Oh, gee, look. Another cowl.
Pattern: Chi-Chi Cowl, by Sarah Wilson
Yarn: Scarlet Fleece Silk & Ivory, in Claret
Needles: 8 mm / US 11
I cast on for this as my game player began playing Hitman: Absolution. It was a bit slow going at first, because you jump right into a chart, and it's hard to watch video game play while consulting a chart. That being said, the chart isn't super complicated, and once I'd worked out how the cable crosses fit into the lace scheme, I didn't need the chart anymore, and things started going more quickly and smoothly at that point. Still, he finished the game before I finished the cowl - I think I only got about 2/3 of the way through while the game was on. The rest just got knocked out in odd moments here and there.
While the chart is totally memorizable and logical so you don't need to be a chart slave, it's still got enough going on to provide what some would call interest - meaning if you're the type who gets bored with straight-up stockinette or garter, then you will not be bored with this. I knit it with the yarn held double, and was worried about that giving me grief as I did the cabling, but it was fine. No problems due to doubled yarn at all. There may have been a few moments where the cabling itself did not go totally smoothly, but that was due to a malfunction of mine, and not of the yarn.
I knit the second smallest size in the pattern, for a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to maximize my yarn usage, and I had 4 skeins of the Silk & Ivory, which is about 800 yards. Two, I knew I wasn't going to hit the target gauge - 10 sts to 4" - so I knew my cowl would come out smaller than the pattern predicted. Instead of going out and buying a new needle - something ridiculous like a 10 or 12 mm needle - I decided to roll with the smaller gauge, and cast on more stitches. Then, because I was trying to use as close to all my yarn as possible, I ended up with 3.5 repeats of the chart. I actually stopped consulting the pattern once I got the chart in my head, so I'm not sure how many repeats are written in there - it's possible that I didn't do any upsizing in this department at all.
I love it when a plan comes together - I am thrilled with the finished piece. The cables and big gauge give it squish value, while the lace and silk/merino blend give it some polish. Or, well, I think so, at any rate. I can absolutely wear this one to work - which is great, because that's exactly what I want. Awesome.
Oh, and for those who are wondering about how much difference blocking makes? Check this out:
That's a shot of the cowl fresh off the needles. Admittedly, the pic was snapped at night, so the colour looks different because of the absence of natural lighting. But what I want to point out is how nubbly and lumpy it looks before blocking. Blocking saves, yo.