cowl


Matching Cowl Success! The ultimate Canadian Winter set has been made!

20150716_185240Matching cowl complete! Honest to God, how awesome is this set? I know I know, blah blah modesty blah, but seriously… this set has turned out way way better than anything else I have made, and way better than I was hoping. It looks so cool! And unique! And cool!!! My friend in Texas said that when she first saw the picture of me in the set that it looked like a cool X-Men character. My husband described the look as a sort of brightly coloured ninja. Both sound awesome to me!

Okay, so we’ve established the set LOOKS great. As for functionality, lets delve into this a bit.

It gets extremely cold here in New Brunswick, and the windchill is fairly epic in its terribleness. -40°C level terribleness. I’ve lived here all my life and am as “used to it” as anyone can be, but it still sucks. I think a lot of people who suffer through weather like this every year are always in search of the Perfect Winter Combo™. I know I have been. So when I bought the yarn from MacAusland’s I saw this as my chance.

The whole basis for this project was to create a cute set that would be great for general winter days, would work well as separates, but when paired be able to shield against the worst of the windchills.

Cute? CHECK!

Works well as separates? CHECK!

Shields against extreme winter windchills? As yet untested but I’m thinking it is going to be perfect. Why? I’m glad you asked! 20150716_185202

  1. I knit these at a fairly tight gauge, which makes them snuggly warm but also more resistant to wind. I also made a point of felting them just the tiniest bit to help with that, and to just make the colour blending blur a bit.
  2. The double thickness band on the front of the bonnet creates a fairly robust and effective windbreak. Normal hats that sit snug to the head do nothing to protect your eyes/face from the stinging winds, but this style hat really does a great job of creating a protective buffer from the wind. This isn’t just a guess, I know this first hand – my Birthday Sprinkles hat last winter was great for this!
  3. The extra-thick i-cord edging along the top of the cowl creates a bit of a form-fitting cushion along my face. I’m a fan of scarves/neckers/cowls, but have found that they all either 1) squash too tightly against my face/mouth to be comfortable or 2) are too loose and therefore gappy and drafty. My cowl allows for a snug (but comfortable fit) along the top while still having a looser more comfortable fit for along the body of the cowl.
  4. The cowl stays up. I am not a fan of super floppy cowls that don’t stay up.  Function over fashion, people!
  5. The bonnet overlaps the cowl in the back , creating a wind-proof result. I haaaaaaaaaate when there is a gap between my hat and my scarf/cowl that the wind and cold air can get at, but this combo works perfectly. Plus, it isn’t excessively bulky or lumpy looking.

 

The only thing I would have done differently with the cowl is to make it a bit longer and to have done a bit of shaping to make it wider at the bottom so that it could spread out and and sort of splay out on to my shoulders a little bit so that when I put my coat on it has a solid amount of overlap, again ensuring a wind-proof seam. As it is I think it will be fine. I’m half considering picking up the bottom stitches and extending things a bit, but I honestly don’t think it is necessary. And, well, I don’t think I have enough yarn. I think I have juuuuuuust enough to finish my matching mittens, but I think that will be it. I’m making the mittens the convertible type so that I can expose my fingers if need be. I’m doing this because I want to be able to put on my mittens, then put on my coat (so that the mittens are properly tucked in and sealed by the jacket cuff) and then zip up my coat without difficulty. Have you ever tried zipping up a coat with mittens on? Yeah, it is tricky business.20150716_205432 I’ve completed one mitten and am pretty happy with it. I did a thick i-cord edging along the top but I’m not happy with it – too bulky, especially when the mitten top is pulled over my fingers – so I’m probably going to tear that out and just do a standard bind-off. I also need to come up with a way to secure my mitten tops to the back of the mitten…. maybe. I strongly suspect that the mitten top will be over my fingers more often than not and that the pulled back option will be on an as-needed basis and then be returned to the top on position as soon as I am done using my fingers. If this is the case then going through the effort of making some way to secure the top to the back of the mitten would be unnecessary. If I DO end up securing the flap somehow it will NOT be velcro. Sure, its easy and effective, but it sticks to the whole mitten, not just the loopy bit that it is supposed to stick to, and it ruins the knit.

 

Once I finish the mittens I am definitely going to be writing up the patterns for the whole set.


PATTERN: Squashy Cowl

It took me longer than I intended but my pattern for my Squashy Cowl is finally available!

Squishy, stretchy, warm, reversible, fast knit cowl using worsted weight yarn. 085This pattern is done in a basic 6×6 rib but with alternating rows of elongated knit and elongated purl stitches. The knit/purl columns remain constant, but it alternates between rows where the knit stitches are elongated with purl stitches normal, and rows where the purl stitches are elongated and knit are normal. This results in alternating blocks of puffy stitches combined with blocks of normal tighter stitches. The technique is easy to learn and easy to do and gives a huge amount of stretch to the item. When it isn’t stretched out it creates fluffy folds that make the item very warm. Knit flat and seaming the two sides together the ribs are horizontal and the stretch is vertical in the cowl, lending it to being worn as a cowl and hood pull up over the head. Knit on the round the ribs are vertical and the stretch is horizontal. This allows the cowl to be worn loosely around the neck, or stretched out and looped for extra warmth. Made wide enough and long enough this pattern could be easily adapted to work as a shoulder shrug/shoulder cosy.

 

Elongated Knit Stitch

ek – elongated knit stitch
ep – elongated purl stitch

This pattern relies upon an elongated stitch. To make an elongated knit stitch, you make a knit stitch as you would normally except for one difference: you make two wraps of the yarn instead of one. By making the extra wrap it mimics the effect if you had used a larger needle for that stitch, creating a much larger loop. Consider it like a yarn over (YO) WITHIN a stitch, rather than before or after a stitch like a normal yarn over. With a yarn over the stitch count is increased, but with an elongated stitch your stitch count never changes due to how the stitch is worked.

diagram of what each stitch type will look like and how they will appear in the cowl

Creating an Elongated stitch

Insert your working needle into the stitch knit wise, wrap the working yarn around the working needle twice, then pull the wrapped yarn through the stitch as you would in a normal knit stitch. This will result in two loops for that stitch instead of one. The extra wrap/loop is creating some slack in the yarn that will be released when you work it on the next row.

Working an Elongated stitch

How you work an enlongated stitch is key to achieving the effect. When you get to an elongated stitch you will see the yarn wrapped around the needle rather than just looped over like a normal stitch. Pick up the first loop with your working yarn, work it as the pattern indicates, but when you pull the yarn through the stitch you need to pull the extra loop off the needle as well. You are releasing the slack you created by doing the double wrap when you created the stitch, making that loop extra big.

It is important that it is worked as one to get the elongated loop.

  • Do NOT knit each loop separately. This would create extra stitches and you would not get the big elongated loop.
  • Do NOT knit the two loops together. This would keep the loop from being large and elongated.

 

The pattern is actually quite simple once you get a handle on the elongated stitch. You really just need to remember to release the elongated stitch each time you come to one. Now that I have explained the elongated stitch to death, on to the actual pattern!

 

Materials:

  • 300-400 yards of worsted weight yarn. (I used Berocco Vintage yarn)
  • Size 6 US (4mm) circular needles. (Straight needles can be used if you are making the knit flat vertical stretch version of the cowl.)

Option 1: Knit Flat/Vertical Stretch

Cast on 84 stitches using a stretchy cast on technique. This will be 8 repeats of the ribbed pattern. NOTE: If you want to make it wider/more narrow make sure your total number of stitches of a multiple of 6!

OPTIONAL SEAMLESS JOIN: For a concealed seam on the cowl cast on using a provisional cast on method. This will allow you to seam the two sides together using kitchener.

Row 1,3,5 : *(ek6, p6), repeating * 7 times

Row 2,4,6 : *(k6, ep6), repeating * 7 times

Row 7,9,11 : *(k6, ep6), repeating * 7 times

Row 8,10,12 : *(ek6, p6), repeating * 7 times

Repeat rows 1-12 until it reaches the desired length. In the pattern example 20 repeats were done.

Cast off using a stretchy cast off technique, then join the two sides together using the technique of your choice. For best results complete the seam in such a way that allows for some stretch.

 

OPTIONAL SEAMLESS JOIN: Instead of casting off pick up the stitches from the provisional cast on edge and connect the two sides of the cowl using kitchener stitch. In order to do this and have it be truly seamless you need to be able to do a kitchener stitch for both knit and purl stitches.

 

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Option 2: Knit on the round/Horizontal Stretch

Cast on 252 stitches on circular needles. Join on the round.

Row 1-6: *(ek6, p6), repeating * 21 times

Row 7-12 : *(k6, ep6), repeating * 21 times

Repeat rows 1-12 until cowl is desired length.

Cast off using stretchy cast of technique.


You can download a PDF version of this pattern by clicking HERE.


COMING SOON: Squashy Cowl Pattern

085.JPGLast spring on the Ravelry forums I saw a post describing a stitch I hadn’t seen before. It looks sort of like ribbed bubble wrap, and it is so squashy and stretchy and lovely I immediately dug through my stash to find an appropriate yarn for a project in that stitch. The end result is my Squashy Cowl. Warm, stretchy, comfortable, squashy. Not too hard to do, easily modifiable to your tastes. When I knit mine I didn’t have much of a plan, and if I did it over I would do a provisional cast on so that I could do an invisible seam, but the visible seam in mine isn’t the end of the world. Plus, my visible seam was a hell of a lot easier and faster to do than kitchener.

 

The stitch itself that makes the “bubbles” isn’t hard but takes some explaining. Well worth the effort of learning it because it really is a fantastic end result. As a testament to how great it is, I wear this cowl all the time despite absolutely loathing the colour of the yarn I used. It was repurposed yarn from a frogged project and I’m glad that it went to good use but ugh…what the hell was I thinking buying that beige yarn in the first place?! I hate beige.

 

This pattern will be FREE.

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THE PATTERN IS NOW AVAILABLE!