Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Tale of Two Cowls...(or, A Story of Stashbusting)

Hello to you! I have to admit that I'm feeling really good about the makes in this post, because these are all stashbuster projects! I've mentioned before how I really don't have a stash that deserves the name; I like to keep all fabric and yarn contained in two drawers in my cabinet ever since I realised that, for me, too much stuff actually gets in the way of my creative energy. BUT, this year - having been making for myself so much more - I'm finding those drawers are filling up with leftovers from finished projects, that are too big to throw away, but aren't quite enough for garments in their own right.

So I decided it was time to stashbust - albeit on a limited scale! I started with my wool drawer, (because it only just shuts at the moment...) About 18 months ago I bought 10 extra balls of Rowan Bamboo Soft, after making a beanie and LOVING the feel of it. (Though not being much of a hat person I've not yet been game to actually wear it out of the house). I had my eye on a Kim Hargreaves pattern, but when I checked people's Ravelry notes, every single entry bewailed the way this yarn stretches and grows over time. The general consensus seemed to be thumbs up for scarves and hats, and multiple thumbs down for anything else. I used some back in March for a beanie for a friend, but there's still plenty left.

A few minutes wandering around Ravelry gave me the Grey Loop Cowl pattern. Perfect! Three evenings in front of the TV and we were done. Here 'tis:

It's a really simple long lace cowl, requiring minimal concentration :) Because it's knit in the round, apart from two purl rows, it's pretty much all plain knit stitch - even the lace sections are just knit, yarn over, repeat to end.

It's a really slinky, sheeny yarn, and it feels beautiful to wear. I can see what people meant though about it growing; its really just the cast on/cast off edges that are keeping it to size. I don't think you could go too much wider than this. I'd love to try this pattern in a cozy, thicker wool as well - I think it would be a really different result. After this cowl and the March beanie I'm down to just five balls in the stash drawer - yay!

I also had one skein of Cascade 220, an aran or worsted weight wool (what is the difference between those two? I still don't know) left over from my Beatnik jumper. (Not blogged, but you can see it here).  For this I used Carina Spencer's Dovetail Cowl. I would have loved to do the longer version, but didn't have enough. In the end though I'm happy with the shorter version, especially since I just made the longer Grey Loop cowl.  At first I thought I couldn't get it to sit right, then I realised it's really supposed to just smoosh down around your neck! It's really snug and cozy, and I love it. :)

Apart from cables, I really haven't done much in the way of textured knitting. I'll definitely be doing more though - it was fascinating to watch the pattern emerge. Who would've thought just varying up knit and purl stitches could do that?? Not me! Love it :)

I've started working on a wee jumper for a friend's baby, but after that, I'm casting on one more for me. I'm hoping I can get it done before Spring really sets in...we'll see!

One more stash bust to show - this one for my youngest, who had National Book Week Dress Up Day last week. The idea is to dress up as a favourite book character, and he immediately suggested Bilbo from The Hobbit. (He's already got the hair for it! In fact, "Hobbit" was our nickname for him until he asked us to stop it.) If you look closely below, you'll see the remains of my third Ginger skirt. They made a convincing hobbity waistcoat - with gold buttons, as per his very specific instructions ;) He looks a bit grim in the photo, but I think that's mainly because he insisted on being barefoot for it, and it was freezing outside. He's worn it after school every day since, so we'll count it a win.

In other news, I'm going to give the Sew Weekly Reunion Challenge a go after all. I DID find fabric on my last shopping trip, and I figure if I use/adapt a pattern I've used before I won't have to worry about fitting issues. I do have a busy week ahead, but it's mostly cut out, so I think with a bit of effort I can squeeze it in. It has meant though I've decided not to join in on the Fall For Cotton Challenge, much as I would love to... You can't do everything, can you?!

Just curious, how do you decide what challenges or sewalongs to get involved in? Does it have to fit in with existing sewing plans? Or do you prefer to try something out of your comfort zone?

Have a wonderful week :)

Danielle oxo


  1. Your knitting output this week is so practical. I bet the wine coloured one would look terrific nestled inside a coat collar - perfect for the cold weather you're having. Your wee hobbit is adorable - how sweet that he wears it so often!

    1. You're right - it does work well inside a coat! I think I'm going to have to hunt down some other patterns, I've become a bit of a cowl convert!

  2. I think that Aran is british and Worsted is American, although I also think there is a difference in gauge - Aran is 18 sts per 4 inches whereas Worsted is 20 sts. And I can confirm that Rowan Bamboo Soft stretches like a bitch rendering garments useless - might be why it was discontinued.

    1. Oh, that sounds like a Knitting Heartbreak tale - I feel your pain! Does all bamboo yarn behave like that, I wonder?? It's a shame if so - it looks so lovely on the needles...
      I hadn't heard that definition - thanks, that's really helpful :) Guess I'll just have to be a lot more diligent when it comes to checking gauge :/

  3. Love the cowls! Especially the first one, it looks so elegant!

    After I finish my knitted cardigan I want to do a few quick projects, before starting with something bigger.

    1. Thanks Anthea! It IS nice to have a few quick projects after a big knitting commitment - there's a lot to be said for the occasional spot of instant(ish) gratification!

  4. What a productive week! Your cowls are lovely, your little hobbit looks fantastic! What a great costume! Well done on all that stash busting!

    I haven't yet decided whether to join Fall for Cotton yet. I am tempted, but if I do it, it will need to be something easy.

    I usually tend to try to join in things that don't deviate too much for my existing sewing plans. That's usually quite difficult, but I will bend my rule if something really juicy comes along! Can't wait to see your Sew Weekly make!

    1. Oh, isn't it great when things out there align with your own plans! But I love that your "rule" sounds as fluid as my "one-at-time" guideline - there's just so much temptation out there in blogville, huh!