Thursday, September 22, 2016

The swatch that turned into a cowl

Okay, I admit it. I wasn't really swatching (exactly). I was hoping that I would just be able to continue on to get the desired result. Luckily I decided to do some number-crunching to see what I was heading for and discovered that I was well on my way to knitting a Hagrid-sized shawl. This required some regrouping to get a more reasonable size and use about 800 yards instead of 1320. Although a shawl that size would be fabulous, knitting it in linen stitch might take the rest of my life.

Because I had become so fond of this swatch I decided to bind it off and keep it. (My favs get stuck up on the bulletin board in my work room.) Then I discovered it went around my neck nicely with just enough overlap for a snap closure. Hmmmm. We were heading to Newfoundland, this just might come in handy....  I love cowls, but with my crazy hair, weather that requires frequent on-and-off maneuvers can be a disaster. Scarves work but they are big - this will fit in my purse/backpack/coat pocket.

Just on the off chance that someone else might want to make this, here's the "pattern". I decided to call it Alias (I was watching Jane Got a Gun while working on this. There may be a connection.) It's very basic - just linen stitch with increases to form the triangle. Stripe it if you like. (My stripes were 4 rows/6 rows/6 rows/4 rows/16 rows.) The stranded colorwork pattern is not included (it will be in the shawl pattern when it's released).  I wrote it up for the weight/gauge/yardage I used, but there's lots of room for playing here.


Skills required
Slipping stitches
24 stitches and 38 rows in linen stitch
Approximate measurements
24 inches across the top and 11.5 inches deep
Approximately 150 yards if you're using worsted weight yarn – as many colors as you like. Preferably in something that feels nice around your neck (I used Cascade 220 and Wool days Scout, feel free to substitute a different weight and yardage)
US 9/5.5 mm needle, or size needed to obtain a fabric you like with your yarn. Linen stitch is dense, you'll need to work with larger needles than usual. Personally, I wouldn't swatch  (obviously). This starts small so you can just start over if necessary.

Needle two sizes smaller for the set up and for binding off
Large snap and supplies to attach
Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

[  ]
repeat enclosed instructions as many times as possible (you may not end with a full repeat)
knit into the front and then the back of the same stitch
right side
slip 1 stitch purl-wise
wrong side
with working yarn held in back
with working yarn held in front
Using smaller needle, make a slip knot on your needle.
Row 1 (RS): kfb
Row 2: p2
Row 3: kfb, k1
Row 4: sl1 wyif, p2
Row 5: sl1 wyib, kfb, k1
Row 6: sl1 wyif, p3
Row 7: sl1 wyib, kfb, k2
Row 8: sl1 wyif, p4
Work in linen stitch
Switch to larger needles and work in linen stitch until you have 86 stitches or a size that works for you and your yarn, ending with a RS row.
RS rows: sl1 wyib, kfb, [k1, sl1 wyif] OR [sl1 wyif, k1] always ending with a knit stitch
WS rows: sl1 wyif, [p1, sl1 wyib] OR [sl1 wyib, p1] always ending with a purl stitch
(Determine the stitch order in the brackets by alternating which stitches are worked or slipped.)
If you are using more than one color, work the first row (RS) of the new color as follows:
sl1, kfb, knit to end. Begin linen stitch on the next (WS row), looking to the last patterned row to see whether to start with a slip or a purl.
Bind off knit-wise on WS using smaller needles.
Weave in ends.
Sew a giant snap to the top corners. (Try it on to get the perfect placement.) If you don't want to fool with sewing on a snap and are okay with pulling it over your head, you could tack the ends together instead.
Block as desired.


update: I did indeed wear this as a cowl in Newfoundland and I just found out it works like a head scarf too - the wind is making my ears cold at the campground on the Nova Scotia coast this morning.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Playing with colors

My latest pattern, Night Market, is a collaboration with Miss Babs to use some of her fabulous gradient sets in a new shawl pattern. I thought it would be fun to show you the process I used when I was trying to decide on colors. I needed a 6-skein gradient, a whole skein that extended the gradient, and a contrasting color. I don't have fancy graphic software, but you can do a lot with good ole Paint.

The first thing is to get photos of the yarns you are considering into Paint. You can open the program and paste right into it or you can download photos and then edit them in Paint. From Miss Babs' website I was able to just right click on the pictures and them copy them into Paint. They will always land in the upper left corner but you can move them over as long as you do it right away while they are still 'selected'.

I already had a sketch of the shawl drawn up. So next I used the 'Paste from' feature to bring that in. (Click the arrow below 'paste' to see this option.)

Then you use the color picker (looks like a medicine dropper) to pick each color up and the fill with color option (pouring paint can) to place each color in the sketch. You may have to play around with the best spot to pick the color up on the photo.

Because I want to use a light color for the CC, I changed the background so that the edge would show up. You can do ctrl+A to select your whole sketch and move it up to get the photos out of the way once you are happy with it.

These are my sketches for the new gradient sets Miss Babs came up with for this shawl -

and this is the sketch from when I was choosing colors for the prototype -

and this is what the actual shawl looks like -

It's a bit of work to go through this process, but it sure beats deciding halfway through your project that you aren't happy with the colors!