circumference. Perfect!

To be sure that my bindoff wouldn’t be too firm, I used a modified version of Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bindoff (JSSBO). Check out Laura Nelkin’s video on the modification. Basically, you only work the yarn over that’s the defining feature of JSSBO on the knit stitches. You bind off the purl stitches regularly without any added yarn over. Decreasing the number of yarn overs reduces the pesky flare that typically accompanies JSSBO without compromising the needed stretchiness.

I enjoyed the Callowhill knit so much that I decided to cast on for a second cowl almost immediately.

Here it is in Moo Roo Yarns Midnight DK, a 70% merino 30% silk next-to-the-skin soft yarn. This one I’m keeping for me. But working with Moo Roo in this colorway was more of an adventure than I wanted. I’ve never worked with a yarn that leached as much dye as this skein!

As I knit with it, I saw that my white rubbery stitch markers were turning pink. No big deal. I saw the streak of red following where the yarn threaded over my throwing finger. I didn’t realize it was getting all over my hands and fingernails until later but, oh well. Red dye. Indie dyers. After the first evening of working with Moo Roo, I thoroughly washed and rinsed my hands. Then I wiped them on my white hand towel. Big mistake. Pink stains on the towel, which I found in the morning. The next day I completed the cowl. I washed my hands and got out a nail brush. The brush turned red. Major rinse (or so I thought) of everything and again I somehow still managed to stain the fresh white hand towel. Enough already! My mood was turning less forgiving.

Later in the day I went downstairs to wind yarn in my knitting room and saw dust (or so I thought) on my work table. It was red/orange dye! I wiped it away with my hand and my hand was red again. OK…washed that off. This time I dried my hands with paper towel. Final chapter? I came up from the basement the next evening and saw that the white handrail on the stairs was stained with red in places. I know red yarn is especially prone to leaching dye, but this was way too much. The good news is that I used some stain remover on the towels and a deep cycle wash and they emerged unstained. A Magic Eraser got the dye off the handrail.

As for salvaging the cowl, I consulted friends and the internet. I soaked the cowl in a gallon or so of water and a cup of vinegar for 30 minutes. Very little dye leached into the water. After a lot of rinsing to get the smell out I still wasn’t getting any dye out. I believe that I managed to set the dye. And I really do like the final result.

Next up is Laura Aylor’s Four Calling Birds Cowl. I knit it in another new-to-me yarn, Berroco UltraWool DK.

This was Aylor’s 2023 Mystery Knit-a-long that ran from December 13th to the 24th. I don’t often take mystery knit plunges. But I admire Aylor’s work. And how big a commitment would a cowl be anyway? The one cowl pattern provides a knitter with 4 versions: the one you see above, with pleated edging, textured lace, and short rows. An alternate version leaves out the short rows. Another easier version has the pleated edging but uses a simple knit and purl pattern for the body of the cowl. And yet another easy version uses the same simple knit and purl pattern but begins with a simple garter stitch edging. I elected to follow the clues of the pleated, lacy, short row version.

When I found out that the short rows were set up for German short rows, I was tempted to quit. I’d tried them only once before and what resulted wasn’t a pretty sight. But I decided to put on my big girl panties and give the technique another try. Aylor’s directions were excellent on placement of the turns. And Pink’s video helped me greatly. My problems with the pattern weren’t with the short rows at all. Truth be told, the lacework challenged my skill level. But lifelines (which Aylor recommends) and turning off my audiobook came to my rescue.

Here’s a view of the back of the cowl.

I am very pleased with this knit and with the yarn. I asked my granddaughter to model it.

This version of the pattern produces a lovely, feminine cowl. I plan to give some of the more straightforward versions a try soon. And I’ll use Berroco Ultra Wool DK in future projects for sure. Excellent yarn.

This next neck knit has made many appearance on this blog over the years. It’s Lion Brand’s Rib Sampler Scarf. Here’s a link to this freebie courtesy of the Wayback Machine.

I usually make modifications to the pattern to lengthen and widen the scarf. For this version, I used Malabrigo Rios. I increased the width by casting on 44. On the first (and last) section of 2 by 2 ribbing, I knit 10 inches. I followed the pattern and left the garter stitch sections at 4 inches. And I knit 6 inches of mistake rib and farrow rib. I prefer to have the middle of the scarf completely frame the neck so I knit the middle 1 by 1 ribbing for 16 inches.

Laid flat, my version of Rib Sampler Scarf is 60 inches long. Here’s another view.

The weather’s warming up now. It’s supposed to reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit in Grand Rapids, Michigan today. And here I am writing about all these wintry knits. I am oppositional in this way.

Noro knits

You’ve seen this scarf here before. If you search my blog for Jared Flood Noro Scarf you’ll find them all. All 12 others of them. Flood doesn’t take the credit for this design, but since he’s who wrote a pattern alternating between stripes from different skeins of Noro Silk Garden, I’m completely willing to give him full credit.

You just put your knitting on auto-pilot and let the beautiful Noro Silk Garden do it’s color-changing thing.

People sometimes like the look of the color combination enough to ask me what colorways I used. It’s these two: colorway 423

and colorway 373.

If you’re like me you look at these skeins and then you look at the resultant scarf and it’s hard to see how these skeins turned into this scarf. The magic of Noro. Just go with the flow, including sometimes the lack of flow when you encounter a knot and an abrupt color change. It works out…more or less.

If you’ve one skein of Silk Garden then Laura Aylor’s cute Dust Devils mitts might interest your needles. I actually used 1.15 skeins (57 grams) for mine because I lengthened the wrist and hand sections and widened the cuff. But they’re totally excellent if you decide to follow the pattern exactly.

Here’s another view of the same mitts, flipped over, knit in colorway 494.

This is SUCH a cleverly constructed pattern. They’re worked in the round so no seaming.

The pattern is exactly correct as written. If you think otherwise, respectfully, you’re mistaken. Maybe you miscounted in the short rows or missed or duplicated a row. (I did that a few times and had to rip back to start a section over.)

If you want your mitts to match mine, my modifications will lengthen (and widen) the cast-on and cuff. I cast on and knit the first 10 rounds of the cuff (section 1) in size 8 US needles. Then I moved down to a size 6 for the rest of the cuff and the body of the mitt. I knit 25 (not 18) rounds before working what appears as round 19 in the pattern.

I followed the pattern exactly after that except I also wanted to lengthen the body of the mitt and shape the top a bit more: I worked 11 garter stitch rounds in Section 6. In Round 4 of Section 6 I: K1, K2tog, K15, k2tog, K to the end. In round 10 I: K1, K2tog, K14, K2tog, K to the end. I know. None of that makes a bit of sense unless you’ve got stitches on your needles and are working the pattern.

I don’t want to offer so many tips that I make this pattern sound difficult. Because it isn’t. It’s just garter stitch and short rows. But. If you’re using doublepoints you’ll avoid holes by keeping the fabric from being stressed at the turns. That’s accomplished by redistributing the stitches more evenly on the needles. And in Section 4 at Round 16 the stitch count works by purling 15, then working the 14 bind-off stitches without disturbing the first 15 stitches. In other words, don’t use the 15th stitch as part of your bind-off.

All right. Too much hand holding. Here’s my second pair:

Now, flipped over to see more about how this colorway 213 worked out.

Some knitters’ Ravelry project pages are stressing about right side/wrong side. Honestly, I don’t get that. There’s so much going on with these colors and knitting switchbacks that I don’t see how that matters. They work well on hands. And each hand can wear either mitten.

These proved very interesting to my knitworthies who are younger than me and more hip. Gosh. Sort of everyone is younger and more hip than me.

More Mittens

Pretty sweet. It’s another pair of Becky Greene’s Granny Glitten’s Mittens. I enjoyed the knit, my 3rd pair, and the look. So I decided to knit a 4th pair almost immediately. For my purple pair I shortened the body of the mitten by a few rounds and lengthen the top a tad. A few more rounds of the last pattern improved the look of the tops of the mitts a bit. The pattern leaves room for knitter’s choice at a few points.

I knit both sets in Novita 7 Veljesta Solid. The yarn is 75% wool, 25% nylon. It’s described as an Aran but my sense is it’s a worsted weight.

Granny’s pattern is a Ravelry freebie. I very much enjoyed the knit. And I love the result. In fact, I’ve knit it twice before. It started life as a Mystery Knit-a-long (MKAL). And that’s how it’s ended its life too since it’s never been updated from the original multiple “clues” format. This very folksy home-style pattern has a few quirks (rather than mistakes). Plus a couple of minor errors that you’d figure out easily on your own. Here’s a link to my detailed Ravelry project notes in case you’re knitting the pattern and get stuck on something.

Greene was inspired to create this pattern because of a story in her mother’s childhood Christmas book. She recalls that the Granny Glitten story was about a grandmother who knit mittens to sell at Christmas to earn extra money. One year Granny’s yarn shop only had white yarn on offer so Granny needed to punt if her mittens would be as colorful as her customers expected. Her solution was to dye the white yarn with a series of ingredients from her pantry. Greene’s solution was to create a highly textured one-color mitten. It’s a pattern definitely worth a knitter’s time.

Next up was a special request knit. “Can you knit me a pair of those mittens where the tops pop off if you need to use your fingers?” A sincere kind ask from the knitworthy and I’ll give it a try.

These are Mary O’Keefe-Dockman’s Pop-Up Paws. The last time I knit a pair “Kelsey was a pup,” as Indiana-born Vivian used to say. I’ve decided not to link to this pattern on Ravelry because, although it’s attributed to Dockman, the pattern page links to a kit for sale that only includes a similar pattern by Nancy Lindberg. O-Keefe Dockman’s “Old Trail Yarns” shop appears to have closed circa 2010, so this pattern may be lost to the knitting universe except for those fortunate enough to own a copy of the booklet. Not to gloat, but being an old knitter does have its benefits!

I knit my Pop-Ups..well, Steve’s Pop-Ups, in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted.

Steve very much likes his new mitts. The fit is good and he’s been wearing them almost daily since receiving them on Christmas morning.

Next up is a new mitten for me: Laura Aylor’s Cole Mountain Mittens. I knit mine in…all together now…Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted. Hard to imagine that my 66-skein Gartergantuan Blanket left me with any unknitted Lamb’s Pride skeins, but it did.

Cole Mountain Mittens have some excellent features that make it well worth forking over a few dollars to buy the pattern. In fact, I’m already planning a second knit since my neighbor selected this pair from my holiday pick-your-gift stash.

These mittens have what Aylor describes as “a tree bark textured back.” The bark stitch makes for a very warm dense mitten. The palms and thumbs are smooth. The pattern provides a small optional hole in the mitt so the index finger can wiggle out for texting and handling a phone. I decided not to include this feature in my pair.

Cole Mountain uses an unusual thumb technique. You use a smaller needle for the thumb (beyond the gusset) than for the rest of the mitt. I was skeptical but followed the pattern. The thumb fits well. The top is rather squared up. But with a bit of tugging it rounds out nicely. Plus, once on the hand, the shape of the top works out well.

Ok, stop laughing. These oddly shaped mittens are “Grandmother Vinson’s Little Red Mittens.” Except I made the adult size. And they’re clearly not red. Well, except for that one bit on the one top. The dabs of color weren’t my original plan, but I ran out of brown yarn.

The pattern is Theresa Vinson’s and her grandmother’s. Vinson recounts that, not long after she learned to knit, she came across a pair of little red mittens her grandmother knitted for her when she was a child. She studied the mittens and figured out how grandma worked the mitts. The “Accessories” edition of Cast-On’s 2002 magazine published the pattern. Cast-On is the quarterly publication of The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA). If you need this pattern, maybe TKGA can help you find a copy of the magazine.

The alternating garter stitch and “welt” stitch continue around the entire mitten. They’re as warm as can be. Especially knit in my huge fav Lamb’s Pride Worsted.

I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t get anyone to pick these mittens from my gift stash. It was those stickin’ pointy tops, even though the points (pretty much) disappear once fingers are nested inside. So these mittens are still looking for a home. I like them and may keep them for myself. With the thermostat turned down to keep our bedrooms cool for sleeping, I have been known to slide my hands into mittens (and my feet into hand knit socks or slippers) for some extra warmth. My bed covers do not laugh at my hand knits.

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.

Very pleasant trips


So, a very good friend gave me a totally decadent yarnie holiday present in December: 300 yards of Reywa Fibers Harmony. It’s a 5-ply sportweight that blends 50% Tibetan yak and 50% fine wool. The company says it’s unbelievably soft. That’s true. Mine is the charcoal colorway.

The pattern is Laura Aylor’s Pleasant Trip. And I knit a good bit of it while I was on a trip to New Orleans for a conference. I know. People don’t generally go to NOLA and find time to knit. My hotel was in the French Quarter. I walked about enough to find the Quarter Stitch, a friendly shop on Chartres Street. I’m afraid I did do some stash enhancement there. They kindly mailed my purchase home for free. And then I headed back to my room to knit on Pleasant Trip. I’m just not a party animal.

Here’s a closer look at the pattern. Charcoal proved tough to photograph:


We had some very cool days in Michigan even into May. So I wrestled my cowl away from Glass Head and actually already got some wear out of it. Great yarn. Excellent pattern.


This next cowl is making a repeat repeat repeat performance on the blog. Yep, I’ve knit Stephannie (with two “n”s) Tallent’s Chinle Cowl four times. There are eight projects posted on Ravelry and half of them are mine.


This one is knit in Michigan’s-own Fiberstory CORE dk, in the Aegean colorway. Sarah’s Etsy Shop isn’t stocked at the moment, but a 6.20.2016 post promises she’ll be back soon. Here’s a look at some of her yarn. CORE is 100% merino and very soft.

I made the medium size, but increased the length by an extra repeat of each motif. Glass Head says its comfy. She thinks it looks good with the color of her jaw.