After sitting the lovely August pattern out because of moving craziness, I was excited to jump back into A Year of Techniques in September and October. September’s project was Martina Behm’s Wood Warbler Cowl, which taught garter stitch grafting. This month’s was the Ruschia Hat, designed by Woolly Wormhead, which featured short row shaping, but also, building on last month’s project, used garter stitch grafting — I know I’ve talked about this before, but I love how the sequence of AYOT designs build on each other, giving you chances to practice and reinforce the skills you learned in previous months!
What was extra fun about these past two projects was that they shared some features — squishy, delicious garter stitch with clever design to keep it interesting — which meant that they were both really addictive (and quick!) to knit and lent themselves to making a non-matching, but coordinating set (my favorite kind) — just in time for autumn weather for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere! I finished my hat this past Sunday and have already sported my new, purple-hued pair of projects around town a few times!
For the Wood Warbler cowl, I used the called-for Schoppel-Wolle Gradient in colors Fan Block (Fankurve) and Shadows (Schatten). The yarn was new to me — in the hand, I would never have guessed it was 100% wool; it had a dry, crisp feel that reminded me, in a good way, of what knitting with wool mixed with paper would feel like! Knit up, it made for a warm, squishy fabric that has a cozy and soft woolly feel. And the long gradients make for fun and surprising color combinations as you knit along.
What I loved most about the pattern though, was the unusual shape of the finished cowl and the fun of guessing how the flat piece of fabric I was knitting was going to become the triangular, kerchief-like cowl of the picture. I often wear shawls wrapped around my neck with the point hanging down, and I like that this cowl has a similar look when worn. It fits very nicely under my favorite jacket and the generous size make it perfect for snuggling into if you’re say, walking up a large hill on a wet, windy day (not that I know anything about that here in sunny northwest England, ahem). And the front and back are identical, so you can flip it around to show off the different colors:
And the pattern is super versatile — in the six weeks since the pattern was released, over 100 cowls have already been cast on. While lots of them used for the called for yarn, others have experimented with using sock yarn; using two solid colors; using a solid yarn with a variegated or speckled yarn — it’s been really fun to watch them all emerge. When I find a moment, I would love to cast on a second one out of fingering weight/4 ply wool for a second, slightly smaller version. It was such a quick, fun, and relaxing knit, resulting in a really practical accessory that I’d love to make it again!
Woolly Wormhead’s Ruschia hat was equally fun to make. Knit sidewise and shaped with short rows, it was super addictive to watch the shape of a hat emerge as each successive wedge was completed — this was my first Woolly Wormhead pattern, and I can see why she has such a devoted following!
When I saw that the pattern called for Aran weight wool, I knew I wanted to try some of West Yorkshire Spinners new yarn The Croft, produced from 100% Shetland wool from Jamieson & Smith. I’d been itching to knit with since I saw a gorgeous wall of it at Northern Yarn, and I love how the Mayfield colorway picks out almost every shade of my Wood Warbler!
My stitch gauge was slightly off (16 st over 4 in) and my row gauge slightly compressed (again!), but I was happy with the fabric that I was getting on my size US 8 needles — the looser stitch gauge, in particular, I thought helped compensate for the fact that the Croft didn’t have the drape of the Fyberspates Scrumptious Aran, which has 45% silk. To compensate for my looser stitch gauge, I cast on for the medium, rather than the large that I would normally choose — and worked eight wedges in total. The Croft knit in garter is wonderfully stretchy, so my short row gauge wasn’t too much of a problem. I love that the hat fits snugly, without even the slightest suggestion of tightness:
The hat has a lovely slip stitched pattern which helps define the brim and add interest to the body. But my favorite feature is by far the spiraling crown — the fruit of your short row labors:
And if we’re being honest, those short rows weren’t very laborious at all … Jen’s clear German short row tutorial encouraged me to give them a try and ohmygosh where have they been all my life?! No fussy wraps to pick up! I used up all but the tiniest ball of yarn for this hat and, if you can’t already tell, loved knitting with the Croft!
So final verdict: two fun and quick projects that I’d be keen to knit again (something I feel like I don’t say all that often) — and for now, I’m happy to have a new hat and cowl to keep me warm this fall and winter!
And if you’re looking for the wool for these projects: AC Knitwear stock all the yarn for the AYOT projects over in their delightful online shop; Mason Dixon Knitting also stocks the yarn for those in the US. And I got my Croft yarn from the lovely Kate at Northern Yarn; if you’re in the US, Kate offers reasonable shipping (especially if you fancied a few other things from the shop) or The Woolly Thistle in the US stocks it.