From Shawl to Cowl

Recently, in trying to decide what to make next, I turned to my stash for inspiration.

Almost two years ago, I bought this skein from a museum gift shop:

It’s 100 grams of 50% Merino, 25% Alpaca, 25% Nylon. I stared at it. No inspriation.

I wound it into a cake. No inspiration.

I spent, what was likely, hours on Ravelry. No inspiration.

Then, I remembered, the Museum had a few self published patterns, including
12 Days of Shawlmas

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, then you’ll know, I love me a good bandana cowl. A shawl, like the pattern as written, I’m not very likely to wear, but make that shawl a cowl, and finally, I had the inspiration I needed!

The pattern was written in a way that encourages the knitter to work 12 rows each day, and by Day 12, you have a finished shawl. First, let me assure you, I did NOT make the 12 rows/day goal. I saw that as more of a guideline…

I followed the instructions for the shawl (working RS / WS) until the end of Day 6 / Row 72. I worked Row 73 as written, but, when I got to the end of the row, I knit that last stitch together with the first stitch in the row, essentially joining in the round. Standard for triangular shawls, there were increases at both sides and at the centre, four stitches increased at the end of the RS row. Once it was joined in the round, I continued to increase at the centre, but I stopped with the increases at the now-back of the cowl. I did, however, keep the garter ridge detail that was started with the border, and I continued with YOs before and after those garter stitches, but every YO was counteracted with either a K2Tog or SSK.

One detail of the pattern that I ADORED was the centre – where most shawls/cowls have that centre stitch, this pattern had two that you were working as a Right Twist (essentially a 1×1 cable achieved by k2tog, leaving stitches on LH needle, then k the first stitch again, and slip the stitches off the LH needle). It gives a lovely twist detail on a part of a garment which is often overly simple.

Turning this shawl into a cowl required a little thinking and counting when you got to sections that had textured details, like the lace section, or the RT sections, but simply counting, and double counting for good measure, kept me on track and was easy enough to accommodate for.

When plans change

Some time in 2021, I was able to get my hands on kool-aid packages, a feat here in Canada where the flavour packages are unavailable in most stores. I was then able to get skeins of bare yarn and had fun dyeing. One skein got the speckled treatment, and the other was dip dyed, and it looked like this:

After more than a year, I decided this yarn was going to be used for socks. I had a pattern in mind, I cast on, and I started ribbing. And then I noticed this:

Do you see that pooling happening? The darker and lighter portions were doing this interesting, swirling thing that I knew would continue once I got to the leg. The pattern I originally chose had texture created by knits and purls, but once I saw the yarn and the pooling, I didn’t want anything to interrupt or take away from it.

So, my plan changed. Instead of patterns with knits and purls, I’ve gone with a simple eyelet pattern, so it’s letting the yarn do its own patterning/pooling thing with a little interest with simple yarn overs and knit two togethers.

So, sometimes, plans change. And that’s ok. Because sometimes, you’ll end up with something even better.

Finished Fezziwig

It took just shy of two months to finish the Fezziwig Cardigan.

I have to say, I love it. The yarn, a heathered yarn from Haynes Creek, is lovely, and for a pure wool, its rather soft. And as for the colour, well, the blue/teal is so VERY me.

Before I give my thoughts on the pattern, I want to say, it’s discontinued. It is only available via the Wayback Machine, the internet’s archive. It was made unavailable in late 2019. It is what it is, and I knew this diving into this project.

(Also, as a total aside, I could never get the PDF file to download from the Wayback Machine on my iPhone or iPad – I was able to get the PDF when working on a PC. Keep this in mind if you seek this pattern out).

While I like my finished sweater, and it did knit up fast, I had some issues. If you were to knit the 42″ bust like I did, you might have noticed a typo after the sleeves are put on waste yarn. Pattern reads: Sts are 34/72/34, then you increase in the next row. Stitches ACTUALLY are 33/72/33, then after that increase in the Purl row, you get the stitch count that’s listed on the pattern.

Others in their project notes on Ravelry or in the pattern comments also noticed that you need to repeat the pocket cables a total of 4 times, not 3 like the directions say.

For the collar. I got SUPER confused for how to proceed with a bigger needle. I kept the button band on 6mm and knit the collar on 9mm. There’s a discrepancy for how many rows to knit total – I repeated rows 3 & 4 13 times more – so 30 rows of short rows before the rows to resolve them. I KEPT the collar stitches on 9mm and continued to work the bands on 6mm, even for those last few rows, simply switching sizes. I wanted the band to stay even and lots of drape for the collar.

While trying to wrap my head around the collar and needle sizes, I texted my friend Victoria, who also knit this sweater, although for her it was quite a few years ago. Her biggest advice was to use Jeny’s Stretchy Bind Off when binding off the collar, which I did. And, again, I kept the band stitches on 6mms and the collar stitches on 9mms and bound off with the respective needles, but stretchily.

In all, I used just over 1080 metres (or 1181 yards if you prefer). It is a cozy sweater, and as we’re heading into the colder weather, what a perfect time to have a new cozy sweater.

Knitting the Distance – Take IV

Did you know that if you enter how much yarn you’ve used for your projects on Ravelry, at the very bottom of the page, you get a total meterage/yardage amount?

Well, as of this week, I have used over 69,700 metres in my projects. That’s 69 kilometres. And I’ve yet to enter in the yarn used in my Fezziwig cardigan, which is nearing completion.

I know, logically, I’ve knit an outrageous amount. I’ve been tracking my knitting on Ravelry for a decade, so obviously, the meterage is going to add up. I could measure my knitting in total finished objects, measure by skeins used, stitches per project (now THERE’s an amazing number), there’s all sorts of metrics. However, when I think about taking all the yarn I’ve ever used and stretching it out, it’s wild.

I could take all the yarn I’ve knit, and it would cover the length of the TTC’s two main subway lines (the Yonge and Bloor lines). There are currently four lines, totalling almost 77 kilometres, so I have yet to knit the entire length of Toronto’s subway. They are also constructing a few new lines, so once they’re added, my knitting goal will increase by a rather large amount!

If we’re looking at subways, I have knit the length of the Metropolitan line on the London Underground. It runs between Aldgate in the City of London and Amersham and Chesham in Buckinghamshire, with 34 stops on the line. It is also the oldest line, according to Wikipedia, opening in 1863!

Last time I looked at how far I’ve knit, I noted that Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province, is 65km at its widest. Well, I’ve knit the width of PEI. Its length is well over 200 km, so I have to knit a LOT more to reach that milestone.

Lake Ontario, the lovely Great Lake I look at every day and the smallest of the Great Lakes, is 85 kilometres at its maximum width, so I have a little more knitting to do before I have knit its width (and, in case you’re curious, its length is a whopping 311km, so I won’t hit that milestone anytime soon). And yes, with stats like this, Lake Ontario is bigger than Prince Edward Island.

As I said, there are many different metrics one could use to gauge their knitting progress. Measuring it in length, with how far I’ve knit is one I like a lot.

Knitting the Distance

A few weeks ago, while idling spending time on Ravelry, I noticed at the bottom of my projects tab, Ravelry thoughtfully tracks how many metres I’ve knit, based on the skeins I’ve entered into my projects.  On this particular day, my ‘Metres in Projects’ tallied 15,900m (15.9km or 9.88mi). If I took all the yarn … Continue reading “Knitting the Distance”

Red Cross WWII Socks

‘Tis the season to start holiday knitting, so one of the several pairs of socks on my needles right now is for my nonagenarian grandfather. For the last few years, his Christmas presents have been very simple – a donation in his name to World Vision, some dishcloths (which get very well used) and a pair of socks. This year will be no different.

For his pattern, I thought I’d try something from the Red Cross World War II Knitting pamphlets, the ones my Museum received as a donation earlier this year and that I wrote about a few months ago.

I settled on the ‘Lady’s Ankle Socks’ from The Canadian Red Cross Society Knitting Instructions for the Armed Forces (Compliments of The Yellow Pages of your Telephone Directory).

Lady’s socks, you say? Aren’t they for your grandfather?

Look. Socks shouldn’t be gendered. A sock is a sock is a sock. This pattern is over 64 stitches, which is what I wanted, so Grandad’s socks are using this pattern. And, really, there was nothing too revolutionary, unexpected, or difficult to understand about this pattern. It read like most top-down vanilla sock patterns.

So, the pattern for Ankle Socks, with Double Heel and Flat Toe. It calls for size 13 needles (or 2.25mm for those who prefer a metric needle size). I used 2.5mm along with some self patterning sock yarn.

The pattern calls for 64 stitches cast on, work 4 inches of 1×1 ribbing then 1 inch of stockinette (or ‘plain knitting’). I didn’t do that. I cast on 64 stitches, sure, but then I worked 2×2 ribbing for 20 rounds, and the leg stockinette for 64.

As I continued with the sock, and once I got to the toe, I realized that, really, the only part of the pattern that I followed were the instructions for the heel.

The heel instructions were a standard slip-stitch heel directions (k1, sl1 on RS, p all sts on WS), worked for 29 rows. Turning the heel also followed what is typically seen in a heel turn. When working the gusset, it called for K2tog through the back loop in place of a SSK, which essentially is achieving the exact same thing. I worked the foot over 72 stitches, as that’s my usual length when making socks for Grandad.

For the toe, I decreased every other row, and now that sock #1 is done, I’m quite pleased with the sock.

The pamphlet, The Canadian Red Cross Society Knitting Instructions for the Armed Forces (Compliments of The Yellow Pages of your Telephone Directory), is undated and unauthored, so I’m erring on the side of caution and not republishing the sock instructions as written in case I’m accidentally violating copyright.

Inside the front cover, although undated and unauthored, it notes, “Instructions and Revisions – Courtesy Patons & Baldwins, Limited.”