Category Archives: cowl

Exploring Brushed Alpaca

Last time we chatted I was showing off my latest project, Paprika, but like all accomplishments, a bit of work went into it before it happened. Before starting, I swatched … I know, you hate swatching, you avoid swatching, swatching is gross, swatching is boring, blech. I think I understand how a dentist feels, telling their patients to floss – it’s a Sisyphean task. Instead of listing all the important (aka. boring, grown-up) reasons to swatch I think I’m just going to share ….

I once read that designer Veronique Avery learned how to knit, and design, by making swatches EXCLUSIVELY for a year. That’s right a YEAR of swatching. When I read that, I thought “Wow, this lady is single-minded.” But you know what, I bet by the end of that exercise she REALLY understood hand knitted fabric. She understood how different fibres, different tensions, and different stitch patterns behaved.

Designers understand that swatching is knowledge. But swatching is more than just the way to make sure your project is going to fit. Swatching is a way to experiment with yarn, explore it’s potential, see how it behaves. It’s a way to decide how you like it, how you don’t like it. Will it do what you want it to do, will it look like you want it to? Most people remind you that swatching is a way to avoid being disappointed, but it can also be a way to find new things you like!

Before I started my Paprika, I experimented with the yarn I was thinking about using, Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk ….

Initially, I was thinking about making the sweater with some colour. I grabbed 3 warm colours and cast on a little cowl based on the Snap hat I made a little while ago. Yup, that’s right, it’s a swatch AND a project. Squares swatches are ok, but not so much fun. To start with I was playing with colour, so the tension didn’t matter, and I made something that made me happy – an actual garment (which is what the end product will be, anyway).

I initially thought I’d be into this colour combo, but once it was done it was full of NOPE (at least for this sweater)! Such is life. But I did find out how the yarn knitted at a new tension, what it looked like on both sides of the fabric, how some of the colours looked combined, and I have a great little cowl! (all of the project details are in my Ravelry Project Notes)

Materials

Following up on my colour-speriment, I thought maybe I’d rest my eyes and try a neutral ombre/colour gradient. So I made a cowl to swatch the tension and colours. The fabric is lovely, the colours blended well, and my swatch, a cowl, is lovely (an added bonus). But as I thought about the sweater, I decided simple was better, and that figuring out when to change the colours in the sweater felt like too much work for me. Sometimes the KISS (Keep It Simple Sister) principle is extremely effective!

Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk is a great yarn to play around with colour gradations and colour combining. The strands stick together and the texture blends nicely. As far as a swatch, it gave me my tension information, helped me narrow down my colour concept, and its a really nice, light, airy cowl! I haven’t written the cowl up as a formal pattern, but all the directions and details (needle sizes, yarn colours) are in my Ravelry Project Notes.

Materials

Following the second cowl (and a couple other swatches that I really did not enjoy, and I pitched the results) I learned a lot:

  • The yarn is really nice and soft, very cuddly and cloud-like
  • It’s quite versatile, it adapts to a whole bunch of different tensions
  • I like combining the colours in some projects but not in others
  • If I’m going to make an ombre sweater, it is best made from the top-down (so I don’t have to think too much about colour placement, matching the arms to the body, etc.)
  • I now have a reference for how some of the colours look combined

And of course, the most important thing I learned from the process, was that I really enjoyed working with this yarn, and I wanted to keep exploring it in different ways. At the risk of sounding like the final paragraph in a serial mystery novel … I did, and the results were unexpected! But You’ll have to wait for the next instalment to find out more.

PROJECT Annabella’s Cowl

Fleece Artist Back Country Neckwarmer 4

Annabella’s Cowl

I just finished this little neck-a-ma-thing, and it turned out really well! The pattern is Annabella’s Cowl, and the yarn is Fleece Artist Back Country, a super soft, machine washable merino wool made right here on Canada’s East coast. The yarn wasn’t exactly like the ones they called for in the pattern, so I used a larger needle and cast on fewer stitches (you can find all of our modifications in our project notes on Ravelry).

The project only took one skein of Fleece Artist Back Country, and I’m happy with the size – not too big, not too tight. The pattern was extremely easy, it’s definitely beginner friendly (probably a good project for a novice once they’ve learned knit and purl. It’s a great knit in front of the TV kind of project, especially if you need to whip up a gift in a rush.

More Yarn Options

The pattern was originally designed with a yarn like Handmaiden Maiden Hair, which would knit up beautifully on 5mm/US8-16″ circular needles (only 1 skein required). It would also be yummy made with Drops Brushed Alpaca Silk (use a single strand and 5mm/US8 needles (two skeins) for a light, airy version, or two strands held together and 6mm/US10 needles (4 skeins) for a thicker, cozier neckwarmer). If you want a yarn option that’s a little less precious try Berroco Vintage Chunky (1 skein) with 6mm/US10 needles.

Materials

Fleece Artist Back Country Neckwarmer combo

FREEBIE Linen Stitch Loop

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Linen Stitch Loop

I love the pixelated, woven look of linen stitch, and I also love that working it in the round makes it super easy – it’s just the same two stitches for every round. The yarn, Manos del Uruguay Alegria, is one of our favourite staples, a beautifully dyed merino blend that’s super soft, but also has some resilience which makes it great for all kinds of garments, including socks! And as icing on the cake the company, Manos Del Uruguay, is a non-profit organization that was created to give economic, social and personal development opportunities to the women in Uruguay’s countryside (they’ve been a member of the World Trade Organization since 2009).

Materials

  • Manos del Uruguay Alegria: 2 skeins (1 skein each of 2 colours; contrast colour is  a semi-solid, the main colour is variegated/multicolour) ON SALE TO SEPT 6
  • 4.5mm/US7 – 32″ circular needles
  • 3.5mm/US4  – 32″ circular needles
  • 7 stitch markers, one in a contrasting colour
  • Darning or tapestry needle
  • FREE Pattern

Shop Online Button Turquoise 250w

linen stitch loop 1

 

 

 

FINISHED Stripe It (again)

Urth Uneek Worsted Cowl BLOG 2

 

Urth Uneek Worsted Cowl BLOG

Another Stripe It Cowl

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I just finished a Stripe It Cowl, it just needed to be photographed properly. I used 4mm/US6 needles for the ribbing and 4.5mm/US7 needles for the body of the cowl. I’m super happy with it, and I think all of the colourways will look glorious!

Mini Knit Hack

One secret to a happy project: use the darker end of the colourway for the bottom of the project and the brighter colour for the top, darker colours look more balanced on lower parts. In my project, the pin  & green is darker than the orange & blue, so it went on the bottom.

Materials

Shop Online Button Turquoise 250w

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FREEBIE Darn Knit Stripe It Cowl

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Photo: srossinifaust

Darn Knit Stripe It!

As you may already know, I’m already thinking about my own holiday gifts (I know. it’s sweltering out there, but I’m determined to get ahead of the curve this year). I really love this yarn, Urth Uneek Worsted, and I found this extremely simple cowl designed with it. It’s so easy a beginner can do it, and it only takes 1 skein and 1 pair of needles to make it –  I’m thinking perfect last minute cottage project.

I encourage you to take a look at the finished projects to see how different colours knit up – I guarantee you’ll fall in love with at least one of the colourways. To get an idea about how the different colourways knit up you can take a look at the fingering weight version of the same yarn.

Materials

Shop Online Button Turquoise 250w

Notes

  • I just finished making this cowl myself (I’ll photograph that pronto, promise) and it fits casual and loose. If you want something more fitted you should omit some stitches.
  • Superwash yarn tends to loosen up after being washed. If you like your cowls on the drapy side, stick with the prescribed 4.5mm/US7 needles. If you like the fabric a bit more firm, go down to a 4mm/US6.

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Photos: Shizknitty, heath22, srossinifaust

PROJECT Bias Cowl

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Bias Cowl

I find really interesting things when I browse through the patterns on Ravelry …. one of the things I found this week was a micro-collection of the same cowl made over and over again in different colourways of Urth Uneek Fingering (ON SALE UNTIL THE END OF JULY). I thought it was awesome that this knitter, Deb-Knits, enjoyed her project and the yarn so much that she wanted to continue exploring and experiencing it. I also get it, the project is GORGEOUS, and it illustrates that all the colourways of Urth Uneek Fingering work up beautifully. And hey, is it ever too early to start holiday knitting?

 

 

Materials

 

FREEBIES Last Minute Cowls

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Easy Loose Cabled Cowl

Our loose cabled cowl is a last minute knits that work up FAST! We made ours light and airy on 15mm/US19 needles and two skeins of Malabrigo Rasta, but you can also you one Cascade Spuntaneous.

Yarn Options

Other Materials

 

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Bulky Mobius Cowl

Our Bulky Mobius Cowl is a great little last minute gift. It works up fast on 10mm/US15 needles and the mobius technique makes it entertaining. The yarn, Malabrigo Rasta, is stunning: it’s buttery soft and I’ve never seen a skein that didn’t knit up like a Monet painting. Plus, it’s a one-skein project!

Materials

 

 

 

Aujourd’hui

This cute & simple little cowl is a cinch to knit up and looks incredibly impressive in hand-dyed Malabrigo Rasta.

Materials