Knitting Friends

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.

PurlSoho comments

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.


Knitting Details:

Pattern: Purl Soho Stitch Block Cowl

Yarn:

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

Ravelry link: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/afthead/stitch-block-cowl

Help Me Pick my Yarn – Phase 2

Four months ago I posted an exciting knitting contest, and finally, I can announce the results.  Just in case you haven’t been holding your breath for three months awaiting the results of this knitting contest, here is a reminder.  I’m making the Purl Soho stitch block cowl.  I need three colors of yarn and was deciding between these three options:

The voting from March was close, but the Hobbit Cowl emerged as a narrow favorite:

Option 1 – Hobbit Cowl – 4 votes

Option 2 – Sunset Cowl – 3 votes

Option 3 – Scottish Cowl – 2 votes

After getting distracted by my sweet daughter batting her super long eyelashes at me and asking for a new blankie, I finally wrapped up the first panel of the cowl.


Isn’t it pretty, and cool and texture-y?  Now it’s time to add in color two and three!  I have to make a decision.  This is a pricey project both from a supply and time perspective, so I really want to get it right.  I decided that the only thing to do was to start knitting swatches to see what I really like best.

The world’s longest most ridiculous swatch.  (No, I didn’t check gauge with it.  Why do you ask?)

Eleven swatches later I’ve decided I really do like the colors selected by the blogosphere.  If only I were a more trusting person I could have saved myself a few hours.  (You readers are SO smart!)  Except…the decision isn’t done!  One section has two colors and the other has three colors.  I need to decide which color is in the two-color section.  Readers,  I turn to you for guidance again.  Which option should I choose?

Is the left version with Shire as the second color better, or is the Moody Green, on the right, better?  Please help me decide before I leave on vacation, so I know which color to pack, because I know I won’t get through all 20 inches in a week.  Thank you!

Help me pick my yarn

I’ve started a new knitting project and I am looking to the blogosphere to help me choose my yarn. The pattern is the Purl Soho stitch block cowl.  It’s a gorgeous cowl with three blocks of knitting:  one neutral section; one neutral and solid section; and one neutral, solid and variegated section.  the below image is from Purl Soho’s site.  Isn’t it beautiful?  The knitting is filled with techniques I’ve never used and amazing color, so there is so much fun to be had; I love this project.

stitch-block-cowl-600-10

The neutral block is on the needles, and that color is a done deal, but I’m torn about the solid (equivalent of the yellow in the Purl Soho picture) and the variegated (the equivalent of the gold/maize in the Purl Soho picture).  I’ve got three choices and would love to hear your thoughts about the relative beauty or not-beauty of each one.  I love them all, but they are so different, and I really don’t want to make three cowls (because I’d have to buy six more skeins of the neutral color and that would be a lot of money and time and cowls.)

Option 1 – The Hobbit Cowl – Earthy and dark, reminiscent of little underground homes.

Color 1: Purl Soho’s Worsted9832 Twist in Sea Salt

Color 2: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino in Shire

Color 3: Purl Soho’s Worsted Twist in Moody Green

Option 2 – The Sunset Cowl – White puffy clouds set afire by the setting sun

Color 1: Purl Soho’s Worsted Twist in Sea Salt

Color 2: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino in Spicewood

Color 3: Purl Soho’s Worsted Twist in Clementine Orange

Option 3: The Scottish Cowl – The variety of Highland greens enjoyed with a cup of tea.

Color 1: Purl Soho’s Worsted Twist in Sea Salt

Color 2: Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage in Earl Grey

Color 3: Purl Soho’s Worsted Twist in Cardamom Green

Which option calls to you, my blogging friends?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.  I’ve probably got a week until I need the other solid, so vote soon, and vote often.  Thanks for your help!