On The Needles – November 2017

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What’s on my needles right now!

Changes in the line-up.  Hoping to get some serious knitting time in over the Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Diadem– I’m so close to being done with this it’s silly its not done – all that’s left is the knitted on border.  Unfortunately, I’m not happy with it.  I’ve barely used any of the yarn and it is a very small shawl.  So I’m going to rip it out via the skeinwinder (so I can count yardage) and pick something else.  Brief reminder – this is the shawl I’m knitting for my friend Patty in exchange for a pair of handknit socks.  Yarn is from Zen Garden (I think Serenity Silk – the light fingering weight one) and the pattern is Diadem by Ruth Greenwald. PS – the photo color doesn’t do it justice at all.  It’s actually a deep midnight blue with a lot of sheen.

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  • Alpaca Cape – A big, heavy, warm, snuggly cape, that’s what I want(ed).  My yarny Christmas present to myself was several skeins of Cascade Yarn Baby Alpaca Chunky for a cape, which I promptly started over the Christmas holiday.  I’m three skeins in, with a couple more left.  This is my HOT RIGHT NOW project so I can wear it this winter.  I don’t have a pattern for it – I’m just knitting it like a top down raglan without ever dividing off for sleeves.  I plan to knit until I’m into the last skein and then stop to do a nice wide button band.  The yarn is amazing and squishy – and very warm!

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  • Wicked Mormorio – One of my social-knitting (aka don’t have to pay attention to) projects.  Pattern is Mormorio by Heather Zoppetti and costs $6 on Ravelry.  The pattern uses two colors of yarn, both fingering weight.  The first I’ve used is Another Crafty Girl‘s Strong Sock in the colorway Numerical Vampire and the second I’ve used is Dyeabolical Yarns Tenacious Sock int the colorway Ever After.

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  • Golden Rapunzel – This is very much NOT brain-dead knitting.  Lace (both right and wrong side) with beads.  The other fun part of this pattern is its knit bottom up (so from the large edge of the shawl up to the neck).  Pattern is Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair by Lily Go and costs $5 on Ravelry.  Heads up – it is not a beginner friendly pattern.  Yarn is Iachos from A Hundred Ravens in the colorway Apollo.

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  • Starry Whovian Socks – I am still loving knitting on this tiny circular needle.  I’ve made just a bit of progress since the last time I posted, mostly because I don’t work on it very often.  It’s become my current “brainless knitting” project that I can do anywhere, anytime.  These are plain socks with ribbing across the top, knit toe-up with an after-thought heel.  I’m using Quaere Fibre Sparkle Sock in the colorway Dr. Who Vincent and the Doctor.

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Finished Object – Botanic Broncos Hat

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What a quick knit! I finished this in under a week and I’m ready to cast on one for me.  Last January a friend mentioned she might like a Broncos hat. We looked at a couple different colorway combinations and then put the idea on hold since football season ended.  After I finished my most recent shawl I needed a little “bite of chocolate” before switching back to my next large-ish project.  A hat seemed perfect and so I ordered some yarn and figured out gauge. She also wanted a two-color pompom, which I did make.  I had the project done and washed in a week and was able to give it to my friend in person (she lives in another state).  I don’t have any pictures of her wearing the hat but she’s going to a Broncos game later this month and I hope she’ll take one then!

Moving on.  My Rav project page is here.

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Pattern – Botanic Hat (Ravelry pattern here) from Stephen West (website here).  This is a beanie style hat worked in two colors by alternating row colors and slipping stitches.   Two contrasting colors would work best.  My only critique of the pattern is that, for the price of the pattern, there is only one size available.  The designer states you can adjust sizing by using different weights of yarn but that’s pretty limiting. Pattern is $6.00 on Ravelry.

Yarn –  I used Malabrigo Yarn Rios (Rav link) (Malabrigo website) in the colorways Glazed Carrot (orange) and Azul Profundo (navy).  Rios is a worsted weight 100% superwash merino plied yarn that is kettle dyed.  It’s wonderfully squishy and soft, maybe even moreso than the unplied Malabrigo Worsted.

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Pattern Mods and Notes

1. Circumference – the pattern indicates the hat will fit a 22 inch to 24 inch head.  Even with the smaller needles I used, it’s a bit big on a 22 inch head.  Not so big it’s unwearable but definitely loose.

2. I used 0.45 skeins (94.5 yards) of the orange and 0.30 skeins (63.0 yards) of the navy, which means I could get a second hat out of the two total skeins (one of each color) I bought.

3. Pattern calls for US 6 and US 7 needles.  I could (kinda) get gauge with US 5 and US 6 but to get the hat smaller, and make the fabric look better, I used US 4 for the whole hat.

4. The pompom.  I don’t particularly love pompoms.  I don’t wear them and I was honestly surprised my friend wanted one.  I made a couple test pompoms using the second smallest pompom maker out of my set of four.  The pompom still seemed a bit lopsided, even after trimming.  I finally quit trimming because I was worried there would be no pompom left.

5. I added some length.  The pattern says to knit until you have 6 inches before starting the crown.  I want hats to cover the ears so I went to 6.5 inches.  Much better.

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Winter Move to the Loft

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The weather turned cold (as in sleet in October cold) a few weeks ago so I moved my knitting and spinning stuff back upstairs to my loft.  Truth be told, my winter spot is my favorite because its just so cozy.  Since I’ve posted about the loft before, I’m just going to show you the new items and what’s changed.

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When my family decided to sell my grandparent’s house over the summer, I picked up some furniture.  Some sentimental, some function and some both.  One of the pieces was a cedar chest.  It was rather un-cedar-y so I rubbed down the interior with cedar oil (pro tip – use less than you think you need).  Right now I’m storing various yarn in there in the beige cloth bags (to protect from the cedar oil transferring) and projects and bags in the cloth bins.  I may change that around in the future.

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My new Larry the Sheeple from ErinLaneBags.  She now sells many sheeple prints – I still want to get the Doctor Who set.

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Last but not least I did some re-organizing of my bookshelf.  I move a lot of the books over to the cube organizers so I’d have a couple free shelves. I have my eSpinner and tools/current fiber (in the green basket) on the top shelf and my wedge bags on the second shelf.  I have hooks for many bags but the wedge bags don’t have a great way to hang (hanging by the lanyards puts too much stress on the zipper pull).

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Thank you for joining me on a quick tour of my loft!  I’m so looking forward to spending the winter upstairs!

 

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Knitting Pattern Release: Cathay Williams Shawl

I’m pleased to announce that I just released my cozy new shawl for fall, The Cathay Williams Shawl!  It features a crescent shape with long wings, perfect to wrap around you., and uses just under two 100 gram skeins of fingering weight yarn.  Each row of the shawl is worked across different sections: mesh, a texture section and then mesh again.   I’m sure you’ll enjoy curling up to knit, and wear, this shawl.

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You can buy it and read more about it on Ravelry (you don’t have to be a member!).  Click here!

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You can adjust the size of the shawl (the length/depth) for the amount of yarn you have on hand.  The pattern has been tech edited.

Who is Cathay Williams? In a time when U.S. Army regulations forbade the enlistment of women, Cathay Williams enlisted under the name William Cathay on November 15, 1866.  She told the recruiting officer that she was a 22-year-old cook.  An Army Surgeon examined her and determined she was fit for duty.  Cathay Williams then became the first documented black woman to enlist in the Army.  She was assigned to the 38th U.S. Infantry and traveled throughout the West with her unit.  She was discharged in October 1868 when an Army surgeon found out she was a woman.  She is the only known female Buffalo Solider.

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  • Yarn
    • Approximately 825 yards fingering weight yarn. Shown in Fresh From the Cauldron Schoodic Sock (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon, 460 yards, 3.53oz) in the colorway Poe’s Absinthe Induced Dream.   Other suggested yarns include Destination Yarns Postcard, Cascade Heritage Paints or Knitted Wit Victory Sock.
  • Needle
    • Size US 4 (3.5mm) circular needle in a length of 32″ or 40″, or size needed to obtain gauge.
  • Other Materials
    • 2 stitch markers
    •  Tapestry needle
    •  Blocking pins

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  • Finished Measurements
    • After Blocking
      • 32″ wide
      • 44″ height (or depth)

The shawl is blocked aggressively width-wise. Meeting exact gauge is not crucial but may affect the final dimensions. 

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The Wool Gathering Festival 2017

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It’s been a couple years since I’ve been to this show and its grown even more!  The Wool Gathering is near Yellow Springs, Ohio and is held in middle September of each year. The show runs Saturday and Sunday and there are no classes due to space limitations. It is on the grounds of a dairy farm and vendors are set up under tents. WARNING: Picture heavy post.

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I went with several friends and we got there right about the time it opened on Sunday at 10am.  By noon it was crowded and hot (hot being almost 90 degrees in mid-September).  We shopped, ate, then shopped some more.  I had a couple items I was on the hunt for but otherwise wanted to spend time looking at yarns from vendors I hadn’t seen in a while.

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The non-fibery stuff:

  • Chocolate Cherry Lip Balm from Ballyhoo Fiber Emporium.  This stuff is like dessert for your lips, minus any calories.  Goes on smooth.  Go check out her website for some amazing photography and cool products.
  • For Feet Sake by BarMaids in the Peppermint Plus scent – This stuff is amazing for your feet, especially if your dry feet tear up your knee high hose (yes, I wear knee high hose with my dress shoes).  I like that you apply it like a stick of deodorant, leaving your hands mess free.
  • Lotion from Amazing Grace Farms – I love this stuff.  It is by far my favorite lotion.  No dyes and its very hypoallergenic.  The proceeds go to support her animal rescue, which makes it all the better.  Please check out her website and consider ordering.  The peppermint and lavender are my two favorites.  I bought one bottle of apple cider and have two more bottles of the peppermint cream coming to me via mail.
  • Pattern for Rookwood by Mindy Wilkes.  Ravelry pattern page is here.

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One of my favorite vendors (of many favorites) at the show was Destination Yarns.  I met the owner, Jeanne, at Stitches Midwest the first year I went and love her saturated dyeing.  She also uses the most scrumptious yarn bases.

  • (left side) Suitcase base (a worsted weight merino yarn that I swear feels like it cashmere in it) in the colorway Underneath the Christmas Tree
  • (top) One skein each of her Note base in the Miracle and Stormy Skies colorways.  This is aiming to be a two-color shawl such as Quicksilver or Blackbird.
  • (right) A mini-skein set on the Postcard base in fall colors.  It’s a merino yarn and each mini (there are eight) has 92 yards.  This, and a solid, will become the Take It All shawl.
  • You might also notice I got a couple bags, including a Game of Thrones themed drawstring and a Destination Yarn tote.  I’ll just keep telling myself one can never have too many bags.

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Long-time favorite dyer – Kimber Baldwin of Fiber Optic Yarns.  She was really one of the first doing gradient yarns (as mini-skein sets) and I used to see her every year at The Fiber Event in Greencastle.  She has a background in chemistry and has a very good eye for color.

  • (upper left) Two skeins of her Kashmir yarn (merino/cashmere/nylon base) in Citron and Wicked Good.  This bright of colors is wayyy outside of my norm, which was my goal.  This is likely to become either the Cypri shawl or the Fallston shawl.
  • (lower right) A mini-skein set on the Footnotes base in the colorway Fire and Ice and a full skein of Footnotes in the colorway Ft. Knox.  I tried matching the mini-skein set with a gray but could not find a combo that made my heart sing.  The gold one did though.   This is for the On the Spice Market shawl.

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A new to me dyer – Ewetopia, out of Wisconsin.  The yarn base is called Pashm and is merino/cashmere/nylon and the colorway is Country Fair.  Given the cashmere content this will become fingerless mitts.

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A second new to me dyer – Betwitched Pigments.  I’m a sucker for tonals and her’s have a lot of depth.  I actually got an aran weight yarn (I know, not my norm) in the colorway Surprise!  These are pretty springy and soft so I’m hoping they will make good legwarmers.

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Last one, I promise.  A third new to me dyer – The Fibre Art Studio at Yarns to Dye For. This was the last yarn I bought, even though I had been looking for a bright rainbow gradient with over 500 yards of yardage.  The base is Fifty Shades of Gradient (funny pun) in the United colorway.  This and some black will become my Lambton Panes shawl which I’ve been lusting over since Sarah of Yarn Geek Fibers finished hers.

 

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Musings on Interchangeable versus Fixed Circular Needles

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I recently went through all my interchangeable and fixed circular needles to list and organize what I had (I feel like I’m always buying more US 4 fixed circular needles).  Doing so got me thinking about under what circumstances I reach for fixed circular needles rather than my case of interchangeable needles.  Here’s the quick version: when I’m knitting lace, cables and/or knitting with thinner yarn, I reach for my circular needles.  Most other times I reach for my set of interchangeables.

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I started knitting in July of 2010 and during that year all the yarn I used was DK weight or heavier and I didn’t knit any lace or cables (thank you Ravelry for the trip down memory lane).  At that time I was using a few fixed circular needles (mostly for hats), some straights and some DPNs.  In October I ordered a try it set of interchangeable needles from Knit Picks (where you’d get 3 sets of tips and 1 cord) and in January of the following year I ordered my first set of interchangeable needles.  During that year I was mostly using my set of interchangeables for lace knitting.  From 2012 through 2015 though I gradually transitioned from using my interchangeables for lace and cables (and anything fingering weight or thinner) to using fixed circulars.

Note: If you’re looking into which brand of fixed circular needles is right for you, check out my comparison review here.

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Retrospectively, I’ve done this for a few reasons:

  • Having had a set of interchangeable Knit Picks needles come apart at the join, I am somewhat fearful of this happening with lace or cables.  While I know how to fix dropped stitches in lace and cables it is still a major pain and time suck.  If it happens on garter stitch or with thicker yarn, it’s not that big of a deal but with lace it is.  And by far I mostly knit lace.  I do use the little key to tighten my cords to the tips but I still sometimes find the cables start to come loose.  I sold most of my Knit Picks interchangeable needles in favor of my Chiagoo sets but even those require tightening.
  • I mainly knit lace shawls and cowls out of fingering weight yarn which means I tend to need to the same size needles in the same lengths for many projects.  So, I’m not having to buy a ton of fixed circular needles for my knitting (although in the interest of full disclosure I have a fair amount of fixed circular needles).
  • I find less snags at the join on my fixed circular needles than my interchangeables (because on the interchangeables it can snag at the cord to tip join and at the tip base to stalk screw together join.
  • I like being able to grab the one or two needles I need, toss it in the project bag and go.  I don’t need to carry around my interchangeble set on a regular basis.
  • On a per basis, the fixed circulars are usually cheaper than buying an interchangeable cord and tip (at least for Chiaogoos).

So, it appears that for my primary knitting, I’ve just found fixed circulars to be the best fit.  I DO use my interchangeable needles for more simple (no lace, no cables) projects, especially those that have a thicker weight yarn.

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I think interchangeable sets are great when you start knitting because it allows you to buy the least amount of needles until you settle into your “normal” knitting.  That comes with the caveat though to ALWAYS tighten your tip to your cord (assuming the brand you use joins in that manner).  As you progress as a knitter (especially if you have problems with joins and/or needles separating), it’s not a bad idea to try some fixed circular needles in the size(s) you use most often.

What types of needles do you reach for? Does it depend on the project or yarn? I would love to hear what your experience has been.

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September 2017 Odds n’ Ends

It’s almost fall.  We’re almost there! I love fall – cinnamon, apples, fallen leaves, the slight chill, plaid shirts (which apparently is “in” this fall”) and more apples.  I might have already put out fall decorations and stocked up on cinnamon as I gear up for a busy September.

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New Bag I ordered (another) custom bag from The Silver Shed on Etsy.  The proprietress Ann is always so great to work with and this time was no exception. I found this Supernatural (as in the tv show) themed fabric on Spoonflower and was dying to have it as a bag.  So, I reached out to Ann, ordered and shipped her the fabric and POOF she made me a bag.  One of the things I love about her shop is the ability to customize the bag by adding different types of exterior and interior pockets.  I love the big clear vinyl pocket on the outside for storing my pattern.  I couldn’t be more pleased.

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Upcoming Design I’m wrapping up a cozy autumn/winter shawl that has mesh and a slipped stitch texture designed to show off highly variegated yarns.  It should go out to test knitters by the end of the month – if you’re interested in test knitting please shoot me an email or/ message me on Ravelry.  Test knitters get a free copy of this pattern PLUS a free copy of any other of my patterns of their choice.

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Upcoming Events

  • September 16 – I will be at Nomad Yarns in Plainfield, Indiana during their Santa Knits in September event for the debut of my new pattern with Malabrigo.  You can choose from a selection of Malabrigo yarns and get a free copy of the pattern.
  • September 17 – I will be in Yellow Springs, Ohio for The Wool Gathering fiber festival.  This event does not offer classes/workshops so I will NOT be teaching there.
  • September 23 – I will be at Montrose Farms Alpaca Ranch in Brownsburg, Indiana to demo spinning alpaca during their annual open house event.   There will also be a fiber processing demonstration, alpaca photo booth and all the cute farm animals.

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 Upcoming Blog Posts I’ve been thinking a lot about fixed versus interchangeable knitting needles, how to organize my needles, books I read last month, squeezing in a little yarn dyeing and some fun fall recipes.  Is there anything in particular you’d like to hear about?

 

 

 

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Who Doesn’t Love Vacation Yarn?

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I’m back from my vacation to Jekyll Island, Georgia, where I found some vacation yarn.  I went to a lovely yarn shop called The Stitchery of St. Simons, which is on St. Simons island, and had a nice chat with the owner about my Sybil Ludington shawl, which I was wearing.  I bought a couple different yarns- very hard to select the ones I did – they have a lot of beautiful yarns!

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Ella Rae Camelsoft in a dark green colorway.  Camelsoft is an aran weight blend of merino (75%) and camel (25%).  I’d never seen this yarn before but decided to give it a try since it was on clearance.  I wish they’d had more balls to purchase!

 

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Done Rovings Yarns Frolicking Feet Mini Gradients in the “Winter Sky” gradient colorway. 600 yards total of fingering weight merino.  Even though it’s called winter sky, it reminds me of the beach (where I spent a lot of time on vacation).

 

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Knitting Fever Luxury Collection Angora Merino in the a blue/gray/green colorway.  This is an aran weight blend of merino (40%) and angora (60%).  The three skeins total 588 yards and I plan to make something scrumptious!

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Stitches Midwest 2017

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I know what you’re thinking – Courtney, you didn’t go to Stitches Midwest this year, how do you have goodies from Stitches.  Well, my wonderful friend Erika (and her sister) offered to do a little personal shopping for me. I’ve linked to each vendor, just in case you’d like to check them out.

Some Non-Yarn Goodies

From Erin Lane Bags – one of her new Sheeple prints, Larry.  I’m also planning to get the Dr. Who prints/

From KnitBaahPurl – a shirt that says “I’m Only Fluffy on the Outside”

The YARN! Sorry I didn’t take the yarn out of the bags for the pictures.

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From Dragonfly Fibers – A gradient set of DK weight Traveller (100% superwash merino) in the colorway Starry Night.  The set consists of six 2-ounce skeins for a total of 840 yards.

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From A Hundred Ravens – A set of Yarn Poppers, which are small mini-skeins of coordinating colors on the Aesir (DK weight merino) base.  There’s a total of 75 grams in the one set.

 

 

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Malabrigo Knitting Pattern Release: Bryce Canyon Cowl

I hinted last winter I was up to something with one of my favorite yarn companies.  I’m happy to announce today that I’m designing some knitting patterns for Malabrigo Yarns.  My first design for them was just released, a cowl called the Bryce Canyon Cowl. It features a fun texture created by slipping stitches up multiple rows.  The cowl uses one 100 gram skein of fingering weight yarn such as Malabrigo Sock or Malabrigo Mechita.  This was my first time working with Mechita (a single spun yarn) and it was a true delight.

Bryce Canyon Cowl

The pattern is offered for sale by Malabrigo on Ravelry.  You can read more and buy the pattern here

The Bryce Canyon cowl is knit in the round and uses one skein of sock yarn, perfect for that single skein you can’t decide how to use. You can wear your cowl as a single looped long scarf, double looped as a casual mid-chest cowl or triple looped for a snugly neck warmer. The slipped stitch texture plays well with highly variegated yarns as it shows off the color changes.

Bryce Canyon Cowl

Yarn

    • Approximately 375-400 yards/343-366 meters fingering weight yarn. Sample shown in Malabrigo Sock  (100% merino, 440 yards/402 meters, 3.53oz/100g) in the coloway Diana.
  • Needles
    • Size US 4 (3.5mm) circular needle in a length of 24″/60 cm or 32″/81 cm, or size needed to obtain gauge.
  • Other Materials
    • 1 stitch marker (additional stitch markers to notate repeats optional)
    • Tapestry needle
    • Blocking pins

Malabrigo sample knit using Malabrigo Mechita in the Aniversario colorway. Photo Credit: Malabrigo Yarns

  • Finished Measurements
    • After Blocking
      • 58″/147 cm circumference
      • 7″/18 cm height
  • Gauge (all over 4”/10cm)
    • After Blocking:
      • Pattern: 20-22 stitches & 60 rounds

The cowl is blocked aggressively width-wise. Meeting exact gauge is not crucial but may affect the final dimensions. Stockinette gauge is provided to assist with determining an appropriate needle size for you.

 

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