It’s time for a knitting post! I don’t know what happened this winter, but I went crazy for knitting, and then I discovered how much fun stranded colorwork was. What this mostly means is that I waste a lot of time looking at pictures of colorwork sweaters I will never knit on Ravelry. I swore off sweaters after the mammoth beast I made for my husband (filed under “Craft Fails“), and never looked back…except that now I’m looking back. 😉
Anyway, after knitting my first Glacier Park Cowl last year and loving it, I decided to make the pattern one more time. I thought I could improve on my first version, and I just found the pattern so enjoyable to knit. Things that don’t need precise sizing (and that are small) are really my sweet spot. I had a cowl that I wasn’t very happy with (the white speckled one below) in some hand-dyed sock yarn plus a good amount of leftover black sock yarn from my last Glacier Park Cowl, so I could unravel the unsuccessful cowl and use the leftover black sock yarn. Perfect!
The two most helpful things I learned before starting this second Glacier Park Cowl were the importance of color value and yarn dominance. For colorwork designs to be really clear and easy to visually understand, you want your colors to be different in value. An easy way to check is to take a picture with your phone and turn the color picture to black and white. If the colors you have chosen are very different in value (say one shows up a light gray and the other is nearly black), your colorwork design will really pop. Brooklyn Tweed has an in-depth explanation of how this all works on their blog.
Yarn dominance has to do with which part of your design you want to stand out the most. I wanted the black elements of my cowl to stand out more than the white speckled parts. Since I was knitting Continental, holding both yarns in my left hand, I always held my background color (the white, speckled yarn) in the back (or to the left) of the color I wanted to be dominant (the black). You can find a really clear explanation of all of this (including how to hold your yarn) in Andrea Rangel’s book Alterknit Stitch Dictionary (in fact, here are some of her quick tips for colorwork–number 4 talks about yarn dominance). For a more in-depth explanation of color dominance in a blog post, see this one from Paper Tiger.
OK, so on to the project!
The Glacier Park Cowl is a pattern by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks. I bought it on Ravelry through my local shop (Pintuck & Purl). This time around, I used Hedgehog Fibres Sock in Cheeky (also from Pintuck & Purl) and Malabrigo Sock in black. I knit fairly loosely once I get going, and so I used a US 1, 24″ circular needle for the ribbing and a US 2, 24″ circular needle for the colorwork. On my first version of this cowl, the colorwork section is smaller than the ribbing (it pulls in), and I was trying to prevent that this time around by going up a needle size for that part. I knit the full recommended length of the middle section of the project, making my second cowl much longer than my first.
I was determined to get this project done before everyone in my house finished their Christmas Break. It’s hard to resist doing one more row when you can see the project taking shape and each row of the chart feels like progress. I also love knitting with a speckled hand-dyed yarn because you never know when another little bit of color will show up. This particular yarn is mostly white with little black and pink speckles throughout. It does split a bit from time to time if you aren’t careful, but you get used to that. I loved knitting this pattern.
The surprise was in finding that as I went along, my knitting got looser! After doing more reading, I found that I’m not the only one this happens to, but it was funny when I finished and the end was wider than the beginning! A lot of it has evened out with blocking, so it’s not a big deal, but it’s very useful to know. You can see it a little more clearly in the picture below. The bottom was where I began and the top was where I finished.
Interestingly, because my white yarn was so wavy from its former life in the unsuccessful cowl, I ended up blocking this twice before it started to relax. The above picture is after blocking once (or before blocking? I can’t remember.). The other pictures are after blocking twice.
I’m really happy with this knit, and I have been wearing it and my first Glacier Park Cowl all the time. Even though I was initially horrified at the thought of knitting such skinny yarn on such tiny needles, I loved this project, and would totally make it again in other fun colors.
If you are a knitter, do you have any favorite colorwork patterns to share? I have some slightly scratchy bulky yarn in several colors I would love to use at some point, but I just can’t find the right pattern. It’s listed as a worsted, but it knits up like a bulky (plus I’m a loose knitter). I would love recommendations.