Recently, I met up with a dear friend, a Mom who was determined to find the just-right item to knit for her daughter. Where do you begin? Well, we chose to meet in a local yarn shop and chose to keep the project small. Keeping in mind the recipient’s tendencies towards tailored suits, the needed attire for her work, we looked for a cowl or scarf pattern that would compliment such an outfit. We perused a variety of pattern books as well as found samples of knitted garments, similar to what we had in mind. The samples were not necessarily of the patterns we were looking at but served well as inspiration and gave us a sense of weight and texture of the yarn used. When we came across this pattern, Checkered Cowl designed by Olga Buraya-Kefelian in the book Scarf Style 2, we stopped and thought how much we liked its features: the striping, the lacy effect, and the use of fingering weight. We thought this item would make a lovely gift.
I remembered having some fingering weight, Lorna’s Rose in my stash that had lost its intended purpose. I loved the pattern as much as my friend and thought it might be fun to knit one, too. It would be our own KAL (knit a-long), that is two people knitting the same thing with the intent of helping and encouraging one another. At a recent fiber fest, written about here, I purchased one skein of Hedgehog Fibres Sock in graphite for the second color.
Don’t be fooled by what seems simple!
I am always amazed at no matter how experienced you are or what size or skill level the project, there is always something new to learn:
Dropped stitches: You knit the scarf in two colors for the horizontal striping and then when finished knitting its length, you drop stitches (every 6th) to get the vertical striping. It immediately transforms from a plain striped scarf to the lacy appeal of this checkerboard. The stitch drops quickly and easily in the first 3 – 4 rows, but I had to ‘pick’ at the sides of the stitch to unravel it completely to the end. This actually took more time and diligence than expected. I used a blunt darning needle to do this so as to avoid splitting the yarn.
Carrying yarn: The carrying of the unused color up along the edge of the scarf was uncomfortable for me. I was taught that carried yarn ought only be carried in a horizontal direction, across the back of the knitted fabric, never carried up. However, this prevents weaving of many ends had the yarn been cut with each color change.
Kitchener stitch: This is the only seam and brings together the live stitches on the short ends. By doing so creates the loop of the cowl. Kitchener stitch, like all stitching, takes practice to match the tension of the knitting. It creates a beautiful weave where the seam virtually becomes part of the knitting.
Blocking: I chose to ignore the directions as written. I laid the piece flat side down, texture up while in a rectangle shape (before sewing it in a loop), on a damp towel, spraying lightly with water. I let it dry and then sewed it up. This allowed the beautiful texture to remain, unharmed.
I think the cowl is lovely and matches the weight of my balloon hem, zip up the front, tuck pocketed style rain coat. Whatever your aesthetic, this cowl seems to work!