Friday, 4 November 2011

No-count, spiral-patterned cowl

Every hat needs a scarf, and luckily, the product of TwitKnitClub 3, which I have given to my Mum, didn't use the whole ball of gorgeous Rowan Creative Focus, but perhaps didn't leave enough for a decent scarf, so I decided that a cowl would be a good alternative.

I had a quick look at the cowl patterns available and they all seemed either a bit complicated or very, very simple, and not very pretty.  I knit on the train a lot, and patterns which are too complicated can easily go wrong if you get interrupted at the wrong moment, so I decided to make my own pattern up to suit my own needs.

This is the first time that I have gone completely off-pattern.  There are couple of things that I've knitted multiple times and feel comfortable enough to tweak (for example, the brilliant Saartje's bootees), but to make up my own pattern, well, it's a bit scary!

However, I came up with an ingenious plan, which is definitely worth sharing.  I'm sure I'm not the first one to think of this, but it is so beautifully simple and has a lovely effect and I haven't seen it explained before.

The principle of the idea is based on the fact that, with a cowl, it is basically a tube that is being knitted in the round.  A bit of trial and error in my knitting career (mainly error!!) has highlighted the fact that if you are working in the round to a pattern with a fixed number of stitches and you accidentally drop or gain a stitch, the pattern shifts along by one stitch each round.  I seized upon this as a brilliant way of making spirals without having to learn a very complicated pattern.

So, to my actual pattern.  I cast 120 stitches on my 5.5mm needles and joined to make my round.  120 stitches seemed about right for a ladies' cowl and is also important for the pattern.

I then worked 6 rounds of 2x2 rib, though at the end of the sixth round, I knitted the final 2 stitches together so that I have 119 stitches.  I then began to work my pattern rounds.  I have chosen to have quite wide bands of stocking stitch with narrow band of purls spiralling through it, so my pattern is k9, p3 repeat.

I know that the title says no-count, but really, most people can count to 9, and once you've done the first couple of rows the pattern appears and you can see where to knit and where to purl.

And that's really all there is to it.  The pattern is 120 stitches and there are 119 stitches on your needles so you will shift along one each time, thus creating your spiral naturally. You can adapt this so that the spiral bands are even, or even add a more complicated combination, as long as total number of cast-on stitches is divisible by the number of stitches in your pattern and you knit two together on the last round of ribbing to create your shift.

Here is my progress so far.  Pictures of the finished product to follow...

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Team Baby Blanket

One of my colleagues is expecting a baby in January, so our team, having a few knitters in it, has decided to make a team blanket.

The plan is simple; we've bought some wool in 5 colours that complement each other and we will attempt to knit squares of roughly the same size to sew into a blanket for the small-one.

There are various levels of skill and confidence in our group, but most people are having a go, which is really nice.  To make sizing easier as well as keeping things simple, we've opted for garter stitch. We've also got a volunteer to crochet an edge around, though I think sewing up will be a team effort from the more experienced amongst us as it doesn't seem to be a job that people are clamouring to do!

We're about two-thirds of the way through the knitting part, and here is our pile of squares on my desk at work!
I look forward to seeing the whole piece assembled, and most importantly, the look on our friend's face when we give it to her!