Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sea Glass Cowl

I got bored today while watching Poirot on DVD. I had time, I had some yarn, I got myself busy. Then I went shopping and came back and finished being busy. And at the end of the day, what have I got?

A cat! No, I joke. Yoda's just being fuzzy and cute there. See the drapes behind him? He lurves that window. And then it takes six washes to get him off the curtains. Meh.

Anyway, here's what I really have:
A new cowl! I actually took a picture of it on, since it's pretty anonymous lying on my chair there.

I love those colors. It's my Mochi Plus. I like how it turned out, even if it felt a bit like a bugger-up while it was being worked on.

Do you want to know how to make one for yourself? It's easy!

Sea Glass Cowl

One skein Mochi Plus (aran, 50g, 95 yds)
Four fingers on your non-dominant hand, two on the dominant one, occasionally your non-dominant thumb for anchoring and tensioning your knitting

Finger knit an approximately four foot long strand. Test this around your neck, make sure it loops twice loosely. Don't know how to finger knit? Here's a wonderful Knitty tutorial on the subject. Basically, you're using your hand as a rake loom -- each finger is a peg. I begin with my tail in the palm of my hand and wrap behind my pointer, in front of my middle, behind the ring and around the pinkie, then carry the yarn across the front of the pinkie, back of the middle and around the front of my pointer, dropping my yarn to the back. Wrap around in a figure 8 for a second row then, starting at the pinkie end, lift the bottom loops over the top of your finger and drop them to the back, in sequence. For some reason, in that tutorial, there's a picture of her with three loops on her fingers, and I am not quite sure why -- ignore that part, I guess. Once you have dropped your bottom loops to the back of your hand, do another figure 8 wrap around and repeat. Easy-peasy.

Yes, using aran weight yarn will make a very loosely knit strand -- for a tighter knit, adults should finger knit with a bulky yarn. Finer yarns will produce knits that look like you used a fingering yarn with size 10 needles. Do not panic, this is as it should be.  

Special Note:  Once you start a strand, you really can't stop until you get to the end. I mean, you can, you can slide the live stitches onto a holder and then put them back on your fingers again in order, and eventually as part of this pattern you will, but it's problematic. It's best to just set aside a solid 15 to 20 minutes to work on each individual strand and finger knit like the wind.

When you come to the end of your strand, don't cast off. Slide the four stitches from your fingers onto a stitch holder. Cut your yarn leaving a long tail, at least 8 inches long, and put it aside. Finger knit another three strands of the same length, sliding each and every one onto the holder with the first. You should have some yarn left over. Cast on and knit a fifth strand, a little longer than half the length of the other four, closer to two-thirds of the longer strands length. Don't bind this one off, either, and slide onto its own stitch holder. Set aside-aside, as in away from the other four. (I didn't, as you'll see in the pictures below, but I've got a super long stitch holder. Please yourself in terms of the arrangements you make.)

Secure the stitch holder on something so you can braid the strands, like so:

I braided mine by wrapping the rightmost strand (A) around the one immediately to the left (B). B goes all the way around A and then over the top of C. C goes around the top of B and D. D changes places with C and becomes the new C. Repeat from the right to left again, over and over until you get to the bottom. OR figure out your own braiding pattern. In either case, braid rather tightly in the middle -- it will get loosened up after it gets bound off and you putz around with it a little. Pinch everything together, then take it all back to a chair so you can bind off in comfort.

I didn't take pictures of this part, but what you do is take the loose loops of the first strand off the stitch holder and slide the stitches back onto your fingers, making sure the yarn tail is hanging off your pointer finger next to your thumb, as if you'd just finished knitting. Pick up one of the cast on ends (it doesn't matter which one) and find four loops to slide onto your fingers above the other row. Use your long tail to wrap your fingers once in the figure 8 pattern and then pass the bottom two loops over the tail loops (in essence, knitting the ends together -- sort of a three needle bind off without the needles). Bind off the single row of loops left on your fingers in a normal fashion and tie the bind off tail and cast on tail together for extra security. Repeat with each of the four finger knit strips. Your cowl will now be four feet in diameter. Put it on, double it up to make sure it fits around your neck, and then remove as it is. This will ensure it's long enough when doubled up to pass over your head. Mine was, so now we consider the short strand.

Wrap the short strand around the doubled up cowl in a spiral fashion, securing said cowl in its doubled-up form (think in terms of tubes: The doubled up cowl is wrapped in a loose spiral tube of finger knitting). Knit the ends of the short strand together as you did with the first four strands. I left my knots in -- the point to the thing is to look a bit rough and rustic, plus I'm a bit sloppy anyway with the finishing. You've seen my work, you know how I am. Anyway, you end up with visible knots like these:
I simply trimmed mine down as far as I felt safe doing so and then pushed them all to one side of the cowl. This side goes to the back, under my hair. Not that they're really visible -- the thick and thin nature of the yarn and super loopy nature of the finger knitting tends to hide things you don't want seen. Bless.

Here's a nice shot of the colors:

And there you have it: The Sea Glass Cowl. A tribute to the kindergarten style of knitting. Perfect thing for a lazy Sunday afternoon. It reminds me of those gimp bracelets (the plastic lacing is called gimp; don't come at me for the name) that we made when I was in grade school as friendship bracelets. Just softer and prettier and in a less obnoxious color-theme. Of course, if you love florescent colors, choose your yarn accordingly. 

And yes, I still have my teddy bunny on my bookshelf. Gunderson got me through many a long dark night when the boogey man was hiding in my closet and/or under my bed, and we don't even talk about what was hiding in my mirrors! -- he's a friend, not a stuffed frippery! You don't just throw your friends away

Heartless jades.


AlexandraDesign said...

I love this so much and have tried it 3 times now but the bind off always looks so awful. I can't get it to look neat and smooth and really wanted to get it right so I could make it for a Christmas present. I'm almost tempted to try one more time but I've already wasted so much yarn :-|

Rayna said...

Beautiful cowl! And very nice tutorial/pattern. I'd like to try this one day.