It’s Winter Restaurant Week in Baltimore and that’s the perfect excuse to go out to eat, especially at some of the higher-end restaurants I can’t generally afford (Okay, fine. The truth is that I don’t need an excuse to go out to eat because I don’t like cooking all that much and I would be able to afford a little more in the way of higher end restaurants if my discretionary funding wasn’t mostly spent on yarn and yarn-related accouterments). I went to the Food Market in Hampden last night and it was so incredibly good. The food is amazing, staff is lovely, and it’s a fun place just to be in. I had duck breast for the first time last night (I never order duck but wanted to try something new). The duck was covered in a cherries in cider concoction that may have inspired me to sit in the restaurant and rhapsodize about the food to my friends, mom, the waitress- really anyone that would listen.
Now that I’m emerging from my food (and really good wine) coma, I can talk about what I started out thinking I was going to post about today – alpaca yarn and the Corrugated Cowl. This week my WIP Wordless Wednesday post was my new cowl pattern, Corrugated. Last November, I purchased four hanks of Misti Alpaca Chunky in the natural cream colorway. I bought it with the intention of making a very warm winter cowl and was thinking it would be perfect for a reversible cable pattern. But when I tried out different reversible cable patterns, the chunky alpaca just wasn’t producing the stitch definition I wanted and the weight of the cables was too much. Alpaca is really fuzzy and furry so I didn’t like the way the cables I wanted to use looked laying flat and figured they would get completely lost in the fabric of a finished cowl. The swatches themselves were so heavy, I figured the actual cowl would end up weighing a ton around my neck.
So keeping in mind that I wanted a cowl that would be very warm and reversible, I tried out some basic stitch patterns – various ribs both plain knit/purl and decorative, seed and moss stitches, I even swatched good ol’ garter stitch. I really liked the way the seeded rib stitch looked (I’ve also seen it called cartridge rib), but I didn’t like that my knit stitches weren’t very neat – they almost look too loose. I think it was just the way the yarn knits because I’ve used that stitch pattern before and really like the results. Ultimately, I decided to try slipping the knit stitches. Here’s my version of the seeded rib/cartridge rib stitch with slipped stitches.
And it is reversible. I slipped the knit stitches for both sides of the cowl while knitting in the round.
To determine length, I compared the sizes of some of my past cowl projects. The Northumbria Cowl (link to picture) is the right length to just sit around your neck and stay warm without wrapping it double or having to use a pin or something to hold it in place, which you do have to do with the Noble Cowl (link to picture). Northumbria is also my perfect height of a cowl – I like my cowl’s generously sized and at least 8″ tall. The whole reason I wanted a reversible stitch pattern for this cowl was so I could double it around my neck without there being a wrong side. So I looked at some of the longer cowls I’ve made, such as the Ravens Cowl (link to picture). The Ravens cowl is awesome for wrapping around the neck twice for a draped look over a sweater or three times with less draping, more warmth with a coat. Given that the alpaca is really heavy, I wanted to try and make a cowl that would wrap twice and be snuggled up around my neck (which ended up being perfect, I think if I had gone for a length that would wrap three times, I would have created something perfect for smothering someone to death – heh, death by knitwear).
Using the gauge swatch, I calculated the number of stitches and rows to get my goal length and width (does everyone else use a ton of math in knitting? I use math more now than when I was a biology undergrad). And then I cast on. Like most projects with bulky yarns, this was a quick knit. But like all bulky yarns, it got to be really heavy with all the stitches on the circular needle. My math worked out and I have a cowl that is 8″ tall with a 54″ circumference (un-stretched) that wraps twice around my neck for a warm fit. It’s a rib so it is stretchy but the yarn holds its shape nicely, which is good for convincing it to lay exactly how I want it to over my coat.
I’m putting a pdf version of the pattern up soon-ish. Oh, and to tie this all back in to my opening comments about restaurant week, the cowl made its debut in Hampden last evening when I went to the Food Market.
Oh… and Go Ravens!