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


Cast-On Monday

In the spirit of 52 in 52, I’m changing up my Monday posts.  Instead of Ravelry Mondays (which, I admit, I have been a slacker about), I’ll post every Monday (or thereabouts) with a list of what I’ve cast on during the week previous.

This week I have only one new project added to the needles.  It’s a design project, so I can’t tell you too much!  I’m using this yarn (KP’s Stroll Tonal in “Springtime”):

1037 Springtime Stroll Tonal

The project is a twisted-stitch sock pattern based on a sweater I saw (and loved!) at Canobie Lake Park on Mother’s Day:

2257 cool cabled sweater spotted at Canobie

I’ve cast on and ripped out about half a dozen times already, but this final iteration is going like gangbusters.  Once I get the leg done, I’ll start thinking about where I might submit the pattern idea for publication.

FO Friday: Zino Square Lace Shawl

1119 Zino

This week I’m featuring another of my pattern sample projects for Plymouth Yarns: a square lace shawl made from Zino, a long-repeat color-changing yarn. The shawl is worked in the round from the center out, with a cool open/solid lace pattern that really suits the yarn. I especially like the border, which shows the long color repeats well.  (My quickie photo (below) is shown before blocking.)

1196 lace for Plymouth Yarns (unblocked)

Project: Zino Lace Sample Knit

Pattern: Square Lace Shawl

Designer: Plymouth Yarn Design Stuido

Available: ask your LYS

Yarn: Zino

Lo, the gorgeous blocked shawl:

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This was by far the largest sample I’d knit for PY — it took a lot longer than a pair of armwarmers or a little vest. It was also more complex–this was the project where I really learned how to work with the designer at PY, because I ran into problems/questions and we went back and forth a couple times before we settled on the right solution.  Ultimately it’s her design, so naturally I want to serve that … but my job is to make sure the pattern adheres to her vision as I knit, so when I find things that don’t work, I stop and ask for direction. Sometimes, I even have something useful to contribute.

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.

Tips and Tricks: Penance Knitting

Almost every knitter I’ve ever talked to has a project that they love, but can’t bring themselves to work on.  Sometimes it’s because there is a long stretch of “boring” knitting, like the endless stockinette in my Arctic Faery Ring Cardigan.  First there was the skirt (ENDLESS), which I powered through because at least there was decreasing every so often, plus cables to look forward to.  I did the sleeves two-at-a-time to avoid SSS (Second Sleeve Syndrome), but stalled out on the hood.  Seriously — I had the entire body done, the sleeves done and set in, but I couldn’t get myself to work on the hood. It was killing me.

1241 Arctic Faery Ring

Conversely, the other end of the spectrum of knitting difficulty can stall a knitter just as bad as doldrum knitting. I have a certain blanket that has languished since July because the border is tricky and requires my full attention. I can’t quit halfway through a repeat without paying (and paying) later on.  I don’t dare pick it up unless I know I have enough time and attention to finish a full repeat.  So my pretty, soft lap blanket sits with two borders done, and two still waiting.

0471 Yggdrasil blanket

The cardigan and the blanket both suffered further, because they were both for ME — no deadline, nobody waiting, no guilt to spur me on.  And, in the end, guilt is KEY for finishing this type of project.  I call the work “penance knitting” for a reason.  My technique is simple: I choose a very appealing project with pretty yarn and a fun pattern, and set it in front of myself.  Then, I require myself to knit a certain number of rows of my penance project, before I allow myself to work on the reward project.

I hate to say it, but right now my penance knitting project is my third (yes, third) Harry Potter scarf.  It seems like it’s taking forever, which is kind of true … because I keep looking at it and groaning.  Time to bump it up in the priority queue and get it done!  Here are the first two scarves, to further inspire and castigate me :).

9896 J models Harry Potter scarf

0381 HP Hufflepuff scarf

What project do you have, languishing in mostly-done state on the needles, that could be finished with a little penance knitting?