Now that the weather in California has suddenly turned chilly enough to wear assorted woolens, I find myself reaching for a knitted scarf almost every morning and evening. In the hours in between, it can still feel almost balmy on some days, and then I am stuck with yards of robust, wooly ribbing, clumsily tucked in my purse or spilling out of a pocket. There has to be a better way. This one, for instance, which I improvised last winter.
I was off to Paris again, and needed a simple travel project that would occupy me for a couple of weeks yet not take over my luggage. This usually means either something in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, or laceweight, or sock yarn. I happened to have on hand two and a half skeins of Kidsilk Night, a glittery pale grey colorway left over from a long-ago shawl project. I figured it would look elegant in the simplest of stitch designs and cast on 82 stitches or so.
My inspiration was yet another gorgeous creation posted by the ever-inspiring Larisa on Ravelry, although I wanted my project to be more lightweight than hers, without the bulk of another strand added to the KSH. I also had my doubts about wearing a cowl, and thought I would aim for a scarf, assuming that the yardage I had would be sufficient. That turned out to be wrong, as I realized by the end of skein #1. If I had had any forethought, I would have used a provisional cast on in order to avoid an ugly seam later. Gentle readers, consider yourselves forewarned.
Encouraged by Larisa's enthusiastic pattern notes, I knitted this on the bias, making a stitch (2 stitches in) and knitting 2 together (2 stitches before the end of the row) on every other row. Wonder of wonders, I discovered that stockinette knitted on the bias does not roll, but instead lies beautifully, amazingly, wondrously flat. It is a sight to behold. I still cannot get over it.
I stopped when I had just enough yarn left to seam my simple cowl. All in all, once blocked, it measures 15.5" by 52", which means that I can double it easily, without stretching it or messing my hair and yet without having too much fabric hanging down my neck like a knitted necklace -- a personal issue I have with cowls in general and the main reason why I hadn't fully jumped on that particular bandwagon until now.
After wearing this over and over last Spring, I am now a convert, and I plan to make more cowls like this one: plain stockinette, very warm, yet lightweight yarn, knitted on the bias for a smooth, elegant texture, but with a provisional cast-on so that I can execute some neat kitchener-stitch magic at the end. The final blocked length should be 50 to 52", so that it can be doubled easily, yet neatly folded in a coat pocket or purse during those rare balmy hours of the day, only to come out when necessary. For knitters allergic to kid mohair, I bet a lace wool or a silk-wool blend would work just as well, delivering enough warmth yet remaining drape-y and chic.