Tuesday, September 8, 2015

K'done: forest park cowl

After a break for the long weekend - thing the third!

Pattern: forest park cowl, by Liz Abinante
Yarn: Gedifra Extra Soft Merino Grande, in Dark Grey
Needles: 6 mm / US 10

I've had a hankering for a big, cozy, cabled grey cowl for a really long time. I just didn't think it would end up being this cowl. As soon as the pattern was released, I knew I wanted one for my collection, but I thought I would make it happen with a skein from my madtosh tosh DK holdings. This summer, I decided it was time to put my plan into action, and I started collecting candidate skeins and opened up the pattern, and took a look at the recommended gauge: 16 sts to 4" in garter rib.

And I paused.

That seemed like an awfully loose gauge for DK yarn. Normally, I would probably just cast on anyway and see how I like it as I go - after all, it's a cowl, no big deal if I have to pull a few rounds apart if I can tell I don't like the fabric I'm getting and rethink before proceeding. The thing is, though, I was packing this to come with me to BC for a week, where if my plan didn't work out, I'd be stuck with nowhere to go - no stash to sift through for alternate yarns, no needles to change out to get a fabric I like and then adjust the pattern to match. Realistically, I suppose I could have packed a few other sets of needle tips. But I couldn't just take my stash with me.

So I thought about that big gauge, and I scrolled down my Rav stash minder page, which I've got sorted by weight, so I went down to where the bigger yarns are, and I noticed I had 5 50g balls of the Merino Grande. I had bought 8 of them some years ago, thinking they'd be good man hat yarn, but the Man in question didn't care for the colour - he can see purple undertones in the grey, and feels it is a 'girly grey'. I knit one hat for him in it, and he wears it for outdoor winter chores, like shoveling, but if he's going to be seen, he reaches for a different hat.

So the remaining 5 balls were not to be man hats.

So why not make them into this cowl? I caked them up, joining three together into one massive cake and the other two into a smaller cake (because my ballwinder couldn't handle anything bigger than what three added up to), and put them in my suitcase along with all the necessary tools.

When we arrived at our destination in BC (the Man in question's parents' place), I settled in by unpacking the yarn and tools and casting on. Four days later, I bound off and wove in the ends.

This pattern was a great choice. Nice, memorizable cable motif, with 2x2 cables that can be worked without a cable needle no problem. Once you've worked several repeats, you work some increase rounds, and the result is a bit of flare at one end of the cowl, which will either enhance the slouch, as in the first pic, or allow you to pull the cowl down over your shoulders, as in this shot, without having large amounts of fabric flopping and bunching near the neck. (Not that that's necessarily a bad thing - I have many cowls that are straight tubes, and I like them all!) I did smooth it out a fair bit in blocking - it was pretty squishy and scrunchy off the needles, but the blocked item is flatter and drapier. I never did really check my gauge - a 6 mm needle gets me 16 sts to 4" in stockinette, and that's what I based my needle choice on. With all the cables, some may find the fabric a bit stiff (I did use bulky yarn, after all), and it was pretty stiff off the needles. I'm quite happy with the drape I got once it was blocked.

Tech specs: I worked a Chinese Waitress CO, used Russian Joins, and a double chain BO at the end.

It will probably be pressed into service pretty soon - the temperature has definitely come down into knitwear territory here.

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