Friday, November 21, 2014

Marissa's Orchid Cowl

I shared the first part of Marissa's belated birthday present, so here's the final piece! Way back in June when we were in Oregon and perusing yarn shops, I brilliantly came up with reasons why I needed to buy yarn, even though I have a huge box full and I'm the slowest knitter ever. At that moment I just had to knit something for Marissa's birthday and none of the yarn I already had would work. Marissa is like me in the sense that we both have super sensitive skin, and I knew that 100% wool yarn would not be a good idea. I picked out Blissful Knits in Platinum because there was a decent amount of silk in it and it wasn't scratchy or irritating when I rubbed it against my neck. (Am I the only one who does that in yarn stores? Hopefully not.)

The majority of the patterns I lean towards are made from sport weight yarn, but I didn't realize this till recently. I had the hardest time finding a pattern to knit with this fingering weight yarn and made knitting master Lauren help me. She suggested I pick out different yarn since I couldn't find a pattern I liked, but because I'm so stubborn, I insisted on using this exact one. I never buy yarn with a purpose in mind, except for this time. I really did buy this yarn to knit Marissa something for her birthday, so I had to!
After lots of searching and respective frogging, Lauren suggested I try the Orchid Cowl pattern. Initially I was against it because it's not knit in the round. This meant I would have to learn how to do a provisional cast on and then somehow sew it together in the end. I really didn't want to do this; I just wanted to simply knit a "normal" cowl in the round. I've never knit lace before either, so that was a little scary. After some encouragement, I gave this pattern a chance. I figured I was never going to get better at knitting unless I tried new techniques and practiced.

Lauren walked me through the provisional cast on which really helped. Starting a knitting project is the hardest step for me. Not necessarily physically starting it, but mentally. I never like how my projects look when I first start which makes me think I'm doing something completely wrong. Although I do mess up a lot, most of the time this is just a mentality issue. If I keep knitting, I usually end up liking the finished project. But starting is always the hardest part.

Surprisingly the lace repeat was pretty easy once I got the hang of it. There were a few times where I was off by one stitch and frustratingly had to go back several rows to fix the problem. Lauren told me to put a life line in every so often, so I did. But of course as soon as I started using life lines, I didn't need them. Oh well, it's a good habit to get into since I mess up a lot.

This pattern was written to make a cowl that wraps around your neck twice. Usually this is my favorite style of cowls, but this time I wanted to try something different. I wanted the cowl to just be slipped over your neck once; I thought this would help show off the lace better. I wanted to make the cowl shorter in diameter but much taller, so I cast on twice the amount of stitches the pattern called for, and left out the last garter and stockinette repeats.

After I finished knitting the cowl but before it was time to join the ends, the pattern said I needed to block my project. Usually I just make Lauren block all of my stuff for me, it's just easier that way and she's so good at it. But I figured since I learned how to knit lace and do the provisional cast on, it was time to learn how to block things properly. Thanks for teaching me your ways, Lauren!

If I didn't have any knitting help I would've taken a needle and yarn and literally sewed up the seams to join the cowl. Luckily though, my best friend and roomie is an excellent knitter and suggested I use the kitchener stitch since there are different versions for knitting garter and stockinette. I'm sure my reaction to that advice was basically a puzzled blank face. I looked up several videos on how to do this, and after these videos had been waiting on my Pinterest Knitting Board for a week, I finally worked up the courage to attempt this. I could've easily made Lauren "help" me with this step, but since I had already learned so much from this project, I thought I better teach myself how to do this final step. It took me over an hour to kitchener stitch the cowl together because I was going so slow as to not mess up or get frustrated. But it worked. The cowl stayed together, looked pretty good (if I do say so myself), and I didn't get angry doing it! Triple win!

Again, I made Lauren model the cowl for me (concurrently with the Scout Tee) since I wouldn't be seeing Marissa till next month, and I just couldn't wait that long!
Enjoy Marissa, happy belated 23rd birthday!