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Deep Winter Knitting


Dear Kay,

Actually, I’d like to address this note to Canada. Dear Canada: WE’VE GOT YOUR WEATHER DOWN HERE. PLEASE COME GET IT.

The only upside to it being 3 outside is, of course, the knitter’s paradise that comes with freakin’ cold-ass weather. Bring it on: I am wearing my most industrial gear, grateful for it all: Boreal, Laurel, Donegal, and that dense wonder, the Bubble Wrap Cowl.

This morning I even took a handknit directly off the blocking board and looped it around my neck. Back in the spring when I started it, this Pine Bough Cowl by Dianna Walla seemed like an awfully chunky handknit. I stash-busted some Cascade 220 for this bit of impulse knitting—you know how it is when you see a pattern, stop, drop everything, and cast on? There were moments when I questioned the wisdom of such a heavy cowl, knit in the round to create double-thick Fair Isle. Today, with it being 3 and all, it is doing the trick without a blink. It’s a half inch thick, this thing, windproof.


I know I harp on this, but this project illustrates once again the mighty redemptive power of blocking as pertaining to Fair Isle in particular. Before:




I guess I understand literally how this happens—soaking a long while in cold water and soap with puff up just about anybody and anything—but still, it’s a sort of magic to see all that lumpy, pinchy, warbly knitting tidy up and behave. It may be my favorite moment in knitting, seeing a piece of Fair Isle turn into itself.

I knit three repeats of the pattern instead of four. Was running short of the light green and was frankly ready to be done. It still doubles around my neck, which is all that matters. Kitchenering this thing was not my favorite activity of the past week—those last stitches are kind of tricky.



No fake chinchillas were killed in the manufacturing of that hat, I promise!



PS Two things I keep meaning to mention. 1) Thank you for your patience re our email notification system. I think it’s now functioning properly, but it’s like that moment when you’re jumping your car battery and you still can’t believe you won’t blow up your car when you start the engine. Next post, we will try our fancy new system and hope we don’t send you an alert every time we edit a comma. Or blow up your car. 2) Those of you who use blog readers to read us: if it looks like we haven’t posted since October, please try to re-subscribe to www.masondixonknitting.com. Of course, this is totally unhelpful if you’re not reading this because your blog reader doesn’t pick up our new site. Hmm.

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  1. I remember that Pine Bough Cowl post, back in the spring, because I added that pretty pattern to my queue that very same day. I did not, however, have the good sense to cast on right then and there, and therefore, I’m freezing down here in Atlanta! Who knew we’d get the sub-Arctic temps down here in the South!

    Love the cowl. Maybe I’ll whip one up next summer, when it’s an infernal 110°, and have it on the ready for next year’s cold snap, LOL!

    Stay warm!!!

  2. Unfortunately, we in Canada have even colder weather, so I’m not sure what we can do. When you say it is 3, I assume you mean some wacky Fahrenheit 3… we would kill for 3 Celsius these days.
    Loving the piled on woollies!

  3. That’s knitting weather! +9C (48F) in Calgary today – Speedo weather for Canadians. Maybe a knit wool speedo and a toque (knit cap). :oP Hectares (Acres x 2.47) of a garter stitch colour (color) block blanket in progress here – nice winter knitting.

    Nice cowl btw.


  4. I finally noticed that you’d fallen out of my blog reader when you referenced a post on twitter. Thank goodness for the redundancy of social media.

    That cowl is really pretty. I’m still not a kitchener fan (usually turn things inside out and 3 needle bind off) but this may be worth it.

  5. yep the weather delivery system is on its head, here in Canada we rival Nuuk in our forecasts and have endured more cold days (it seems) than recent memory allows, this winter. (oh, cripes. looking at the weather for Nuuk and it is warmer in Greenland right now.) lots and lots of expletives. i’m thinking that your mention of a boost to the car engine is no coincidence.

    (a very canadian)apologies to TENN? 😉 good thing there’s knitting.

  6. Thank you for the words on blocking. You give me fresh hope that my “warbly” hat will turn smooth and satiny once I dunk it.

    • It will! It will!

  7. Love the cowl, hate the weather. Is it really 3 degrees in Nashville? Yikes.

  8. Minus thirty here today. That’s Celsius, but it’s take your breathe away freeze your fingers car won’t start cold. Plus if you throw a cup of boiling water in the air, it evaporates into steam. Sorry about your weather, just as I’m sorry about ours. I think we have the North Pole’s weather, and if I knew how to send it all back, I would. I am enjoying all the woollen layers, though, and knitting more.

  9. *Only* 30F here in Dallas tonight. LOVED the links to your beautiful sweaters, so pretty! And the new cowl, too! Seeing those makes me wish I had spent more of my knitting time on sweaters for myself instead of the stocking up for future possible baby blanket giving phase that I’ve been on-lol. We’re supposed to get more cold next week. I could create a nice mummy look (not the mom kind) with all of my scarves. I Am loving my hand-knitted socks this year!

  10. Winters like this reinforce my feelings of Thanks to my grandmother who taught me to knit some…um…55 yrs ago. Lots of wool warmth in my closets and dresser drawers 🙂

  11. Deep winter indeed! I was never much of a fan of summer, but I sure am now! We’ve had way too many of those dark, dreary overcast days this season. So, thank you for sharing the Pine Bough Cowl, certainly a bright spot on this cold Saturday morning when we’re expecting yet more snow in my little corner of the world.
    I recently found an article about the effects of knitting on cognition and mood. It’s a long story, but I came to Google: “knitting/runners high”. I found out that there is a physiological reason why knittting can make me feel excited or meditative and relaxed. (If I think about it, though, I guess I did not really need scientific research to back up what my heart has always known was true…)

    Knit on!


  12. Did y’all see that Kay made the Letters page of the New York Times Magazine?? Woo-hoo!

    Pretty freakin’ cold in New Jersey too. I’m knitting a lot and wearing hand-knits and all that. I have a hankering for lined-mittens, keep looking at patterns….

  13. Ann, the Canada intro was really funny. I read it to my husband who laughed, too. I recently moved from MA to NC, so join you in experiencing the unusually cold weather for the south! Do you (or anyone else reading this post) know if any good knitting shows/conferences in the south? Thanks! Love the blog.


    • Hey Rosemary– Have been considering a move to NC, myself. One of the first things I did was to Google yarn shop information for the state. Looks like they have some pretty nice shops, too. Perhaps if you asked in a. local yarn shop. Hope you have fun exploring!


  14. Comment

  15. Here in NotCanada and NotTennessee the weather has been freakish as well. The Pacific Northwest coast has seen day after day after day of sunny, spring-like weather, with not a drop of rain. In January. I know it sounds nice, and I won’t deny that it has its moments, (oh, the sunsets!) but it is definitely Very. Weird.

    Also, “every time we edit a comma. Or blow up your car,” made me laugh. Thanks.

  16. That almost looks like a tiny icicle hanging from your right eyebrow, but then I realized it’s a reflection from your glasses.

  17. Hmmm. I subscribed (more than once) but I didn’t get any emails yet about new posts. That’s OK though. I haven’t missed any….

  18. Blog updates earn’t happening on Ravelry either (in the “friend’s blogs” listings). Thought you had stopped posting and only found out about the new blog when I came over for a dose of nostalgia.

  19. See, in Wisconsin we would never question the wisdom of owning such a cowl! Too bad I haven’t knit one yet 🙂

  20. LOVE this cowl – and who can ever have too many during this Polar Vortex winter? Thanks for the addiction…and as always, thanks for sharing!

  21. That pine bough cowl is keeping me toasty, too!! (i almost slept with it the other night.)

  22. Jeez, was it really 3 in Nashville? That’s crazy. I love the Pine Bough Cowl, almost enough to make me stop the 3-4 WIPs I have going on to cast on for it. It’s cold here in Boston too (about 26 right now) but 3 in Nashville doesn’t seem right. Hope you survived the snowstorm OK.

  23. I adore your cowl, and can only imagine how much work went into making it. I am working on fair isle mittens at the moment, and it is slow going!

    P.S. I’m in Canada, and you can keep the weather. We have lots to share. This is of course what wool is meant for! 🙂


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