Moonwake Cowl by Andrea Mowry is a hand knitted tube cowl with a bold and graphic stranded colourwork design in 4 colours.
I used Socks Yeah DK to knit our version. I love knitting and wearing this yarn. It may be called a sock yarn - it has 75% wool and 25% nylon - but it's perfect for so much more than socks. It's woolly but soft and the colours are rich whether subtle or vibrant. It has great stitch definition and it washes well. It's as fabulous as the 4ply version, just thicker!
I stuck close to Andrea's colours - a great combo - and it saved me the headache of choosing a new one, when all I wanted to do was cast on!
It's called a tube cowl because you are knitting in the round, making a tube, and then you join the cast on and cast off edges to make a loop of double thickness fabric. This is perfect when knitting stranded colourwork because -
- you get to work in the round which makes stranding easier as you do not need to purl and
- the wrong side of your work and yarns ends are hidden inside the cowl.
For this cowl I used a 40cm long circular needle. The number of stitches sat nicely on this length - just be careful they don't bunch up.
In stranded colour work you carry unused yarn, the float, along the back of your knitting. It's important to make sure the stitches it is carried behind are nicely spaced out, so that the float isn't pulled to tightly. If it is it can pucker the front of your knitting. If the stitches on the needle are bunched up, then the float will be shortened. Just stop frequently and space out your stitches so they sit beside each other rather than on top of each other.
The pattern is charted and presented clearly making it easy to read. I found it simple to keep track off it - it's easy to see where you've gone wrong too!
You start with a provisional cast on. You can see a video of the technique I use here. A provisional cast on keeps your cast on stitches secure but 'live' so you can go back and do something with them. Like seamlessly joining them to the last row of knitting to make a loop... a moebius loop.
This bit initially confused me - twisting the cowl to make a moebius shape so it only has one edge. The pattern gives instructions and a diagram. I followed these and it did actually make sense (I guess you just have to have it in front on you). I took some photos as I did this, it might help someone else...
After the twist you need to graft. using kitchener stitch, your live cast on stitches and your last row of knitting.
There are plenty of tutorials on grafting - you may, like me, have done it for your hand knit sock toes.
I have to confess I wasn't happy with my first attempt at grafting.
Whether it's grafting over a larger number of stitches (my attention waned?) or using a thicker yarn (harder to maintain a consistent tension?) my effort was a bit lumpy.
I am usually a contented fudger. I'm not a perfectionist, and I really believe that mistakes you think can be seen from space are usually undetectable by everyone else, sometimes even when you point them out.
But this join bothered me. Perhaps because the Socks Yeah DK had blocked so beautifully.
So I unpicked the woven in ends and took out the yarn that grafted the ends together, returning the cowl to a flat tube, ready for a second attempt.
This time sitting at a table in daylight (trying to not get distracted by how lovely it looks and feels). An important thing to remember when kitchenering is that you are not seaming. It is in fact another row of stitches you are creating, therefore it is important not to pull too tightly, but rather create another row of stitches.
(And block your cowl after you've joined it, it does help to straighten out your grafted stitches too.)
I do think you could cast on and off as normal and then mattress stitch the cowl together - you would have a seam but it is an easier way to finish the cowl.
But if you're game, a seamless graft is a really nice way to finish it off... perhaps choose a dark shade for your first colour... that'll help disguise any wonky stitches!
Talking of choosing colours... we have 16 shades in the shop. There are lots of possibilities but after much deliberation I've managed to put together 4 yarn kits, you can buy them here.
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Love Andrea Mowry's designs? Check out our version of her Nightshift Wrap, knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Croft.
Love the look of Socks Yeah DK? Check out our Line Dried Cardigan a seamless cardigan designed by Sue Stratford.