Slowing down: Longma’s Shawl + Cockle Shell Shawl

Close up on Longma's Cowl, a repeating whale tail patterned worked in a grey gradient.

Knitting is categorically not a fast activity, even the simplest project requires time for the stitches to come together into a workable object. Several years ago, I think I accidently clocked a pair of socks by the number of graduate classes I was able to work the same pair through (it was taking me a bit less than a week and a half for those of you who are curious, now I can work the leg off a sock in a 45 minute tv episode if it’s simple enough). Despite this understanding, I have still been known to attempt to crank out a last minute knit or two during the holiday season.

When seeking a faster knit, I find the secret is in the similicity of the project. Anything worked in stockinett stitch in the round tends to jump off my needles a lot faster than something worked flat or with a pattern that requires more focus (I’m thinking of you, Leaves of Grass) and it’s not that I’m looking for speed when working on knitting projects, it’s just that projects that are typically good for zoom meetings are the same ones that fly off ones needles.

Over the last few months, I’ve started seeking out projects with stitch patterns that slow me down and require me to focus some energy on them. Sure, this means that it’s harder to throw them down when naptime is suddenly over, but it also means that I’m required to be more mindful about my craft. Focus on each stitch and relax into the design.

This started with Alicia Plummer’s Community Cardi, with knits and purls working together to form a waffle pattern and moved onto several other textured knits before moving into the land of lace stitches. Longma’s Cowl is a ten row lace repeat that forms a whale’s tail after the second repeat. The repeat is worked over and over again until you run out of yarn and honestly doesn’t take that long to memorize.

Longma’s Cowl was an interesting experiment in “what happens if I work a gradient set out of order?”. While I’m thrilled with the way the colors look together and the stitch pattern, I’m not sure I love the idea of the two together. I worry that the stripping takes away from the stitches, but perhaps that’s more of a me problem.

Close up of the cockle shell cowl, a lace shell pattern knit up in a light purple color.

The other slow knit I’ve completed recently, or rather ironically cranked out, is the Cockle Shell Cowl. I worked up the 9 inch single wrap, but highly recommend the 7 inch double wrap as it will end up growing width wise in the end. Another easy to memorize repeat, the main reason this project worked up so fast is due to the needle size the pattern calls.

Something about this purple colorway has made me obsessed with purple all of a sudden, I’m planning on using the leftover yarn from my cowl and the dark grey leftovers from my pivotal point shawl to work a hat (Harlow? Vintage Prim?).

All these samples later and I’m still obsessed with Wonderland Yarns — I literally find myself working up their needs before reaching for other yarns/projects in my stash. It’s been such a fun way to work with colors that are outside my typical comfort zone. Use the discount YARNVIP for 15% off your total purchase from Wonderland Yarns (discount not eligible on sale items, with other discounts, or on yarn clubs) :]

Longma’s Cowl in Coal & Scuttles

Close up of the whale tail lace pattern of Longma's Cowl.

I’ve spent the last few months on a bit of a gradient binge, making up for years of not knowing how to work with the slow transitions. Other than being easier for the dyer, two of the rhetorical questions that have always been floating across my mind are: Why are gradients sold as mini skeins? What power does this hold for the knitter/crocheter?

The “easy” answers that comes to mind has to do with projects such as the So Faded sweater, where having the colors separate makes it easier to divide for the sleeves while setting colors aside to mirror the gradient later. It wasn’t until I was winding yarn for Longma’s Cowl that I realized the other benefit: you don’t have to work the colors in order.

Part of this realization came to me specifically because of the colorway I was working with, Coal & Scuttles by Wonderland Yarns is one of their choppier gradients and isn’t packaged in color order (it’s like they were trying to help me along to this realization). Since the gradient was going to cause some striping anyway, I found myself knitting the gradient out of order just to see what would happen.

I’m a huge fan of the final result and am absolutely going to attempt to push myself out of my comfort zone the next time I work with one of their gradient packs.

The cowl itself was a fun knit, I found working the lace pattern required a little bit of focus but not enough that I needed to pour over the pattern at the start of every row. In fact, I think I had the repeat memorized after working through the entire chart once. Definitely need to figure out a way to create a simple shawl version of this one!

Use the discount YARNVIP for 15% off your total purchase from Wonderland Yarns (discount not eligible on sale items, with other discounts, or on yarn clubs) :]

A young woman wearing Longma's Cowl, the oversized cowl drapes down past her chest and the grey gradient stacks on top of itself.

2 Quick Knit Cowls I’m in Love With

Two cowls laid on a grey table cloth. One is grey with blue and green flecks, the other is striped fushia, purple and teal.

Since becoming a brand ambassador for Wonderland Yarns, my role has shifted from promotional to primarily sample knitting. This has been a welcomed shift because they send me yarn and patterns and I knit them, meaning that I’m starting to work with colors I don’t normally reach for and patterns I don’t have to worry about who to gift the finished garment to. To make a joke out of it, it’s the all-inclusive vacation version of knitting: maximum fun without having to spend hours and hours looking for the perfect project and yarn combination every time. (To be clear, I do still do that! This just means I have a project on my needles while taking the time to figure it out that offers a little more spice.)

The first cowl I worked up and want to make several more of is the Pub Crawl Cowl. Worked up using Alice DK in the colorway Fireflies, this pattern allows the yarn to do most of the talking while throwing in a few purl rows to keep things interesting. Having never worked with Alice DK before, my first observation was the soft sheen and vibrant colors provided by the silk blend, my second quickly became the gorgeous drape. Also, I’m not usually drawn to speckled yarns, but this colorway changed my tune. The subtle flecks of color evenly distributed across each stitch creates a gorgeous fabric. I can’t help but wonder if there is a pullover I can knit up and enjoy during cooler summer nights.

It’s been a while since I’ve wanted to wear something with stripes (other than socks!), enter the Parfait Cowl knit up in Mad Hatter (thankfully they sell mini-skein kits for those of us who aren’t as confident in selecting colors). The rich colors are a perfect accent to anyone’s dark winter wardrobe. Mad Hatter is quickly becoming one of my go-to yarns.

Both cowls took 2-3 days to work up and required little pattern referencing, perfect for a last-minute gift or a long car ride. Use the discount YARNVIP for 15% off your total purchase from Wonderland Yarns (discount not eligible on sale items, with other discounts or on yarn clubs) :]

Head in the Clouds Knitting Pattern

Head in the clouds shawl sitting on a manikin.

Over the last few months, I’ve found myself reaching for gradient yarns more and more frequently. Don’t get me wrong, I think solid or heathered colorways are still my favorite, but I think gradient colorways are giving me the space to work with more than one color without sacrificing the complexity of the project. Gradients allow you to continue to play around with texture, something I’ve been drawn to of late. This is a roundabout way of saying that when Wonderland Yarns asked me if I wanted to design a pattern for their March Blossom Club, they received an enthusiastic yes!

It took a few tries before I landed on a design that I was happy with, despite going into the design process with the idea of “head in the clouds” after seeing the colorway. My first attempt was a shawl that didn’t make it much further than casting on. Then I tried a cowl with a provisional cast on with the general goal of grafting the ends together at the end, this design didn’t make it much further than the second repeat. Third time was the charm, although I did have to put it down for an evening before committing to it. Visualizing the way a design is going to knit up and block is very difficult – even making a gauge swatch leaves a lot left to the imagination when it comes to what the larger garment will look like. There’s this delicate balance between creating from an idea and calling the project when it’s clear that it’s not working out the way that you intended it to.

Head in the Clouds is a quick knit cowl, despite being knit in fingering weight yarn, with a textured design meant to remind the wearer of birds migrating and puffy clouds in the sky. Guage is not important for this pattern, but not knitting the cowl to gauge will affect yardage requirements (and Head in the Clouds uses just about an entire skein of blossom!).

You can purchase Head in the Clouds on Ravelry.

Close up of the head in the clouds cowl being worn.