This cowl. I’m not one to let knitting projects languish. I start them, knit, bind off, weave in ends, then start a new project. Occasionally I’ll have two projects going because one is big, or otherwise not travel friendly and I do not travel sans knitting.
This cowl was started with a knitting friend. Together we decided to buy the expensive kit, and marveled over the magic stitches produced by “knitting in the row below” and the resulting fabric variety produced. After finishing the first solid-color rambler section, I ditched my purchased color 2 and 3 and called on my knitting blogging friends to help me choose a new colorway. Then, when the two-color checked rose section was complete, I called on blogging friends again for the final color decision for the english rose tweed section, using the world’s longest swatch to guide the discussion.
This cowl, oh! I loved planning it, swatching it, playing with colors, and learning new techniques. When I was done I couldn’t wait to wear it. It was beautiful, soft and warm. After researching others’ processes I blocked it before doing the final graft. Then I got stuck…on February 6, 2017.
This cowl, ugh! As directed, I had started with a provisional cast on – in March 2016 (the knitting took almost a year) – and all I had left to do was to pull out the waste yarn, pick up the live stitches and use kitchener stitch to turn the scarf into a cowl. Easy peasy. I’d done it many times before, except I’d never done it with a provisional cast on that went immediately into this crazy honeycomb looking stitch. Also, I might have created some problems for myself by chosing a brown tweed yarn for my waste yarn. Knitters, we all know to chose a smooth contrasting yarn for our waste yarns. What was I thinking? (Non-knitters, the bumpy multicolored tweed yarn made it both hard to see the waste yarn, and hard to pull out. Tweed has qualities good for knits, but bad for this technique.)
This cowl…it was so close to being done. I tried to just yank out the provisional cast on, and it wouldn’t come. I made four swatches with the provisional cast on in the appropriate yarn weight and color. Each swatch was examined every which way, but I couldn’t see how to remove the waste yarn and insert my needles. I tried to figure out where the stitches were, and I couldn’t. I even posted a comment on the pattern on Purl Soho requesting help. While Adam seemed lovely, he also seemed to be explaining the basics of a provisional cast on to me, which I understood, but I didn’t understand this particular variation of the provisional cast on – although in hindsight he was leading me in the right direction.
This cowl sat in a bin for five months. I thought about just sewing it up with an ugly seam on my sewing machine. After the completion of each subsequent knitting project, I would pull the cowl out and try to puzzle how to get those stitches on a needle and remove that waste yarn. Each time I gave up, folded it up, and hid it from my eyes. Then another knitting friend came to the rescue. Back from a year abroad for a few short weeks we agreed to meet for drinks and knitting. Of course we brought our current knitting projects, and on a whim I brought my cowl. After a few sips of cider, I pulled out the offending cowl and asked for help. “I just can’t see where the stitches are, and yes, I know the tweed was a bad idea.” She lovingly took my project into her hands, and evaluated the situation with the care only a fellow knitter is capable of. Finally she said, “It’s lovely. If it were mine, I’d take a size 1 needle and try to follow the cast on yarn stitch by stitch.” I turned the idea over in my head. I hadn’t tried that technique yet. That was July 10th.
This cowl is done! I traced the stitch pattern through with a long tiny needle three times before I was confident enough to pull out the waste yarn. With each stitch I would insert my needle where the waste yarn was, then pull out one stitch. At the end I had 52 live stitches to graft, and I was supposed to have 51. Any knitter will tell you that is a success. I can graft one extra stitch no problem. After reminding myself of the kitchener knit-purl-purl-knit pattern, I lined up the two sides, made sure the cowl wasn’t twisted and started grafting. As I went along I fixed stitches that were twisted and puzzled where I’d messed up the undoing of the provisional cast on, but in the end, it would take a pretty serious knitter to see where my graft was off. (Yes, I can see it.)
This cowl’s first picture, with yarn ends hanging out all over waiting to be blocked, went to the original knitting friend. She’s not through the second panel yet, but I assured her that when she got done I’d be able to help her graft the sides together. (My frustration may have influenced her decision to stop knitting.) The second picture of the final product cowl complete with ends woven in went to the knitting friend who saved me. She’s across the world again, but at roughly 11:00 p.m. for me and a.m. for her I sent her a picture and a text. “It’s done. You are a genius.” She is, and I’m so grateful for my knitting friends who push me to take on challenges, help me resolve design issues, and give me ideas when I get stuck.
This cowl cannot wait for the temperature to turn cold. It’s been waiting years to make an appearance.
Pattern: Purl Soho Stitch Block Cowl
Color 1: Purl Soho’s Worsted 9832 Twist in Sea Salt
Color 2: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino in Shire
Color 3: Purl Soho’s Worsted Twist in Moody Green