kingston cowl

anne wrote this at around evening time:

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well, it finally happened here; the first snow sifted down most of yesterday, while the temperatures steadily dropped in the icy wind. there’s just one word for that—brrrrr.

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looks like i got that lining into my kingston cowl without a minute to spare. with its double-faced fabric and cozy cashmere insides, this single piece plus a thick sweater would substitute nicely as an awesome modern-day snorkel coat, wouldn’t you say?

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this baby is big and tall enough to pull right up over the ears to meet the edge of a good wool cap and there isn’t going to be any cold air getting past it, neither.

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with or without the cashmere lining, it’s a must-have accessory and so shareable, too.

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oh, sorry quentin, i din’t mean that YOU had to share . . . really—you don’t!

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and hey, doesn’t it look great piled up on top of one hand knit and then another? we love that layered effect.

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shown here: one-size cowl knit in four shades of bare naked wools confection sport yarn—dark chocolate, milk chocolate, nougat, and white chocolate.

and of course you could add some dyed yarn if a more colorful effect was desired. the pattern includes a chart in four colors as shown, as well as a black and white chart to knit a two-tone version or for designing your own color arrangement.

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to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the kingston cowl page in the knitspot pattern shop or click here to see specs and purchase in my ravelry pattern shop

emily and erica have also put together a kingston cowl kit with all the shades you need to knit the cowl as shown in either dark on light or light on dark. which of course has an optional add-on of supplies for a cashmere lining in pura bella mongolian cashmere for the ultimate in luxurious warmth (click here to view free lining tutorial for use with a variety of accessory projects).

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surely you know someone who needs one of these—maybe even you, right?!

 

Contests and KALs

majordomo wrote this late at night:

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Rhinebeck was yet again a magical experience. It made it even more fun with the Knitspot Rhinebeck contest. It was fun to pack up all my Knitspot knits,

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not knowing what I wanted to wear, and swapping out accessories all week long. I decided to brave the 11-hour trek with LOVe and a humongous coffee.

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But the trip, as I found with any great travel partners, flies by. I rode with Sue and Harriet from my knitting guild and we had the best time catching up and knitting away. We were at the hotel before we knew it!

The next day the girls were off in their Knitspot knits to explore the town,

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while I set up a Bare Naked Wools popup for Indie Untangled.

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Just after Sarah and I snapped this pic,

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the doors flew open and we were mobbed with knitters.

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It was TOO MUCH FUN! I saw so many people I haven’t seen in a long time, plus I got to meet fellow ravelers – even Susan-from-Athens!

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She was so pleased to see everything in person. And every person that stopped by to see the new Better Breakfast had a unanimous response – Oh my! It was such a treat to wear the Pyro cowl during the event. It felt like buttah.

The next day was gorgeous and crisp. Perfect weather to browse the barns at NYS Sheep and Wool.

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And the rain held out for the annual Knitspot picnic!

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I know you’ve seen pictures of these already, but seriously, how cute are these!?

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It brings me such joy to see everyone meet up and this year was especially nice. Josée’s mystery swap added a whole extra layer of fun. She was so delighted to gather everyone’s beautifully wrapped packages

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and then play knitting fairy, handing everyone a package filled with stitches of love.

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I was the recipient of a Danger in two colors of organic cotton (found here).

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This infinity was lovingly knit by Barb (she sure knows me, doesn’t she!?) and I have worn it almost daily since. It is so soft and the colors match everything!

I knit a Caravan Scarf in Fibre Co Terra

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and Carie was sweet enough to pose with me.

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All through these days, all of you (at Rhinebeck and at home) were having a blast posing pics on twitter, Instagram, ravelry and Facebook.

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We saw so many great Knitspot knits floating around the hotel at the After Party too!

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I know lots of you inspired a lot more Knitspot knits being cast on when you returned home!

And what you’ve been waiting for…congrats to marthab for posting a pic wearing Pea Trellis (yarn here) in Grand Central!

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It earned her a $25 Knitspot gift certificate! And if you loved playing along, or missed the chance last month…how about another contest! I started the Countdown to Christmas thread (on ravelry here ) and I’ll be posting lots of ideas through Dec 24.

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Post a pic in the ravelry thread or on any of our social sites tagged with #KnitspotHoliday to get an entry into the drawing for a knitspot gift certificate. More details here.

Speaking of holiday fun, the BNWs Boutique yarn tasting is just around the corner! With just 6 spots per seating on December 11 and 13, be our guest as you explore new yarns while one of the staff explains the history of the yarn and its unique properties. Plus you’ll get to snack and see the ever-expanding trunk show on display!

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Seats are VERY limited. Be sure to grab one here.

Before I run…there’s a great KAL in the BNWs group! If you’re itching to cast on something new and you happen to have a Bare Naked Wools DK in your stash, join us for the Glentrekker KAL on ravelry.

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Designer Jen Hagan is guiding us all through as we knit hats and sweaters and watch our cables grow. Even though some of us have cast on, you can join anytime here as we’re keeping this KAL open until at least February. Need yarn? Kits for this can be purchased here.

silver cashmere linings

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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when cold winter winds howl, what could be more cozy than a pipeline of soft, warm wool for tucking in one’s neck, face, and ears?

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hmm—maybe a cushy quilted cashmere or mink lining to sink into? silk will also add a nice layer of warmth and softness without weight, if that’s even easier to tolerate.

and likewise for hats—if you really want to ensure a warm shield from the bitter cold, doubling up the fabric with a lining is the way to go. a double fabric traps air between its layers, creating the perfect insulation—warm, but breathable, so that humidity can’t build up.

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a lining also gives some body to a garment to provide backing and support for the outer shell; that enables a gaiter or cowl like this one to stand up around the face and ears in the wind, if desired. at the same time, that loose inner layer is able to mold itself around the contours of the body inside to shut out stray drafts.

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and last but not least, a lining puts a neat finish on the back side of the fabric—especially nice on stranded color work pieces, where floats might be vulnerable to snags and pulls.

adding a lining to a simple cowl or hat structure is fairly easy and straightforward—with a little planning you can turn any such project into a coveted accessory of luxury level quality. the following is offered as a folksy, very casual recipe for knitting one—this is not a formal pattern and i am not selling it as gospel; your results may vary, so it’s a good idea to run a test drive with your materials, or to agree to sacrifice a small project (such as a baby hat) to experimentation.

when i started my kingston cowl (pattern to become available as soon as we can get some modeling shots), i knew i wanted to add a lining. the confection sport yarn i used for the outer shell is plenty soft enough on its own, but i was worried about snagging those floats on my earrings and wanted to protect them.

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so just before my last row of hem ribbing was complete, i threw in a lifeline (in blue yarn, above) so that later, the stitches i’d need to pick up could be easily located. you could also use a double knitting technique of increasing on every stitch, then placing all those extra sts on a piece of yarn to be held aside til it was time to use them for the separate inner layer.

i then proceeded to knit the cowl to the top, ending just before the start of top ribbing. leaving those sts on the needle (or on a scrap yarn holder), i then went back to my lifeline and, with the back of the work facing me, placed each of the lifeline sts on the needles (i used the same needles i’d used for the ribbing—size 6US/4.0 mm).

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once the sts were picked up, i took up some of our pura bella undyed mongolian cashmere fingering yarn and began to knit around (note: one skein of this yarn will produce three to five linings for smaller cowls and a couple of linings for longer cowls).

on this needle size, the cashmere fingering made a pretty loose fabric, but that’s what you want here—not so loose you could put a finger through it, but loose enough to allow the fiber to bloom and still have a very soft, drapy fabric (the better to trap air with, my dear).

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when my lining had climbed to approximately the 25 percent  point, i added a “quilting row”. this is something i kind of made up on the fly with an earlier piece, but i really like the result; it helps keep the lining in place while still allowing it to float and act as a separate structure, an inner gaiter, if you will.

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as i knit around this one row, i periodically picked up a small float from the shell to knit together with the cashmere stitch—every twenty stitches, in this case—making sure i stayed on the same row of floats all the way around

this does not show or make a mark on the outer shell fabric at all—you won’t see it on the right side

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it’s actually got a very loose connection that doesn’t pull at all on the fabric face.

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at the same time, that lining will definitely stay put and will not be slipping down below the hem.

i repeated the quilting row at the half and three-quarter marks (roughly), staggering my pickups as i would with a tied quilt.

it seemed to take forever but that’s only because i didn’t work on it very much to begin with—once i buckled down and focused, it all went really quickly (and so worth the work, i’m telling you).

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when i got to the top again. i dropped the cashmere and switching to the wool yarn, laid my smaller lining needle parallel with the needle holding the body sts.

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i then worked a three-needle join, knitting together one stitch from each needle all the way around.

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when i was done and all the sts joined on one needle, i commenced with working the top hem ribbing to finish off the cowl. now with this method, you do get a visible purl row on the back side of the join, which doesn’t bother me. but if you wanted a super neat finish, you could either graft the live sts all the way around or turn it inside out to knit the join underneath.

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i have to admit, i was just too impatient to explore any of those options this time; perhaps in the future i will try. for now, i am quite happy with a neat, homely finish, such as this, but if it was a gift (and definitely if it was going to the fair, haha), i would probably work harder to make the join invisible.

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what i was most anxious about was the fit—it’s so hard to tell while knitting it whether the lining will be the right circumference. after doing two of them on color work pieces, it seems that if i pick up from the ribbing and work with the smaller needle, the lining tube will turn out just the right size and once turned to the inside, it will produce little folds and puffs to fill in any excess space where cold air could get by.

and i’m equally sure that now i’ve said it, some reader or other will end up with a disastrously tight or loose lining. in other words, don’t just take my word for it and blindly knit away without checking your work as you go.

once all the ends are woven in, it’s time to wash and block. undyed yarns will often have a film of spinning oil remaining from the production line and cashmere may have quite a lot. this facilitates the knitting but detracts greatly from the final look and hand of the fabric, so a good wash in hot soapy water is called for.

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in fact, the first wash water may become so dirty SO quickly, that a second wash is in order. my first wash even smelled a bit goaty if i must say so . . .

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just keep changing til the wash water is clear—hot water, good wool soap (not detergent), and no agitation—just let it soak for a good hour or more. with no danger of running dye, you can leave it til the water cools on its own, then rinse with equally cool water.

squeeze as much moisture out of the piece as you can so that you can begin blocking.

i like to “encourage” the stitches to snap back into the shape the yarn is intended to be and to do this, i give my pieces several sharp tugs in every direction to begin bringing back the loft in the fabric.

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a few good whacks against a hard surface will bring out the halo in fuzzy fabrics such as cashmere, alpaca, mink, etc. (see my blocking knits DVD for more fun techniques that really work).

you can see that in the “before” cashmere fabric (above), the stitches are less even and separate, almost stringy, compared to the same fabric after soaking and slapping around a bit

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and this fabric isn’t even dry yet; when it is, it will be even fluffier.

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not that i actually have time for this, but i love watching fiber dry . . .

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cashmere is notoriously slow to dry and when doubled up in a fabric, it’s just excruciating. especially if you dry it flat—which also causes creasing and kind of deflates the loft you just “encouraged” into it. use oatmeal boxes or some other method to open up that fabric so air can circulate through and around it.

i found that if i hang cowls over my sleeve board that works a treat (i’m much too lazy to procure oatmeal boxes for this purpose, haha).

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better yet, if i hang that cowl off the end of the pressing bench that’s next to the hot air vent, it works even better—the piece is constantly enveloped in rising waves of warm air which dries the lining in a fraction of the time.

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i turn it inside out to let the shell dry as well.

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and later, wah-LA! a beautifully finished piece that has terrific body,

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a super-cush interior,

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and which maintains just the right amount of slouchy drape.

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this is so worth the trouble, especially for a classic piece that is unlikely to go out of style. it’s an especially nice addition to a special gift, one that shows your love and esteem by going the extra mile.

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once you work one for a simple project like this cowl or a hat, try something a little more challenging, such as a mitten. i know you can do it and if you need a bit of hand holding (no pun intended), visit our ravelry mothership, where someone is always ready to try a fun new technique.

Fire!

majordomo wrote this in the early evening:

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This time of year, there is nothing like a warm fire to ward off the chill. But sometimes, it’s not always practical to set in front of the fire all day. You need portable things to keep you warm. Well, we’ve got you covered…

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And in a fiery color…

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Anne designed Chiminea, Pyro, and Firestorm as luxury accessories for the Fall in Full Color 2013 club. When planning the club, Anne said she wanted to get a fabulous orange that was just the right, rich hue that would brighten anyone’s wardrobe and be a spark of color in the dreary days of winter. She also wanted an intriguing luxurious blend.

Shalimar Yarns delivered exactly what Anne was looking for! Paulie is 60% merino blended with…hold onto your hats…20% camel, 10% silk, and 10% cashmere. Is that a phenomenal blend, or what!? And dyer Kristi created the perfect blend of spice, color, and sophistication with her exclusive hue and named it Orange is the New Black.

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Paulie is such a treat to knit with and the color is impossible to work with without smiling and feeling a sense of warmth. I remember when I saw the yarn for the first time. I was smitten. Then Anne told me she wanted to do a whole series of accessories, even boot liners, so people have lots of choices on what this yarn should become. Or for the double dippers, they could knit multiple pieces with their two skeins. Knitters could even gift away some pieces at the holidays.

Along the way, Anne kept telling me “you’re going to love these Erica. And you’re going to love the photo shoot.” On September 17, 2013 when I opened the ebook chapter my mouth fell open. I LOVED what Anne created, I loved the photo shoot locations, and Sarah modeling was just perfect.

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These pieces definitely are cheery, aren’t they? And they have just enough spice to bring out your sassy side.

Chiminea is a head hugging band in four sizes, that is a perfect last minute gift. It keeps your ears warm and doesn’t flatten out your hair too much like a hat does.

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And for shorter hair, it’s super cute to have some tousled bits out the top.

Firestorm includes multiple sizes for dramatic arm warmers or leg warmers

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or boot liners.

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I love how versatile this design is! And the final accessory is Pyro,

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a cowl in three sizes, that will add a dramatic bit of excitement to any neutral outfit in your wardrobe.

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And the longer cowl can be doubled up for extra warmth!

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We have a limited supply of this exclusive colorway of Paulie and we’ve kitted them up with a limited pattern bundle. You get all three patterns at a discounted price when you purchase 1, 2 or 3 skein kits! We brought this yarn to Rhinebeck After Party and it was quickly gobbled up. The color and fiber content of this yarn is intoxicating! Kits can be purchased for a limited time here.

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For clubbies that already have the patterns in their ebooks, we have a limited bunch of Paulie skeins here. Speaking of the ebook, it is still available here and with the purchase of it you get all of these designs above plus 13 more fabulous knitting patterns, designer notes, beautiful photos and supplier bios! View them all on ravelry here.

And if you would like to knit the suite of patterns in our brand spankin’ new yarn – Better Breakfast Fingering – let me tempt you with photos of the pieces our dear friend Kari knit.

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She knit them in the Porridge colorway

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and don’t they look stunning on our new knitting instructor Laura?

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She’s so excited to be part of the knitspot team! Along with knitting classes, she also offers fine finishing services! You can finally get that sweater seamed or button band finished! See the full menu of offerings here.

If you would like to knit these accessories in a natural, we have a super limited amount of Better Breakfast Fingering in Americano, the color of a rich full-bodied espresso.

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The skeins are flying out the door, so if you are loving this brown as much as I am snag one now here.

I’ll be back on Tuesday to let you know who won the #KnitspotRhinebeck contest and give you a few highlights from the Knitspot long weekend of events. Until then, I will be knitting the weekend away on a Pyro cowl humming this.