Monday, August 14, 2017

FO: The 5 Year GAP-tastic Cowl

Anytime I finish a large knitting project, I am left with a little void in my life. Don't get me wrong, I love that accomplished feeling of holding a finished object in my hands and being able to show it to others, but I always am a little nostalgic for that moment when I was back in the middle of that project just knitting away. I suppose it's because I just like the act of knitting so much. I completed my Anaheim Sweater on a Sunday afternoon, leaving me with the awful problem of not having anything to knit that night! I didn't really feel like planning and starting a new project, but I had a sudden flash of memory about this cowl I started back when I first learned to knit 5 years ago (!?!), so I decided to unearth the ufo and see what I could do. This only took me 2 hours to finish :/ But now it's done and I don't have to feel guilty about such an old unfinished project :)
This is the GAP-tastic Cowl by Jen Geigley, a free pattern on Ravelry. I had only been knitting a few weeks and I was looking for beginner friendly but cute projects when I saw a lovely version of this pattern made up in a friend's Ravelry account. I went to the only place close by I knew to get yarn - Walmart - and grabbed the only type of Bulky yarn they had in a color I liked and I got to work, trying to get used to seed stitch in English style knitting. I knitted a few inches, but I was quickly bored with this. Seed stitch in English style is tedious to say the least. A few inches in I realized that I had accidentally switched to rib stitch for over an inch and I was so frustrated that I set it aside. I think I pulled it out once more over the years, but I bored quickly again so I put it back in my original WIP box (a clear tub that contained this cowl, a swatch of yellow acrylic garter stitch I was thinking would be a scarf, and crocheted limbs for a Winnie the Pooh I never finished).
When I picked up the cowl after 5 years, I decided to just keep knitting and not worry about the rib stitch area. This yarn is Lion Brand Homespun in the Waterfall colorway, and while the colors are lovely this was probably the worst yarn to make a textured design with. Homespun is spun in a way that makes it bumpy no matter what, which completely masks the knitted texture of seed stitch. In the photo above I can see the rib stitch section like a big shining beacon, but in reality this will be doubled up around my neck and bunched up to where no one will see anything wrong unless I point it out (which I don't plan to do). I remember I was so bummed 5 years ago when I noticed this mistake - seriously just 1 stitch wrong caused this - but I also remember I didn't know how to fix it. I didn't want to pull out all that work, and in this bumpy yarn I had a very hard time differentiating between what was a knit and what was a purl anyway in my inexperience. Isn't it funny to go back to old projects and see how much we've improved? I had worked on this cowl for weeks and only got a few inches knit only to fast forward to now and finish the whole thing in 2 hours. Crazy. At least I know I'm better now, I guess. Click here to see my post in August of 2012 when I was showing off this project for the first time.
Here's a close up so you can see the details and colors better. See the ribbing? lol I can't look away! I like the fading colors though, and the loft of the yarn will certainly keep me nice and cozy for the 1 or 2 days a year I can wear it in Florida, haha. What was I thinking back then? I had never heard of a cowl except as a neckline on a shirt before I started knitting, so I don't see how I thought I could use one. Ah well, I certainly have something to wear if I vacation anywhere cold.
I only had one skein of this yarn (and I was not about to go buy more), so I just knitted until I ran out of yarn. My cowl is a little narrower than the pattern calls for - mine is 12" deep - but seriously on a piece like this it makes absolutely zero difference. Also my cast on was (unsurprisingly) too tight for this loose gauge, so my cowl is only 60" long instead of 72" like the pattern specifies. You can see that the seed stitch area would definitely stretch longer, but the cast on holds it back. Again, it's a common beginner mistake, and it's not keeping me up at night.
Once the cowl is doubled up and arranged around the neck none of these details matter. All that matters is that I managed to finish such an old project and that I have something wearable to show for my efforts. This also means I can burn that awful fixed Boye cable needle I bought to make this with too (seriously after 5 years that plastic cord still had the original folds in it from their packaging, ugh). Who am I kidding, I keep everything. It now is in my great grandma's knitting basket with all the other needles I never use :)
This photo was taken under my husband's art direction, lol. I spite of this snarky post, I am really happy about this cowl. I'm happy to have it finished, and I'm thrilled by how much my knitting abilities and know-how have improved since I started. Finishing this got me pretty jazzed about finishing old projects, so I'm hoping to keep the momentum going and finish a few more. I have that box of projects plus a granny square blanket I made 25 squares for, about 15 squares for my Happypotomus, and a Lady Russell Shawl in cashmere that need knitting and crocheting not to mention my drawer filled with very old sewing projects (an apron, at least 3 Frenchy bags, a baby dress, an entire quilt, plus a few dresses for myself). Maybe one day I will deal with all these things, but I'm sure I'll produce more ufos in the meantime :) At least I can mark one off the list.

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