Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Garter stitch cowl pattern (sort of)
*scroll down to end if you're more interested in the pattern than the rambling*
I've mentioned before, it's cold out this winter. Colder than usual, and it's only mid-February. Here in the midwest, we know that it will be many, many weeks before it's actually spring out there, despite what lies the calendar may tell. So because I was cold, and on a little break from Etsy orders while I wait for a yarn shipment to arrive, I found myself in the lately unusual position of having a little time on my hands with which I could knit something....for myself!!?!
I saw a simple shawlette/short poncho sort of thing at a friend's house, and knew I wanted something similar, but a little different. Like a cowl, but something I could pull over my shoulders. Like an infinity scarf, but not quite. I also knew that I didn't really want to buy anything new, so it would be cool to use up what I already had. I'd purchased a few different colors of Lion Brand Homespun for a custom order of a newborn cocoon for a photography prop. I like a lot of the Lion Brand yarns, but homespun isn't my favorite. While it's quite soft, it's not plied very tightly so it can get fuzzy and splitty. It's acrylic and polyester, which in addition to the softness makes it quite nice for a baby prop because it's machine washable - for when babies inevitably do what they do - it's just not what I gravitate toward. But anyway, I bought a few different colors because I wasn't sure what the buyer wanted. She chose the lovely gray/white color, and I was too lazy to return the rest. So in a cold daze, I grabbed the unused cream/off-white skein and blindly cast on.
I had poked around on Ravelry, but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. Which is funny, because it's so simple that it's not even really a pattern. Maybe that's why no one has written it yet? Because it's just THAT simple? I wasn't going to either, but the ladies at knitting group said that I should, so here we are. :)
I decided that I'd rather cast on the width and join up the ends to make the loop for the infinity scarf because I didn't actually know how long I'd like it to be. That told me that this might be the time to experiment with a provisional cast on and grafting rather than just doing a mattress stitch. I knew from experimenting on the newborn cocoon that a very simple stitch pattern works best with homespun. I used stockinette for that, but since this was 2 sided, I decided garter would be the way to go. So in the end, I basically mashed these 3 patterns together (1, 2, 3), and made some executive decisions along the way when it became clear that a single skein wasn't going to be long enough.
When I started running out of the cream color, I noticed that the nature of the homespun dying made these wide color bands. I chose to grab the leftover 2/3(ish) skein of the gray colorway and alternate 2 stripes of each color for several rows before switching over to all gray. Initially, I determined this number by guessing about how much of the cream to leave so that I could do the 2x2 striping at the other end of the gray. Then I would have cream section, striped section, gray section, striped section, and it would all look like it was done intentionally. Even though it wasn't and was based on laziness and not really wanting to buy more yarn, since it isn't my favorite and I was using up what I had. Shhhhh. Then I knit the gray section until I had about the same amount left as I had of cream, at which point I started striping again. I ended on a cream stripe, because then I would use the gray to join between the last cream stripe and the beginning cream section. I could have done the grafting with cream as well, but my visual judgement of "equal" amounts left leaned slightly heavy toward gray, so that's what I used. Very scientific.
My initial thought was to put a twist in the scarf before joining to give it a little more interest than a long string of garter stitch. I ended up testing it both twisted and straight as a friend said that it could get a little tight if I chose to double up the scarf with the twist in it. If I was working this from 2 complete skeins, I think I would have done a straight join and worn it doubled. However since I had one partial skein, it's juuuust slightly tight when doubled even when straight, so I opted to twist it and will mainly wear it either looped just once or pulled down to warm my shoulders. And there you have it. A super simple striped cowl, so simple it's a little embarrassing to write a "pattern" for.
Garter Stitch Infinity Cowl
Materials - 2 skeins Lion Brand Homespun, 1 of each color
size 8 needles (I used a circular, knit flat)
Using provisional cast on, cast on 40 stitches in color A
Knit every row in color A until work measures about 24"
Knit 2 rows in color B, then knit 2 rows in color A. Carry strands up one side. Repeat for about 4-5", ending with color A. Cut color A at this point, leaving a long tail to weave in end.
Using color B, knit every row until color B section is about 24"
Knit 2 rows in color A, then knit 2 rows in color B. Carry strands up one side. Repeat for about 4-5", ending with color A. (This is the point where I knit until I was just about out of yarn, while being mindful that I had enough left over to graft the ends together)
You can choose to either twist the scarf once at this point, or simply line the ends up straight. Use kitchener stitch to join the working end back to your provisional cast-on end using color B.
Weave in ends.
Wear. Be warm!