Our first knitalong for 2014 will go from February 1 to March 31. Click on the link in order to join it. I have decided to create a post with some tips for working this pattern.
First of all some photos of the piece:
Here is the cowl in Cashmere Sock Yarn (color H6), just one skein, wrapped around twice, and wrapped just once.
OK, on to the techniques.
You are required to use Artyarns yarn for this knitalong. There are lots of options. However, if your yarn is too thin (Ensemble Light, Rhapsody Light, Ultramerino 4, Cashmere 2), you will need to work it doubled. It is really not designed for any of our laceweight yarns, unless you are brave enough to triple them (Silk Essence, Cashmere 1, Silk Mohair). If you use a heavier yarn (Supermerino, Silk Rhapsody), it will be fine.
You can use straight needles for this project, since it is knitted side to side. Use the smallest length needles you have, since I find that is easiest for turning the short rows. You will only need to accommodate between 20 and 26 stitches depending on the size you are making. The advantage of side-to-side knitting here is that you can make your cowl as long as you like, and will have enough yarn to double it. If you want a wider cowl (the one-skein version is 7″ wide), you will need additional yardage (over 250 yards) to complete it. I do give instructions for the 2-skein version which is wider (9″ wide), and has a longer repeat. Once again you can make this as long as you like.
I give you the option of using the Provisional Cast On, which leaves live stitches on your cast on edge, that you can attach later using the 3-needle bind-off, or any cast on you prefer. If you use a regular cast on (like the long-tail cast on), you will need to pick up the 20 or 26 stitches when you have completed your knitting, so that you can use the 3-needle bind-off to fasten them to the last row on your needles. I like to use the long tail cast on, allowing a sufficient long tail to remain (approximately 8″) so that I can use it to pick up sts for the bind off. When I pick up sts for the bind off, because I used a long tail cast on, I need to hold my work with wrong (purl) side facing (tail is at the right), and insert my needle and purl each stitch that I am picking up.
There are several parts to the knitting:
3 stitches that make up the garter stitch border which is closest to your neckline, and these stitches are always knitted both on right side rows and wrong side rows
elongated stitches that involve double wrapped knit stitches. Here’s how to work these: insert the needle into the next stitch as though to knit, then instead of wrapping the yarn around once as you usually would, wrap it around twice, then pull it through. On the reverse side, when you are instructed to purl these stitches, you would let the extra wrap drop off the needle, which it would do anyway since it is all part of the same stitch. This creates a double-long stitch. *I use these stitches to mask the short row turns, which create longer stitches than normal*
standard lace leaves–since there is a chart and written instructions for this pattern, it is easy to follow either or both. These leaves are standard and use yarnovers (yo), k2tog, ssk, and cdd (centered double decrease) stitches. A pet peeve of mine is to get the centered double decrease exactly right, you need to make sure to slip 2 stitches together knitwise, then knit the next stitch, and pass the 2 stitches over the knit stitch. This centers the decrease exactly as it needs to be. The stitch count for these leaves remains the same throughout, as all increases (yo) are paired with decreases (ssk, k2tog, and cdd) throughout.
scalloped edging–for those of you who have made the 200 Yard Scarf you will recognize this lovely edging. It is a simple edging that uses k2tog and yarnovers. The reason for the scallop shape is that the first half of the pattern increases the total number of stitches, while the second half of the pattern reduces the total number of stitches.
short rows–I was inspired to use these to create a circular piece in “wedges” similarly to how some old-fashioned doilies are constructed. The second half of the pattern repeat requires that you turn your work early, leaving stitches behind. The first 3 garter stitch border stitches are always left behind, and then the elongated stitches are left behind one at a time. The last stitch purled on the wrong side row, is slipped after you turn, and slipping it is merely transferring the stitch from one needle to the other without knitting it. It is really not hard to leave stitches behind, just make sure that you are using needles that are not too slippery, and try to remember that once you have left one stitch behind, it is automatically “wrapped” because you have slipped it, so on the next row, you will need to turn before that stitch–if you find yourself knitting it, you have gone too far. Naturally when you have completed the lace repeat, you will be instructed to purl all the way across the stitches that were left behind. Because of the lace pattern, the yo stitch is the last stitch purled before the turn, so you can use that as an indication and reminder. You will also add a yo after you slip your first stitch in this rhythmic design.
You will get the hang of it, and the addictive pattern just flows.
You can see the effect before and after blocking.
I like to block my knitting by moistening the knitted piece and pinning it down to a blocking or foam board with T pins. Let the lace open up this way. Some people prefer the more sculptured look and may choose not do block it. This is really a matter of taste and is up to you.
After blocking I suggest using a 3-Needle Bind Off to put the two ends together seamlessly. In order to make sure the seam is not visible, you must do this with the wrong sides facing outward and the right sides facing each other. Be really careful to make sure your piece is not twisted when you join the ends together. Then weave in the ends and you are ready to wear it 🙂
In the beginning you will need to concentrate when you are unfamiliar with the pattern. Do not try to start it late at night or when there is too much external disturbance. It is important that you give yourself some quiet time to get used to the pattern. Once you have “gotten” it, it will really flow.
I ask you to post Part 1, in order to make sure you are using the Artyarns yarn you have shown in your photo for the project. Once you have posted Part 1, I will send you Part 2. The short row fun begins in Part 2. If you need any assistance during this project, I would appreciate it if you post your questions in the discussion group I have created HERE. That is the best way to get a quick response.
This is not a hard pattern. It is fun and beautiful, and the photos I have taken probably do not do it justice. Stay with it, and you’ll really enjoy it. Persistence pays off.