Soap Bubbles Cowl, my own ‘pattern’.
Two wicked skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino in Piedras seduced me into breaking my project plan. They were just so soft and shimmery and muted and cloudlike, you know? I’ve raved deliriously about Silky Merino before, but the silk content really does make the fabric stretch out. My Krookus cardigan fit perfectly every morning but noticeably stretched out by the end of the day, becoming narrower and longer. So I gave it away to the Brat, since she’s skinnier than me, and the resulting long, narrow shape fitted her well. And I resolved to buy tons of Silky Merino, but never for garments.
This is not a colour I would have bought after viewing FOs on Ravelry… there seems to be just too much variegation in most of the projects. But in real life the colours seemed much more subdued; perhaps I found a muted dyelot?
I fully planned to use a slip stitch based pattern, keeping long floats to maximise the effect of the beautiful colour changes. But a part of my brain threw a tantrum for lace or cables, and I ended up picking up the lace pattern from the Soap Bubbles Wrap.
Halfway through, I was convinced it was turning out hideous. Silhouetted against the light, the bubbles were pretty and well defined; in direct sunlight the lace seemed overwhelmed by colour variegation. I could see the lace pattern clearly, but had a bad feeling that it was only because of knitterly image processing by my brain.
See, as knitters, our brains have learnt to work differently, separating colour from texture and pattern. This has its advantages: we can look at a photo, ignore the colour and decide whether we like the fabric and style enough to knit it in a preferred colour, something non-knitters find really difficult to do. But it also has disadvantages: behold the endless array of lace FOs on Ravelry, exquisite stitchwork rendered invisible by violent flashing and pooling of variegated yarn!
So I pinned out the cowl to blocked dimensions and asked my husband, a non-knitter what he saw:
Get the Soap Bubbles Wrap from the Interweave Online Store. CO for a multiple of 12 sts (288 sts in DK yarn). Work 3 rounds garter. Use the Left Front Chart, starting from R13. Work as much as desired, then BO after 3 rounds of garter.
I made the bubbles in stockinette by mistake (instead of reverse stockinette) and just continued with that instead of ripping out. This simplified things in two ways:
a) The ‘resting’ rounds were almost all knit, instead of clusters of knit and purl.
b) I didn’t have to do p3tog or any other purl based decrease… everything was knit based.
- The vertical repeat is from R13 to R36 (24 rows) of Lower Left Front chart. Each ‘bubble’ is formed in 12 rows, but since they are diagonally offset the pattern repeat is completed in 24 rows.
- R13 and R 25: as written, substitute k for all p
- R14 and R26: k all
- R15 and R27: as written, substitute k for all p
- R16 and R28: k all
- R17 and R29: as written, substitute k for all p
- R18 and R30: k all
- R19 and R31: as written, substitute k for all p
- R20 and R32: k all
- R21 and R33: The first (rightmost) decrease should be ssk; the middle decrease should be s2tog as if to k, k1, psso; the last (leftmost) decrease should be k2tog. Doing so maintains a smooth border around the bubbles, which is important when they are in stockinette instead of reverse stockinette
- R22 and R34: work the decrease as s1kwise, k2tog, psso
- R23 and R35: exactly as given. Don’t be tempted to change the lone p on top of the bubbles into a k; keeping it in p helps define the bubble below.
- R24 and R36: exactly as given. Again, maintaining that p stitch helps define the stockinette bubble below.
- The edging is ‘Casting on Casting off’ from Knitting Without Tears. Intensely annoying and slow to work, but it does make a beautiful edge. You need to sew it, stitch by stitch, from left to right. Because of the angle the sewing needle is inserted, one stitch needs to be held off the needle, live. And you have to make sure the loops fall to the back of the work, to get the ‘outline’ to lie correctly.