It is finally staring to feel like spring is on the horizon, so of course it’s the perfect time to take stock of what’s missing in our winter wardrobes. I do this every year at about this time: what items do we wish we had? What items to we have that need replacing? etc. Usually, though, I do this little inventory and then decide that because everything on the list is small I can do it later — after all, spring is coming and with it lots of fun new projects! — and then inevitably I never get around to the small things.
Except, this year I did. At least a little. L and I have been doing a fair bit of cross-country skiing this year (I’m still learning, but he’s been cross-country skiing forever) and it occurred to me recently that neither of us have cowls to wear. In general, neither of us favour neck warmers, but for skiing, and sports in general, they’re just so practical! We do actually have an old black fleece neck warmer of mine, but that doesn’t go far between two people.
So I made a plan. A couple of years ago, L was given a skein of hand-dyed wool-alpaca yarn by friends of ours (a gift predicated on my knitting him something with it). I think the original idea was for it to socks, but he doesn’t need DK-weight alpaca socks, so the yarn sat in my stash until last week when I realized it was perfect for a neck warmer.
I started out by knitting him a Honey Cowl (how had I never knit this before?) but realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t thick enough to replace the fleece one. So I doubled it. Basically, I knit it in the Honey Cowl pattern until it was the height of the fleece neck warmer, and then I purled a row (for turning), and switched to stockinette. I went down a needle size and added a strand of alpaca silk laceweight and just knit until the inside was a long as the outside (I had to sub in some other yarn for a wide stripe because there wasn’t quite enough of the main to go the full distance). And the end, after weaving in all the ends I could, I picked up stitches from my cast-on row and closed it all up with a three-needle bind-off. Very tidy, and it made for a very dense and warm cowl, which he seems quite pleased with.
My own cowl needs a little work I think. I knit myself the Bandana Cowl, which seemed practical since that vee of space at the zip of my jacket is a definite cold zone. I used a special single-skein of yarn I’d been holding onto (Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label in Frost, from one of her Etsy updates) and a strand of the same laceweight I’d used in L’s cowl. Because I was using a worsted weight instead of the bulky the pattern calls for, I cast on extra stitches, but I think I maybe cast on a few too many. I’m quite pleased with the proportions of the cowl, but its a little wide at the top. The best solution, I think, is to rip back a few inches in add some extra decreases — maybe three extra sets — so it’s snug enough to stay up over my nose if I need it to.
The simple pattern was a perfect use for the yarn, though, and I’m so glad I decided to stop saving it! I’ve been trying really hard to break out of the idea that a yarn is too pretty or special to use. I don’t have this issue with sock yarns so much, since a single skein is all I need for socks, but I find other weights can be trickier, so I’m on the lookout for good single-skein projects for my pretty yarns.
Patterns: Honey Cowl and Bandana Cowl
Yarn: Canadian Alpaca Products and Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label in Frost
Notes: Mostly just what I’ve already said above. You can find L’s neck warmer ravelled here, and my cowl ravelled here.
Anyway, it was a lovely day when we took these pictures, and we even got some funny ones of the two of us together (thanks to our very obliging friend Josh, who was visiting). I will leave you with this one, since it’s both my favourite and the most ridiculous.