It’s been a rough week for me here in Chiberia (Chicago’s Polar Vortex). I came down with the flu Monday – out of no where – and it’s thrown off the week. Hence, I’m going keep it simple and talk about process. One of the joys of doing it yourself is altering, adding to, or subtracting from existing patterns. DIY patterns should also be seen as ideas to build upon. Today, I share a process told through the story of Purl Soho’s Big Herringbone Cowl.
This gorgeous pattern debuted during the time I worked at Purl Soho and it was immediately an international craze. For the yarn world, that’s big. Being a graphic designer, I challenge myself to add my own special flair. Or, as they tell me at Knitche – a way to make my life more difficult …
Here we go!
I made the infinity cowl once as a gift. My first amendment to the pattern was simple – and a common adjustment – I used a different yarn. Having worked in now three yarn stores, I can safely say that this is the most common help I give – substituting yarns! It’s really very fun. For this cowl, I used Swans Island Worsted instead of the recommended Blue Alpaca’s Worsted Sky Hand Dyes. Because the gauge of the new yarn was different, all I had to do was drop a needle size. Note: I don’t usually start this process by making an entire test piece – this was just for a quick gift.
What was really stunning in this cowl was the natural, subtle color striping from the hand dyed quality of the yarn. Because I hastily gave the first cowl away, I made my own (above) in Swans Island Worsted Beetroot.
Then I took it a step further. I wanted a small, quick cowl in this stitch that could carry into the Spring. I was able to alter the pattern simply by using the gauge of the first cowl I knit. I multiplied the number of stitches per inch by the new circumference. For a slip-on cowl, I typically use anywhere between 22-28 inches. This number becomes your cast on. Note: depending on your pattern, you might need to keep a certain number of stitches divisible by your base pattern.
When Choosing a color palette, I personally strive for a neutral main color with a pop of a favorite color from the same brand as the main color. In this case, I had two stunning colors from this brand and weight IN my stash! I generally like to incorporate the color pop in a very small way. For this cowl, I added two very thin stripes.
Hold on to your hats, because this next part gets nuts. Another of my favorite yarns is Alchemy Yarns of Transformation‘s Kozmos. Shockingly (you’ve seen my Yarnerator), I had matching colorways IN my stash as well. If you look closely at the detail image to the right above, I knit three rows in the teal color, the first row holding the matching Alchemy yarn with the Swans Island. It’s hard to see in the green, but I knit two rows – mimicking the teal by knitting the first row with the matching Alchemy. Holding the Alchemy adds a special detail texture both in color and fiber.
The last and final step, of course, is coercing a friend to take adorable pictures in the cowl. Usually helps to buy your model coffee.