I’ve been an obsessive knitter over the Christmas period. I think this is because I had so many possible cowl design ideas in my head for so long before Christmas, that I just had to get them out and made as soon as I had the time to do it.
So here’s the first one – ‘The Scrunch Stitch Cowl’. It was going to be a snood, but I liked it better that bit shorter and decided that I’d really only wanted to use the word ‘Snood’ in the title because I was enjoying the alliteration – a major language weakness of mine. You actually could pull it up over your head, if you wanted to, although I don’t think that is how it looks best:
There’s lots to love about this one, not least that the knit stitch I’ve used is reversible with a pretty lacy looking stitch on the ‘front’ side and vertical lines of raised mounds on the other side – both very different looks – you can see the lace outwards in the picture above and the mounds outward in the one below:
As well as being reversible, you can also wear it either way up for yet more looks. I used a standard cable style cast on at the start of the bottom of the cowl, which gives a firm edge that is tighter than the rest of the cowl, meaning that when worn with that edge at the bottom, the body of the cowl kind of spills out voluptuously, as in the pictures above. When I came to cast off though, I used a special cast off technique that creates a really elastic and generous edge, so if you flip the cowl over to wear that edge at the bottom, it stretches out and shows off the deep ribbing cuff I’ve given it:
Lots of options AND it’s made with creamy coloured undyed baby alpaca yarn, which is just SO soft – what more could anyone want? 🙂
Next, I wanted to make something with some Rowan Kidsilk Haze Trio that I bought. I’d never used this particular Kidsilk yarn before but it was now or never, since Rowan have discontinued it. At least this meant that I could buy it as a reasonable price – if I’d used it at the usual cost price, I would have had to charge a fortune for the things I made from it. Not that it isn’t worth the proper price – it is really lovely yarn, so dreamily soft and warm. The colour I bought is called Hawthorn and I love the pinky red, grey and cream together, although this is a very unforgiving yarn to work with – like most yarns with a high percentage of mohair, it does NOT like to be tinked or pulled back if you make mistake or change your mind about something. I had initially thought that I’d make this Kim Hargreaves capey type cowl with it:
I’ve made this piece before for a friend using Kidsilk Aura and whilst it was really nice, it was a bit of a strange shape – neither really a cowl or a cape. As usual when in doubt, I had a look around ravelry and read the notes of the people who had also made the piece before and most of them seemed to agree with me about the shape. When I made it before, I made a slightly larger size than my friend needed so that it wouldn’t be so restrictive on her arms, but it was still a bit odd working all those decreases throughout the body. So, I decided to just use that pattern for the initial inspiration and design my own. Meet, ‘The Hug’:
The ribbing at the bottom was the first to go – it really is silly to put ribbing on the edge of a piece like this – ribbing is for elastication, which is the last thing you’d really want here, I figured… I did want some kind of neat looking edging though, so I went for a 1 inch edge of garter stitch, which looks pretty and stops the bottom of the piece curling up. I also used a long tail cast on so that there wouldn’t be any suggestion of pulling on the bell like shape. I also decided to knit it in the round rather than making a front and back and seaming together – that seemed rather pointless too! After I’d done a few sums to work out how many stitches I wanted, where I wanted to put the decreases for the shaping around the shoulders, and which way I wanted each one to lean and to look, I got knitting.
I have to say that I really enjoyed the mindlessness of this knit after the initial planning, I knit it continental style because I was working in the round so knit every stitch – so much easier on your wrists. I like how the shaping looks on the shoulders:
I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with the neckline at first – did I want to give it an edging to match the bottom, did I want it long or shorter? In the end, trying it on the form, I decided I liked it just long enough to curl over and make its own little collar, without the edging. I cast off with a yarn over at every 4th stitch so that it wouldn’t be too tight and I think it came out just right. Would look as good over a collared shirt as a polo or crew neck top. although I’m not sure about it worn as a cowl like loop – it kinda works:
The shape when it’s laid flat definitely looks strange, but that weird shape is why it hugs the shoulders so well:
Having done the chunky thing, I was in the mood for something a little more delicate, and what’s more delicate than Rowan Kidsilk Haze? Although I crochet a lot with this yarn, I don’t often knit with it because it grows quite slowly and, if you are making anything of any size, it can begin to feel quite dull. If it also quite a fiddly yarn to knit with, even on the best needles, because it is so very fine. But, the end effect of the yarn knit up is just so lovely that it is worth a reasonable amount of frustration!
I decided to stick with a plain stocking stitch and use an elastic cast on and cast off to create a simple tube that could curl prettily at either end. Because the stitch was plain, I decided that I’d do some colour work for interest and used 4 shades – 3 in ‘plain’ Kidsilk Haze and the last in the Eclipse version that has a metallic thread woven into it. This is the end result – I’m calling it ‘The Candy Floss Cowl’, for reasons that are probably quite obvious:
What was a bit strange about this one was that it looked so very dull and straight up and down in my hands while knitting it, but it really comes alive on the form. The only thing that I wasn’t 100% happy about is that it really is quite impossible to make the ends of the yarn completely invisible when you weave them in – something that I usually manage to do. There’s really nowhere to hide with such a fine yarn knit at this kind of gauge, although I made sure that all the weaving and security stitching I do with a needle and thread on the ends was done in one line at the back, so nobody sees it when worn.
Love it as a loop:
Or slightly fanned out over the shoulders:
But really love that bit of sparkle from the Eclipse in the silver grey section, and the overall super delicate look of the stitch in those soft colours:
Finally, I wanted to play with the Trio yarn again and make something up that wasn’t in the least bit ‘clever’ – a simple 3×3 rib cowl, which I’m calling (strangely…) ‘The 3 Rib Cowl’. I think this one finished up as something of a stylist’s dream – you can wear it in so many ways, as long as you have the eye to see them! Here it is in its straight up form and showing off its stretch:
Then there’s its ‘ruff’ look (the only way this yarn CAN look rough!):
Its floppy look:
Its curly look:
And, finally, its seductive look – check out the fluffiness – mmmm…:
As to knitting the piece, I have to admit that it was pretty dull and reptitive. Because I was knitting in rib, I had to use the English rather than the continental method (to make sure I got good even tension throughout), so it was pretty hard on my wrists, but worth it for the end result I think. This yarn really is so soft and incredibly warm – even holding it while knitting made me cosy!
So, now I’ve got these ideas out of my head, I’m back to commission knitting today and am casting on to make the first of two cowls for a lovely client called Sara, who has almost as much of a thing for cowls and scarves as I do 🙂