Tag Archives: cowl

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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!

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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!

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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.

Glacier Park Cowl Number Two!

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.

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Three Knitted Cowls

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Three Knitted Cowls

It’s time for a little knitting…only a very little, because these days I’m primarily a garment sewer, but before I got serious about sewing, I was serious about knitting.  Lest that give you any false impression of my skillz, let me set you straight.  I’m no expert.  I thought I had progressed pretty far, but I took about a three-year break once I really got into sewing, and in that time, not only did my skills atrophy, I started to realize how much more there was to learn.  I discovered that if I really wanted to, I could become an excellent knitter…but that’s not my goal right now.  Yes.  I just told you I am choosing mediocrity.  😉

So what do I really want out of knitting?  I want fun, small, easy- to moderately-challenging projects that I can do while talking with friends or watching a movie.  I really enjoy knitting, but I don’t want to have to pay too much attention to it or fix mistakes.  I want projects that don’t require perfect sizing, because that’s an area where I struggle, and I’m not ready to give knitting enough attention to fix that.  I want my mental energy to go toward sewing, because right now, that’s where I want to be excellent.

So!  We come to the point where I keep seeing truly gorgeous skeins of yarn.  How can I use them in a project that fits with my requirements?  Looks like it’s time to knit cowls!  Cowls are the perfect project for someone like me.  A cowl, as I’m using the word here, refers to a scarf that is a loop rather than a rectangle.  I can choose a simple cowl and I immediately have a project that is portable, fun, and doesn’t require precise sizing.  Once I figured this out, I made three cowls!  Want to see?

Cowl #1:  The Very Gifted Cowl

This pattern is from Churchmouse Yarns and was free.  It’s very simple, with a cast on, an edging row, a body in basic stockinette stitch, and a bind off.  The pattern also comes with a nice calculator so you can figure out how deep you can make the cowl with one skein of yarn depending on the weight you choose.

The Very Gifted Cowl in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn Cheeky

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The Very Gifted Cowl in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Cheeky

I used sock yarn from Hedgehog Fibres held double in a color called Cheeky.  I just need to tell you that this yarn company is largely responsible for bringing me back to knitting again.  I used to follow the owner, Beata, on Instagram because I just loved her beautiful yarn, but  I had to stop because she was making me want to knit, and I wanted to focus on sewing!  In the end, though, my enabler friend Maggie at Pintuck & Purl, ordered some Hedgehog Fibres yarn for the shop, and that was it.  I had to give it a try.  I really enjoyed knitting with it, even though I normally shy away from such thin yarn.  I still have a tiny bit plus a mini skein left for some future project.

The Very Gifted Cowl in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Cheeky

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The Very Gifted Cowl in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Cheeky

Cowl #2:  Portillo Cowl

This one is by Gale Zucker and is from the book Drop-Dead Easy Knits.  It ticked all the boxes for me because it’s a cowl, it uses big yarn (which means it’s fast), and it’s also easy but still kind of interesting.  You’re just using the garter stitch, but you change color a bit, which gives the cowl a cool look.

Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

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Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

I used yarn from Yates Farm in Windsor, Vermont.  This yarn dates back more than a decade to my initial yarn phase.  I love it and wanted to use some of my partial skeins up.  This was just the right project, but because it’s so chunky, it knits up pretty huge.  This cowl’s going to keep me nice and warm!  I still have a ton of needles from when I started knitting, but I didn’t have circular needles long enough for this project.  In case you find yourself in the same boat, check out this economical option from Amazon.  Score!

Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

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Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

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Portillo Cowl in Yates Farm Chunky Yarn

This cowl is not perfect.  It’s not hard to see where I wove the yarn in or ignored a mistake, but I was going for a pleasant experience over perfection, so it is what it is.  It bugs me a little, but not enough to go back and fix it.  My friend’s and my motto for knitting is:  “Don’t be a stressed-out knitter.”  In other words, feel free to ignore your mistakes if you want to.  So I did.

Cowl #3:  Spidey’s Spiral Cowl

I’ve made this cowl before and given this pattern + yarn to knitting friends as gifts.  You can find it on Ravelry for purchase or you can buy it through your local yarn store (I got mine at Pintuck & Purl).  I really like how interesting it is, and because it uses such nice, chunky yarn, I actually don’t mind going back and fixing mistakes (once in a while).  My attempt last year in Yates Farm chunky yarn didn’t turn out the way I hoped.  It was more like a stiff neck tube, and I think it eventually made its way to the thrift store.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl in Baah Yarn Sequoia Yearling

This time I made it in Baah Yarns Sequoia in a color called Yearling.  I had plans to use a different colorway, but this pink was like cotton candy or a fluffy cloud, and when I saw it at Pintuck & Purl, I knew it had to be mine (See?  Enablers!!!).  I do think the final shape looks a little funny, but I don’t care!  This is the softest, most luscious yarn ever, and I needed to make something with it.  I even saved my tiny scraps, so I could just touch them.

Spidey's Spiral Cowl in Baah Sequoia Yearning

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Spidey's Spiral Cowl in Baah Sequoia Yearning

One thing I will say about this yarn and the Hedgehog is that they smell sort of like a perm.  Have you ever smelled that smell at a salon before?  It’s sort of weird, but I think it’s because of the dyes they have to use.  You really don’t notice it unless you are keeping your project in a plastic bag, so maybe use a cloth bag (or just don’t be surprised)?

So that’s it!  I now have all the cowls!  What on earth am I going to knit now?  Maybe another try on last year’s hat?  I would love to have a version that’s a little longer.

All the cowls and scarves!!!

Thanks to my photographers for making me laugh so much.  Now back to sewing!

Recommendations

  • I updated my blog post on McCall’s 6751 (the cross-back top).  It felt too exposed and unrealistic for my daily life, so I switched out the back piece and it’s so much better now!  You can check out the new look by scrolling to the bottom of the post.
  • Can someone make me this Color Dipped Hat from Purl Soho in these colors so I don’t have to make it for myself?  It’s a free pattern!  If you want to make it for yourself instead, that’s cool too.  😉
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