Hope Cowl

This post has been transferred from my previous blog. If you're visiting here from MlleOiseau, I'm happy to welcome you to my new space!

Sometimes, in life as well as in knitting, things don't work out as planned the first time. In fact, sometimes the first go-around is a complete disaster, and that is exactly what happened when I tried to knit the Pale Gray Lace Cowl by Lion Brand Yarns. The first time I cast it on and began knitting, the pattern just looked so wrong. Whether it was my fault for not knitting a swatch, or the yarn being the wrong weight, or because I used "cheap" yarn, or misknitting the pattern, it looked awful. I got through a single repeat of the lace, swore up and down at the pattern and the skein and ripped the whole thing off my needles, determined to give up.

Then I took a step back, a little breather, and started over. When things don't work out, you can't always just give up. You must learn from your mistakes, make adjustments, and try again.

I am so much happier with my second attempt. As soon as the lace began to form, nice and neat, I knew it was going to work. I switched from using Vanna's Choice to Caron Simply Soft, and the lighter weight yarn finally gave this pattern the drape it required. I also made the cowl smaller than the original pattern suggests, casting on only 91 stitches and knitting only 3.5 repeats of the lace pattern. If I were to do it again, I'd make it narrower still.

Some of you knitters will read the names of the yarns I used, and cringe. 100% acrylic yarns don't seem to go over well with experienced knitters, and I can understand why. Pretty early on, I noticed that the lace was working up into a slightly nubby texture, which wasn't the look I was going for. I knew I would have to block the piece to get it where I wanted it, but I had never blocked acrylic before. After two and a half repeats, I got impatient and had to see how this piece would handle it. Imagine my surprise when, after the slightest burst of steam from my iron, the pattern laid down perfectly and turned into the smoothest, calmest fabric with the most beautiful drape that I've ever knit up. Whoever suggests you can’t or shouldn’t block acrylic yarn is dead wrong. This looks so much nicer after a light steam blocking!

Overall, this was a great, quick knit (and an easily memorized pattern) and I'll be keeping it in the repertoire as we get closer to Christmas. I finished this one in five days, knitting only when I could catch a break between classes or while watching TV in the evenings. My hands haven't been holding up well to repetitive motions recently (knuckle pain, from who knows what) and I think the longest uninterrupted time span was about an hour. Now if only it was cold enough outside to wear it!

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