Monday, August 01, 2016

Ripples Cowl and swatches

Thank you for coming by! xxxx
Every night just before going to bed I take a walk around the house. I check that all the doors are closed and everything is where it is supposed to be and that the scenery in the areas I see first in the morning is looking all right. I cannot face dirty dishes and unsorted clutter first thing in the new day. I want to step into my mornings with a pot of fresh coffee in serene surroundings. All the house does not need to be tidy, just the places where I spend my first hour of the day. I usually take a few moments to look at the lake and the woods - always wishing to see something wild.
I have not seen anything wild lately, and it continues to be quite light through the night, but the light has definitely changed into the fall setting. If you are outside during the midnight, you can still see well enough to know your bearings, but if you look outside from the inside, it seems dark. It feels like I am not quite ready for the white nights to be gone. I will need to savor these last summer nights and will need to catch each one of them before they are gone.
Remember earlier this year when I decided to learn to crochet better and decided to make swatches. I have kept focused (mostly), making a little swatch here and there, trying out different yarns, trying to find ones that I like to crochet with best.
(This is unknown yarn from the stash. I believe it has some viscose in it, the little piece drapes beautifully and has lots of sheen. I only had one little ball left from somewhere, I don't remember ever knitting or crocheting with this before, I am not sure how this has ended up in the yarn bin. Working with it was little tiresome, the yarn kept splitting and catching all the thin plies was hard at times. Probably dk weight.)

So far I have few favorites but I am still on the quest for more, as it is the yarn that inspires me and some yarns work better with different techniques. I have not liked all the outcomes but there are at least couple of very happy findings.
(This is Brooklyn Tweed Loft, my absolute favorite so far. I only have one little skein in my stash. The picture does not do justice, I could not get my camera to focus; but the yarn has body, it is not stiff, it is light and woolly at the same time. From all the yarns so far, if I had to choose only a few to crochet for the rest of my life, with this knowledge, one would be Loft! I am keeping an open mind and am willing to add other good yarns into this category.)

I come to crochet world as a knitter and after crocheting a bit, my hands beg for the familiar knitting movements but I am training them to love crochet too. Sometimes it is difficult to decide whether to crochet or to knit and there is no denying that, a choice needs to be made and deciding between the two (just like deciding between projects), can be difficult. Sometimes I wish I knew only one of the techniques (had only one project on the go), but that is kind of silly, although it would make life simpler, maybe...
(This is HolstGarn Coast, wool and cotton blend and lovely, lovely yarn to crochet with. It is lace weight but I think it is the cotton in the yarn that adds body to it. It has a good color chart, also a favorite. And a yarn I will use later on.)
(This is Gjestal Heklegarn 12/4, nice and soft 100% cotton, the outcome is light and I would use this for summery crochet tops and accessories, the yarn is thin and the outcome is not too bulky.)

Learning is frustrating at times too; and especially those failing times, I wish I would not have this need to wander around. But the joy when everything works and I learn something new, is so exhilarating that I would not want to trade that feeling.
(This is unfamiliar yarn as well, little skein in the stash, dk weight cotton I believe. Tightly spun which makes it easier to crochet with but maybe little bit too hard?)

So swatches it has been for a bit, but finally something real as well. A cowl that I am very happy with.
Here is the first version finished and I truly like the feel of it. The yarn was a souvenir yarn from our trip to Edinburgh many, many years ago. I had two 50gram balls rolling around in the cotton bin. I bought the yarn just because the fiber content was something different (Cashcotton: 35% cotton, 25% polyamide, 18% angora, 13% viscose, 9% cashmere) but I did not have plans for it.
After making these “waves” swatches earlier, I knew the gauge so and so and I picked one of the Cashcotton skeins and without too much thought made the first chains. Along the way I had doubts and was uncertain whether to keep going or to rip out, but then since I did not have a clue what else to make with this yarn, kept going and used both of the balls. When it was done, I pulled it over my head and oh!... I loved it.
Sometimes the outcome of a crocheted piece might appear hard and I have found out that I really love the outcome when the yarn is little bit soft and maybe has little rugged or uneven surface. Angora in this yarn truly softens the surface and makes it not only very soft to wear and feel but the look is also soft and squishy, which at times can be lacking from crochet pieces.
It is summery, reminds me of the ripples on the lake, it has some body so it stays put and hopefully will keep its shape, it is warm but not hot, the color is lovely, it will be a perfect early fall accessory. The stitch pattern is interesting and easy to make, it advances quickly since there is the ridge and it tells me how many ridges I have done in one sitting. 
It is sophisticated and bohemian somehow, I am not sure if you can combine the two, but that is how I feel about it. Maybe the color is making it sophisticated and the fact that it is crocheted, makes it bohemian. Now that I think about the words, I think that I have read somewhere a phrase bohemian chic…
Since discovering this stitch pattern, I cannot let it go; have to see how it will work with other yarns, or what else I could use it for, need to explore this for a bit. Of course I needed to make the similar pattern in knitting as well. Crochet fabric might have less drape (depending on the yarn and the fiber) than knitted one and I particularly like this aspect in cowls. My knitted ones become flat after some use and I hope that crocheted ones will keep their shape better. But then; if I would knit this same pattern with a tight gauge, maybe it would do the trick and the piece would keep its structure better or if I added more garter stitch to the pattern.
(This is knitted with similar pattern. Love it too, yarn is 100% cotton dk weight.)

When the spring comes, it feels like I have been looking at my lap for months and that I have not been paying attention to what has been going around me (during dark winter little bit north of the Arctic Circle in the country side and really… not much has happened!). The cold months make me want to build a wool cocoon and my needles keep clicking and crochet hook whooshing and when spring comes, all is cast aside. I need to lift my eyes and look around and see and feel the light and the warmth and for a few short weeks life is not all about staying warm. I know it is still early to start thinking about fall, and I am planning to enjoy the summer as far as it goes as much as I can. But the nip of cool air at night, the change of color of the light… and a new cycle with yarn begins for me. After busy and sudden and beautiful summer, the first cool night sneaks upon me and I start to look for the wool socks and everything changes.
I hang on tightly to yarn and it pulls me through another arctic winter. And that is a good thing, a very good thing.

Wool with you,


  1. Autumn already! Your summer is really very short. Your post is triggering a need to crochet something ...

  2. I knit a lot of Old Shale (Feather and Fan) which was obvious when I saw a bunch of my projects lined up on Ravelry. Have you seen the compilation by the Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild (Mason-Dixon, 7/15/2016). Free download from Ravelry:

  3. Beautifully written. I may need to learn to crochet...but first I have some socks to finish knitting...and more to cast on.

  4. Though I do not live in the far north as you do, I have noticed that the mornings are now getting darker once again. I usually get to work around 5:30 am and during June-July, it was light or getting light out as I arrived. Now it is once again dark. Surprising how quickly the daylight hours shift.

    Lovely crochet work. That is not a skill I have mastered.

  5. A beautiful piece of writing. I've only been knitting about 5 years, but crocheting since I was a kid....I like the go between the two, as they are different hand motions and give my hands a bit if a rest....

  6. Beautifully written post - as always.

  7. Such a pretty post. I have given up the crochet. There is simply not enough time for it and my quality is just not up to scratch. It doesn't give me the happy in the same way as the knit. I do find your swatches very very pretty.

  8. Loved your post (as usual) and really enjoyed seeing you on the FruityKnitter podcast -- actually got very excited when I saw it was you.

  9. This is a lovely essay. The cowl is very pretty. You found a good combination of yarn, stitch, and garment. Enjoy the last long light days of your northern summer.

  10. Your swatches are just beautiful. And I hope you will give us the stitch pattern, or the source of it.