Sunday, April 29, 2018

New Wardrobe Item - the Skowl (You Heard it Here First)

I recently finished a cowl from the Vogue Knitting Winter 2017/18 issue. The pattern is actually identical to a cowl I knit a few years ago, designed straight out of my head, but it's nice to be able to link it to a pattern in Ravelry. Plus, saying I knit it from the pattern (which I did) makes it eligible for the current knit-along in the Vogue Knitting Ravelry group.

Just like the first cowl, I loved knitting this from start to end. Unlike the first cowl, I invented two-handed brioche--a way to knit a row of each colour at the same time. I searched online because I thought surely someone else has thought of this but I couldn't find anything. I had never heard of it anywhere else and I couldn't imagine it wouldn't be common if it was known because I felt like it was such a revelation. (Angels singing and the whole bit.) So I actually started to wonder if I really did invent it.

The problem with traditional brioche is that you really knit only half the stitches with one colour and then the other stitches with the other. If you work with only one colour at a time, you essentially have to work twice as many rows. It's slow.

I had planned to do a video of the technique I apparently just invented, but just recently heard someone refer to "one-pass" brioche and I had an inkling that might be the same thing. A quick search confirmed that it is the same thing and there are enough good videos that I don't have to do one. I refer you to this tutorial by Sockmatician. I did it with one yarn in each hand (similar to how some people do two-colour stranded colourwork) but he also demonstrates how it can be done with both yarns in the left or right hand depending on whether you prefer continental or English style.

Checking out my cast off edge.
This cowl was an excellent opportunity for me to practice the new (to me) technique and work out the kinks (since I didn't know there were tutorials until after I worked it out on my own). It was very exciting to me because it allows you to knit much more efficiently.

Again, I really don't understand why this isn't the primary method of brioche for everyone, but my real question is why did it take so long for me to hear about it??

Back to the topic at hand, this was one of those projects where I was glad to finish it because it is a delight to wear, but I was sad because it was a delight to knit as well.

Looks alright to me! :)
In case you're unfamiliar with it, brioche results in a two sided fabric. Here the black columns are standing out:
and on the other side, the pink columns stand out:
Brioche makes a thick fabric that's squishy instead of dense. It's also usually quite stretchy. It can be worked in one colour, in which case the fabric would have all the same qualities, but both sides would look identical. Because of the fun colour effects, brioche is usually worked in two colours, although often they are similar colours for a more subtle effect.

The stretch of the stitch allows the cowl to be worn in many ways. Let me count them.

1. Over the arms and loose on top (pink side out):
2. Over the arms with the top folded over (black side out):
3. On top of the shoulders, all scrunched up (black side out):
4. On top of the shoulders and folded over:
5. As a snood:
(Ok, it doesn't really stay up on my head, but it was worth trying and adding it to the list.)

Don't wear it like this:
Wear it long over the arms:
Or wear it higher:
6. And then I realized it would fit as a skirt!
I threaded a cord through the ribbing on one end and tied it to fit.
So I can wear it at the waist or low on the hip, depending on what top I'm wearing and what length I would like.
The loose stretch of the brioche stitch is perfect to allow for movement without losing its shape.

And then look what I found the following week at Goodwill:
Beautiful heels in the perfect shade of pink.
Forgive me a few glamour shots, but I was really excited to find them and can't wait to wear them with the skirt for the first time.
Back to the cowl, now that it had a tie, I could decide whether to tighten it or not.

7. Over the shoulders, with the ties hanging loose:
8. Over the shoulders, with the cord pulled in:
9. Cord pulled in and top folded over:
10. Cord pulled in as much as I could (comfortably) and top folded over:
Word of the day: apricity - the warmth of the sun
on a winter day.
11. Cord pull snug:
Fantastic project all the way though. I love it.

Project Stats
: 6 Jan '18 / Finished: 6 Apr '18
Pattern: #14 Brioche Rib Cowl by Jacqueline van Dillen from Vogue Knitting Winter 2017/18
Materials: The black was lambswool from a Polo by Ralph Lauren sweater (161 g). The pink was from two sweaters. Bright pink: A blend from an Express Design Studio sweater, 40% merino/30% viscose/10% cashmere/20% angora (66 g). Pale pink: Cashmere from a J Crew sweater (36 g). I held two strands of the black together, and two strands of each of the pinks together to make matching weights suitable for the gauge.

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