Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cowl for Japan

This is the pattern for the Japan Cowl, including some hints for picking up stitches if you'd like to do the version seen in the pictures.

Yarn: DK weight yarn in two colors. Final project used about 209 yards. I believe the color usage is pretty much equal.
Main Color (darker color): Naturally Caron Spa in Dark Driftwood
Accent Color (lighter color): Naturally Caron Spa in Misty Taupe

Needles: US size 6 (4.0mm) 16" circular needles

Gauge: 6 stitches per inch and 7-8 rows per inch.

Final measurements: 21" circumference, with plenty of stretch, and about 8" tall.

Notes: There are two versions of the pattern presented here. I call them the "Easy Version" and the "Hard and Stupid Version". The Easy Version is what you'd do if you don't feel like doing a whole bunch of extra and mostly pointless work. The Hard and Stupid version is what you'll do if you want a cowl exactly like the one pictured, with an extra edging and a cute rolled edge. This all happened because this was my first Fair Isle project and I thought the rolling would stop at the colorwork and it didn't, so I had to pick up stitches at the end to fix it. I have an unnatural obsession with rolled edges. I just love them. So I wanted to keep it. If you don't care that much about rolled edges, then feel free to just do the Easy Version.

Please remember that if you choose the Hard and Stupid version, you can't leave nasty notes on Ravelry saying that the pattern finishing was stupid and hard and ridiculously long and why didn't she just do it this way, etc. I've warned you beforehand.

For a taste.... Here is a picture of the cowl in the middle of its saving surgery, part of the Hard and Stupid option.

Also, I made no effort to hide the weird step thing that happens in the colorwork at the beginning of each round. It made so little difference in the finished cowl that I don't regret this decision at all. If you're that kind of knitter, you will want to take whatever steps you take to make the little step in the pattern that happens at the beginning of the round disappear.

And now, for the actual pattern:

Easy Version:
Cast on 126 stitches in whichever color you want on your edges. (Cast on extra inches in multiples of 6 if you'd like a larger cowl... The colorwork is a 6 stitch repeat and is easy to size up or down.) Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist. Place marker for beginning of round.

Rows 1 and 2: K1, P1
Rows 3 and 4: P1, K1

Beginning chart: if you used darker color for your edging and you want the look I achieved by having my accent color be the lighter color, then begin chart by working a row in the lighter color for the first row. If you chose the lighter color, then the first and last rows of your chart is in the same color.

Work until the end of the chart. It's very easy... every single row except for the first and last rows are just alternating four and two stitches. The stitch pattern repeats over and over again across the row.

After completing the chart, work rows 1-4 again. Bind off loosely.

Finishing: weave in ends.

Hard and Stupid Version:
Cast on 126 stitches in the main color.

Work four rows of knit stitch in main color.

Work chart, making sure that the first and last rows are in your accent color.

Work four more rows of knit stitch. Bind off LOOSELY (or your edge won't roll and all of this will have been for naught!).

If you don't need more help, just pick up and knit 126 stitches from the accent row in the back of the knitting. (You will possibly need to pick up one extra stitch at the very end between the little jog in colors to get your 126.) Do yourself a favor and place a marker after every 20 stitches or so. Knit the first four rows of the Easy Version. Bind off loosely. Repeat on the other side.

If that made your brain hurt, I'll do my best to explain this here. Keep your knitting right side out and just roll the edge down a bit (the plain stockinette edging makes this very easy) until you see the bumps of the accent color row of the first chart.

Find the place where your first row made a little jog. I have it pointed out here in this picture. See the little step? You'll start picking up stitches at the first stitch that is a step down from the other one, in the stitch that my needle is pointing to in this picture.

Enter the stitch from the top and yarn over and knit the stitch through the one you just picked up. This is called "pick up and knit".

You can see here that I've picked up and knit four stitches and I'm getting ready to do the fifth one. I did this so that you can see the angle of the needle, and what it all looks like in the middle of the process.

In this photo you can see that there are three more bumps of accent color between my already picked up stitches and my thumb. This is what you're looking for, and why I insisted that your first row be a different color. You're picking up one stitch for each bump.

Here is the cowl with all of the stitches picked up. After you've gone all around the circle and picked up a stitch in the last accent color bump, you may find that you are one stitch short. Just pick up another stitch out of a bump from the main color, right in between the first and last accent color bumps, and you'll be fine.

I love this project and I think all of this was worth it. I hope you enjoy it!

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