Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Come to Cowl Country

I finished the cowl that became a balaclava. It has a rather Easter Island look, doesn't it? I wasn't able to test Mette's theory that things only start to become interesting when you run out of yarn, rather to my relief.

I finished it the night before the snow started and left it in a bag on my neighbour's door handle, so it was very well timed. I'm waiting for a model shot.

I seem to have gone from a state of not knitting any Christmas presents to knitting rather a lot of them. I made that Miss Marple Shawl and wasn't going to do any more and then the person I was going to give the shawl to said, could I knit her a hat? So I'm making her a hat and a cowl. And I asked someone, if I were going to knit her something, would she rather have something lacy and pretty or something for keeping off the campus gales, and she said very emphatically that something warm would be appreciated.

Then a Polish friend said that she's going home for Christmas and on to Stockholm for New Year and I thought, well, she has to have something warm, doesn't she?

I started to make Mary Lou's new cowl, the Risers Cowl, in some Rowan Yorkshire Chunky Tweed (discontinued) in a lovely chilly bluish grey called Coast. I made the smaller size but I didn't check my tension and after a while it became clear that although it might fit as a cowl, it would really be better as a hat. So I did some decreases and a hat it is. I'm still in two minds about whether to pick up some stitches around the bottom and add some rib: I need to see it on someone with a smaller head than mine.

I cast on again for the cowl with an extra pattern repeat (16 stitches) and it's progressing well. The yarn feels a little cardboardy to handle, but it makes a nice soft fabric.

The pattern, being a spiral, gives you that gratifying feeling of going faster and faster, and knits up very quickly. It also settles into air-trapping corrugations which help to make it warm. A winner.

I also cast on an Eternity Scarf, which is a double-length cowl, but I'm re-thinking it. I have wanted to knit this since I first saw the pattern, and had chosen this very neutral Jaeger Matchmaker Merino because it's a perfect colour for my Polish friend, but I've ordered a different yarn now.

You see, what happened was, I ordered some Malabrigo Worsted for the campus cowl (pattern not yet chosen at this stage). She said 'purple or red, something rich', and I got, after much squinting at the monitor, three skeins of Amoroso. I got it from nutterknitter on eBay, who has a very good range of colours. I wasn't prepared for how fabulous it is, but it's impossible to photograph. It's a bit like Lorna's Lace's Bittersweet, but without the peach.

It's pink and burgundy and tomato and everything in between. So I was swatching it - it looks like a 4mm needle yarn, but it's actually a 5.5mm. I want it to be windproof so I'm using 5mms just to be sure. And I was swatching away, and thinking why does anyone ever knit with anything else, and I thought I would rather use Malabrigo than the Matchmaker for the Eternity Cowl, so now I've ordered that in Chapel Stone.

As for the patterns for the rich reds, well, that took up the whole of Sunday. What did we do before Ravelry? A lot more knitting, that's for sure, but not such well informed knitting. I didn't want a beanie sort of hat and I didn't want too much ribbing, because doing ribbing on dpns drives me a bit crazy. I'm not too keen on cables, but I was prepared to consider them. (Generous, huh?)

I quite liked one pattern, but on reflection thought it might look like brains. It does in quite a lot of the photos. I looked at a lot of slouchy berets, but you know a lot of them weren't very slouchy, and some of them weren't even berets. I didn't want lacy, because it has to be warm. I did make a final decision at one point, but it was for a diferent weight of yarn and I couldn't face a) doing the sums, or b) the possibility of ending up with a totally wrong-sized hat. Sigh.

At the same time I was looking at cowls: I don't want them to be too matchy, but they shouldn't be in totally different styles. You can imagine.

And then on Monday morning when I went on to Ravelry, on of my Ravelry Friends had produced a cowl which looked fabulous and would be perfect for the Chapel Stone Malabrigo. Oh god. So that one is slightly up in air again, at least until the yarn arrives.

Hat-wise, I was rescued by Kirsten Kapur's One Day Beret. This is a top-down pattern so I can make it as slouchy as I like, and even adjust it after it's been handed over, if necessary. It's a bit like knitting a Pinwheel Blanket, with KFBs instead of YOs and I'm mostly knitting it in daylight so that I can admire the colours.

And the bit with the provisonal cast on is a Burberry Inspired Cowl, which again I've had my eye on for a while. The plan at present is to make it double length, but we'll see how that goes.

Thanks for the advice about pilling. I'm a bit nervous about taking scissors near my knitting, but I have a small pair with curved blades which should be a bit safer so I'll try them.

And Orlando, India! He hardly seems to be in print any more, and neither is Kathleen Hale's autobiography, although I remember it being very well received. I wonder if her literary executor isn't doing a very good job, or maybe she didn't have one. What a pity. That's actually a postcard that's on my mantelpiece, and it says on the back, 'Only available from the Aldeburgh Bookshop'. I was sent it by a friend who was visiting Aldeburgh but it and others, and a couple of the books, are available here.

This is KH with the original Orlando: I got the pic from this website.

I forgot to show you the Swallowtail in Schaefer Anne (remember this?) which I cast on before the Great Cowl Convention began. I don't think it'll be picked up again until Boxing Day.


Mette said...

Your balaclava is perfect in spite of the fact that you did not run out of yarn:)) I like your Riser Cowl hat, I think I will copy it. Well done.

Sea said...

How do you resist knitting, "just one or two rows...to keep it moving"? The shawl, I mean.
I have just knitted a "Wooly Wormhead" slouchy beret that will probably look quite "slouchy" on a 7-8 year old, only trouble is...t'was meant for Mum. Ahwell! my daughter's bf has a 7 year old daughter, with red hair, the sagey green I picked will suit her very well.

India said...

Thank you so much for the link to the Aldeburgh Book Shop! I have sent them an email inquiring about the Orlando postcards; the set would make a wonderful Christmas gift for my sister, along with some handknits, of course.

Knitting Linguist said...

Thank you so much for sharing your planning stages - it's good to know that I'm not the only one who plays these yarn/pattern matching games that way! I'd offer you my much-smaller head as a hat model, but alas, my neck won't reach that far...