October 31, 2013

8 Rowan Publishes My First Pattern! The Wickery Cowl in Kidsilk Amore

I don't really have aspirations to be a knitwear designer, although I will admit to having tons of ideas lodged in my brain.  I just really enjoy the process of knitting from a pattern and adding my own personal modifications.  I know I'm good at that.

Designing?  Hmm.  First off, I have a problem with bothering to make sizes for other people, cuz I'm selfish like that.  

Second... you know that moment when you are following a pattern and suddenly you know you have to tweak it?  Do the math?  Take a gamble?  Go back a ton of rows and fix it?  That's the moment I usually put down my work and go do something else.

But THEN, Rowan arranged a design contest amongst us 15 Rowan Ambassadors, and I didn't want to miss this chance to bring out the designer hiding in me...  

And wouldn't you know?  My Wickery Cowl won!

Check out the pattern on Ravelry (download link is there)

The competition details: Design something that would use only ONE SKEIN of two new yarns launched this fall: Rowan Kidsilk Amore and Amore Shimmer.

This kid mohair / silk blend is basically the super-bulky i-cord big brother of Rowan Kidsilk Stripe.  It is incredibly light and lofty, yet surprisingly warm.  

Photo by Maria Niedermayer (please check out all her wonderful yarn photos on Ravelry!)

This was quite a challenge... why?  These balls are probably some of the shortest yardage you'll ever find!

Kidsilk Haze Amore: 46yds (70% kid mohair, 30% silk)
Kidsilk Haze Amore Shimmer: 40yds (66% kid mohair, 27% silk, 7% synthetics)

My idea for the cowl was to 1) find a length that would show off the self-striping quality of the yarn, and 2) use a stitch pattern that would make this light-weight yarn firm enough to stand against the neck.

Because the stitch pattern is pretty tight, you do need really wonking-big needles... US 35 (19mm)!

The two buttons can be placed near the edge, or further in if you want a tighter fit around the neck.

You can decide if you like the cowl to be very upright with your buttoning, or you can button it in a way that makes a nice lapelled collar.

It's obviously a very simple piece, but I find myself slipping it on all the time.  The yarn is so warm (I can't emphasize this enough), that I really appreciate easily unbuttoning it if I get too hot.  I really hate unrolling scarves and messing up my hair to pull cowls over my head during an overly-heated bus moment.

Designer's Notes

  • If you are using a less bulky yarn or smaller needles, you should cast-on more stitches, in multiples of two.  Check out these projects on Ravelry for suggestions.  The cowl takes so little time to make, you might just want to 'swatch' the whole cowl and then decide how much you would like to add.

  • If you like, add 4 buttons so that you can decide how you'd like to wear your cowl, based on your coat or outfit.  Use plastic or light-weight buttons as the yarn is really very loose and can be easily weighed down.

  • This stitch pattern would be wonderful in a long ring cowl... if you make one, please show me!

I must say that the other entries for this contest were wonderful!  Rowan thought so too, and has released a free e-book containing 9 one-skein patterns by 6 other Rowan Ambassadors.  **As of Fall 2015, this collection is no longer available. However, you can download my free Wickery Cowl pattern here.

I also designed a set of boot toppers for tight calf boots that I will share as a free Ravelry download, but that's for another time.  ;)

You may be wondering what I won as a prize for this little contest.  Oh man, it is totally totally awesome.  The prize was all the yarn to make any one project from any of the Rowan Autumn/Winter 2013 publications.

Well!  You may know me well enough to know that I picked the most complicated colorwork piece I could find!  OF COURSE, it's by the wonderful Kaffe Fassett.

This is the Kilim Wrap, made with Rowan Felted Tweed DK.

And here I am, drowning in my prize!

ALL RIGHT, let's be serious now...  This serape-style wrap takes 24 balls in 16 shades of Felted Tweed DK, amazing right?!

I can't tell you when I'll start this wrap... I definitely have some things to finish up first before I can tackle this leviathan.  If you don't want to miss my progress, go ahead and follow this blog by e-mail or with Bloglovin'!

October 28, 2013

11 When Screwing Up a Stitch Pattern is for the Best - Wilderness

So, tell me.  Have you ever knit the entire back of a sweater before realizing you were DOING IT RONG?  Well, come hear my tale.

This is Wilderness, a pattern by Martin Storey from his wonderful new Rowan booklet Pioneer (more on that below).

This is a ribbed sweater (k5, p5) that incorporates bumps all down the knit columns.  I like to call them 'square bobbles'.  
Officially, bobbles are things you knit back and forth on a small amount of stitches to make a little ball.  This involves increasing into 1 stitch and then decreasing after a few rows back to one stitch.  I kind of love bobbles, as can be gleaned from my Knitspiration board on Pinterest.

I've made this Anthropolgie sweater, see it here.

These "square bobbles" are really just the same thing, except that you don't increase and decrease at the beginning and end.  I suppose that officially they are called 'tucks', but I've decided that all my new stitches should rhyme with wobble.  :p

And now let's try and understand my mistake.  As you can see, my bobbles aren't on the knit columns, but the purl columns!

When you come to a purl column on a wrong side row, you are to knit a 5 stitch strip back and forth for 6 rows.  Then, you are to "purl each stitch together with the stitches 6 rows below." 

Well, dayana did this entirely wrong.  Instead of pushing the little bobble to the right side, she let it pucker out facing her and made a little purl bobble.  And yes, she continued to do this until she was done with the back, only to re-check the photo when it was time to do the front!!

So, why was this a good thing, in the end?  Well, before casting-on the front, I decided to try out the real stitch.

Pros of the correct stitch:

  • Smooth surface
  • Not messy on the edges of the bobble

Cons of the correct stitch:
  • Looks like an odd blip of melting wax
  • Forces reverse stockinette seams instead of smooth stockinette seams
  • KEY DECIDING ISSUE: Bobble protrudes much more than if it is in the purl column

I ran this comparison by my husband, and he much preferred my purl bobbles.  In fact, the stitch pattern is quite manly really, and both he AND my father said they wanted a sweater just like this!  

(As you may know, my man helps me regularly with my knitting decisions and photography.  Well, not all the time.)

Just a note on the stitch.  Whether or not you do the original stitch pattern or my own reversed version, there is an easier way to do it than described.  Believe me, you want it to be easier... those bobble rows take foreeeeever to get through.

Pattern to the strip that will have the bobble.

With the left needle still in place, slip a short small-sized circular needle through the 5 stitches of the strip.

Let the needle hang (in front or in back, depending on what type of bobble you are doing) while you knit the strip back and forth.

Now, instead of guessing where the stitches "6 rows below" are, just slide you circular needle so the stitches are at the right end of the needle, and knit or purl those stitches together with the stitches on your main left needle.

Voilà!  A much faster bobble experience.

Here is the underside of the pattern, in case you are curious.

The original pattern uses Rowan Creative Focus Worsted, which is a 75% wool, 25% alpaca yarn that has quite a fuzzy halo.

I used smooth, marled madelinetosh DK for my sweater, giving it an entirely different texture that I liked a quite a lot.  Without the fuzziness, I decided it should be called the "Stegosaurus Stitch".

Come on, when you have an idea for a photography prop... GO NUTS!

Other than the stitch modification, I did some complicated fiddling around with the sleeve.  First, I knit them top down so I could get a good fit.  I have skinny arms, so I ended up with 40 sts at the wrist instead of 47.

Second, I wanted to keep the bobbles away from the seam for neatness. 

(By the way, a friend of mine has informed me that the instructions on how to add bobbles as you increase the sleeve from the wrist are not clear.  My advice to you bottom-up sleeve knitters: as you increase, continue the k5, p5 pattern, and only add bobbles if there is an entire strip available plus one selvedge stitch.)

Third, I realized I'd have a weird Bobble Bald Spot if I didn't end up having a bobble centered across the seam!  (I tried it and frogged it, I'm sorry I didn't take pictures).  I suppose you could do a half bobble on each side of the flat sleeve, but I don't see how it would ever look right.  

The fix?  Just start knitting circular!  See?  A nice bobble across the seam.

Let's talk a little bit about this amazing new pattern book by Martin Storey, Pioneer.  It is probably my favorite book from this Rowan Autumn/Winter 2013 season.  I rate a book as really worth buying if there are 3 patterns I would seriously consider making.

I would make five out of 16!  (that could be a Dayana record)




And my personal favorite at first glance in the book... Settler.  (Do check out my fellow Ambassador's progress on hers here!)

I'm pretty sure that other people would have a completely different 'i-love-that-pattern' list, so check out some others, here.

Fall photo shoots are always grand fun.  I live in Mile End (the best neighborhood in Montréal, ok?), so all this is a walk away.  

The great grafitti backdrops under the St-Laurent bridge under the railroad tracks...

The gritty abandoned containers in railroad parking lots...

Pumpkin Overload at the Jean Talon produce market...

Alleys behind brightly painted houses and their shadows...

(all the shadow pictures were done by me with my tripod... it was so hard to keep the camera out of the picture)

If you think you can make it through some serious bobble rows, this sweater is totally worth making.  I wear it all the time, and it just has this quirky interest you don't see in sweaters off the rack.  It grabs the attention and somehow doesn't at the same time.

The only downside (upside?) has been that sometimes, when I'm sitting for a long time, I wonder if I'm on one of these!  ;)

Update: I just received a note from Martin Storey on Facebook: "Beautiful Dayana.  Even better than the original...!  A happy accident.. All the very best.."  /totally starstruck, thanks Martin!!/

My Wilderness, Reversed on Ravelry

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