07 December 2014


Knitting Diary: New Cowl

Thanks to my knitting obsession, everyone in my family has a new vocabulary word: cowl. My love for these neckwarmers was born long before I ever knit one--and is the reason I turned what would have been Cathy's Scarf into Cathy's Cowl. But It took a while before I got to work on one for myself.

You see, I hardly ever begin with a design that I try to match to yarn, but almost always begin with yarn that I try to match to a design. And none of the creepy pastels that I pilfered from my late grandmother's stash seemed worthy of something as glorious as a cowl. It was not until an aunt in the US took pity on me and sent over two balls of Caron One Pound in Sunflower that I started the Knitted Infinity Scarf pictured on the left.

It took a while, because I'm a really tight knitter--which worked against me when it what time to start the K2tog stitches for the lace. My irrational insistence on using double-pointed needles instead of a circular needle ("Our ancestors did not have circulars!") may also have contributed to my difficulties. Moreover, I suspect--though I can't really prove--that if I had been using a circular needle, I would not have inadvertently decreased the circumference of the cowl as much as I ended up doing. As you can see from the official picture, it's supposed to be a kind of cylinder; but by the time I was done with it, it was something closer to a cone.

Or whatever a geometer would say that it is

This time, I actually followed the pattern as closely as I could--to the point of boredom! =P And yet I still managed to tweak the design. I'm not sure whether to be embarrassed or pleased.

But to be honest, my first reaction was disappointment. I had really wanted to make a nice cowl for myself, and what I had after nearly a month of work was . . . well, a nice cowl. =P It took a few minutes to recover from the blow to my ego that was the the realization I had produced yet another less-than-perfect product, but after I got over it, I found myself really happy with what I had. Sure, it's not what I had in mind when I started the project--but it's still great!

There's just one awkward adjustment did I have to make. Since one opening is so small (and I used the cast off that apparently kills any hope of stretchiness), it's difficult to get over my head and I can't use the cowl as a hood when this opening is on top. So although I prefer the way the cowl looks with the small opening on top, I have to put it on upside-down if I want to keep the top of my head warm as well. But because the small opening doesn't drape at all, it doesn't hold the heat in around my neck while it's warming my head. It's definitely a flawed design . . . but I don't mind as much as I feared I would.

I've already worn it with three different outfits. Here's the fun one for my office's "Pop Art" themed party . . .

Plus royal blue ballet flats

There's enough of the Caron yarn left over for a blanket (or three!), so I'll be getting started on my biggest project yet during my Christmas holiday. 

Image Source: DIY knitted infinity scarf


Sheila said...

I think everybody knits tight when they're starting out. I still struggle with it. But it makes everything so much harder ... force yourself to leave some slack in every stitch, and you won't be fighting with yourself later.

That's double true for binding off. The instinct is to pull the loop closed, and you shouldn't. Leave it totally slack or you'll squinch the whole thing. (Last time I did this, I wound up unpicking the last row and just making the whole thing one row shorter so I could do the bind-off over. But I don't know if your pattern will allow this.)

It looks nice anyway!

r said...

Geometer here: frustum.

Enbrethiliel said...


Sheila -- What I've learned since is that the basic bind off really isn't very elastic. The only way to make it stretchier is to deliberately make yarn overs. So that's what I did when I finished another knitting project . . . but I shouldn't get ahead of myself! ;-)

R -- Thanks a lot! And good job getting here before Bat. LOL!

Star Crunch said...

I've also seen "tapered cylinder".

(Frustum never even crossed my mind; in computer graphics, the pyramidal variety has pride of place.)

Last week's guess: stole.

You could really get a mathematician going with knots...

Itinérante said...

My sister specifically buys ones in a trapeze form because they get nicer plies on the neck =)
Plus it's in one of my favourite colours ^^

Enbrethiliel said...


Star Crunch -- I had no idea that there were so many geometers among the people who read this blog!

Itinerante -- What does "trapeze form" mean? I haven't encountered that term before.

Itinérante said...

This is a trapeze: http://www.edu.xunta.es/ftpserver/portal/S_EUROPEAS/DEBUXO/15_les_trapezes_archivos/image002.jpg

Google translate told me that it's the same word in French and English! I am sorry if it is not =/

Itinérante said...

I am sure you have a million resource but I found this one interesting and thought to share =)


Enbrethiliel said...


Oh, a trapezoid! LOL! I thought that you meant this sort of trapeze . . .


. . . and wondered what it had to do with neckwarmers! =D

I've also heard about spool knitting. If I ever decide to make some rugs, it will be the first method that I try!

DMS said...

As someone who has never done any knitting I am very impressed with your work. I love the look of cowls in general and how super convenient and stylish they are. I think yours looks great and I am glad you figured out a way to wear it. :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks, Jess! =) I love the look of cowls so much that I've been trying to wear my pashminas in the same way, too.

Michael said...

I can't knit, but I do love the look of cowls. A number of ladies wear them in my church as head coverings.

Enbrethiliel said...


Hi, Michael! This one is more of a neckwarmer, unfortunately, but if I can find some really great quality yarn, I'll definitely make myself something that could double as a headcovering. =)

Michael said...

Hello Cristina :-)

Christ is born! (We don't celebrate until January 7 but I know you celebrate on December 25)

Definitely works as a head covering in my neck of the woods, lol. Lots of ladies just wear scarves. There is even a bag of scarves in the back in case a lady shows up without a head covering but has properly prepared for communion and wants to receive the Eucharist

My mother has absolutely fallen in love with knitting. If you ever make a cowl that works as a full blown head covering send me a photo.