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.
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.
An Update on Malabrigo March: a Month of Knitting with one Company’s Yarn
Malabrigo March is almost over and it has been a whirlwind! I've been out of town almost as much as I've been in town, which has been bad for blogging but rather interesting for knitting. Before each trip, I cast on several projects and then negotiate with myself over space in my suitcase. I have been known to turn two changes of clothing into a week's worth of outfits, just so I can take four knitting projects along as well.
I'm getting ready to head out of the country for the rest of the month and, predictably, I'm taking four projects along with me.
The first is so new that I've only just cast on and will be working on the brim during the flight. The pattern is Fuego and I'm knitting it in Malabrigo Worsted in Fuschia.
I'm also taking along my Lutz Jump hat. I'm midway through the first of three pattern repeats and I highly recommend this pattern. It zips right along and has clever little stitches in it, like one reoccurring motif that depends on a slip one, knit one, make a yarn over and pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch and the yarn over. It's fun and fast, and I love it in this Damask Rose colorway. I've never made a pom pom before, but I think this hat will need one!
I haven't gotten far with my Steam Punk Cowl. The pattern is called Metallurgy and I adored it on sight. But, it hasn't been my favorite knit so far. I'm hoping that under the influence of very cold weather on this trip, I'll get more excited about knitting it. (and yes, for those of you who follow my Maine Moon Cats, that's Hermione guarding my knitting). I'm knitting with Silky Merino in Smoke.
Last, but not least, I'm taking the current quilt square in progress for my Barn Raising Quilt. My goal for this year is to knit one a month while doing other projects and to finish up knitting squares by the middle of next year so I can put it together before my darling daughter goes off to college. It's nice to have a child who knits and appreciates knitting, and I'm hoping the quilt will be a piece of home she can take with her when she leaves the nest. I"m knitting the quilt from Malabrigo Sock in Piedras.
That's it for me for now, although I will try to do a couple of quick posts or at least photo updates while we travel. Please keep my house in your prayers as it is in the hands of our two twenty-something children while we head off. This could be interesting!
Recently Finished Knitting
At the beginning of March, I queued up a sizeable number of projects using Malabrigo yarn and promptly decided I was crazy to even attempt so much at once. But with the month almost over, the verdict is in, and I think the support and enthusiasm generated but all the knit-a-longs and chits chat.
In my last post, I showed you my first finished project, the ReDeux Hat. SInce them, I've finished several more to share with you.
Douglas Fir was one of the hats chosen for a knit along this March, and I adore the result. Although my youngest has claimed it for his own because green is his favorite color, this hat is really perfect for anyone and the cable motif is fun to knit. Fair warning if you decide to take this one on — the brim is fidgety and takes at least as much time as the remainder of the hat. But conquering it will make you feel incredibly accomplished! There are video tips on the brim included in my pattern notes that may help.
I fell in love with Malabrigo Mecha in the Pocion colorway and ultimately decided to knit a Shimmering in Blue Cowl with it. I've worn it constantly since it came off my needles. It's an awesome pattern.
Finally, I finished a Simple Ribbed Cowl in Plomo Rasta. The red tip at the bottom is the leftover yarn from my ReDeux hat, and the two together are perfect. This cowl is warm, warm, warm and although I had my doubts about it while I was knitting, it gets compliments from total strangers on the street.
I have a couple of projects left on my needles that I'm going to take along on my last trip of the month — a couple of hats, another cowl, and a quilt square. I've reluctantly decided that my in-progress Sunny Garden Cardigan is too bulky now to pack in a suitcase. The body is done up to where the sleeves need to be knit in, and I'm midway through the first sleeve. Knitting them on size 13 DPNS is awkward and I've decided it's not good knitting to take along while traveling, so finishing the sweater will have to wait for next month.
Finally, there are two last projects I planned for this month that I haven't cast on yet. I love them both and am thinking about casting them on so that they get in under the wire for Malabrigo March and then working on them in April. All in all, Malabrigo March has been a great month for knitting!
Knitting with Malabrigo
We are twelve days into the source of knitting inspiration known on Ravelry as Malabrigo March — a month set aside for casting on projects to get you through several months, if not a year's, worth of knitting. Seeing everyone's projects has been motivating and fun. Without further ado, here are the projects I have been working on this month.
My first cast on was a Deux Hat, knit from Malabrigo's Rasta yarn in Stitch Red. This pattern has been in my queue for a long time. It was a good quick knit and using Rasta for it means this hat is going to be soft and warm.
Next up was Veera Välimäki's Shimmer in Blue, knit in Malabrigo Mecha in the Pocion colorway. Mecha is a newer yarn base for Malabrigo. It is a single-ply yarn, somewhere between a worsted and an aran weight. I used it previously and fell instantly in love. Mecha was perfect for this pattern, knit mostly in garter stitch with four traveling cables. I finished this cowl up earlier this week and still need to get a picture of it in action, but the bottom line is that this is a clever and very warm pattern that I wouldn't hesitate to knit again.
I've been working on a Barn Raising Quilt for my daughter for a looooong time, knitting a square a month with some long droughts. I need to kick this project back into gear this year, as I'd like to have the finished quilt by the end of 2015 and I want to knit 20 or so more squares. This one, in Malabrigo Sock in the Piedras colorway, is coming along nicely.
In addition to being Malabrigo March, this has apparently been a month of Veera's patterns for me. This is another one, Modern Garden. Modern Garden is a cardigan, knit all in one piece from the bottom up. The sleeves are knit separately and then knit in once you reach the yoke á la Elizabeth Zimmerman. The shaping is cleverly incorporated into othe leaf design.
This pattern has been a challenge for me for two reasons. First, I needed a different size on the bottom of the sweater than the top, so I've worked math magic — never my strong suit — to make that change around the waist. The verdict is still out on that one. I also had a bad encounter with a buttonhole. I forgot to make the second one and was less than thrilled about ripping back six rounds to insert it. With the encouragement of a couple of very kind knitters on Ravelry, I laddered down and inserted the buttonhole over three stitches in the proper place. To my surprise, the surgery was a great success. Although I have used laddering in the past to fix a stitch, this was a fix of a different magnitude and I was delighted that it worked. I'll devote a future post to documenting the method, as I was so grateful to receive help in accomplishing this fix.
Douglas Fir is a hat with a special brim. It has an intriguing twisted rib stitch that took some effort to figure out but turned out to be well worth the time. I'm into the upper part of the hat now and hoping to have it finished for my youngest to wear on spring break, since green is his color.
The last project I cast on is a simple gray cowl in Rasta. The colorway is Plomo. This is the same pattern I used to make a blue cowl last month. The pattern is a 3×1 rib with a twisted purl stitch that. This one is a tighter fit around the neck than the blue cowl and will be taller — more of a cowl and less of a scarf.
As these projects zing along, I've got several others planned. I have two trips planned towards the end of the month, so I'm thinking about portable knitting. In addition to finishing the quilt square, I'm going to cast on some bedroom slippers in Mecha.
Time permitting, I also have plans to cast on an Underwater Garden Shawl in Malagrigo Worsted, a Metallurgy Cowl in a beautiful pewter gray Malabrigo Silky Merino colorway called Smoke, and a Fuego Hat in Worsted. I've been tickled by all of the Malabrigo March knitters with mottos like "Go Big or Go Home" and "Cast On All Things." A little bit of sillyness in life is a good thing. I like my knitting with a side-helping of laughter and Malabrigo March has been great in that regard.