Monday, November 9, 2015

Becoming a Cowl-girl

Function > Form

My bike rides home from work are getting darker and colder. I'm reluctant to admit that the beautiful and comfortabley worn-in garter stitch scarf I have been wearing is not doing the job. It is too short to wrap completely around my neck enough times. The chilly air always seems to find its way to that space between the end of my helmet and the beginning of the jacket.

It's become clear that I can solve these types of problems by simply making the solutions.

A few weeks ago, I accepted my scarf's weakness and decided to knit a cowl. A cowl functions like a scarf but is knitted in the round. I searched through Ravelry and landed on a drop-stitch cowl pattern, designed by Abi Gregorio. I picked this pattern in part because it called for size 15 needles and chunky yarn, which is a winning combination for thicker knits. I could visualize how the cowl would work so nicely for a two-wheeled commuter (like me!). In addition, the design incorporates an intentional dropped stitch - an interesting feature that was initially a challenge for me to visualize.


To make the pattern work for me, I chose to knit the top more tightly that the bottom. Although this intentional change subtly throws the symmetry across the x axis, the tighter stitches encourage the cowl to stay closer to my body near the top of the design. I also knitted a shorter cowl than pictured in the original design because the function of the cowl did not require the (approximate) ten more rows in the round.

For this piece, I used a Malabrigo Rasta super-sized wool, which is easily one of the most beautiful materials I have ever worked with.

The completed drop-stitch cowl.

This is the first time I have deviated from a pattern. I perceive these small changes as progress in my knitting ability. It was fun to make a cowl, but even more enjoyable to customize the piece. Here, the vision of the completed piece informed the process of making.

Cowl-girl Up

I do love a great knitted scarf, but I may have to admit that the cowl has knitted up my heart. For starters, a cowl is easy to wear. Further, the practice of knitting in the round enables the knitter to create three-dimensional pieces.

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