Learn how to crawl: the New York City Yarn CrawlΒ is on through Sunday, September 25.

When the Moon Is In the Seventh Cowl

Dear Ann,
O Baby! What a darling baby is Woodie. And how efficient were you to get her cardi made while she’s still small enough to have to roll up the sleeves? My sympathies on Boreal’s second sleeve. Git R done, asap, or that thing is going to die just one sleeve short of glory.
But enough about your knitting. What about my knitting? I got a lot of solitary knitting time in trains, planes and automobiles last week as I jaunted around France and Germany, on a mission of business and pleasure.
First up: world’s least imaginative “design” for a scarf: Cast on 55 in Rowan Felted Tweed. Slip first stitch of every row to add that Eileen Fisher finesse to an otherwise pedestrian piece. I was only about 30 garter ridges in when I became utterly bored. To amuse myself, I started doing (6 stitch by 6 ridge) intarsia windows in Rowan Kid Silk Haze. I quite liked the effect, although intarsia with Kid Silk Haze adds a new dimension to the phrase “pull from the tangle.” A sticky, ultratangle-y dimension. To be able to do this in a high-speed train and/or on the Autobahn, I developed a technique of clenching the ball of Kid Silk Haze under my left armpit so that it wouldn’t come into contact with the 2 strands of Felted Tweed also in play. You had to be there, but it worked. The only place it didn’t work was in Seat 36H on the plane home. Seat 36H lacked both leg room and armpit yarn storage room.
I love this scarf, mostly because of the Felted Tweed. Tweedy but not itchy, light as a feather yet warm. Next time, not so much garter stitch.
Next up: Honey Cowl, using my treasured skein of Tess’ Designer Yarn’s superwash merino, scored at Rhinebeck. I lost the label so don’t know the shade, but I’m calling it Muskrat Susie. I love the way this slip stitch pattern, with its woven effect, breaks up any possibility of pooling or streaking, but preserves the subtle striping of Susie’s pelt.
Tess’ Designer Yarns gets my highest praise for the beautiful job they did with this yarn. I hesitated to buy it, despite loving everything about it, because of the “superwash” label. I do not like the soapy, coated feel of most superwash yarns. This yarn does not have that icky feeling at all. It has an almost cottony hand. Love it. Pre-washing/blocking, this Honey Cowl is 10 1/2 inches wide and 47 inches long; I expect it to grow some with washing, but what do I know. I’m on to my next Honey Cowl!
This one is in Socks That Rock Heavyweight, in a melange of pale blues.
So. Why a series of Honey Cowls? Because–wake UP, Ann!–cowls are What’s Happening Now. The teenage girls in my life are living in cowls, indoors and out. This year’s cowl is easily distinguished from last year’s infinity scarf, which was looped loosely about the neckline and collarbone, almost like a necklace. This year’s cowl is bulky and wide, and wrapped fairly tightly around the neck in multiple layers. Fashion accessory, or cervical collar? Yes! One thing is certain: a girl in a cowl is in no danger of chewing off any sutures.
Full disclosure: I made Aunt Kathy cast on Honey Cowl 2 during the Giants game last Sunday, while I was working on Honey Cowl 1. She looked like she needed something to do. Once again I have to brag on Aunt Kathy’s skillz. Kathy hasn’t knit for herself for decades. Here is what I told her: Cast on 220, join without twisting, and knit 3 rows. She did that and said, and now? I said, slip 1, purl one all the way around, knit around the next row, then alternate the slips and purls on the next row. And she said OK and did it perfectly. I think that kind of casual savoir faire is extraordinary. It reflects very well on the Bronx High School of Science.
Full disclosure. In the last 24 hours I have laid in supplies for 2 more Honey Cowls. Honey Cowl don’t take no crap! Get on the Honey Cowl train!

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  1. I love that scarf! I admire you for doing that much garter stitch without hurting anyone or losing your mind. Well done, Kay!
    I think I love the Honey Cowl. If I get sucked into this, I’m blaming you! ;^)

  2. Are Honey Cowls the official knitting project for Giants games? I better get ready to start mine this weekend!

  3. Whu…hey….I’m still doing schmattas. I love it when you guys blog every day!

  4. I love the honey cowl too. I made one last month and another one is definitely calling me.

  5. What fun! Double/Dueling posts! Would feel really dumb and worthless since I had no clue a honey cowl existed but I’m all over the Boreal! (meaning I bought yarn). Two options worth. If I go with the high contrast and I do head or hand stand next to Ann, we’ll be all matchy.

  6. my 2 very favorite yarns in one project! FELTED HAZE! beautiful.

  7. I made an aran-type cabled cowl, thick and creamy white. Two words: whiplash victim.

  8. Oh, you are The Best Kind of Mother. Honey cowls all around! πŸ™‚

  9. Bulky and wide, wrapped tight. YES. That is solid-gold midwinter survival tip #5, I believe.

  10. Please may we see a photo of someone wearing a Honey Cowl with the requisite tight wrap?

  11. There are 4,627 Honey Cowl projects up on Ravelry. There are another 6,247 queued. Seriously? 10,874 cowls born and aborning? Let’s hear it for necks.

  12. Simple, we like it!!

  13. Thanks for the Honey Badger allusion–you made my day. I’m on Honey Cowl number two; there may be more after that.

  14. So THAT’s Eileen Fisher’s secret to perfect handknits. Well, that and luxury fibers. I have some dark blue sock yarn and alpaca ready to be double-stranded for some kind of urban-chic Eileen Fisher-esque cowl-thing. Maybe that’s what’s coming with me on my upcoming journey.

  15. This is definitely the winter of the cowl. I just printed off the pattern, and know exactly where those two skeins of Madtosh are hiding. This will be a nice alternative to the Infinitude cowl that I wore all over ski resorts in Utah last week! Son’s gf asked every time I started a new project, what was I making, and the answer was always “a cowl”. But who gets the last laugh, she is loving the one I knit for her!

  16. Somehow I have avoided the Honey Cowl. The Purl Bee Bandana Cowl keeps me awake at night, though.

  17. Was on that Honey Cowl train before the holiday season and cranked out quite a few from various yarns. I am happy to report that all the results were yummy and well received as gifts! I even made two for myself – one double long, to wrap around twice in what I guess is last year’s fashion. Oh well, I love it, nonetheless! Maybe that’s because I’m a grandma, and not a young gal, and blow it on fashion regularly. πŸ™‚

  18. mmm…blue tweedy love. the little windows are great!
    cowls muss my hair so i haven’t gotten into them, but these honeys look appealing.

  19. you were in GERMANY?!?! with no booksigning/knitterly events? i feel robbed.

  20. On board with the Honey Cowl. Found the wool, just have to find those circulars…. Thanks for the inspiration. Now I’m going to look at the 1000s on Ravelry.

  21. I love the Felted Tweed scarf. I’m not sure I’d want to make one myself, though I do love the garter stitch.
    I completely understand the cowl love. I made myself a simple one out of KSH (just a tube, used a bit under 2 balls). It is a staple of my running wardrobe, which means that it needs to be washed frequently. Now I need to go and make myself another one so I can alternate!

  22. Love the scarf and the cowl.

  23. Cowls are happening now, and I suspect soon it will be cowls with windows of Kidsilk Haze!
    Have you seen Susan Newhall’s Verdant (on Knitty) with her technique of Blended Intarsia? Your scarf made me think of it. Different effect, but another way to incorporate a second yarn.

  24. I just recently finished a Honey Cowl in bright orange Tonic. I’ll double-loop it, and pull one loop up over the crown of my head (covering ears) when walking dogs. It started as my “easy knitting I can do while doped up on post-op narcotics” and finally finished a week or two ago… Did I mention that surgery was before Thanksgiving?

  25. Ha, I have had a beautiful silk/camel yarn in my stash waiting to find a pattern. The Honey Cowl is it. Off to cast on……

  26. Wish I could get on the cowl bandwagon. I hate pulling things over my head if I don’t have to. And if I make a scarf instead, I don’t have to. The stitch pattern does look awfully good in that sort of multicolor yarn though. Might have to branch off onto the scarf track with it.

  27. I’m officially jumping onto to the cowl bandwagon. I wanna be cool, too kwim?

  28. I love the honey cowl. I’ve done a bunch of them as well using alpaca yarn that I scored at Rhinebeck. But I’ve also done them in Tess’s Kitten yarn which is the softest thing you’ve ever felt! I made at least two for each of my daughters and now I’m banging them out for gifts. They are great for that emergency gift. I’m doing them with only 160 stitches cast on and only 8 wide. Everyone loves them and the stitch is so easy that it’s mindless tv watching knitting. I need to post mine on Ravelry, haven’t posted on there yet but I should!

  29. I dig all this, totally. I now crave one of those gartery scarves with big Kidsilk Haze windows. xoxoxoo

  30. tis very pretty just the cowl to wear to indy

  31. Thank you – now I know what to do with that single skein of doceur et soie that my daughter carried around the yarn store until I couldn’t not buy it. (I wonder if I could make intarsia windows in a honey cowl…)

  32. Love how you highlighted the texture in the second honey cowl photo. Yummy! Squeezable! Oh, and thanks for the directions.

  33. Lots of cowls going on in my house as well. In fact just started one with the new Kid Silk Haze stripe but have already grown bored so trying to figure out how to make it exciting by adding something to make it a bit more lumpy or maybe I should say textured since lumpy isn’t really a desirable sounding quality. Perhaps I should add Felted Tweed!

  34. I love the Honey Cowl, reminds me a lot of Gaptastic, which I also love.
    I have a question. I read that you worked on the lovely blue scarf on trains, planes and automobiles in Europe. What was the policy of knitting needles on the planes. I’m going to England, Scotland and Ireland in June and want to knit on the plane. Going over I’m not worried, it’s on the return flight. I’ve heard/read that the European equivalent of our TSA agents are much more strict. I have a 7 hour layover in Atlanta and will go crazy without my knitting. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  35. How fun to have added the Kid Silk Haze “windows”!
    For some reason, they put me to mind of a practice that I used to do at about age 14. My best fried, Judy, moved away so we would write letters back and forth to each other (yeah, yeah–snail mail…). We would draw a circle on the outside of the envelope, color it in with pen, so it would be a solid (ink blue) circle, then write “Mr. Postman, here’s your peephole”. When I saw thoise “windows”, weeeelll, for a few moments I was 14 again. I guess they were the embodiment of the windows in my mind…. πŸ˜‰
    BTW, I like the juxtaposition of the nubby “dots” on the felted tweed up against the dots that are on the chair.
    Thanks for the memories, and for the inspiration!

  36. Yay Bronx Science!
    I’m doing vacation knitting myself (I know yours was work travel, but ya know), with superwash no less, and I even swatched and washed the swatch because it’s going to be a sweater so gauge actually matters, and I was pleased and surprised to find that it neither grew nor had the superwash ick. MadelineTosh Merino Light, held double because my life is too short for size 0 needles on a sweater.
    Also, why doesn’t google know that “superwash” and “swatched” are words? Really.
    They should recruit more heavily from Bronx Science.

  37. “Honey Cowl don’t take no crap!” Have you seen that u-tube video about honey badgers? LOL, google honey badger don’t care, pretty funny. You two should make a spoff about the honey cowl.

  38. Thank you for reminding me that knitting multiple cowls is no more boring than the second cup of coffee or cake. I have knit 13 cowls since January 1st and just can’t stop, although I had that same niggling feeling that if I were a rational person I would be getting bored. I cleaned out my stash of cowls by having a Galentine Party (a la Parks and Rec) and letting my friends pick the cowls that best suited them. Way fun.

  39. How did I miss that Bronx Science reference! Yes, let’s hear it for those of us who went to Bronx Science and are addicted to Honey Cowls!


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