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”

An August Afternoon on Amherst Island

Earlier this summer, my friend – my Knitting BFF – Victoria, moved away to a community about 2 hours east. I have had many fun knitting and non-knitting adventures with her – Knitter’s Frolics, COUNTLESS trips to local yarn shops where we both left with far less money in our wallets, and just random evenings spent knitting in her living room or on FaceTime in the height of the pandemic. I knew I was going to miss her well before the move. It really sunk in a few days after she left when I needed a certain needle size and I could no longer just drive around the corner to her house to borrow what I needed.

Well, it’s a good thing I like long drives and podcasts. In mid-August, while I was on holidays from work, I went for a day trip, and she and I spent the afternoon exploring Amherst Island.

Located about three kilometres offshore, in Lake Ontario, this island is noted for its dry stone walls, boasting what is believed to be the largest known concentration of historic Irish dry stone walls in Canada, many of which date to at least 160 years old.

Amherst Island is also home to Topsy Farms, the raison d’être for our trip. Established in 1972 by “free-thinking, peace-loving hippies,” their wool products are 100% Canadian, and the sheep in their care are “happy sheep.”

To get to Amherst Island, we hopped on the ferry and drove across the island, remarking on the dry stone walls and interesting houses we saw along the way. Victoria and I are both museum nerds (and proud of it), so when we arrived at the farm, our attention was equally captured by the farmlands and the ‘Wool-Shed’ shop, and also the cemetery we spied on the other side of the dry stone wall.

The shop was modest, but the product easily captured our interest! Victoria left with a few skeins of fingering weight yarn and a t-shirt, while three skeins of worsted weight yarn came home with me. I mean, look at this colour!

I also have to give a shout out to the person working the shop. She was incredibly knowledgeable about the island, happenings, the yarn, and the farm. We asked her opinion on what else we could do while on the island, and she gave us the recommended driving routes and a beach recommendation.

We finished off our afternoon by checking out the Neilson Store Museum (as aforementioned, we’re museum nerds), and, once we realized we missed the hourly ferry, grabbed some food at the Back Kitchen.

I have three skeins of that lovely teal Topsy yarn, and I also have a dilemma of what to make with it. Three isn’t quite enough to make a sweater with, but I’m sure I can find some contrast yarn, like Briggs and Little, which might make it work. Worst case, if I needed more and placed an online order, I’m sure I could bat my eyes at Victoria to pick it up for me! For now, these teal skeins will stay in my stash, waiting for the right project to come along.