New Pattern Release: Bifurcate Kumara Cowl

I’m pleased to announce the release of my latest pattern: a two-color, knit-flat, in-the-round, cabled cowl.  Bifurcate Kumara Cowl was featured in Issue 218 of Classic Elite’s Webletter (if you aren’t already a subscriber, sign up! free patterns, once a week! can’t beat that 🙂 ).

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Here’s what CEY had to say about Bifurcate:

This two color cowl is a show-stopper, and its construction is incredibly clever. How’s this for a brain-teaser…the entire cowl is knit back and forth, NOT in the round. Curious? This ingenious design comes from Rachel Henry, the designer who brought us one of our most popular Web-Letters to date, the Cotton Bam Boo Kudzu Shawlette.

There is no cozier yarn than Kumara, with its soft, lofty blend of extrafine Merino and baby camel hair. The camel hair is undyed, resulting in a muted effect that performs in perfect harmony with the sophisticated palette of 23 colors. Baby camel, a fiber with a softness rivaling cashmere, is expensive on its own, but you’ll find it in this decadent blend at an affordable price. This yarn is pure luxury!

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Pattern: Bifurcate Kumara Cowl

DesignerRachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: Free! from Classic Elite’s Web-letter (Issue 218)

Yarn: CEY Kumara in Thai Purple and Royce Mountain

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Design/Skills Needed: This cowl is “knit flat” in the sense that it is worked back-and-forth, with RS and WS rows.  When the colors cross, the RS and WS rows overlap a little bit — it’s easier to do than describe!  However, this cowl is also “knit in the round” in the sense that it is worked row-by-row and there is no long vertical seam.  If you can cable and follow directions carefully, you can make this cowl.

2740 Kumara Two-Color Cowl (inside)

Inspiration: My youngest son saw me working on a lacy cowl for myself, and asked if I would make him a neckwarmer too. I showed him my stash, and he chose a dark red and light grey and instructed me to make it “half one color and half the other, like this,” holding his hands up to his own neck. This request was the initial inspiration for this two-color, knit-flat, in-the-round, cabled cowl.

I knew I wanted to use simple cables, with no separation, to make subtle overall pattern that would also give the cowl some vertical structure. Almost right away, I could see in my head how the two halves could meet and twine together using this same cable pattern. I knew I could accomplish this by knitting first one half and then the other, but I wanted to make it all at once – in the round, at least nominally.

The first prototype, now in my son’s coat pocket, looked great. “Bifurcate” is the second generation of this original cowl, and is improved in several small ways. I changed the top and bottom edge to be less flared, and used different yarn and stitch counts to create an adult-sized cowl. I chose soft, luscious Kumara for it’s to-die-for touchability and great stitch definition. When washed and block, the soft halo is lovely.

The original knit-flat, in-the-round, two-color, cabled cowl:

2524 two-color cowl


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Cast-On Monday: Princess Wander’s Cape, Hooligan Pixie Hat, and Sept 2011 Sock Club Socks

This week I cast on two projects destined to be store samples for the Hub Mills Factory Store. Hub Mills is the outlet store for Classic Elite, who published myKudzu and Drop Everything patterns via their free web-letter.   I’m lucky enough to be their newest employee — I’ll be working two Saturdays a month, starting after Thanksgiving when the store opens in it’s new Billerica, MA, location.  I’m so excited to be joining this group of talented knitters.  (A major “thank you!” to my friend C who recommended me for the position!) In addition to helping staff the store, I’ll be teaching classes some Saturdays — more info to come!

The first project is a cabled cape from Wrap Style: Wandering Aran Fields by Norah Gaughan.  I’m using CEY Princess in Peacock.  Princess is a great blended yarn — Wool, Rayon, Nylon, Cashmere, and Angora.  It’s super soft, but has great stitch definition.  I’ve cast on the 332 stitches for the larger size and I’m done with the ribbing.  I found out after ten rows that I was 1 st off. Rather than re-do the ribbing, I spent three hours dropping down every other row and changing knits to purls and vice versa.  It probably would have been faster to rip out and re-do, but I couldn’t face all that ribbing again!

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The second sample for the store is cabled hat from the Bounty pattern booklet: Hooligan by Susan Mills.  I’m using CEY Montera in a beautiful olive green.  This llama-wool blend is aran weight — perfect for a warm, cozy hat.

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I also cast on the latest “Notorious Sock Knitters” shipment — but we’re still in spoiler season for that, so I won’t post a photo just now.  If you’re curious, you can click through to a photo for my Sept 2011 Sock Club Socks.

FO Friday: Happy Feet DK Child’s Sweater

This week I’m featuring another of my pattern sample projects for Plymouth Yarns: a child’s sweater made from DK-weight sock yarn.  The professional model is an adorable blond girl … but of course before I sent it out I had to take a home-photo on my slightly-too-large youngest boy — he was cooperative, if slightly silly.  Please ignore his desperate need for a haircut!

Project: Happy Feet Sample Knit

Pattern: Cabled Sweater

Designer: Plymouth Yarn Design Stuido

Available: ask your LYS

Yarn: Happy Feet DK (color 61)

This was a fast & easy project — basic shaping and making-up, and the all-over cabled rib pattern looks great and is fun to knit. I’m a huge fan of Happy Feet DK, but you MUST wash & block a swatch with this yarn — it opens up and softens considerably with washing.  Before washing and blocking the sweater, the fabric was tight and hard — almost crunchy.  After washing and blocking, it was soft and had a nice give, lovely to touch.

FO Friday: Coats for Gizmo and Golly

1153 Golly and Gizmo coats

One of my agility friends asked me to knit custom coats for her charming mini poodles, Gizmo (left) and Golly (right).  She wanted durable, washable yarn that was also soft and cozy, and came in her dogs’ signature colors. In terms of structure, the coats needed to have turtlenecks, front leg sleeves, and a high belly cut to allow pottying without soiling the coats.  We looked at a couple different patterns before settling on the attractive and versatile “Biscuits & Bones” pattern, sized from XS to XL. The modified “X’s and O’s” cable pattern resembles circular biscuits and long bones–very clever!

(This week’s FO is a re-wind — I’ve been working like mad all week on a design sample that I can’t share just yet.)

1122 Golly's Purple Coat

Project: Gizmo’s Red Coat and Golly’s Purple Coat

Pattern: Biscuits & Bones Dog Coat

Designer: Patons

Available: FREE! at patonsyarns.com

Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Eggplant and Red (3 balls per coat)

1157 Golly's coat

Don’t you just love Golly’s grin??

I made Golly’s coat first (purple!) and made very few modifications.  The neck to tail is worked flat to the leg holes, where the work is split into three parts and worked separately for a few rows.  Then flat work across the entire piece resumes, continuing through the butt decreases.  Ribbing is picked up and knit in the round for the leg holes and around the belly/back (after the chest is seamed). My only serious modification was to keep edge stitches in stockinette, to make the picking up and seaming easier.

1159 Gizmo's coat

Gizmo is such a handsome fellow!

With Gizmo’s coat, I wanted to try knitting the chest in the round, to avoid seaming later on.  At the leg holes I worked just two sections (back and belly) flat, then rejoined for more work in the round, then worked flat for the back after casting off for the belly. This ended up being trickier than I anticipated … if I ever make another coat from this pattern, I will probably just make it flat and deal with the seam.

1152 Golly and Gizmo coats

Overall, the pattern is clear and well-written.  The cable patterns were written, so of course I charted them to avoid going insane.  (I work much better from a visual representation of a pattern.) I really appreciate that it came in so many sizes, and also that it accounted for the real chest shape of a dog (many dog sweater patterns seem to think dogs are shaped like humans, oops).  Swish Worsted was, as expected, perfect for the job at hand. The boys look great and are cozy too!