New year, new cowl: State Street knitalong

state street cowl pattern by pam allen knitalong

The day Pam Allen’s State Street Cowl pattern came to my attention was the day she (I assume) posted about it on the Quince and Co blog, illustrated with this striking image of an orange version worn by a knee-weakeningly handsome man. I checked out the official pattern images and looked through other finished versions on Ravelry — my favorite might be yayayarn’s Smurf-colored cashmere version — and I was sold. I’m pretty sure I ordered the yarn and the pattern right there and then. And I’m thrilled that a little quorum here agreeing to a knitalong means I’m finally going to knit it.

This should be a pretty quick knit, so I don’t think we need to establish a schedule or any rules or anything. Unless you feel otherwise (and tell me below), I think we’ll just work at our own pace, and compare notes and progress in the comments below. I’ll put a link in the right rail for easy access to the thread. If you want to share images along the way — and please do! — post them on Ravelry or your own blog or Flickr or wherever, and link to it from the comments. If anyone’s tempted to join in but not ready to start today, no worries! Join in anytime.

state street cowl in progressIf I have a resolution for this year, it’s to stop putting so many crappy iPhone pics on the blog, and yet I’m kicking off the year with this one. As you can see, I cheated and cast on early, and I can honestly say this is an extremely fun knit. I’ll be forcing myself not to stay up all night racing straight through it. But I did it in case anyone joining in (actively or silently) could benefit from some basic tips that I’ve found useful. I’m a big believer in stitch markers as both place markers and mental triggers, and also in lifelines — a position obviously reinforced by my recent difficulty. I don’t do a lot of lace knitting, don’t typically work on things that require stitch-by-stitch attention, so want to give myself these aids.

This pattern repeat is 17 stitches wide by 12 rows high, and there are an equal number of increases (YOs) and decreases (K2TOGs/SSKs) within those 17, which means the stitch count remains consistent — assuming you don’t make any mistakes. So I have a white stitch marker marking the beginning of the round, which got placed immediately after I cast on. Then I have a grey marker marking the end of each 17-stitch chunk. Those got placed as I knit the first pattern round (following the rib rounds). I knitted across the 17 stitches from row 1 of the chart, counted my stitches to double-check that I indeed had 17 on my right needle, and placed a marker. Knitted the 17 again, counted, placed marker. Etc. Until I’d completed that first round. Henceforth, if I make an error, I’ll know it within 17 stitches because I’ll arrive at the next marker with the wrong number of stitches. So I should only need to tink my way back one marker (<17 sts) for the do-over. For added security, once I successfully complete the 12 rows of the pattern, I’ll thread a lifeline through the stitches — a length of smooth cotton waste yarn (some people use dental floss) — before starting on the next repeat. So if worse comes to worst and I have to rip out whole rows, I’ll only be ripping back to the last lifeline.

Two other notes then I’ll shut up for now: I am in love with this yarn; how did I not knit with it until now? And because I want mine to be a bit bigger, I cast on 102 stitches and am working the pattern 6 times around rather than 5. I like that shot of it pulled down over the model’s shoulders and want the option, so it needs to be as big as my broad shoulders.

OK, blah blah blah! Let’s knit!


49 thoughts on “New year, new cowl: State Street knitalong

  1. Love the yarn too! so luscious looking already! I’ve only been knitting a few years, and it’s helpful to see you using stitch markers for this. A great reminder/tip for me since I seem to be making a lot of mistakes due to distracted knitting–not good.

  2. I’m so jealous. I want this! But I promised to finish these other things first. But I really want this!! Especially in that yarn!!

    Yes. Must. Go. Knit!

      • It’s a Peruvian yarn from Mirasol called Ushya. It’s 98 percent Merino and 2 percent polyamide, and very soft. The colorway is Fern Green. The grayish bits in the photo are more brown in reality. I couldn’t figure out how to color-correct the photo.

        I wish I’d thought to check Ravelry before yarn shopping. I only joined recently and it didn’t occur to me that others might’ve posted about this cowl. To quote one user: after knitting with smaller needles, this feels like knitting with tree limbs and rope.

        • I can imagine, if you’re a lace knitter accustomed to working with fingering weight yarn. Me, I stick to the worsted-to-super-bulky half of the yarn spectrum, so chunky and 13s is right in my comfort zone.

          • I just re-read that and realized it sounds like criticism. What I meant to say is that I wish I’d checked Ravelry to get a better idea of what yarns would look best for this project — it’s a great resource for that sort of thing. The branches and rope comment just struck me as funny. I’m using bamboo needles.

  3. Also- I am going to make it bigger, too. I have never knit with this yarn, but I made braided necklaces with it last year.

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  6. I’m at the point of binding off the neck (and working the collar extension) on my cardigan, so it’ll be a big battle of the WIPs tonight, vying for my attention!

  7. Finished the second pattern repeat. To switch to the larger circular, I just start knitting on the new needle, yes? Or is there a trick I should know?

    • Yes, just knit with the new needle. When you get to the end of the round, all your stitches will be on the 15 and the 13 will be relieved of its duties.

      • Thanks! Got it moved over. Reached the end of the first skein after 3.5 rounds on the bigger needles. I’m hoping that means I can get away with using just two skeins on the project.

        • Sounds like it’ll be extremely close. The yarn for this section won’t go quite as far (same number of stitches, but each one a hair bigger than the previous ones), and you’ve got those four ribbed rounds at the end. You can always cheat the bind-off, do it crochet-style (or potholder-style, as I think of it), if you have to.

      • It’s a really interesting job! Get to learn something new every day. And the business is really taking off. We have a free knitting class launching later this week that you might like: “Creative Cabled Necklines” with Fiona Ellis.

  8. I got worried and started the final ribbing after row 9 of the fourth pattern repeat. It looks fine, except I needn’t have worried: I’ve got seven rows of ribbing and could easily do one or two more before a tubular bind-off.

    Though I hate to rip out good knitting, I think I’m just going to go back to row 9 and finish it properly, maybe with an extra row or two of ribbing.

    • Oh, interesting. The seven rounds of ribbing were just because you kept going while you still had yarn? Given that that edge is the bottom (larger) edge, I sort of like the idea of a wider band of ribbing there. Especially if worn pulled down around the shoulders.

  9. I was knitting this last night while watching Downton Abbey (currently on row 7 of the second repeat) and was paying attention to the show and the stitches and not the working yarn. Suddenly found myself with a 2-inch stub of yarn in my right hand. Oops! Never done that before.

  10. My progress has slowed, having not had any knitting time this past weekend, but I’m wishing I had it to wear in my icy studio. KB, are you all done?

  11. I just need to do one more row of ribbing, then bind off. I was going to do that at my stitch ‘n’ bitch on Sunday, but it ended up being all bitching and no stitching, so. Tubular bind-off just requires all my concentration and not late in the day. Maybe (probably?) this weekend.

    Meanwhile, I’m swatching in two-color brioche for a rather intricate scarf, and today I got handed a big ball of lace-weight yarn and a shawl pattern for testing. Eek!

  12. I’m into the fourth repeat and will definitely do a fifth. I put it on waste yarn last night before starting the fourth so I could pull it down over my shoulders and make sure it’s big enough for that. (If not, I was planning to move up to a size 17 needle for the remainder.) It’s perfect. And will look great extended in length, I think. The thing is really gorgeous.

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  14. I’ve got a few ends to weave in, but other than that I’m done. The increase from 5 to 6 horizontal repeats of the pattern, and from 4 to 5 vertical repeats, required the entirety of the third skein. In fact, it was clear I was running out, so toward the end I was weighing the ball at regular intervals and calculating what I could do. Wound up skipping row 12 on the last go (which I think makes sense anyway on the final repeat anyway) and stopped at 2 rows of ribbing. I may have been able to do 3 and still bind off as loosely as I did, but I don’t think it would have left me even three inches to weave in — it was that close. But I LOVE it.

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  16. Nice! I do like the long ribbing on the bottom (and would have done that myself had I had enough yarn), but I’m also wondering whether you own a scale — it’s the most useful tool ever.

    Also curious about your bind-off choice. I’ve only tried a few different bind-offs — need to be more adventurous about that — but found binding off loosely the old-fashioned way to be just fine here. Were you wanting it extra stretchy or something? I’ve never heard of the method you wound up using, so would love to know more.

  17. How do you use the scale? I do have one for cooking. I guess you just figure how much you’ve used, percentage wise, versus how many rows you have left, also as a percent? Smart! Is there an easy formula?

    I had planned on the tubular cast-off, which I’ve used on socks before. It’s super-stretchy and is a nice finish for 1×1 ribbing. But Amy Detjen used this other sewn bind-off on her yoke sweater’s neck and claimed nothing is stretchier, so I went with that. Fewer chances to screw it up.

    • A kitchen scale is what I use, too. It’s great for weighing your leftovers at the end of a project so you know how much yarn you used and how much you have left. In a case like this, when I realized I was not going to have any surplus from the 3rd skein, and that I might actually be in jeopardy of running out, I weighed my ball, then knit three rounds, then weighed it again. (I thought averaging the three rounds would be more accurate than just knitting one and re-weighing, since in this case the rounds would use slightly different amounts of yarn.) That told me each round used on average 4 grams of yarn. I was sure how much the bind-off would take, exactly, so when I had 8g left, I went ahead and bound off, to be safe.

  18. Q – Finished the cowl! Love it. Would do an extra row if you like to pull the cowl up on your head if you get cold. Would also work well to knit two rows if temps in your area don’t get really cold – such as here in San Diego.

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