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) :]

Diminishing Colors Cowl

A stripped cowl of grey and blue where the striped start with one color being larger and decreasing and the other color starting smaller an increasing.

Every so often, I love a good knitting challenge. They’re such a fun way to test your skills and can sometimes lead to a high level of satisfaction. This is all to say when Wonderland Yarns reached out to see if I could crank out a sample of their Diminishing Colors Cowl in less than two weeks, I couldn’t help but agree (spoiler alert: it took about 7 days)

This cowl has seen many a baby lead weaning meal, hours of a baby crawling around and a few hours sitting in the sun watching the world go by. It’s survived being thrown when a nightmare interrupted nap time, inquisitive baby pats, and being quickly stuffed into bags for commuting. And then it was done before I really registered casting off the last stitch.

I love being a mom and one of the interesting things I’ve started to see come out of it is a sort of blink and the world around me shifts. Blink she’s rolling over. Blink she’s crawling. Blink she’s sitting up. Blink she’s trying to go up stairs. Blink blink blink. I guess I always thought that when it came to crafting I would see the world slow down a little bit due to the time it takes to knit each stitch, instead, the stitches are flowing much like time is. Blink one color was done. Blink halfway done. Blink nearly there. Blink sewing in ends. Is time still broken from 2020? Am I the only person who’s noticed this about their knits? Is it simply what happens as you get older? Questions I honestly don’t spend too much time thinking about and perhaps aren’t restricted to knitting and parenting.

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). This one was a kit if you’re interested or can be worked up with two colors of Mary Ann (my favorite base!), worked up for a trade show so I can’t speak to wearing it all the time. I will, however, be making something for our daughter out of the leftovers because you end up only using a little over half of each skein.

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.

Peppery Cloak and Dagger Pivotal Point Shawl

A skein of dark grey mad hatter in colorway too much pepper caked and placed next to a skein of light grey unicorn in colorway cloak and dagger.

When I think of knit shawls, I tend to have very specific shapes in mind (half circles, full circles, and triangles). The Pivotal Point Shawl is a shape very different from what I’ve worked before: an arrow >

Knit manipulating knitting front to back and knit two together with a “pivoting point” in the middle where the two switch sides, Pivotal Point Shawl rotates through two main stitch patterns. Honestly, just when you get sick of working stockinette it switches to the lace pattern and visa versa. The wear of this shawl fits its different shape – the eye seems to be drawn to the sides of the shawl that hang rather than the middle of the shawl the way it would with a half circle.

I am very excited by the skein of Unicorn that I worked with, there’s something to be said about adding a little bit of sparkle to a project. Definitely find myself bouncing between neutral projects and colorful ones these days.

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 woman in a striped dress standing in front of a mirror wearing a light and dark grey pivotal point shawl.

Pop Rocket Shawl

Pop Rocket Shawl knit in grey yarn with bursts of yellow-blue areas. On top of the shawl is a skein of Wonderland Yarns Mary Ann in the colorway Dandelion in a sidewalk crack.

There’s nothing new about color burst yarns, they’ve been around for a while and I’ve even worked with them before. That being said, I’ve never done anything special to manipulate the burst in favor of letting the pop of color be just that. In fact, I think I’ve only ever tried to control pooling once (the Pool & Conquer shawl by Martina Behm).

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept of controlled pooling, the idea is that you’re manipulating the yarn to create an effect. This can be done by stacking the color with a specific number of stitches or working a specific stitch whenever you hit a color burst. The Pop Rocket Shawl (free), for example, has you use yarnovers to manipulate the color bursts and accent them further. Other forced pooling projects can be found by searching “pooling” on Ravelry, I have my eye on a few by Dawn Barker.

I highly enjoyed working on the pop rocket shawl. It was simple with just enough of something to do every so often that I never lost interest in knitting it. Definitely has me thinking about what else I should work on that plays around with forced pooling and the colors of Dandelion in a sidewalk crack by Wonderland Yarns goes with almost everything in my wardrobe. The shawl also grew a LOT when I blocked it, which was a pleasant surprise. If I were to knit this pattern again, I think I would manipulate the pattern to use two skeins instead of one for a larger shawl.

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 woman in a black shirt and light green skirt wearing the Pop Rocket Shawl knit in grey yarn with bursts of yellow-blue areas.