Saturday, March 30, 2013

K'done: Elis Cowl

Hey look! Another cowl!

Pattern: Elis, by Reiko Kuwamura
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Sock, in Crumble
Needles: 3.75 mm / US 5

I stumbled upon this pattern while browsing through the database at Ravelry, and was instantly intrigued. The thing that kept me from casting on right away was the yarn. Well, okay - I probably wasn't feeling particularly cowly at the time. The cowl bug has since bitten me hard, and from that point, the major obstacle was yarn choice. I have a small stash of Tosh Sock that I wanted to dip into, and since this stuff is 100% merino I wanted to make not-socks with it, so I knew one of these skeins was to become this particular cowl. It was just a matter of figuring which colour. In the end, I went with Crumble because it was the most variegated of what I've got - the others are tonal and semi-solid - and I thought that would work well with the Indian Cross-Stitch motif.

Now, I futzed about with this pattern a fair bit. It's written for DK weight yarn; Tosh Sock is fingering, so the target gauge went out the window right away. I wanted the stockinette portions to contrast with the openness of the ICS, so I used a 3.75 mm needle, which gives me a stockinette gauge of about 26 sts to 4". (I never really checked, but I know a 4 mm needle gets me 24 sts to 4", while a 3.5 mm needle gets me 28 sts to 4" - I suspect the 3.75 mm should be right in between.) I wanted the cowl to be big enough that I could pull it down over my shoulders if I get cold, so I boosted the cast-on to 168 sts. Intrigued as I was by the ICS, I did fewer rounds of stockinette between ICS bands - there are eight stockinette rounds between each set of pairs of ICS bands, but I maintained the two rounds of stockinette between the two ICS bands in a pair.

I wanted to use up as much of my available yarn as I could, so I did 7 repeats of the ICS motifs, then worked the garter stitch band for the edge. I ended up with 16 g of yarn remaining, and I do wonder a bit if I could have done one more repeat, but I was too nervous to press my luck at the time, and I'm too lazy to rip back to try it, especially since it might not work out. It's okay. The finished cowl is a good size, and I'll put that 16 g to some other purpose that shall reveal itself to me in the fullness of time.

Meaning I've stuffed it into my bag of remnants for now.

Thrilled with this one. The ICS is a little finicky to work, but I never came to hate it, though it did slow me down considerably - the stockinette bands seemed to just zoom along compared to the ICS. Though perhaps part of the slowing came from the fact that I was watching the gameplay of Assassin's Creed III while I worked on this, and you really have to look at what you're doing with ICS, and so I would frantically glance back and forth from the TV to my hands. Meaning, I'm sure there were a number of small pauses in my work so that I could watch and try to 'help' my player by hollering about the locations of posters, or almanac pages, or soldiers, or feathers, or wolves, or whatever. I get pretty involved in the video game watching.

I did, by the way, finish the cowl before my player finished the game, and I chugged along on something else in the last little bit. He's done now, and has moved on to a new game. Which means I, too, have moved on to a new project - another cowl.

But more on that later.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

K'done: Botanical Cowl

D'oh, it happened again - more than a month since my last post. Working really cramps my hobby time.

At least I've got something finished to show you.

Pattern: Botanical Cowl, by Megan Goodacre
Yarn: Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering, in Chocolate Cherries
Needles: 4.5 mm / US 7

I know - the colours are sort of hazed out in these photos. That's because of the way the sun was coming in through the front door's window as I snapped these shots with my iPhone in the remaining light of the day after getting home from work. A professional photographer I am not.

I want to say I followed the pattern, but that would be a bit of a lie. First, I used fingering weight yarn instead of sport - not a huge difference, I don't think, but it is a difference nonetheless. I targeted the same gauge as listed in the pattern - 5.5 sts to the inch - but I wanted a larger circumference on the cowl, so I cast on 160 sts. I worked the ribbing as instructed, then switched to the eyelet pattern. I wanted to maximize my yarn usage - I had bought two 50 g skeins with the intent of turning them into socks, but changed my mind about that plan since 100% merino sock yarns give me socks that only last one season - so I continued with the eyelets through 7.5 pattern repeats, where the pattern instructs you to do only 4.5.

It feels as though I followed the pattern faithfully, since all I did was embiggen, but I suppose that still means that I did not knit it precisely as written.

I'm quite pleased with the result - at various intervals I was worried that the yarn was too variegated and I'd end up with an interesting textile piece that doesn't really suit my work wardrobe, which I wanted to enrich with this cowl, but in the end it seems just fine. I got a few compliments and nice comments about it when I wore it to work earlier this week. If I were a more careful knitter I would have alternated the skeins a bit at the joining point, or throughout the entire cowl, but I decided to take it on faith that any colour differences would be masked by the variegation in the yarn. What that really means is my lazy self immediately rejected the notion of alternating throughout, and then I just plain forgot to alternate for a bit at the switching point. Indeed, the two skeins are different enough that I think I can see where the switch happened when the cowl is lying flat, like when blocking. When I'm wearing it, though, I can't see it at all, so I'm not going to worry about it at all.

Yes, I still need to snap pictures of that sweater I finished way back in January. I think I need a new plan for that - I tried for some a little while back, but ran into a problem with fitting the sweater in the frame of the phone's camera while I'm wearing it and maintaining a flattering posture. I may have to concede defeat and just lay it out on the floor. Hmmm.

I've also got another cowl that should be finished pretty soon - Someone Else has been playing video games, and I like to watch him play, and I also like to knit while I watch him play. In fact, this cowl was started while he was playing Spec Ops: The Line, though I started when he was roughly halfway through the game, so it was finished after the gameplay had ended. Still, because of what was going on in the room while I worked on it, when I look at those enlarged eyelets? I see bullet holes.