This summer, I decided to knit the Glacier Park Cowl by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks.
I was going on a road trip and I wanted something interesting (but not too hard) that I could take with me. I had some black Malabrigo yarn left over from a hat I had made, and I knew I wanted to use it with a hand-dyed speckled yarn from Pintuck & Purl. I found the perfect (irresistable!) yarn by Birch Dyeworks: a beautiful turquoise and white speckled yarn with surprising flecks of colors here and there. This was going to be good.
I bought my pattern via Ravelry at Pintuck & Purl. Then I freaked out. The pattern had a chart. I didn’t remember how to knit from a chart! My colorwork experiences were too long ago! What was I going to do?! Before I could work myself up too much, Mary from Birch Dyeworks, who happened to be in the store, talked me down and explained how to use a color chart. It was just a stitch for every square. I could totally do this. OK. Deep breath. Back to EXCITEMENT LEVEL 100. 😉
I cast on my project in July (I think) and worked on it a little bit here and there for about four months, finishing last month. Sometimes I didn’t work on it for days. Sometimes I only did one round. I was practicing my Continental knitting skills and my color skills. I learned to knit with two colors Continental style by watching this video from Voolenvine and this video from Garnstudio repeatedly until I got the idea.
Here are the details of this project:
Pattern: Glacier Park Cowl by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks (purchased from the designer’s Ravelry page in-store at Pintuck & Purl, which benefits both the designer and the store–super cool!)
Yarn: black Malabrigo fingering (or sock?) yarn (bought some time ago) and Birch Dyeworks Nymph on a Bender fingering/sock yarn (the latter purchased from Pintuck & Purl); I didn’t use a full skein of either, but I also made my cowl smaller than it was meant to be according to the pattern.
Needles: I used a US 1, 24″ circular needle from Pintuck & Purl. I started off with a longer circular needle, since I that is what I had, but it was a pain to stretch my knitting around, so I finally broke down and bought a better size for the project. No regrets.
My gauge after blocking: 31 stitches and 50 rows over 4″ in colorwork. My ribbing sections are significantly looser. The gauge for the pattern is supposed to be 28 stitches and 34 rows over 4″ in the colorwork pattern. I bet you can guess if I made a test swatch or not. Nope! Part of why I like cowls is that they are easy-fitting and I can dive right in. Looks like I need to go up in needle size for the colorwork section if I ever make this again.
Size after blocking: 8.5″ tall by 20″ in circumference. The pattern was meant to have a height of 12″ with a circumference of 24″. I noticed that my cowl was going to have a smaller circumference, so I decided to make it shorter as well to keep it proportional.
This project, though it took me awhile, was a joy to make. I loved the simplicity of the easy ribbing and continual knit stitch with the complexity of following the color chart. I REALLY loved seeing the pattern emerge and discovering what color would show up next in the hand-dyed yarn. It was always an exciting surprise when a little fleck of pink or yellow made an appearance. Looking for that next bit of color really helped me get excited to keep knitting.
I was disappointed that my ribbing was looser than the rest of my knitting (and it tends to flip to the outside when I wear it, which is annoying), but I blocked it and then brought it in to Pintuck & Purl to show Maggie and Mary, and it turns out that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s beautiful. They looked at the inside and Mary turned to me and said, “You’re good at this!” I was so surprised! And it was a huge compliment to see them admire it. It isn’t perfect, but I’m good at this!
And you know, I have this crazy idea that I might want to make it again. I have a simple white and pink cowl that I made a year or two ago that isn’t quite as great to wear as I want it to be, so I might just unravel it and try this pattern again with the leftover black yarn I have. I could change the needle size for the colorwork section and see what happens. I love this pattern and I now understand why people like to knit with fingering/sock yarn–it makes a drapey, comfortable fabric that is really nice to wear. I wear this cowl all the time!
I think I’m getting drawn in by colorwork. I love, love, love color and if I can just find that sweet spot of simple + interesting, then maybe I’ll keep knitting. I still love sewing more, but it is nice to have a knitting project in the background for when you want a little change or want something to work on while watching a movie or going on a road trip. I dove into another colorwork project after this one, but got so frustrated I quit, so coming back to this and trying to do better on my second attempt sounds kind of nice right now…even if it takes me until next summer. 😉