Posted tagged ‘cowl’

I’m a fool to think something so impossible

June 21, 2014


Pattern: Princess Franklin Plaid Collar by Franklin Habit
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light (50% wool, 50% alpaca), colorways Redwoods Mix, Blueberry Mix, and Pea Soup Mix; Aslan Trends Santa Fe (85% merino, 15% nylon), colorway Crudo; Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport (100% wool), colorway Caution
Needles: U.S. 2 nickel Options 24″ fixed circulars, magic-loop style



Pattern: The Age Of Brass And Steam Kerchief by Orange Flower Yarn
Yarn: Knit Picks Diadem DK Special Reserve, (50% alpaca, 50% silk), colorway Copper
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood Options 36″ circular (knit flat)


Pattern: Julia’s Cabled Headband by Pauline Chin
Yarn: Mirasol Yarn Miski (100% llama), colorway Gold
Needle: U.S. 7 Harmony wood Options 16″ circulars (knit flat)

Ravellenics 2014 was a bittersweet experience. Political chaos and controversy tore the group apart, and fractured the moderating team that had worked together for six happy years and three previous Olympiads. We weathered the Great USOC C&D Debacle of ’12, but we could not recover from early mistakes handling politically sensitive issues. Yes, in a knitting competition with imaginary prizes, there are politically sensitive issues.


But even though it put me at odds with old friends and colleagues, I worked hard to stay engaged and to keep the event going. When the dust settled and the actual knitting began, I got busy on two major projects right away. One was a quest to use some of this lovely yarn, an alpaca-silk blend. I finished knitting this simple scarf while at a symposium on science and religion at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.


The other, and by far the most difficult challenge of the Ravellenics, was this cowl, which was knit flat in stripes and grafted together (poorly) before single strands of contrasting colors were woven perpendicular to the knitting direction, through the garter ridges, to create the plaid pattern. It was demanding, exacting, time-consuming, and utterly magical. I spent four solid days weaving, watching the Games, and dreaming about what colors I would use to make another one.


In the very last days of the competition, I hurriedly cast on for my last planned project. I got this skein of llama yarn in a swap with another Raveller. The theme of this Ravellenics was stash, and this beautiful soft buttery yarn had been sitting in mine for way too long.

I’m balanced in so many ways between what I spent a long time building, and what I want to come next. Sometimes you’ve got to clear out what you’ve accumulated. But I’ve never been able to just throw useful things away. I want to make something beautiful with them if I can.


I just need to catch my breath

December 31, 2013

Has everyone gotten their Christmas packages yet? Probably not; I know at least one went astray and might not be reunited with its recipients until the calendar flips over. Nevertheless, how can I let the year end without wrapping up what I made for the holidays?


Pattern: Luxe Cowl by Margaux Hufnagel
Yarn: Lion Brand Martha Stewart Crafts Roving Wool (100% wool), colorways Snowdrift and Persimmon
Needles: U.S. 13 Harmony wood Options 16″ circular

I actually made two of these, the other in a winter white. This red one went to my mother-in-law Libby; the white one I hope will soon be in the hands of my niece.


Pattern: Crocheted Square Washcloth by Stacey Trock
Yarn: Red Heart Eco-Cotton Blend (75% cotton, 25% acrylic), colorway Vanilla
Hook: Tulip Etimo 5.0mm (H)


Pattern: Waffle Knit Dishcloth by Debbie Andriulli
Yarn: Aslan Trends Pima Clasico Cotton (100% cotton), colorway White
Needles: U.S. 6 Sunstruck straights

Libby also requested some easy-care, throw-em-in-the-wash, bleach-the-heck-out-of-em dishcloths. I dug around in the stash, found some non-colorful cotton, whipped ’em up.


Pattern: Rikke Hat by Sarah Young
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss DK (70% merino, 30% silk), colorway Robot
Needles: U.S. 4 (band) and 7 (body) Harmony wood 16″ circular (half-magic-loop style)

My lovely model is lovely, but I wish I’d gotten a picture of this hat on Noel. I made it for nephew Daniel, and it is a terrific style on a fashion-forward man.


Pattern: Astronomer by Veronica O’Neil
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (100% merino), colorways Black and White (not sure what yarn the gray stripe is)
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood Options 16″ circular (half-magic-loop style)

Boy, this turned out handsomely. I made Bowdoin College colors for nephew Sawyer, who runs cross-country there. The turned hem is a polished touch. And the yarn knit up crisp and even. A professional-looking effort, maybe my favorite of the season.

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Pattern: Mini Sweater Ornament With Cables by Emily5446
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal (in Gypsy), Knit Picks Essential Kettle-Dyed (in Spruce), Knit Picks Felici (in Arugula), Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome (in Birches, not pictured)
Needles: U.S. 1.5 & 2 Nickel fixed Options 24″ circulars

I made a handful of mini sweaters to put in random stockings. The Birches one (made of leftovers from an as-yet-unblogged Sockhead Hat) managed to hop in a stocking before I had time to photograph it. In 2014 my leftovers are all devoted to hexipuffs, so I hope they enjoyed these last gasps of freedom.

I hope your holiday of giving was as warm as mine! See you next year!

And the kids got coke and chocolate bars

April 14, 2013


Pattern: Thoreau Hat by Terri Kruse (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Quince & Co. Lark (100% wool), colorways Bark and Nasturtium
Needles: U.S. 7 Harmony wood 24″ circulars (magic-loop)

Sometimes you get on a hot streak, and sometimes you can’t wake up the cards. Early this year I suddenly hit the jackpot on three or four blog contests, all at the same time, winning yarn and books and such. One of those windfalls was this Quince & Co. yarn. I fell in love with its sturdy, honest richness. I wanted to knit it immediately.


Noel needed a hat. I’ve made him a balaclava and a scarf and even a sweater for the frigid temperatures of Park City at Sundance time (he didn’t get to go this year, but I hold out hope for the future). But if he’s going to keep up his walking regimen in even the relatively tame Arkansas winter, he needs a warm hat. The proportions of colors I received in this yarn reminded me of a hat I saw in a magazine, with a pop of color around the brim. I searched and searched, until I found it. Man, do I ever love this hat.


Pattern: Easy Missoni Style Long Moebius Cowl by Haley Waxburg
Yarn: Plymouth Happy Feet DK (90% merino, 10% nylon), colorway 55
Needles: U.S. 11 24″ Harmony wood Options circulars

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been trying to find my motivation to knit in different places. It’s not that I am tired of knitting; it’s that I have a number of stalled projects that are sapping my willpower. I feel like a failure for not taking care of the business I’ve already started. So I look to necessity or to pleasure for motivation. I need a warm hat for my walks to school, or a long-sleeve cardigan for layering — that’s necessity. I want to use a yarn that I really enjoy, or make a type of pattern I’ve long wanted to try — that’s pleasure.


And yet, even when determined to follow these muses, I get sidetracked into my other motivations. Necessity drove me toward attractive accessories Knitwise could sell at its annual Craftin’ for CASA event. The perennial desire to use up stash yarn I’ve had for years, yarn that has been taunting me with my inability to find a pattern suited for it, led me to this DK yarn I bought from the Dizzy Sheep in the distant past. Brilliant pink is emphatically not my color, but it is most definitely the kind of color that will draw the eye when displayed for sale.


The motivations you need sometimes come along as a surprise once the work begins. Held double, this yarn made a decadent squishy soft fabric. I learned the cool moebius cast-on, and could see myself knitting moebiuses (mobeii?) as go-to travel projects. Circular needles (I don’t take my beautiful and expensive Signature straights through airports, since confiscation can’t always be predicted), easily memorized pattern, plenty of mindless knitting for meetings and sessions.


On the other hand, I plowed through this one pretty fast — so fast that I didn’t put down the needle size or how many skeins I used on the project’s Ravelry page. Maybe it wouldn’t last long enough for my travel needs.


It didn’t last long at the sale, either. The lovely Ashley took it home, and CASA of the 20th Judicial District took home the proceeds. Stash busted, children benefited, knitter happy, necks and hearts warmed.

I know all at once who I am

January 1, 2013


Pattern: HoneyCowl by Jessica K.
Yarn: Knit Picks Biggo (50% nylon, 50% merino), colorway Carnelian
Needles: U.S. 11 Harmony wood Options 24″ circulars (magic-loop)

2012 was not about planning. All year, it seemed, events simply overtook me, and all I could do was hang on and ride the wave. In some areas of my life, that was frustrating, as things I wanted to accomplish fell by the wayside and ordinary life ground to a halt, victims of crisis after crisis. But in my knitting, I was able to embrace the tide and roll with the unexpected. Indeed, I often looked forward to it.


Such was the case when Knit Picks offered a free hank of their bulky merino blend Biggo. Free yarn? Yes, please. When it came, the color, lightness, and silky-soft hand reminded me of the Misti Alpaca Chunky I used for my Raspberry Layers. I couldn’t resist finding a one-skein pattern and getting started right away.


Nine days later I was casting off. Extreme texture, vibrant color, a chunky barrier against the cold, a bold splash against winter’s gray. Who needs planning or predictability when life brings you free yarn and the time to knit it?

She’s got herself a universe

February 5, 2012


Pattern: Ariosa Reversible Ribbed Cowl by Susan Mills
Yarn: Louisa Harding Hulda (50% wool, 30% acrylic, 20% linen), colorway Grizzly
Needles: U.S. 10 1/2 Harmony wood Options 24″ circulars

My mom doesn’t like to have her picture taken. It happens to most women at a certain age, I suppose. She protests every time a camera is produced in her vicinity, backing away from family photos. It’s not false humility or casual shyness. I had to fight her for several minutes the night before she left town, the night I finished this cowl for her, to get her to agree to a picture. And I had to promise not to show her face.

So there are only two pictures of this cowl in this post. The cowl was requested by Mom before she and Dad arrived to help me take care of the kids while Noel was at the Sundance Film Festival. I made her a cowl a few years ago that she loves. But I made it with buttons — at the time, thinking that it would be easier for her to get on since she wouldn’t have to pull it over her head and mess up her hair. She tells me now that the buttons come undone due to the large buttonholes. What’s also true is that she’s having problems with her hands. I know those buttons aren’t easy for her anymore.

She asked for something soft next to her skin, something long enough to pull up over her nose in a chill. I pulled up my Ravelry favorites and showed her some patterns. The first one was too simple. The second one, tall, fitted, and cabled, she liked. I didn’t want to go too colorful so she could wear it with everything. I showed her some City Tweed HW in Cottontail and this Hulda, a colorway I got in a trade from Raveler carazmatic who was in need of a skein or two to complete a project. I like this yarn. I made a beautiful scarf from it a couple of years ago. And Mom made a really good choice by going with this hot-milk-chocolate sort of color. It has a slight pink undertone that keeps her skin and hair from getting washed out in neutral tones. It makes her come alive. You can see it, even in these couple of pictures.


It wasn’t until after I’d finished knitting this cowl — in about two days — that I realized how functional it would be for my mother. It’s reversible both ways. Wear it inside out, upside down, it’s the same. And there’s no shaping, despite the elegant flare you see when it’s worn. It’s a tube of reversible cables, done in ribbing. Yet it conforms to the neck and creates an elegant collar effect, almost vintage. This yarn, in the working, doesn’t seem to have a lot of body or structure. But the cowl’s ribbed and cabled texture creates plenty of heft. No way this thing is going to flop over when the wind is howling.

Mom loves it. And I feel like I made something that is just right for her, just where she is now. I could have used a few more pictures in the few moments of daylight between binding off and the recipient driving away. But what matters is that it works. In a way I always wanted my creations to work for the woman who gave me life.

And the best one of the year

January 2, 2011 sent some stats about this blog to me yesterday. Interestingly, my most visited post in 2010 was this 2008 holiday knitting roundup.  Hey, come to think of it, I have a lot of 2010 FO’s that haven’t been blogged because of their secret gift statu.  So here’s this year’s version of that popular post.


Pattern: Cardiff Cowl by Lion Brand Yarn
Yarn: Knit Picks Capra (85% merino, 15% cashmere), colorway Platinum
Hook: U.S. H/5.0 mm

My first crocheted cowl. I fell hard for this lacy confection in this substantial yet whisper-soft yarn. Had enough left for …


Pattern: Cafe au Lait Mitts by Paula McKeever
Yarn: Knit Picks Capra (as above)
Needles: U.S. 4 Harmony wood Options 24″ circular needles (one-at-a-time magic loop)

… these cloud-like lattice-pattern mitts, the perfect combination of architectural lines and welcoming warmth. Gifted to my sister-in-law Sherry.


Pattern: One Row Lace Cowl by milobo
Yarn: Knit Picks Andean Silk (55% alpaca, 23% silk, 22% merino), colorway Bluebell
Hook: U.S. J/5.5 mm

The crochet cowl trend continues. I only used one ball of this favorite yarn of mine for a little zigzag lace neckwarmer, made for my niece Sydney. It seems just her style: feminine but with strong lines and perfect, compact functionality.


Pattern: Greenery Hat by Lilith Parker
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Kettle Dyed (discontinued) (100% Peruvian highland wool), colorway Ivy
Needles: U.S. 6 Zephyr acrylic Options 24″ circulars (magic loop)

After all those eyelets and heavenly fibers, I itched for some sculpted cables in firm, sturdy wool. Not only did this hat fully satisfy that urge, but it also made an apt gift for my brother Dwayne, in the forest green of Woodlawn School (where he is founder and principal). I hope it will warm him during chilly cross-country practices for many autumns and winters to come.


Pattern: Jacques Cousteau Hat by Lalla Pohjanpalo
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Kettle Dyed (discontinued) (100% Peruvian highland wool), colorway Soot
Needles: U.S. 6 Zephyr acrylic Options 24″ circular needles (magic loop)

Something a bit more traditional for my stepfather-in-law Alex. This very simple hat has a nice depth of color thanks to the semi-solid black/charcoal colorway. The pointy top disappears when it’s pulled firmly onto the head, but adds a touch of whimsy on my smaller-headed model.


Pattern: Crocheted Mary-Jane Slippers by Calypso Gray
Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy Worsted (75% cotton, 25% acrylic), colorway Honeydew; Lily Sugar’n Creme (100% cotton), colorway Light Blue
Hook: U.S. H/5.0 mm

And finally, these slippers, which I finished on Christmas Eve — the last project I undertook for Christmas 2010. They are for Alex’s mother Ange. Through them I learned how powerful crochet shaping can be. These are made in one piece starting with just five stitches at the toe. I marveled as they emerged from my yarn and hook. I hope Ange finds them both comfortable and comforting.

Somewhere over the water next to a harbor

August 25, 2009

Pattern: Gloria Cowl recipe by Orinda5
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Mediumweight (100% merino wool), Lapis colorway, held doubled
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood Options 16″ circular

Why do people knit for years, decades, and lifetimes? Because there is always something new to see.

Take this beautiful yarn, which I bought at Knitch in Atlanta while visiting the city for a committee meeting. I tried to knit a sock with it. But as so often happens with gorgeous variegated yarn, I wasn’t happy at all with the look of it after a few inches. It was … garish. The colors pooled. The result was unpleasant — not at all what I was hoping for when I picked it out of all that beautiful sock yarn at that beautiful store.

When I ran across pictures of this simple cowl on Ravelry, I thought immediately of this yarn. The idea is to hold two strands of the yarn together, but to stagger them so different sections of the color sequence are next to each other. If the strands are different colors, there will be multiple colors in each stitch, minimizing the probability of pooling.

What a revelation! Watching the big stitches form so quickly on the big needles, watching the complex color sequences recombine and march across the stockingette, it was mesmerizing and magical. Before I knew it, the yarn had dwindled away to almost nothing and the cowl was done.

I refuse to believe that beautiful yarn can’t become a beautiful knitted object. Thanks to a failed pair of socks and an inspiring photograph, I found the one for this very special skein. It’s like a circle of love, formed from color and warmth.