April 25

the completed cowl

Rejoice, my cashmere bamboo cowl is complete!

It knitted up faster than I thought it would, even taking into consideration the simplicity of the pattern, though I could have gone much longer with it, and made it even more cowly. The beauty of the pattern is that the same concept can be taken and adapted for other stiches, yarn weights, and sizes. I'm thinking of doing at least one other one, but instead of the bamboo, using a more decorative or lighter yarn and knitting on larger needles and to a larger circumference to give it more drape and a lacier feel. The result, I'd imagine, would be a much lighter dressier looking cowl, compared to the straight-forward utility of this one. One option I'm considering is trying to find a way to adapt the pattern so that I can use some of this Habu yarn I bought a couple weeks ago.

Habu yarn

Pictures don't do this yarn justice; it has just such an unusual texture and subtle richness to it. It is, however, a tough yarn for a newbie like me to knit with and gauge since its weight varies from what feels like worsted all the way down to fingering or lace. The one swatch that I did try was on smaller needles than suggested, which ended up making a really beautiful surface texture but was extremely stiff. Some more experimentation, a little research, and maybe some pow-wowing with Iko will yield a pattern and gauge that will work well for a the cowl.

Since it's my first completed knit project in a long while, there's nothing I would like more than to venture outside with it tucked in the neck of my jacket or sweater, keeping my neck warm from a blustery wind. Unfortunately, before I could finish the sucker up and take advantage of the recent cold front that had all of the magnolias and forsythias bristling at the unexpected frost, the climate decided it was springtime after all and traded 30s and 40s for highs in the upper 70s.

Alas, the cashmere bamboo cowl's April debut was not meant to be. Until the evenings get cooler again, the cowl will make its rounds in an over-airconditioned apartment.

Now that it's done, I can focus on my other work-in-progress. To make sure I don't burn out with knitting like I did last time, I've restricted myself to only two projects at a time (three if one is a long-term project like an afghan), and while I hit mid-stride with the cowl, I snatched up some more of the Rowan bamboo to start a free-form project.

The Button Scarf

My ultimate plan is for it to be one of those scarves that wrap and then button closed very tight to the neck (inspired by this Mike and Chris scarf design). I'm thinking large red buttons to contrast with the cream colored yarn to make something very graphic and striking. The stitch is really simple and taken from my sister's desk calendar and involves alternating staggered rows of knit/sl1 wyif with purls.

Since it's a project that I'm kind of making up as I go along, I'm not totally sure how it will turn out; right now I've already got a good five inches of scarf, but the more I think about it, the more I think the scarf should be wider and maybe even two-toned. But, then I think that maybe less is more, and I'm better off sticking to my original plan. I suppose we'll see where this lands.

In the meantime, I'm biding my time, trying not to start a new project, because next weekend my sister, mother and I will be heading on a roadtrip down to Maryland to see what there is to see at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.


April 22

Saturday was laundry day, which meant a few spare hours sitting in the local laundromat with not much else to keep me occupied but spanish MTV and my latest knitting project. S was there too but he was too distracted by Philip Glass and Ender-verse to make for good conversation, so I settled in the only booth the laundromat had and worked on finishing up the last few inches of the cashmere cowl I had started a couple weeks prior.


Now, let me start by saying that I am not a knitter -- not by a long shot. When it comes to being crafty, that's more of Iko's thing. She's the one versed in sock-making and skirt-sewing; come the holidays, she embroiders placemats and cross-stitches bookmark stocking stuffers with dainty little flowers and ivy leaves. Me, I'm more of a Martha-Stewart type, with an eye toward presentation. Give me some artisan yarn and some linen and I can wrap a present like it's nobody's business; give me the same stuff and ask me to make a skirt out of it -- you'd better believe I'd be giving my sister a call.

The more I think about it, the more I think out interest in crafts and homemade things must come from our mom. Growing up, she made us more than our fair share of church dresses and Halloween costumes. She was the daughter of a tailor and, back in the Philippines, had made a lot of her own clothing. To this day, whenever someone asks about her wedding, she announces proudly: "My wedding dress was a pink suit that I made myself!" I've seen the photos myself and it's appealing to me to think that something I made may find its way into the fabric of my memory and possibly into the collective memory of my family.

Getting into the actual nitty-gritty of crafting was the first challenge.

I had tried to pick up knitting a few years previous, again at the proddings of my sister, but had ended up with little more than a trunk full of disused yarn and a dozen aborted projects. Only two scarves emerged from the whole affair intact -- one of which was a much-loved gift, misplaced at a club somewhere in New England, never to be seen again. Since then, I've only watched from the sidelines as my sister kicked out project after project. Felted bags, Ron Weasley hats, and lots and lots of shawls later, she may have finally won me back over.

The secret to her success? Bamboo.


More after the cut >>