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.

Simple Addition

Oh, I adore this shirt.

I have loved every pattern I’ve made by designer Stephanie Lotven, and, so far, I’ve made a few. My latest is Simple Addition, a simple sweater with lots of ribbing. This is the same sweater I finished two weeks ago but realized I wanted longer, so I frogged my work back and started again. It now measures about 14 inches from below the arm holes and sits just at my hips, a perfect length.

Ripping back how I did meant I could maximize the yardage in the skeins. I ripped back and kept track of which yarn was from the sleeve ribbing, from the front left, from the back, etc. Those yardages wouldn’t change drastically between the two versions, so I used up what was the left over yarn for the body (save a few grams, just in case), and then used the yarns I carefully labelled as each section.

I didn’t aggressively block the sweater, and I’m not sure how the cotton would have taken to being blocked aggressively. I like how the ribbing means the shirt is a little more form fitted than the pattern calls for with less ease. And that’s ok.

I chose this pattern because I had three skeins of Berroco’s Weekend, and the yardage all worked out. The fact that it was a Stephanie Lotven pattern gave me even more reasons to buy and cast on. She has a variety of patterns available, including a number (and a book, actually) all about different ways to use self-striping yarn. She also has a number of really fun colourwork cowls. If you haven’t tried one of her patterns before, please check her out! Safe to say, I’m a fan.

Sunny Baby Blanket

New finished item!

The pattern was Sunny Baby Blanket by Lucie Sinkler. It was so simple but engaging with the 12 rows of knits and purls forming the pattern. I used what might be my favourite, yet sadly discontinued yarn, Berroco Weekend. A LYS is slowly selling their remaining stock of this yarn, and I’ve been quite liberal with my purchasing of it! Six skeins went into this blanket, and it ended up being quite sizable!

It’s a gift, so it was knit with a timeframe. Once I cast off, I had that feeling of ‘What Now,’ as if I don’t already have two sweaters and two socks on the go. I also want to cast on another pair of “Michele’s Mittens” (RAV LINK) by Sarah H Arnold because I lost one while out on a walk. That one still stings…

But, this beautiful blanket, which occupied my mind for just over a month, is now finished and will soon be gifted to the mom-to-be. Very exciting indeed.

“Bern”ing through the stash

After inventorying all my stash and helpfully getting it all onto Ravelry, I turned my attention to trying to find a pattern that would use up a good chunk of stash yarn. I’ve also been a little twitchy for a heavier sweater – heavier meaning heavier weight yarn. The two I currently have in progress are both made with sock yarn, so I was hoping for something that would knit up a little faster.

After refining my search, I cast on Feel the Bern (RAV LINK) by Caitlin Hunter. It’s a free pattern (yay) using between 591 – 1256 yards (yay) of worsted yarn (YAY).

I played with a few colour combinations of Cascade 220 and Briggs and Little Heritage. My dark heathered purple was a must as it had the most yardage left for one of the main colours, and I loved how the grey of the Briggs and Little was more subdued than the other colours I was toying with. I settled on the dark purple, the grey and two more Cascade 220s: a mauve-y heathered pink and a heathered green. I had two different blues I was tossing around, but the blues were more vibrant, while the combo with the mauve and green felt more natural.

As I cast on and got to the colourwork yoke, I sent progress pictures to my friend Victoria. We were both in agreement. This colour combo was the winning combo indeed.

Now, excuse me while I keep making progress on this 50 round colourwork yoke… RIP my patience…

Keeping Track of Hundreds of Patterns

How do you keep track of your patterns? Are you digital and just store them on your computer/phone/tablet? Or, are you like me, and you prefer working off a printed pattern – printed so that you can highlight and mark it up to your heart’s content.

If you’re like me, and you’ve printed off your fair share of patterns, then you might also be like me and are starting to struggle with trying to find a pattern when you want to repeat it.

I keep my patterns in journals, smashbook style. I cut and paste them into spiral ring notebooks, and there I can make my own notes, keep track of sizes, if any mods were made for something that needs to be made twice (like sleeves), and I can also write out any improv patterns I might have tried my hand at. I’ve been using these for almost a decade. Safe to say, this is my method, and, for me, it works.

The glitch in the system comes when I want to repeat a pattern, which is what happened this weekend. I had some amazing Christmas coloured self striping yarn, which I knew would make amazing ornaments. The pattern I’ve used a handful of times is Balls Up ! (RAV LINK) by General Hogbuffer – a few metres of left over sock yarn, a 3″ Styrofoam ball, and a few hours of knitting, and you have a simple ornament for the Christmas tree.

But, the question was, what journal is that pattern in?

So, before settling in to knit the ornament, I turned to a project that was long overdue – inventorying my knitting journals. I created a Google Sheet where along the top, I have each knitting journal, and down each column is a list of which patterns are in that journal. I’ve highlighted the patterns that I know I’ve made time and time again so that they are easier to find. By making it a Google Sheet, I can access it from different devices.

Oh, and I found the pattern. It was in Knitting Journal 5.