I am really excited to introduce my latest pattern, MoonDance Cowl and Mitts!
This is the final result of my design efforts for my local yarn store, Mockingbird Moon. The name of the pattern originally was To Knit a Mockingbird, but because that was sort of an inside joke for those who shop at my LYS, I opted to change it to MoonDance for the Ravelry listing.
It uses SpinCycle Dyed in the Wool yarn and another fingering/sport weight yarn of your choice (for the sample I used Alegria by Manos del Uruguay). I strongly suggest the second yarn have a good contrast to the SpinCycle yarn to bring out the best in the design elements, particularly the Slip Stitch Stripe.
The pattern starts out with a row of bobbles, then goes into a lace edging. From there you would work the slip stitch stripe, which has a stranded-knitting look but you only use one color, or strand of yarn, in each row.
The third section is a dropped stitch cable, which is created by wrapping twice around the needle for each knit stitch on the row before you create the cables. You then drop the extra loop as you work each stitch. If the second yarn you use is a fingering weight, this can create a lace effect (depending on the yarn and how loosely you knit).
Another variation on the design I’ve been working on (I actually have that design about ready to publish, but I still mess around with variations). This one is using the brightly colored yarn I had available — the solid red is WollMeise, and the multi-colored is Lorna’s Laces Rainbow in a fingering weight.
I didn’t do the cables on this design, in part because, frankly, I was running out of the WollMeise (this was from my stash; that yarn has fantastic yardage). However, the length of it — about 9″ — is still right for a cowl.
However, the fingering weight yarn isn’t ideal for this pattern. Unlike the design from a couple of posts back, which used Malabrigo Rios, the lace points don’t naturally lie flat. In fact, they tend to curl up. After blocking, that problem was minimized enough to make this wearable, but I suspect they’ll turn up again.
And of course, the lightweight yarns aren’t as practical for protection from the cold. I’m considering trying this with the sportweight Lorna’s Laces. I like the short repeats of color for the design, so I believe it would be worth the effort.
In case you didn’t see my samples a couple of months ago, this design is not a stranded or Fair Isle pattern. I slipped stitches to obtain that look, and the multi-colors help with the effect. You’re only using one strand of yarn each row. I did do three rows of the mult-colored, then three rows of the solid instead of alternating two rows of each yarn like I did in the sample.
I consider this cowl a “learning” piece since I wouldn’t suggest this pattern in a fingering weight yarn. However, it will still be wearable, and no doubt I’ll find the right day to wear it!
A few months ago, I decided I wanted a black-and-white cardigan with some sort of graphic element to add to my “transition” wardrobe. I envisioned wearing it with a white t-shirt or blouse and a pair of ankle-length jeans, with some black flats.
I had all the pieces except the sweater, and I finally found a pattern I thought would work. It’s a cardigan designed by Jeannie Chin from the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Vogue Knitting. It needed a few revisions to meet my requirements, however.
First, I reversed the colorway, so white is the dominant color and the black is the accent. Not a big deal there. Knitters do it all the time. The second change was a little more significant and affected a few other elements of the design. As designed, the sweater is cropped (and adorable), a style that didn’t suit my needs — or figure.
So instead of knitting 8 inches to the sleeve opening, I knit 12 ½ inches. I also lengthened the ribbing from 1 ¼ inches to 1 ¾ inches, or 14 rows, on everything. This made the styling a little more traditional, but the zippy feeling of the sweater wasn’t compromised.
The original design had six rows of stockinette stitch between each band of four rows of garter stitch (that band also has the dropped stitches). I changed that to eight rows of stockinette stitch, maintaining the garter stitch band as the pattern was written. It seemed to better suit the black-on-white “light” feeling.
The dropped stitches, by the way, were a piece of cake. It did take a little maneuvering to keep the yarn from pulling behind the dropped stitches, and I accomplished this by placing my finger over those stitches and knitting over my finger. It still pulled back some, but it worked out when I blocked it.
I also carried the alternating colors up the side when I switched colors rather than break and join the yarn each section. That would have been way too much weaving in.
The original pattern had you knit the button and buttonhole band as you made the front pieces, and included the stripes in those bands. I debated about keeping that element for a long time, and finally decided to place the five stitches for each band on a safety pin and pick up the stitches later to knit the band all in the main color.
I increased one stitch on each band on the sweater side for seaming and knit that piece one needle size up from the ribbing. So I used a size 5 needle, or 3.75mm, for the band instead of the size 4, or 3.5mm, that I used for the ribbing.
The sleeves proved to be a bit problematic. Even though the suggested needle size for the body of the sweater worked (size 6, or 4mm), I had to go up one size from the suggested size for the sleeves. (The suggested size for the sleeves is smaller than the body, by the way — size 4.) That wasn’t the problem; that’s just good knitting practice — follow your swatch, which led me to size 5 needles.
What was a problem was the top of the sleeve. When I set it in the armhole, it was way too short. I ended up ripping out the top of the sleeve and reknitting it by decreasing stitches every other row all the way up, and every fourth row for the last two decreases, ending with the same number of stitches to bind off as the pattern required. Even then, it was difficult to set the sleeve.
The sleeve also needed some good blocking. The lace pattern caused it to slant somewhat. That was fairly easy to accomplish, thank goodness.
And lest I forget, I used Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima. It took five skeins of the white — although I grimaced at how little of the fifth skein I needed — and one skein of the black.
Overall, I’m happy with the sweater, but I’ve been a bit sedentary lately and need to lose about five pounds to make it fit right!! So damn the heat — it’s time to walk!!