Fair Isle Cowl in 60 Quick Luxury Knits

60 Quick Luxury Knits” has just been released and it includes my reversible fair isle cowl, below:

Fair Isle Cowl by Mary Ann Stephens

Photo Copyright Sixth&Spring Books

The publishers had me use Cascade’s “Venezia Sport” 70% merino wool, 30% mulberry silk sport weight yarn.  (In fact, all of the designs in the “60 Quick” series use Cascade yarns of one type or another.)

I wish they had taken a photo of my cowl on a model, so you could get an idea of the fit and drape. I would have, but I figured that I’d better leave that to the professionals.  Bummer!  :(

I can tell you that the shaping, scale and fit of this new cowl in Cascade Venezia Sport are quite similar to my old Riverside Cowl, which I knit in Dale of Norway / Dalegarn Royal Alpakka . (See below.) But, the silk in Venezia makes for an extremely fluid drape, so it won’t “stand up” quite as much as my alpaca Riverside Cowl did. That could be good or bad, depending upon your perspective…and your weather.  As always, choose whatever sport weight yarn sings to you.

Riverside Cowl knit in Dale Alpakka

Riverside Cowl, Knit in Dale of Norway Royal Alpakka.

For the color junkies among you (count me in), here are my original color charts for the fair isle cowl design submission (below).  The businesswoman in me told me it’s always a good idea to provide variations upon the theme, whenever submitting an idea to be published elsewhere. So, as you’ll see, I did the same chart using two, three or four colors. I guess that was a good move, despite my continual preference for “as many colors as I can get”. But, for the life of me, I can’t relate to their preference for the two-colored version.

What do you think?

Fair Isle Cowl options

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Chevron Fingerless Mittens

fingerless mittens knit in alpaca yarn

Chevron Fingerless Mittens by Mary Ann Stephens

My “Chevron Fingerless Mittens”, sized for the average adult female hand, with fitted cuffs and gusseted thumbs. Knit in luxurious Dale of Norway Royal Alpakka.  Use any three shades your heart desires.  I used 19g of Slate 0007, 32g of Off-white 0010 and 13g of Beige 2642 – one ball of each color.  (If you want to make two pair, you’ll only need to get an extra ball of the off-white – you’ll have enough left over from the other two colors to knit a second pair.)

The PDF is available for $6 from my Ravelry store.

fingerless mittens in alpaca yarn

Chevron Fingerless Mittens knit in Dale of Norway Royal Alpakka 100% alpaca yarn.

fingerless mittens

Well-fitted, with full range of finger movement.

I liked the idea of having some fingerless mittens with full finger mobility, so these are a bit shorter than some of my other fingerless mittens. But, they don’t have to be! If you’d like to lengthen the upper section, so that your fingers have more coverage, it’s as simple as can be – right above the thumb opening, merely add some more repeats of the plain chevron motif (the plain grey + white zigzag section in the middle) before starting that upper striped motif.  The shaping has been worked so that you can fit entire horizontal repeats of the chevron motif in the top, for as long as you’d like.

Happy knitting!

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Dale Book 286

Dale Garn Book 286

Dale Garn’s new book #286, with sweaters for ladies and men.

Dale Garn’s Book #286, which features stylish sweaters for ladies and men, is now available in the English translation through Kidsknits.

Click the link, below, to see Dale’s photo preview of the designs within Book 286.

Book 286 photos

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Free Knitting Pattern – North Shore Hat

Free knitting pattern for an adult's earflap hat, knit in bulky weight wool.

Free knitting pattern for a quick, warm, adult-sized earflap hat – “North Shore Hat”.

Here’s a free pattern for a super-quick, adult-sized earflap hat I made for my winter beach hikes.  I used wonderfully soft and warm Dale Hubro 100% pure new wool.  It’s “bulky” weight, so it knits up in a blink.  (I made this hat in one day, and I’m really not a very fast knitter.) Hope you have fun with it!

North Shore Hat

p.s.  There was a type on the original chart for the earflap portion. I got carried away adding the “M”‘s (“make one”) on each side of the earflap, for shaping, and I ended up carrying an extra one up each earflap side, where, as you could see from the straight line of the chart at those points, no M’s had any business.  So, odds are, if you worked from the original chart, you probably saw the straight edge, shook your head, said “What the heck was she thinking?! What a silly typo!” and carried on properly.  If not, my apologies!  In either case, the M typos are now properly in their places.  Have fun!

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Blendoku – a great game for Fair Isle fanatics

What’s Blendoku?  It’s an intriguing free app that sharpens your color management skills.  Should disaster strike and you find yourself without your knitting (gasp!) it’s a fun way to sharpen your skills for setting up smooth color gradients for your stranded knitting projects while you wait for the cavalry to arrive with your yarn.

Blendoku - a great game for practicing color placement skills needed in Fair Isle knitting

Handheld color gradient practice that can translate into Fair Isle knitting skills

Be warned: Okay, yeah, it’s also a black hole for time – too much fun!!

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Knitting’s Cerebral Side

CNN’s very interesting article on knitting’s cerebral benefits: http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/25/health/brain-crafting-benefits/

(But from the tips of our fingers, to our hearts, to our minds…we knew that! ;-) )

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Steek stitches – how many???

Someone just posted an interesting question in my Two Strands group on Ravelry.  It’s one I’m often asked regarding Norwegian steeks, so I’ll share it with you folks here, too. She’s thinking about knitting the Dale Sirdal design from their new Book 267 and she’s wondering just how many steek stitches she should use.

Dale Sirdal Setesdal Fana

Dale Book 267 Traditional Designs for the Family, available through my Kidsknits.com on-line yarn shop.

Dale instructs her to set up the steek with four “cutting stitches” (steek stitches, to most of us.)  That’s not a bad approach, but I like 5 stitches better.  Here’s my reply, below, or you can visit my Two Strands group on Ravelry for the whole story:

Regarding the # of steek sts: It’s your call! If you’re machine-reinforcing your steek, as they direct (I would), it’s a question of how much sewing and cutting leeway you want to give yourself versus how many extra stitches you’re willing to forsake to the steek. Personally, I like 5 steek sts: steek_stitch_layout.png

The outermost blue columns belong to the body of the sweater.
The red lines indicate where you’ll pick up stitches for the button band.
I like to alternate the colors for each steek stitch, and I keep that stitch patterning vertically consistent, so that my steek stitches form clear sewing (yellow) and cutting (center blue column, #3) lines.

The Dale patterns use 4 stitches (think of my diagram, above, without the center column #3) and they simply instruct you to sew two double lines within the 4 steek stitches and cut the steek open between the pairs of lines. In truth, there’s nothing wrong with that approach at all; but, adding the 5th stitch for the center cutting line does a couple of nice things for you:

1) There’s no guessing as to where to cut – a very nice thing for those of us with less-than-perfect vision! A mistake in the cutting can ruin everything, so I think the one extra stitch column is well worth the effort.

2) As long as you keep your machine stitching within those (yellow) guidelines of columns #2 & #4, you can trim away as much (or as little) of central column #3 as you need to get a nice, straight edge. That can work to especially nice effect if you do a “covered steek”, as I often like to do on my cardigan designs. (I have more info about covered steeks on an old steeks article I put up on my Kidsknits.com site ages ago: http://www.kidsknits.com/steeks_introduction.html

HAPPY CUTTING!

Gracie, our Golden Retriever, my knitting companion

Uh oh, I wonder what she’s doing with those scissors??

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