Archives for category: cowls

Hey everyone,

Breaking my radio silence at last… with wedding planning I was going a little nuts (more on that later; I sewed my dress, my bridesmaids’ dresses, and knit a shawl! But it all came out fine and we got married and it was great!) Post-wedding, there were all the thank-you notes to write, and I got done with all that, but still felt like hiding my head in the sand for a while. But I thought I’d reemerge and share a semi-recent FO (ha, semi-recent = knit just before Thanksgiving) with the world, and work my way up to posting about the various things I made for the wedding.

I published the Bel Canto Cowl (rav link) in Knitcircus a couple of years ago, but due to their changes, it was no longer available for purchase from their site. Someone on Ravelry requested it, which was the impetus to reknit, rephotograph, and reformat the pattern for sale on my own site, since I couldn’t use the KC photos/pattern layout. So it’s up for sale on Ravelry, in case anyone was looking for it, and here are some pics:

Pattern: Bel Canto Cowl
Yarn Used: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in 37 Lettuce, 1 skein.
Needles used: US 8 (5.0 mm) 16-inch circulars
Date started: November 21, 2012
Date completed: November 23, 2012
The first version of this cowl was knit in Malabrigo Rios, which is superwash, plied, and slightly thinner than the singles/non-superwash Merino Worsted. I like the extra body and cushier fabric of the Merino Worsted version. Also, I think the lighter color shows off cables better, although there’s no denying that rich cobalt blue from the original version is TO DIE FOR.

(Side note: I haven’t cut my hair for probably a year, and it’s longer than it’s been anytime since grade school, so I’ve been having fun with hairdos–although this may look vaguely pixieish, it’s actually precariously pinned Heidi braids that came apart immediately after the photoshoot.)


Just saw this cool project: a Prickle (knit jumbo-sized to go around the shoulders) woven through with electroluminescent (EL) wire.


Youtube video, Rav link.

It’s been months since I posted (things have been hectic in my non-knitting life!) and I’m almost a month late with posting about this… but better late than never, right?

I’m pleased to announce that I have a pattern published in the Winter 2010-2011 issue of Knitcircus, a Madison-based online knitting magazine. (My pattern is on page 84, but take the time to flip through the whole issue–there are some really great patterns. The layout may look similar to Twist Collective, but unlike Twist, you can purchase the entire pattern collection at once and get ALL the patterns for $8, instead of $8 apiece… my favorites this time are probably Beckett, Treccia, and Sweet Georgia.)

My pattern is called Bel Canto–the design reminded me of a hair-braiding scene in Ann Patchett’s book of the same name. It’s a simple design, all stockinette, flared at the base of the cowl to fit the body where neck meets shoulders, with simple rolled edges at the cast-on and bind-off–the one focal point of the design is a dramatic three-strand plaited cable framed with lace eyelets and sweeping diagonally across the cowl.

The sample was worked in Rios, the new plied, worsted-weight, superwash merino yarn from Malabrigo. I was afraid the color (Azul Profundo) might be too dark to photograph well, but it came out fine. It’s a lovely yarn, a bit thinner, shinier, and more slippery than the normal worsted weight singles yarn. I think you could substitute normal Malabrigo Worsted Merino in this pattern pretty easily, but I might go up a needle size for improved drape.

This was my first magazine publication, and it was exciting seeing my design professionally modeled and photographed! How cute is this photo?

This would make a nice quick Christmas present if you are so inclined–it uses less than one skein (210 yards) of Rios. In fact, the original prototype for this cowl was knit in just a few hours, and used only 98 yards of yarn (the La Lana Phat Silk Phat I picked up in Taos last summer)–it didn’t have the flared shaping at the base, though, so I don’t think you could pull off that low yardage with the current version of the pattern.

Anyway, if you’re interested, I have one copy of the Knitcircus Winter 2010-2011 Pattern Collection to give away! Leave a comment by midnight on Saturday December 4 telling me what yarn you’d use to make this, and I’ll do a random drawing on Sunday. I’m on the East Coast (Boston and NY) for the whole month of December, so I’m hoping that since I won’t have my normal life and domestic responsibilities to distract me, I’ll get a little more time to catch up on updating my blog. And finish my Christmas knitting and shopping in the next two weeks. It might be too ambitious a plan, but hope springs eternal.

I found this seaming technique via the Daily Chum: the Bickford Seam. I’d never seen this method before. Supposedly it looks flat and nearly invisible, like mattress stitch, but from both sides. I really want to try it out!

The new Knitty came out today! I love the Aeolian shawl to pieces. I think I have a lace crush on Elizabeth Freeman (she also designed Laminaria). And speaking of lace crushes, did you know Lacis is coming out with a whole book of reissued Herbert Niebling designs? It makes the heart go pitter-patter. It’s a translation of Gestrickte Spitzendecken, corrected and re-charted.

The knitting I’m doing is mostly of the secret or swatchy variety right now, so I don’t have a lot to share, unfortunately. I am working on reknitting this Arrows cowl to make it smaller, with the intention of putting it up as a free pattern:

(see? cowl too big for my taste, and it was too sunny outside. but hey, o w l s !)
It uses 2 skeins Mirasol Miski, a super-soft baby llama blend with all sorts of feel-good social justice benefits. The old one is Bluebell, the new one is Coral.

I got Heather Ross’s Weekend Sewing in the mail and I love it! Can’t wait to start on the Summer Blouse, (I even traced and cut out the pattern pieces last night. I’m not looking forward to making the bias tape, though) and I really really want to make the Obi Dress and Trapeze Dress, but don’t have suitable fabric in suitable yardage for either.

I am thinking of using my Amy Butler Lotus yellow polka dot fabric for the blouse, with facings in something else from the collection, maybe this peony fabric or blue damasky stuff. I only have a fat quarter of each, though, so I don’t know if that will work, it’s probably not enough.

And Yarnmonster is modeling in the book! Not that I know her aside from reading her blog, but I thought it was cool to recognize her.

The big knitting news in town is that the Yarn Harlot is coming to town for the Madison Knit-In. Rahul thinks this is kind of hilarious and keeps saying “ooh, the Yarn! Harlot!” in this little squeaky voice. He has no idea. I think he would be shocked at how many people will be there. I’m excited to see the Harlot, of course, but also excited to take a look at the marketplace. Among the vendors: the Plucky Knitter, Creatively Dyed, Briar Rose Fibers, Black Water Abbey,  and Kimmet Croft, makers of the angora-blend yarn for US-variety Bohus sweaters.

It’s been getting cold, and closer to Christmas, and both of those are inspiring a stream of little bagatelles…

I forgot to include my ball of gray Cotswold-angora roving in this picture (and the dishwater gray Hideous Panties) but I thought it would be nice to put together a little still life of the various grays, cool and warm, matte and shiny, that I’ve been working on lately:

In the back, my Lara sweater; clockwise from there, my feather and fan cowl in silver Artfibers Ming, pinned with a beautiful Perl Grey ringstick from Purlescence; my Dryad Mitts in Squirrel Heather Knit Picks Swish; and a skein of local, millspun alpaca from the farmer’s market–worsted weight, 50g/110 yards.

So the Ming Cowl is done, and I’m suffering from Ming withdrawal. Sigh… look at this stuff.

Apparently, I can make this heap of silvery gorgeousness look like a crumpled heap of grayish fabric when I wear it, but I think it’s beautiful anyway.

Pattern: the Luxe Neck Warmer from Knit 2 Together

Yarn used: Artfibers Ming, Color 08

Needles used: Size 10/6mm Denises

Started: 10/14/07

Finished: 10/25/07

Notes: This is the second time I’ve knit this pattern. It’s a nice pattern, if more decorative than truly warm.

So that’s one thing. Here’s another. The farmer’s market alpaca from the top picture quickly turned into another warm gray winter accessory:

Pattern: Cat Bordhi’s Cashmere Moebius Cowl

Yarn used: Alpaca from the Bloomington Farmer’s Market for the main part of the cowl; my own handspun angora for the edging. The white angora fluff I used (“roving” seems like such a harsh word) was from Breezy Manor, and was the leftovers from the second mini-skein I spun up and Navajo-plied for Last Minute Knitted Gifts angora booties for my friend Jen’s newborn baby.

Needles used: Size 10/6mm 40″ Addi Turbos

Started: 11/5/07

Finished: 11/5/07

Mods: I ran out of alpaca yarn, so I switched to the angora for the edging, made it through only rows 1-3 of the lace edging, then started to run out of angora as well and began to bind off. I ran out of yarn during the bindoff, and had to use the no-yarn crochet hook bindoff for the rest of it. Thankfully, the unusual shape of the cowl means that a tight bindoff will not impede getting the finished object over your head.

Notes: I loved using this alpaca. It felt so fluffy and light while I was using it that I felt like I was knitting with cake frosting, or whipped cream. It’s warm and utterly soft and fluffy around my neck, and the rather hard, overspun, rope-like twist I put into the angora is good for durability, and keeping the angora from shedding and flying away too much. I took pictures with my preferred way of wearing it–tight against my neck with the half-twist overlapping in front like a shawl collar, and the excess fabric folded down to tuck into my coat. I think Cat Bordhi’s version has a smaller circumference, which seems more attractive as an accessory but less warm for the chest. I might try the pattern again, subtracting one pattern repeat.

The pattern uses Cat Bordhi‘s signature Moebius cast-on, basically a clever way of getting your needle through both the top and the bottom loops of a provisional cast-on, with the half-twist that makes the Moebius strip one-sided. The Girl from Auntie has a great series of posts about approaches to knitting Moebius strips, and Thomasina has compiled a big list of links to other Moebius patterns on her geeky knitting page.

“A mathematician confided
That a Möbius band is one-sided,
And you’ll get quite a laugh,
If you cut one in half,
For it stays in one piece when divided”

Have you ever knit a Moebius strip using Cat Bordhi’s method? I definitely recommend it as something to try at least once–it’s fascinating. The cast-on is for the “equator” of the Moebius strip, and the knitting grows up and down from there as you knit in the round. All the lace lines in this pattern slant the same direction as you’re knitting them, but once you’re done, you can see that they are facing you from the right side on one half of the strip, and on the wrong side from the other half, so you have a half stockinette, half reverse stockinette cowl with chevrons of lace radiating out from its equator. You can probably see this best in the top picture I posted.

Argh, I’ve been feeling so busy, I have been wanting to take lots of pictures of stuff and knit and blog but I haven’t had a chance. A few of the things that have been occupying my time–pictureless, because I’m just taking a break from work:

Non-yarny stuff:

– Work and class (The Anthropology of Tourism. Lots of readings.). Not much to say about that, except that our last reading was about Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi as a postmodern, hyperreal tourist destination/Baudrillard simulacra. I was simultaneously interested in the ideas and annoyed with the ivory tower uselessness of critical theory. I bet this comes from being the daughter of an engineer and a literature professor–I swing between attraction to the useless-but-fascinating and the practical-but-uncreative. Also, I’m doing an extra job this month for the business school, so I spent last Friday night from 8:30 to midnight grilling undergrad business students about the idea they were trying to sell me.

– Biking in the midst of blazing fall colors and hunting for mushrooms in the Brown County woods. The trees are all kinds of orange and yellow and red right now–much better than last year, when they had just started to turn and then a big storm blew all the half-turned leaves off the trees. It rained last week but was dry last weekend, so we thought it would be a good time to go mushroom-hunting. We were looking for chicken of the woods mushrooms and found two huge yellow shelf mushrooms–one of them weighed probably 20 pounds!–but decided we didn’t have a positive ID on either one, and threw them away. At least we got some nice bike rides and hiking in.

– Making vodka apple pie. I found information about a new pie crust recipe from Cook’s Illustrated from one of my regular blog reads (but now I can’t remember who! sorry). It uses vodka instead of water to moisten the pie crust, under the theory that gluten doesn’t form in alcohol, only in water, so you create much less gluten in the crust by moistening with vodka. The crust came out pretty well–very buttery, no taste of alcohol. However, the dough was super-soft and friable, and fell apart when I tried to weave the lattice top like I usually do. I used dark red Winesap apples and the “Apple Pie I” and “Flaky Pie Crust” recipes from The Joy of Cooking, substituting vodka for the ice water in the pie crust. Jeanne brought over some Musgrave cider she had fermented and we had an appleicious evening.

– Sewing. I’m trying to follow a sewing pattern for the first time: I fell in love with this dress called Shari from Burda Style, and armed with some cheap fabric remnants, I’ve been diligently working my way through the pattern and its puzzling assembly instructions. I also learned how to use the bobbin winder on the sewing machine Rahul’s mom gave me. Yay! Figuring out the zipper foot is going to be a whole new world of frustration, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. The main body of the dress is red cotton with white polka dots. The lining and yoke insert are a white cotton with tiny white circles printed on it. (The print reminds me a lot of quinoa.) In theory, if the piping doesn’t defeat me, it will be trimmed in turquoise–turquoise bias binding piping and some turquoise ribbon with red flowers for the edge of the skirt. I find sewing a very tedious process, even though it takes much less time than knitting. All that cutting out of pieces and ironing and sewing and threading and rethreading the machine… it may produce nice finished objects, but the process is not nearly as soothing as sitting down with needles and yarn.

– Buttons. I experimented with polymer clay picture transfers the other night (another good use for vodka) and made the most fabulous dodo buttons. I am going to find something small and round to use to cut them out, and make a whole set. I think I might use the two buttons I made for another Giftblitz Basketweave Neckwarmer.

– Tonight I’m going to canoe on Griffey Lake in the moonlight, tomorrow I’m going to a Halloween party, and on Saturday I’m going to see the Dalai Lama give a talk.

– I finally got the new Terry Pratchett book, Making Money, from the library! I was like 10th in line on the holds list. I can’t wait to quietly hole up somewhere and read this.

Yarny stuff:

– I finished my Ming cowl and I’m wearing it now, unblocked. It’s lovely!

– I got some buttons for my Jess jacket. I dragged Rahul to Jo-Ann and he helped me pick them out–silvery/pewter reproduction antique buttons molded with a posy of daisies. They only had 4, so I’m going to have to go back for a 5th one in about a week. When we were at Jo-Ann buying the buttons, we saw a saffron-robed Tibetan monk carrying a big roll of red fabric to the cutting table for replacement robes. I love Bloomington.

– I have been swatching and adjusting charts, and I think I’ve sorted out the lace charts I’ve been working on and will hopefully have produced a finished object from them soon. Why is “no stitch” such a bitch to figure out? I guess technically I could just put them anywhere I want on the chart, but I feel like that’s bad form. Still not sure I’ve placed the “no stitch” symbols optimally, but you live and you learn.

– Robynn sent me the most beautiful shawl pin as a Storytellers spot prize. Thank you so much, Robynn–it’s perfect, I love it! I need to take some pictures of it with my Lara sweater and/or my Sea Silk Swallowtail shawl. (The shawl really deserves a better photoshoot than what I’ve given it so far.)

– I signed up for a Knit Picks sampler a while back on Ravelry. The idea was that you would send in a skein of yarn to the organizer and she would make a little card with snips of each contributor’s yarn so you could see samples of all the different types without paying for all the color cards or sample skeins. Then you would get your leftovers back at the end. The cranberry Decadence on the sample card is especially lovely, but I think they discontinued it–I don’t see it on the site anymore. Anyway, I started laughing when I opened the package because it contained a note attached to a mangled Gordian knot of alpaca laceweight: “Sorry, my cat got into your yarn. Here is $5 so you can buy some more.”

I am about halfway through my second Luxe Neck Warmer from Knit 2 Together. (I’m taking it slow this time.) This knit is pure sensory pleasure–the silvery variegated silk/wool gleams in subtle, semi-solid grays, like a South Seas black pearl, and the silk gives it a slight fuzzy haze that softens the stitch definition; it’s an incredibly soft and evenly spun singles yarn without a hint of over- or underspinning; and after lots of thrifty knitting with snaggy, sticky rubber band stitch markers, it feels like such a luxury using the pearl stitch markers I got from KnittyK8’s Etsy shop.

I also made a trip out to Hobby Lobby to shop for buttons for Jess and I can’t decide what kind to get–I’ll have to go out to Jo-Ann, because I had no luck at Hobby Lobby. I want one of the following:

– Smooth plastic buttons in a matching burgundy

– Plastic buttons in black or dark brown

– Fabric-covered buttons–maybe with a tapestry-like home decor fabric?  I think this might make the jacket look too dowdy.

– Crocheted button covers, like in the original pattern

It’s hard to decide what will make the jacket look chic and retro rather than old ladyish.