A Farewell Cowl

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A few weeks ago, one of my favorite coworkers announced that she would be leaving for another job.  Today was our farewell party at work to see her off.  There was lots of food and balloons and presents – she is well loved.  I knew when she told me that she was leaving that I would knit her something as a going away gift.

I decided to knit her a herringbone cowl.  I used Plucky Knitter Primo yarn in a sport weight in the colorway Gray Goose. 

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Plucky Knitter yarn is hard to get.  I acquired this yarn on the Ravelry group’s destash page.  Primo is merino, cashmere and nylon.

I used this pattern:  Herringbone Cowl by Lauren Osborne.  It is free on Ravelry and it’s a great pattern.  I enjoyed knitting this cowl, and I want to make another in a heavier weight yarn. 

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I thought the cowl turned out great, and as far as I can tell, my coworker appreciated it.  I cast on several extra stitches than the pattern called for in order to make it long enough that it could be doubled around the neck if desired.

I love the look and texture of the stitch.

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With that finished, tonight I cast on for a new pair of socks.  I am using some yarn I purchased at Stitches a few weeks ago. 

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I’ve been itching to knit another pair of socks – I just needed to wait until fair season ended and my gift knitting died down.  And speaking of sock knitting, I want to mention this:

I am SOOO excited about this book!  Print copies will be available at the end of September.  I’m a total nerd when it comes to the history of sock knitting and the making of socks.  This book includes both topics.  My birthday is coming up, and though I usually get myself an antique sock blocker/stretcher to add to my collection, I think this book will actually be my pick this year.

If you want to learn more about the book, you can click the photo above to go to the publisher’s page, but you can also click HERE to read all about it on Ravelry if you are a Ravelry member.

 

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~Happy knitting!

FO: Handspun Beaded Bella Cowl

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I finished knitting my On the Road shawl last night.  I have been on the last lace section for over a week.  Toward the end, each row was approaching 400 stitches, so each row took me around a half hour to knit.  I think it took me longer to finish that last little section than it did to knit the rest of the entire shawl.  It didn’t help that I was often fatigued in the evenings by the time I got to work on it.  Being aware of that problem, I made it a point to pick it up in the daytime this past weekend, and I must say that I made much more headway.

Depending on how the beginning of my day goes today, I may be weaving in ends and blocking the cowl tonight.  Wool has been taking several days to dry (after blocking) with this weather here lately, so it will be a few days before I can get some fully finished, blocked pictures of it.

In May, I knit a cowl with my MoonBound fibers handspun wool.  I had 180 yards of the yarn, so a cowl seemed like a good option.  I also considered mittens, but I think that a cowl was the right choice.

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I was a little stressed about choosing the right pattern to show off the thick and thin qualities of the yarn.  I didn’t want to hide it with a fancy pattern.  On the flip-side, the yarn was undyed, natural wool, and a plain pattern with such wool could result in a really unimpressive (boring!) finished object.

Hmmm.  What’s a girl to do with her handspun?

I considered trying my hand at dying.  I was going to use coffee, which I think may have had a pretty result.  I decided against it, though, because I was kind of in love with the fleece colored yarn.

I considered choosing a complimentary yarn to accent it in a pattern.  This might have worked too, but since this was my first hank of handspun, it was a big deal in my head, and I wanted the yarn to be the star of the finished object.  I also wanted to use every last bit of the yarn.

After much consideration (about two days’ worth), I decided that the Bella Cowl was just the right combination of simple and some lace, and would be a pattern versatile enough that I could adjust it for my special circumstance.

While deciding all of this, I kept eying some tubes of beads that I had purchased years ago, on clearance at a craft store.  One of the tubes contained small, iridescent beads in natural colors that complemented the natural merino of my handspun so nicely.  Beading the cowl could be a great way to add color and interest without taking focus away from the yarn.  It was decided!

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Now the problem was that these beads were small for such a mostly DKish weight, thick and thin yarn.  I would have to pre-string the beads on the yarn in order to use them in the pattern.  My goal was to add them to the lace rows.  This was going to difficult, and I considered many other ways of applying the beads to the lace rows before finally deciding to break the yarn (I know, gasp!) at the beginning of each lace row, apply all of the beads needed for that row (this was not easily done, and required a size 12 —  that’s 1 mm folks — crochet hook to force the beads onto short lengths of the yarn) and then graft the yarn back together using a felted join in order to continue the pattern. 

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Yes, this was a lot of work, but it was satisfying work since I knew exactly what I wanted, and I was determined to make it happen.

Unfortunately, my 1 mm crochet hook was a casualty by the end of this project.

Unfortunately, my 1 mm crochet hook was a casualty by the end of this project.  (Note the bend.)

Luckily, the wool grafted really, really well, so I was able to join the ends of the yarn back together fairly easily after my struggle to get the beads strung. 

I knitted an adjusted version of the pattern, and I had to rip out and reknit the last two sections more than once to make sure that I could finish the pattern repeat I was on without running out of yarn.  Here is the amount of yarn I had left once I finished binding off:

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I am super pleased with the size of the cowl.  It can be doubled around the neck, or worn long like a scarf.  I think the beads are just enough without taking over the design. 

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I was really surprised by the affect of the twist in the yarn on the resulting knitted fabric.  It tended to make the fabric sort of seize up, making it a little stiff, with the texture of a scrubby sponge.  I kept moving up and up and up in needle size until I found a gauge that allowed this gorgeous stuff to drape.  I started with something like a size 7, and ended up using a size 9 and knitting as loosely as I possibly could.  I really wanted a 10, but I didn’t have a circular in the length I needed on hand.  

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I’m glad I spent the time experimenting with this yarn for this cowl.  I think it will be a well-used accessory this fall/winter, and that’s what I was going for.  I wanted it to be something that I would have many occasions to wear and enjoy.

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Now off to block a shawl…

~Happy knitting!