Sunday, January 6, 2013

Goodbye cowl, cowl, world

On my mom's side of the family, we do a big family gift exchange every year. Theoretically, the names of all parties involved (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) are put into a hat and everyone is assigned someone else to get a gift for. It's no secret, however, that the drawing can't help but be rigged. In order to keep 10-15 participants from ending up giving or getting from someone in their immediate family, there can really be very little variability in the whole thing. Not to mention, every year there are a few "special requests" that go in to making sure that people "draw" the name of someone in particular.

But, it's fun, and that's what matters.

Anyhow, when I found out that I was giving to my hip cousin, I immediately decided that I wanted to make her a hooded cowl. I don't know where this came from, or why I thought it was such a terrific idea. But you know me, once I get something in my head there's no stopping me.

I did a good deal of research online and had devised a plan to make a tube, about 2 feet around and a foot and a half long that could be worn as a scarf or a hood out of chunky yarn. Rather than just leaving well enough alone, I started talking to people about this plan. I got some advice that cowls are supposed to wrap around your neck twice. Then I saw a whole bunch the store that obviously did. So, I scrapped the old plan and cast on 280 stitches on size 9 needles with the ambitious (and poorly-gauged) plan of knitting a tube 8 feet in circumference and 15 inches long.

I knit pretty much solid for 7 days. I knit, and I knit, and I knit. Finally, it was done! 5 Skeins of yarn, tens of thousands of stitches, bound off. And... (you know where this is this going)...what the heck did I do.

I wrapped the 10 pound scarf around my neck once and it almost hit the floor. My gauge, which was slightly off when I tested it on a 4-inch stretch, was very off on an 8 foot stretch. Unfortunately, even if it hadn't been off, the whole thing was just too much. Too thick, to chunky, too heavy. Wrapped around my neck once I looked like I wrapped an entire afghan around my neck and was wearing it as a scarf.

So, I took a deep breath, untied the knot, and began unravel my weeks worth of work.

In my second attempt I went back to the original plan. Cast on 80 stitches. Work in a 4 by 5 basket weave pattern for 18 inches. Bind off. It took about 2 days. And the best part, it is exactly what I had in mind. I liked it so much, I made 3: One for my cousin, one for my sister-in-law, and one for myself (and, by the way, still didn't use all the yarn from the first one).

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