OK, so on Ravelry I belong to a few groups. One of these is dedicated to the English Women's Weekly one of the few weekly magazines which still has a knitting pattern. They used to be awesome when Alan Dart was their resident toy designer and I have a very precious collection of dog-eared pages with out of print Alan Dart licensed toys such as Thomas the Tank engine and Mr Men collected from the magazine in the 80's and 90's. I mainly play along in here for a heads up on what is in each week's magazine hoping for similar chunks of knitting pattern gold. It's not happening as often these days though.
The group moderator bettyboo, has recently decided to revamp the group to get some more lively chatter going and as she had never knitted a cowl (and they are the trendy winter accessory du jour) she proposed a Cowl KAL (Knit Along) for February. I was happy to jump in as the middle daughter, Mel, has a list of things for me to knit for Mel's and Louise's Awesome-tastic European adventure which is to take place at the end of this year.
This is my first go at a organized KAL. It has been a comedy of errors from Day 1. So here I bring you the diary of a cowl (actually several cowls), complete with false starts, overly ambitious project plans, non-monogamous knitting and a master's degree in extreme frogging.
First I had to choose a pattern: This is part of the fun anticipation of the countdown to the beginning of a KAL. You get to legitimately hunt through the stash of knitting books and magazines (and probably inwardly cringe slightly if you have as many and I do). You can trawl the patterns database on Ravelry for hours on end finding new delights. But you do eventually have to make a decision.
I had three in my little stash of must knit patterns, all free patterns.
The Lava Flow Cowl by Dixie Norton. This is knitted from a provisional cast on, twisted at the end to form a faux mobieus and then grafted together. Otherwise simple 2 by 2 rib and a single cable every 20 rows. Mel likes this one.
The BFF Cowl by Ysolda Teague and tinyowlknits from Knitty Deep Fall Edition 2012. I loved this one when I first saw it when it went live in Knitty. I love the colours and the sentiment behind the design. I want to make this one for myself. These are also knitted from a provisional cast one and grafted at the end (so a similar skill set required to the Lava Flow Cowl above).
Eleanor Cowl by Audrey Knight from Knitty Deep Fall 2010. This is lace knitted in the round.
commune with the stash and find some likely yarn. Imagine me shoulder deep in the stash boxes, gently squishing yarn for suitability and carrying on a gentle voiced conversation with the rejected yarn to make sure its feelings weren't hurt in the process. Disgruntled yarn makes for a feral stash. So I eventually choose two lots of yarn, one for the Lava Flow Cowl and two different colours for the BFF Cowl.
Then you need to assemble your tools.So I checked I had sufficient knitting needles of the correct size and located my retractable tape measure. It's magnetic so often ends up stuck in some pretty out of the way places. I was already to start. Then it was waiting time: (I'm not good at waiting and I had finished the jumper I was knitting...)
OK, So I admit it, I cast on two days early! The 30th of January I couldn't hack it any more and I cast on for the Lava Flow Cowl. The yarn I chose for this is a op shop find. It is a multi-plyed wool in a creamy brownish colour. I had about 10 roughly 50 gram balls of this originally and it cost me 50 cents at an op shop closing down sale. This is the same yarn as I knitted Mel's Owlishly Warm mitts from and so I know it blooms up beautifully soft after a bath. And matching colour accessories makes sense. I used some waste yarn to crochet a chain for a provisional cast on. I picked up the required number of stitches from the chain (with difficulty) and then re-read the pattern notes and realised I should have been picking up from the purl bumps on the back. So I pulled it out and started again.
Lots of car knitting. Moving day for future doctor daughter. Knitted
while she drove us to her new house. Knitted while watching TV at night.
8 repeats finished. Just over half way on this loop. A bit worried
about how much yarn I have left…. That’s what comes of using a random
ball of seconds. Have no idea even how much it weighs.
Day 6: OK I am Back to the original Lava Flow cowl. Began by frogging the lot (You can see why this KAL deserves the awarding of at least a master's degree in extreme frogging) and went up to 5.5 mm needles to
make it a little larger. Went with my little sister to Melbourne today so 5
hours combined, train and bus knitting time. Redid crochet provisional
cast on on a larger hook. Knitted till I ran out wool on the first ball.
4 full repeats nearly. Much better size this time. This is now going to be called the Buses and Trains Cowl. (I figure Mel will wear it on lots of buses and trains in Europe too).
This is just the first installment of my Cowl KAL diary. Stay tuned for more to come. Will she finish the Buses and Trains Cowl soon? Will she re-start the BFF cowl for the third time?