Posts Tagged ‘albers cowl’

Just not sure about the fit

September 28, 2013

I often recommend neck warmers or cowls as a first knitting project. They’re shorter than scarves, provide the opportunity for trying new stitches (garter stitch gets old really fast), and don’t have to fit in the same way that a sweater does. I’m not so sure about the Albers cowl, but I suspect it’s because I have a larger-than-most head.

The design is terrific, and I love the colors even though — or maybe because — they’re beyond my usual palette.


But the size seems off — feels too big to wear just draped (or maybe I’m not very good at draping!).


But wrapping it around twice required a bit too much stretching and pulling (I come from big-headed stock). Plus I ended up feeling quite choked.


If I make another, I think I’ll make it with 4 squares so I can wrap twice. Or, better yet, I’ll measure my squares to ensure that each is 12″ x 12″ rather than 11.5″ x 11.5″. That 1.5 inches can make a difference.

Running Short

September 15, 2013

You know that feeling when you do a quick mental-visual calculation and realize that the yarn you need is greater than the yarn you have? Yeah, that.


While knitting with the good women of the midday Friday group at JP Knit & Stitch, I suddenly realized that I would a few yards short of the yarn needed to finish the final side of Square 3 of the Albers Cowl. I had about 16 rows of garter stitch to go and had enough yarn for maybe half that. “What yarn is it?,” someone asked. “Maybe you can search for more on Ravelry.”

Alas, I have no idea what yarn I’m working with. This was a small ball pulled from an ample stash of fingering weight yarn by Ann Weaver during our color theory class. It’s black that’s subtly flecked with purple and green — but mostly black.

As luck would have it, there’s a plastic bin of charity yarn at the shop that I was able to dig through in search of black fingering weight. Most of the donations were heavier and not black, but at the bottom of the bin I discovered what I was seeking.

Rather than finish with the original yarn and then switch to the replacement, I switched between them every two rows. It’s nearly impossible to see the difference except if you’re very close.


After binding off the final row, I had two very small bits of each. I wondered if maybe I had enough of the original yarn so that I didn’t need the black “replacement” after all. But I’m not about to find out. Sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone and start blocking.



When in Doubt, Read the Pattern

August 29, 2013

My Mom is full of old sayings, many of which are prefaced by “As my mother would say….” One of her favorites is “when in doubt, read the directions.” So true, so true.

I figured out why Square 2 of the Albers cowl was turning out to be significantly bigger than Square 1.  It wasn’t an inexplicable change in tension (I’m pretty steady in the tension department). Nor was it because the yarn used for the outer border of #1 was different than all the other yarns.

Nope. I’d just misread the pattern and had knit many more rows than I should have.

I also figured out that ripping out is much less distressing when done while drinking beer on the ferry to a beautiful island.


Simply Square

August 20, 2013

Beauty can be found in the intricate and the simple and, sometimes, in the combination of the two. For example, the Albers Cowl, which takes the simple square and, like its inspiration, Homage to the Square by designer-artist-educator Josef Albers, invites an almost endless interplay of color.

The cowl was the project featured in the cruise workshop on color theory. As you can see from the works in progress, the variety is beautiful.


The knitting itself is quite simple: garter stitch (aka knitting back and forth). There’s also a fair bit of binding off and picking up stitches along the edges.


I’ve used four colors for my first square: apple green (leftover from Color Affection), cream, gold, and black with flecks of purple and green. It’s a log cabin construction, starting with a square in the middle, then adding a thin rectangle along the bottom edge, one up each side, and another along the top.


The second square uses three colors: the very last bits of the apple green, cream, and purple. It’s not yet done, but I like the combination. Pardon the shadow. I was knitting while waiting in line for the ferry and just dropped it on the bricks to snap a quick shot.


What I don’t like is that this square is turning out to be larger (significantly so) than the first. Same needles but the flecked black is a different (smaller) yarn, so that may explain the difference. I’m not going to think about whether I’ll take apart and reknit the black border of #1 — at least, not just yet.

Shawls from the Top Down and Square from the Middle

July 30, 2013

In addition to the Albers Cowl, we’ve had workshops on knitting a top-down shawl and another on a square shawl, knit from the middle out.

Ann’s instruction has been spot-on — just the right mix of explanation, theory, and flexibility. She’s generous with her knowledge, which is extensive, clear in her instruction, and patient in answering questions and providing guidance.

Here’s the angular variation on her top-down triangle shawl. As you can see, it’s not strictly a triangle (it’s several) and not strictly top-down. The two “wings” give the finished product a lovely drape over the shoulders.


Barb, Cathie, and I all decided to knit the crescent variation. They’re both very speedy knitters. Cathie clearly put her new-found color theory skills to work:


(Not really. She’s using Noro Silk Garden. A couple of our fellow knitters don’t appreciate her sense of humor and were, quite frankly, puzzled when she bragged about how lovely her color combinations were.)

Barb’s using some lovely Paton sock yarn for hers. No photo yet, but I’ll remedy that soon.

I’m using some luscious hand-dyed Blue Faced Leicester Sock yarn by Riverside Studio that I bought in Ottawa earlier this year. I think it’s yummy (if still only a doll-shawl at this point).


I confess that I didn’t pay careful attention to the square shawl workshop because (1) I hadn’t signed up and wasn’t “officially” in the class and (2) I wanted to work on my two current projects rather than take on a third.

However, the square shawl construction is really clever. Square in the middle. Lots of picking up stitches along the edges and then knitting outwards, creating “spines” at each corner (just yarn overs that leave nice holes on each side of a center spine of 2 or 3 stitches). The sample she brought has gorgeous colors and drape, especially since she’s got the knack for wrapping and wearing just about anything.


Color Theory or Making Your Colors Pop

July 29, 2013

Day #2, Knitting Cruise: Saturday morning started with a workshop on color theory, which, in simple terms, is using colors that work together so that each color looks its best.

In our goodie bag, we each got a nifty color wheel, one more detailed than the one I recall getting in elementary school art class.


Contrast between and among colors is the key here. If you’re thinking, as I was, that contrast is light-dark (white, black, gray), you’re thinking too narrowly (as I was). The talented and charming Ann Weaver took us through a few other types of contrast:

hue: different primary colors (red, blue, yellow)

warm/cool: contrasting between the two sides of the color wheel — red/orange/yellow and blue/green/purple.

complementary: colors that are across from each other on the color wheel are contrasting. For example, red-green, yellow-purple, blue-orange (and variations thereof)

light/dark: also known as “value,” this is how a particular color looks on a gray scale. Ann said that, with practice, one can begin to see this type of contrast between colors by “squinting and looking sideways at the yarn.” When I did this, I saw blurry colors but had no ability to discern light and dark. Colors are gold, apple green, charcoal gray, purple, and cream.


A nifty black-and-white camera app on my phone is really helpful in seeing the values of different colors. These colors are different, but on the gray scale, several of them are the same.


Cool, huh?

Ann had all kinds of examples of the power of contrast — in knitting and in art. Think stained glass windows with all their red, blue, yellow — contrast so the designs can be seen from a distance.

We’re working on the Albers Cowl, designed by Ann, based on the paintings of Josef Albers. Ann brought lots of extra fingerweight yarn for people to choose from if their color combinations needed a bit more contrast. When she looked at the colors I’d selected, she recommended something darker than the charcoal gray I’d chosen for my dark color.

“Go darker,” she exhorted, “That’ll make all your colors pop.” And, with that, she placed a small ball of purple-y black yarn next to my other colors. She was right.


%d bloggers like this: