Ambiguous Cowl – Clue 2

Ambiguous Cowl - Clue 2

Ambiguous Cowl is measuring 11″ across for a 22″ circumference so I believe my gauge is spot on despite all my worries in the Clue 1 post.

The pattern is reminiscent of traditional Scandinavian designs and put my chart reading and stranding skills to work.  I don’t shy away from charts, I guess because of my many decades of counted cross stitch but I can respect the fact that some knitters steer clear of them.

Each repeat in this pattern is made of 16 stitches and 16 rows.  The designer gave us a couple tips that I also have found helpful through the years.  She recommend placing a marker every 16 sts to help you stay on track with the chart.  She also recommended using a sticky note (I use the extra sticky ones) on the chart to keep your eyes from wandering to the wrong row.  It is best to put the note above the row you are working and have it covering the rows not yet worked thus allowing you to see the charted design as it appears on your needles.

There were some special considerations that were addressed in the stranded design and this was where I learned I needed to have a ‘teachable’ spirit.  There were some long stretches between color changes in a few places and that can make the strand (or float) on the back long and untidy.  The floats can snag easily and pucker the fabric. Do you remember as I do, ever putting on a sweater in your childhood and your finger getting caught in a float?  As you knit the design there is a way to ‘catch’ the floats in those long stretches and trap them.  The designer said the general rule was to catch the float if the yarn is unused for more than 5 stitches or one inch.  Well….I like things ‘tidy’ on the backside of my stranded knitting so for years I have caught the floats on every fourth stitch, regardless.

Halfway through the cowl I realized I was gobbling up yardage, far more than what the designer had used, and I had to take a deep breath and let go of my ‘regardless rule’.  When I did I discovered that the pattern lay flatter and actually looked nicer.  Never, before this project, did I consider that my method for catching floats used more yarn than necessary but with us watching yardage in this project as we were doing…… I learned something new, YAY!

 

Ambiguous Cowl – Clue 1

Clue One has been finished for  KnitPurlHunter’s Ambiguous Cowl Knitalong and the second clue will be up sometime this morning.

One of the goals Michelle has had for this clue is yardage management so gauge is super important. In fact, if my gauge  is not spot on with the pattern’s gauge I will run out of yarn and not be able to finish the cowl. The participants knitting the large cowl with four skeins of yarn will not be sweating as much as those of us knitting the small size with only two skeins of yarn.  Our yardage is pretty tight.
Ambiguous Swatch

I’m usually the ‘gauge’ police with my friends so I was not the least bit daunted when there was lots of chatter about the importance of gauge swatches, weighing yarn and comparing it to how much Michelle used when she knit the first clue, etc.

BUT THEN … I knit my gauge swatch using the designated size 5 needle, and then size 4 and then size 3 and I could not get gauge on any of the needles and there was not a noticeable discrepancy between the changes in needle sizes. I’m a fan of great BIG gauge swatches, not teeny TINY ones. The bigger the swatch, the more accurate it becomes when you measure it.  I surmise that my tiny swatch is telling big fat white lies to me right now.

Ambiguous Cowl - Clue 1

So what did I do?  I blindly plunged forward anyway knowing my tension is usually quite loose and knit with the pattern’s designated size 5 needle and hoped for the best.  But, of course, my gauge was way off when I pinned it out for its first photo shoot. Lesson learned…… why did I do that?

I ripped back and knit the clue all over again dropping down a needle size knowing that I should have gone with my gut instead of that teeny tiny gauge swatch. Those little swatches seem to always be wrong. Being a loose knitter and typically have to go down a needle size or two from what the pattern says.
Ambiguous Take Two

This completed clue, take two,  still does not meet gauge but it slightly better than the first attempt. I think I probably should go down to another needle size but since I didn’t use as much yarn as the designer used  I don’t think that is necessary.  At least, I hope not.

Can’t wait to move on to the next clue – I hear it a 14 stitch repeat!

New Year Knitalongs

The first Progressive Needles Knit Along of 2016 started today over on KnitPurl Hunter’s website.   Ambiguous, a cowl, promises to sharpen my stranded knitting technique.   It will be a double-sided cowl featuring HiKoo’s Sueno – my colors are charcoal and silver sage and will hopefully showcase whatever design Michelle has in store for us.

Ambiguous Yarn

My first task today was to determine which color to use for the background and which will be used for the pattern’s design or main color.  I’ve  chosen two highly contrasting colors and each color must be given its assignment.  My gut reaction is to have the lighter design work on top of a dark background but that is what I always do so I think I’m going to go against convention and do it the other way around.  I think it will look better with the coat I plan to wear the cowl with.  I wasn’t quite ready to cast on today so when my head hits the pillow tonight will think on it a little longer.  Tomorrow morning I will review the video on provisional cast ons, wind my skeins into center-pull balls and start the cowl.

I am also knitting a pair of stranded socks with a group on Ravelry working their way through the Nancy Bush sock books.  She has long been a favorite designer of mine so it has been pleasant to see a sock pattern pop up in the group that I have not yet knit.

 

Huron Sock

It will be a month filled with stranded color work!