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.

Knitted hats in these hot times

This is Katie’s Kep, a traditional fair isle cap knit in nontraditional colors. It’s a freebie designed by Wilma Malcomson and is available on Ravelry, courtesy of Shetland Wool Week. If I’d have knit it in a yarn like Jamieson Spindrift the patterning would have been more crisp and defined. But I am still stashdiving and what I had on hand was Kate Davies Design’s Milarrochy Tweed. It’s a 70% wool, 30% mohair fingering weight with, as its name indicates, a tweed in it. All the colors have flecks of other colors and there’s also some thick and thin going on. I don’t see it as a good choice for fair isle. Blasphemy. Please don’t tell the fangirls.

Still, I think that the hat’s a stunner. And the crown is the star. Literally.

Some of my knit-buds quietly think me a bit goofy for some of my knitting habits. Most of these hats were knit while it was still quite cool. But it can be 90 degrees out and I’ll still be knitting wintry hats.

This next one is another freebie: Kate Gagnon Osborne’s February Hat.

This hat’s very stretchy bottom ribbing is created by starting with a  provisional cast-on followed by K1, P1 ribbing. Once the ribbing is complete, the provisional cast-on is released and placed on a spare circular needle and then the stitches on both needles are knit together. The result is a folded brim. The other result is a rather deep pinched-in round as the ribbing transitions to the body of the hat. But that’s a fairly nice design feature.

I knit the hat and assembled the pompom from Plymouth Yarn’s Worsted Merino Superwash.

Next up is Aki, a freebie designed by Svetlana Volkova. The pattern calls for an Aran weight and I decided to use Dream in Color Classy. Classy calls itself a worsted. But it seems more Aran to me. My sense of this yarn is that it’s a bit stiff. I like it. A lot, actually. But in this interesting ribbed pattern the hat can almost stand up by itself. It will keep someone’s ears and head very warm. A good hat.

I modified the pattern by knitting the first set of ribs on needles two sizes smaller than for the body of the hat. I noticed a bit of a flare at the start in a number of projects and wanted to eliminate that. It worked quite nicely. I changed to a size US7 needle (from a 5) in the first set of all knit rounds. I also extended the first set of ribs by 2 rounds to keep the length of the ribs more uniform.

The crown decreases are abrupt. They take place entirely over 5 rounds. It’s a bit rustic, but it works. At least in a less stiff yarn it would work. Mine sports a top dimple that I don’t care for.

I next tackled another Dream in Color yarn that had been in my stash for years. This one is Calm, rather than Classy. It’s 100% merino, same as Classy, but has a softer hand. I knit Melissa LaBarre’s Winter Waves Slouch Hat. The pattern can be purchased on Ravelry. But it’s also included in “100 Knits: Interweave’s Ultimate Pattern Book, a hardcover published in July of 2018. It’s a wonderful book that I highly recommend.

I am such a sucker for lots of texture in a hat. The crown decreases keep the texture going.

I’ve decided that Winter Waves is mine. Speaking of waves, it’s 89 degrees here with very high humidity and the pontoon boat calls.

Hardy Miss Babs Yummy

tealeaves_front

This is my first time using Miss Babs. It is Yummy, a sportweight,100% merino 3-ply. And this is Melissa LaBarre’s very popular pattern, “BABY Tea Leaves.” It’s an excellent pattern. I intend to knit it again. But the star of this post is the yarn.

OK, the colorway is a little garish. It’s very garish. But I like it anyway. First off, knitting with it was wonderful. I finished the sweater. I was recuperating from surgery at the time and had to limit my trips up and down the stairs. I asked Steve if he would take the sweater down to the dining room and put it on the table so I could steam it later. He was carrying a load of laundry downstairs at the same time and I placed the sweater on the top of the laundry heap.

Ok. That was a pretty big mistake on my part. Steve took the laundry down to the laundry room and proceeded to accidentally wash the sweater in the washing machine along with whatever else was in the basket. And then he tossed BABY Tea Leaves in the dryer. This is truly the test of a superwash. All I can say is that it’s not as bad as I would have imagined. It felted only very lightly. The photo is post-laundry disaster. I think it’s still wearable by the newborn I planned it for.

Here’s how the back looks.

tealeaves_back

A little more of a ruffled look than the designer planned. But not at all a disaster.

This is how Miss Babs Yummy looks before it gets beat up in a top-loading washer and buffeted in a dryer:

falberry

The colors are a tad brighter and more distinct. This is Anne Hanson’s Fallberry Mitts, a free pattern available on Ravelry. I should have knit these in a nice, calm color that would show off the cabling. But I had just the right amount of Miss Babs left. And the colors are my friend’s three favorite: orange, purple and green. I have to admit I’ve not seen here wear all three at the same time, though.

Fallberry is an excellent pattern that passes my major test for a fingerless mitt. It has a good thumb with a nice thumb gusset.

falberry