Outlander Knitting and The Polar Vortex

With rumors of another polar vortex-like episode of cold weather headed for the deep south, I decided I needed a quick, but densely warm cowl, to get me through the next few weeks.  I've knit several cowls that mimic the look of Claire's  beautiful Sassenach cowl, as she works her way through the Scottish Highlands in the Outlander series, and I decided a modified version would be just right.


This pattern is so easy that I knit it during a drive yesterday (I was obviously a rider, not the driver), and had it ready to wear by evening.  The yarn is Bulky Blue Sky Alpaca and I held it double-stranded.  I used three skeins of yarn for this cowl, dividing the last skein into two even parts.  The pattern is very simple: Using size 35 needles, Cast on 16 stitches using your favorite provisional cast on (I like Lucy Neatby's, using a crochet hook, which you can see here).  Knit in garter stitch, i.e. knit every row, until you are almost out of yarn.  You will finish the scarf with Kitchener stitch, for a seamless join.  To do this, you need one length of yarn (no double stranding for this part), that is three times the width of your work. Even if you don't like to Kitchener, you can manage it for 16 stitches, and the result will be well-worth it.

For the larger cowl worn by claire — one that is long enough to twist around your neck a couple of times or spread out along your shoulders, you will want a longer cowl than this one.  The modification is simple — this cowl is very bulky because of the double stranding, but using the same quantity of yarn, held single, you can produce a longer cowl that is easily wrapped around your neck.  


Finally, a word about the yarn.  Recently, I overdyed a sport weight Blue Sky yarn in this same pink colorway for a friend, and got a lusterous result.  That yarn had silk in it, and I thought that might be responsible for the sheen of the yarn.  I was curious as to whether I could replicate the result in a yarn that lacked the silk content.  I tried it with this bulky yarn that is 50% Alpaca and 50% wool and you can see the result in the picture at the top — it's a deep, shimmering blue.  I'm as pleased with the cowl as I am with the yarn, and look forward to staying warm through out the coming weather event.


Outlander. Late & Grudgingly. (But Happy About The Knitting!)

My Mom has been a huge fan of the Outlander books for at least a decade.  I have to confess that I've feigned polite interest, but the plot has never grabbed me enough to convince me to read it.

One word suddenly changed that: Handknit.


Or rather, it didn't convince me to read the books, but instead, to watch the show, because I was told the knitting was beautiful.  And it really is!  Claire's ubiquitous and stunning cowl is something I had to knit for my Mom, also named Claire, right away.  After searching through the available patterns (clearly, it's just a big ring of garter stitch, but I wanted ideas — should it be a mobius, should there be shaping, etc. etc.) I settled upon The Gathering as a good place to start and cast on.

Cast on

The lovely purple edge is this provisional cast on, which I prefer to the one the pattern suggests.  The yarn is Elliebelly Bulky Merino, held triple stranded to give it the necessary bulk.  Although the pattern calls for size 50 needles, I didn't have any on hand, so I'm trying it with my size 35 needles, the largest I own.  I'm not sure it will give the loose drapey knit of Claire's cowl on the show, but it seemed worth a try.

My plan is to knit until I am just about out of yarn and then use a three needle bind off, rather than Kitchnering, because I'm lazy like that.

This pattern is the easiest possible knit, and seeing how nice it looks now, part way done, I'm pretty sure the biggest challenge will be giving it over to my Mom when it's done.