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.

This.

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.

For your neck

Felt Head is wearing Diamond in the Rough, a Baah Yarn scarf. Baah set the price at $6 and it’s available (for that price) on Ravelry. The local yarn shop where I bought my skein of La Jolla, a 100% merino fingering weight, said the pattern was free and gave me a copy. They are, excuse me were, a reputable shop that I assume had Baah’s permission to distribute the pattern for free with a purchase. I don’t whine about pattern prices on this blog or in the real world either. But I make an exception for $6 for a three-stitch repeat across every row of the scarf. C’mon–I’m definitely going to bleat to Baah about that!

This planned pooling pattern is supposed to work well with Baah Yarn’s “dipped and dappled” La Jolla. I used the Tequila Sunset colorway.

I’ve knit this pattern, twice, in Baah’s Savannah. The planned pooling worked out great.

The pattern says it’s designed for both Savannah and LaJolla. It’s also supposed to work itself into a plaid (sort of) in LaJolla. This time it didn’t work as well as I’d have liked. In the center part of the scarf the pooling worked perfectly. I have a rough but fairly distinct plaid. But on both ends? The patterning is dramatically off. I thought maybe the first part of the skein was dyed incorrectly. The end section is “off” in a similar way.

It’s still pretty. Well, except for the sections that look like long drips of blood. So, not what I expected or hoped for.

I have one more skein of LaJolla in my stash. I may give Diamond in the Rough one more try sometime soon.

LaJolla is fairly expensive yarn, in the $30 range for 400 yards. Noro Transitions is competitive with LaJolla price-wise per 130-yard skein. Actually, was competitive. It’s been discontinued. But I found a few skeins at a deep discount. Transitions is 51% Wool/ 14% Silk/ 7% Cashmere/ 7% Angora/ 7% Alpaca/ 7% Mohair/ 7%Camel. Yep. You can’t make that up!

I used Purl Soho’s free mistake rib scarf pattern. Mistake rib works with any multiple of 4, plus 3 stitches. I cast on 23 stitches, which turned out to be about six inches wide, using size 11 US needles. I knitted until both my skeins were exhausted. This kind of knitting goes so very, very quickly that there’s no chance the knitter will be exhausted by the effort. I ended up with a 60-inch scarf.

You’re wondering what Wool/Silk/Cashmere/Angora/Alpaca/Mohair/Camel yarn feels like? As the skein progresses, through (apparently) a series of blends of fiber, one fiber or the other dominates. I could distinguish the wool, the angora and definitely the silky sections. The other fibers are less familiar to me so I didn’t recognize the feel–except, different. It’s a fun super bulky and if you can find any skeins I recommend it for a quick knit.

Cooper’s Hats

So, there’s a little guy I’ve not met named Cooper. But I know his uncle. He’s six years old. Cooper, that is. Not his uncle. Cooper needed some hats pretty quick. Fun ones. Sporty ones. Ones to cover up some bad hair days his doctors have decided he needs. Cooper’s not an “off-the-rack” kid, so finding some not-off-the-rack hats seemed like a good idea.

This is Capitan Hat, a free pattern by Rosie Garmendia. Cooper’s is knit in Valley Yarns Superwash Bulky, the Webs house brand. It comes in 26 colorways and, unfortunately, what I had in my stash was not the most exciting of them. But I pressed “tan” into service anyway and I’m quite pleased with the results. I was concerned if the two-surface brim would hold up without stiffener inside. It does.

Here’s a view of the interesting crown decreases:

Just the thing for a baseball fan, I’d say.

This next one is an old stand-by. Cooper has a connection to Michigan State University so the Sparties were the inspiration.

This is a vintage (but still available) Fiber Trends pattern: “School Colors Hat, AC-53,” by Betsy Lee McCarthy. That’s a double roll brim. You start out with the green and do reverse stockinette. Then you do the white, in stockinette, then the green at the top. You sort of pull the white down and roll it back on itself, so the reverse side shows, and then the green from the first band of knitting falls in place.

Bottom line: follow this pattern exactly as it’s written and it will all work out. There are no errors.

I wanted something very comfy so I used Berrocco Comfort, worsted weight. No scratchiness.

Very well-behaved crown decreases.

Bet you can’t make just one!

This next hat is another Susan Villas Lewis’s “The Thinker.” I have knit so many Thinkers it’s getting kind of embarrassing to keep linking to them all. But search for Thinker here on my blog and up they’ll pop.

Cooper’s is knit in Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash Solid. Soft. Easy care. Great stitch definition.

My trusty Clover pompom maker worked overtime on this batch of hats.

I know, The Thinker in this size doesn’t fit Glass Head really well. But Cooper’s a little guy.

Cooper like clowns. So I bought a skein of clownish-looking Plymouth Yarn Toybox Candy. It’s  an acrylic that can’t help but put a smile on someone’s face.

This is Purl Soho’s “Classic Cuffed Hat,” another freebie available on Ravelry and on the Purl Soho website. Everything this designer produces is classic. Sophisticated. So I gave in to the temptation to knit her design in a gaudy colorway. That’s because Purl Soho patterns go to art galleries. In New York City. They practice yoga. But Cooper’s Classic Cuffed Hat shouts.

And this last hat is Clayoquot Toque, a modern fair isle freebie from tincanknits that tincan says is a great blank canvas for testing yarns and color combinations. It really is. I wasn’t sure about whether these three colorways of Shalimar Yarns Breathless DK would play nice together.

But I think they did. And this 75% merino, 15% cashmere goat, 10% silk concoction is so soft it should keep a little guy’s head brightly covered but not overheated.

Lots ‘o cowls

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This skein of Knit Collage “Pixie Dust” was a Christmas gift. I love the colors but have no experience knitting with this type of yarn. Thirty-five yards, 97 percent wool, 2 percent mohair, and I’m thinking that sparkle is the 1 percent “other.” So, clearly this needed to be something very simple to just let those yarn blobs pixie away.

pixie_dust

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I very much like to wear close-fitting cowls. They are the no-nonsense coziest. So, all I did was cast on 28 stitches on size 19 needles, in the round. Yep, I own a pair of size 19 circulars with fairly short cables. No one will mistake this for “off the rack!” I like the pebble look of this.

The consistent theme for my recently knit cowls has been close-fitting. This is the Augustine Cowl, a free Classic Elite pattern by Susan Mills.

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Here’s a better view that shows the construction more clearly, despite my use of this difficult-to-photograph black shade of Berroco Flicker.

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Laying flat, my Augustine Cowl somewhat resembles a lampshade. But it’s actually a nice-fitting, well-behaved cowl. The slight bit of easy open work at the top folds back gracefully at the neck. The flared-out bottom fits nicely over the shoulders. Flicker is a chainette yarn, in 87% baby alpaca, 8% acrylic, with the remaining being the sparkly bits.  It is unbelievably soft, with absolutely no scratchiness from the tinsel-like filaments.

The next two cowls are both knit in Dream in Color Classy with Cashmere, a 20% cashmere, 70% merino, 10% nylon concoction. It’s a very soft worsted weight. I liked everything about working with it, except that this Amethyst Ink colorway inked my hands and everything in the vicinity of the work (including rubbery stitch markers) a deep purple. Ick. A Eucalan soak seems to have solved the problem.

This is Purl Soho’s Structured Alpaca Cowl. It is a super-easy free pattern. My only modification was to work eight rather than nine repeats of the pattern. I wasn’t sure I had enough yarn left for the 9th repeat and it seemed to me to be tall enough with eight.

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Again, the construction isn’t evident, but check out the Purl Soho link for a look at it in a light-colored yarn. The tab in front is one-by-one rib, knit through the back loop. You cast on stitches to continue working in the round. The front section is stockinette with some interesting decreases at each edge. And the back section continues the same ribbing as worked in the tab. This one is going to be great for chilly mornings in the kayak.

Here’s the same Dream in Color, knit in an easy meandering cable. It’s Angela Hahn’s Serpentine Cowl. The pattern is included in the Craft Tree Collection, “Easy Knitted Accessories,” and was also published in Interweave Knits 2011 Accessories magazine. Again, what I most like is the way the cowl hugs the neck and lays nicely on the shoulders.

serpentine

More than 1500 Ravelers and many members of my Black Sheep Knitting Guild, have knit Kirsten Kapur’s Chickadee. It’s an easy linen stitch cowl. The pattern’s available free on Ravelry. Mine is knit in Mirasol Maylla, a next-to-the-skin soft yarn of 45% alpaca, 40% wool, 15% bamboo.

chickadee

False Creek is an interesting quick-knit, worked up here in Cascade Lana Grande on Size 15 needles. The design is by tincanknits’ Emily Wessel and is available as a single pattern or as part of the Pacific Knits ebook.

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There’s a lot of “give” in those size 15 stitches. In a pinch, this cowl can do double duty as a head-hugger.

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If you’re wondering, those are JUL Designs “pedestal” leather buttons. They screw in place with that center brad.

This next cowl is a return to the close-fitting style: tincanknits’ Alexa Ludeman’s Lions Gate. Like False Creek, the pattern can be purchased individually or as part of the Pacific Knits collection.

lionsgate

I knit the 96-stitch version, shown here in Cascade Yarns’ Alpaca Lana D’Oro.

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