Monday, January 25, 2016

it is the cowl that never ends...

my sweet friend has a box of clothes sent to her monthly.   these clothes are well made chic pieces that can be a bit pricy.  she picks the pieces she likes and sends the rest back within a certain time frame.  in octobers box was a black and white cowl made from a yarn that was 100% acrylic.

my sweet friend fell in love with it.  she thought it was the best thing ever.  i told her i could knit her a cowl since the price for the 100% acrylic yarn cowl was a bit much. i thought buying  an acrylic yarn at a local craft store would be less then purchasing the clothing box cowl.  and my knitting it would be a money saver. she agreed and sent the cowl back.

then began the adventure...

after weeks of searching ravelry for the perfect cowl pattern, she found one that met her criteria.  we were now ready to choose yarn.  i gave my sweet friend the choice of going to a yarn store or going to a craft store for yarn that was similar to the box cowl.  being the daughter of a yarn store junky, she picked a yarn store.  so off to the LYS we went.  the pattern called for an amazing amount of bulky yarn, none of which was catching her eye since the yarn of the cowl she liked was two toned and none of the bulky yarn at the LYS was.  i then suggested getting two different color DK weight yarns which i would hold together as i knit so the cowl could have two colors.  she thought this a good idea, picked out a yarn she liked in two different colors and off we went.

now, every experience i have had with holding two different yarns together while knitting has ended in tangles with me trying to sort through them.  cursing may have been involved.  this time i decided to put the different yarns in seperate paper bags like everyone suggests.  then i could put a bag on either side of whatever chair i was sitting in when kitting.

on to gauge.  i used the suggested needle size and it looked like i was knitting air.  so i kept swatching with smaller needle sizes until i found the size that gave me the drape i was looking for and maybe close to the gauge i needed.  maybe.

finally i was ready to cast on.  but since the needle size was smaller i was concerned i would need to cast on more stitches then called for to meet the 60" length criteria.  technically, if my gauge was spot on, i wouldn't need more stitches.  but my gauge wasn't spot on so the hysterical, non-rational side of my brain thought it best to add a few stitches.  which i did.  to the tune of 100 more.  just in case.

the original cast on called for 196 stitches.  adding 100 to that made it 296 stitches.  obviously, my hysteria got carried away.  i  rationalized it by being concerned about the cowl length.  the extra 100 stitches helped alleviate that concern.

so i cast on half of the stitches (296 IS a lot of stitches) before going into surgery.  i took this project with me since we had to stay in so-cal during the surgery process.  after surgery i finished casting on and started to knit.  and though the pattern is a simple two row stitch repeat, having to knit said pattern on 296 stitches was more than my mind on pain killers could maneuver.  the first inch of the cowl, though fine, reflects my muddled mind.  the spines are fine, but there is some mushiness in-between.   not to mention there is a total of 297 stitches.  yup.  so much for counting while on pain meds.

nearly two months later, i am still knitting this cowl.  the pattern calls for a knitting width of 15 inches;   this would make the finished cowl 60" long and 15" wide.  at first this seemed entirely reasonable.  each ball of yarn produced about 5.25 ish inches of knitted width.  since i had 3 balls of each color i figured that would be perfect, i would hold both colors together, use all 6 balls and when they were gone, be at the needed width.  but as i continued to knit, i realized 15 inches doubled around the neck is good if the neck is as longs as a giraffes, but may be a bit overwhelming for a mere mortal.  i decided finishing the cowl after knitting 2 balls of each color yarn would be fine.  this would have the cowl end up at 10.5 ish inches in width.

i am 1/3 of a  ball of yarn away from being done.  the cowl is currently 7.75 ish inches in width and i can't seem to knit fast enough to be able to finish it.  though the pattern is easy, it can get tricky if i am not paying attention.  i lost a stitch when i added the second ball and never made it up.  for some reason i thought it would be okay until 3-4 rows in i noticed it was really not ok.  so i had to un-knit the 3-4 rows.  which doesn't sound like much until you realize each row is 297 stitches.  you do the math.  yup, tell me about it.

i have gotten much better at reading the stitches so mistakes get caught and corrected much quicker.  and i learned when knitting an item with so many stitches, it is not a bad idea to put stitch markers every so often to make sure the knitting is on track (this came from having to correct the joining of the second ball).

and though the yarn cost a bit more than the box cowl, not to mention my time, i have to say, the cowl is lovely.  the yarn is 90% alpaca and 10% nylon.  the alpaca makes it extremely soft to the touch and the nylon helps it keep its shape.  it holds the stitches well.  the colors are grey and white which makes the cowl interesting and textured.  i know my sweet friend will love it.  i know i do.  i just have to finish the blasted thing!

pattern:  the fluted cowl by purl soho    yarn: berroco folio in pearl and mount desert.


tanita✿davis said...

Ooh, using the two colors is working out BEAUTIFULLY... even if nothing else is! You're a brave person to try and recreate this cowl! They're definitely cute and on-trend, and they LOOK like they'd be reasonably quick to make, but with bulky yarn and small stitches... not so much!

jackie said...

thanks, Tanita! my challenge is I am close to the end and getting a smidge bored with knitting this. a dangerous combination when trying to finish a project! hope you are well!