Friday, March 11, 2011

Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

This week comes a tale of color and technique. The catalyst? My Inspira cowl.

Initially, let me say the phenomenon known as the Inspira cowl started late last summer, when a then relatively quiet person on Ravelry – Celerystalk - created a colorful cowl for herself, based on a neat hat a friend had made. She posted her completed project … and when the dust had cleared, over 700 other Ravelers had hearted her colorful Inspira creation (you'll need to log in to Ravelry to access the pattern). As I wrote to her back then, the little cowl that could had gone viral.

Fast forward to January when, after many prompts from oh-so-many people, Celerystalk wrote up the recipe for her cowl (well, three separate recipes, really) and started a little pattern test. That’s where my current project comes onto the scene. Knowing that I had previously done virtually no knit colorwork, nor any knitting in the round, and that I wasn’t the best when it came to meeting testy FO deadlines, she suggested that it would be perfectly alright if I wanted to sit out the testy phase of the pattern, and go directly to the finished pattern. But no, I decided I wanted to join the testy fun. Hmmmmmm.

I bought yarn for one version of the Inspira. I was thrilled with my color combination, because this cowl is all about color. Color. Color. Color. I bought my circular knitting needles. I was armed and ready for testy battle.

And then … I sputtered. I learned how to cable cast-on, and did just that. And then didn’t do much else. I wasn’t thrilled with my original colors. I wasn’t thrilled with the circular needles. I wasn’t thrilled with trying to not twist my cast-on stitches before joining. I wasn’t thrilled with using two strands of yarn at once on a circular needle that I seemed to be constantly fighting. And did I mention I w-a-s-n-’t thrilled?

So … the test came and went. Done at the beginning of February, with almost 100 wonderfully colorful Inspira cowls completed. And not one was mine.

Dejected was I. Frustrated too. But not defeated. Absolutely not. I went to my stash with renewed purpose, appropriated different yarn – a combination of three separate colors, in case I wasn’t already a glutton for punishment (two of which are seen above – isn't the Noro lovely?). And then, I had a stroke of genius (at least I think so) – I pulled out the knitting-in-the-round training wheels.

Yup. I pulled out my straight knitting needles.

I then performed my newly learned cable cast-on which, by this point, given the amount of times I’d actually cast-on for this project, made me a virtual veteran of this cast-on technique, and completed the first third of my Inspira cowl in the conventional back-and-forth manner.

I am now back to officially thrilled status. I’m also now relatively comfortable with the two-stranded knitting technique. As you can see from this photo, here’s what it looks like on the wrong side:

The best thing about working with two strands of yarn at once is I learned to lose what I’ve coined the “death grip” hold on the yarn. I give it plenty of freedom and breathing room, and it rewards me by behaving ever so nicely as I knit – no bunching from being pulled too tight.

And I’ve now switched to my circular needles, when there’s enough weight on the cable so there’s no need to fight it, or curse because I’ve joined the round with the dreaded twist. See?

Did I tell you I love this pattern? I do. Did I tell you I love color? I do.

Oh, and did I tell you I now love knitting in the round?

I knew you’d love a happy ending.


  1. Thank you for this story and the link! This is the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long time!

  2. This pattern is quite interesting.

  3. The combination of those colours and that pattern are making me swoon---good choices, and beautiful work! (And I'm glad you learned to love knitting in the round, too. A project that makes a new skill seem fun and workable is always a good project, I think.)

  4. @heklica - you're welcome. The pattern is amazing. I recommend trying it, because once you do, you'll be plotting all the new, colorful you'll want to make for yourself and friends. :)

    @Kathryn Ray - the pattern is gggrrrreeeaaattt! (in my best Tony the Tiger voice)

    @Kathleen - couldn't agree with you more. My knitting projects lately are teaching all kinds of new skills! Thanks for color compliment.

  5. That was a wonderful happy ending! I'm just going to echo everyone else's comments on the colors and pattern. Just divine!!
    And beautiful knitting, too!!

  6. Indeed a happy ending and now I have another cowl pattern that I want to heart. Argh!

    Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

  7. Ooooh ... death grip! I bet that's why I have such uneven colorwork! Thanks for posting that!

  8. Wow, that's unbelievably awesome looking. Well done!!

  9. Love the colors! New follower!

  10. @InspirationFibers: Thanks. Grab the pattern. You'll get hooked too. :)

    @Amy: Those Noro and Lion Brand Amazing colors work well together, thanks.

    @WonderWhyGal: Argh indeed! I bet it would look great in some handspun alpaca. Just sayin. :)

    @Spinster Beth: You're welcome - it was an eye (and hand) opening lesson.

    @Unforth and Cheri: Thanks, and yes, a newbie to fiber art Fridays. Love it!

  11. Your cowl is looking great! I am trying to figure out how I missed the Inspira cowl & the story behind it given the absurd amounts of time I spend on Ravelry.

  12. Ooh, this is beautiful! I never have seen that before, but it's really great. I just fave'd it, we'll see how long it takes me to get around to knitting one, but I do like it a lot!

  13. @MarushkaC: lol - I'm not certain, either, because I couldn't get out of the way of it showing up in my friends' activity. :) It's also now something like the 8th most popular new pattern. Amazing, the Inspira.

    @jessecreations: I do hear you! However, I warn you: once you do start making one, you'll immediately starting thinking of all the possible color combinations, and then want to make lots of them. :)

  14. Love it! Such a pretty pattern and the colors...perfect!

  15. I'm lovin' it too! The color--YAAAAy! The pattern--WOW! Beautiful knitting!

    Knit on!