Outlander Claire Fraser’s Cowl

A couple of months ago I started to read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I fell in love with the story immediately. Even before I finished the book, I started watching the tv series and fell in love all over again, this time with the costumes. Claire’s costumes are amazing. And that knitwear, to die for.

As I am want to do when I find new knitwear I love, I jump on Ravelry and look for patterns inspired by series. One of the items I definitely wanted to knit was that delightful cowl Claire seems to wear often.

Claire_Fraser_(Outlander_TV)I immediately found the pattern by Shelli Westcott for Ravelry Outlander Claire’s Cowl Pattern. When searching for suitable yarn, I found that Westcott owns a store named Knitterly in Petaluma, CA and they sold a Knitterly Claire’s Outlander Cowl Kit for the cowl. Happy days! I quickly snapped up the dark brown + grey kit; once it arrived, I grabbed by size 35 needles and set to work.

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The pattern and kit call for 3 skeins of yarn, but I found I only used 2 to make the 30 inch cowl. (Oh what to do with that full last skein?) The knitting only took two days (it would have taken one but I started in the evening) and was real quick since it’s all garter stitch and large needles. As usual, the needle size took a toll not only on my hands but my shoulders as well; it takes a lot of strength and effort to hold yarn onto size 35 needles.

Blocking flat took some time as well since a) I have a mischievous cat that wouldn’t leave my cowl alone unless I closed the bedroom doors and b) the yarn is held double so it’s thick and takes longer to dry.

Next I think I’ll try my hand at one of her many fingerless gloves or one of the knitted shawls she wears. So many choices!

Teal Cowl

Christmas is a holiday I enjoy, but I don’t generally give gifts. If I find something for someone, I certainly won’t pass up the chance to bestow a gift on someone. However, it’s not the part of Christmas tradition my family generally participates in.

This year, I participated in a Secret Santa event with some friends. The name that was drawn for me was that of my friend Chiki; I was sent her contact info along with a link to her Amazon wish list. Of course I could have just bought something on her list, given it to her, and called my job done. But that’t not really the person I am. So, instead, I decided to use some lovely Knit Picks Galileo yarn I had been hoarding and knit her a lovely lightweight cowl.

The pattern I chose was the Lazy Knitter’s Cowl because it was an easy pattern to memorize and used the exact sport weight yarn I had. The cowl was started just before Thanksgiving; since I was going to be away for the holiday, I took the cowl with me and knit at night in the hotel. It was finished just after I returned the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The cowl was knit to a total of about 22 inches; once completed, it was wet for blocking, and dried in my closet (up high away from inquisitive cat paws) for about a week. After it was dry, the ends were woven in and two toggle-like buttons were sewn to the cast-on garter stitch edge.

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As I anticipated, it is a lovely lightweight cowl. With the large eyelets and toggle buttons, the cowl can be worn different ways.

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The pictures show it as nearly a black color, but the yellow lighting in my home distorts the actual dark teal color of the Galileo yarn.

The cowl took less than a full skein, and I still have 4 full skeins of Galileo yarn left. I am more than certain that there will be more projects with this yarn in the future. I have a lot of lovely, deserving friends. 🙂

Bofur’s Scarf

I might have mentioned one of my best friends to you before. In case you are new or you missed it, I have two best friends who have been with me through thick and thin for over a decade. Shannon has a passion for history (except American history, she loathes American history); she lives the closest so we attempt to get together as often as we can, but having opposite work schedules makes it difficult. Holley lives around the DC area; she’s the more outgoing one of us three and doesn’t hesitate to start a conversation with anyone. We have similar interests in all things Tolkien, comics, cosplay (at least for me and Holley, Shannon just admires), and cuddly things (we can never go anywhere without all of us buying the same plush animal).

Holley often asks me to make her things since she shares my cosplay love but isn’t a crafter (she wants to be but finding time is difficult with her work schedule). Recently, due to the cold weather, she asked me to knit her Bofur’s scarf from The Hobbit movies. I was reluctant at first because scarves take so long to knit. But after finding a suitable pattern that was simple, I agreed.

Bofur_NesbittWeta has a knitting kit using the Stansborough yarn (the knitters for the movies). However, I have heard the scarf is knit at a ridiculously loose gauge doesn’t hold it’s shape. Plus the kit isn’t cheap. Instead, I went with a simpler pattern on Ravelry and Knit Picks City Tweed DK yarn in Porpoise, Obsidian, and Blue Blood.

The scarf is all garter stitch on size 11 needles. It was so easy and quick I found myself done in three days…and with two extra skeins of each color left over. Not one to waste yarn, I decided to knit two more scarves for myself and Shannon. I loved the loose gauge and light airy feel of the scarf while knitting, and I don’t have a light spring scarf that isn’t made of cotton or polyester. Also, Shannon had a birthday coming up so what better gift?

After washing and stretching, I sent the scarves off. Both Holley and Shannon loved their scarves; Holley loved it so much she all but demanded we bring the scarves to her wedding for a photo…which is in September. Until then, this is the only photo I have of the scarves hanging over my bathroom door to dry.

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I wear my scarf every day. For something at such a loose gauge, it is surprisingly warm and not as bulky as some of my other scarves. Because of the neutral-ish colors, it goes with everything. I think this may be one of my best knitting projects ever.

Wrapped in Red

One of my goals was to complete the Effortless Cardigan.  I love cardigans (I think I’ve said that before) and this cardigan is especially fun because of the long front pieces you can wrap around.  I wanted to knit this in alpaca yarn (my current favorite fiber) and my local store had just enough Paca Tweed by Plymouth Yarns in a gorgeous red wine color (I later learned that Paca Tweed is discontinued so I got lucky).

The yarn is aran weight and the pattern called for worsted.  This resulted in the fit being fine but the length being longer than the pattern called for.  This suited me just fine because I was feeling like the body was too short for my tastes.  I feel like the sleeves are too short even though I knitted them an inch longer than called for, but I can’t be bothered to undo all my ribbing.

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Speaking of ribbing…this cardigan had so much of it. I didn’t realize how long it was taking me to do the ribbing until I got to the collar part. Nearly 5 hours for 18 rows of 186 stitches. The bottom ribbing had over 200 stitches, and each side had 46 stitches. Needless to say, I am taking some time to rest my wrists and shoulders before tackling my next knitting projects (hats and cowls for gifts).

Blocking this was…interesting. Blocking always makes my projects larger than intended even when I am on target with gauge. I don’t overly manhandle my knitting either; I roll the project onto itself once to get out as much water as possible, then wrap it in towels and step on it a few times to get out excess water. I never wring or stretch the project while it is wet, and yet it still manages to come out larger than anticipated.  Maybe I should knit a size smaller next time?

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It’s also a bit of a pain to block projects when you have cats.  I love my four legged babies, and Kulin is so good and leaves my projects alone.  But Kuro…if you don’t watch him, he will try to eat the pins and in so doing snags his claws on the stitches.  The night I first blocked this project, he kept me up half the time being a pain in my bum.  The next night I used our drying rack since the cardigan was dry enough not to stretch out.  Kuro has nearly ruined three projects this way.  Our spare bedroom doesn’t get air circulating enough to dry projects, and we hate locking him out of the bedrooms.  Guess I’ll have to keep finding ways to get him to behave (none of the usual techniques work on him).

I still love wearing cardigans, but I think I am done with knitting them. I still have 3 more sweaters on my to-do list but thankfully they are all pullovers.

Three Cardigans For The New Year

Before 2013 ended, I finished knitting two cardigans by Andi Satterlund and was in the process for finishing a Ginny Weasley inspired owl cardigan. I didn’t call any of them “done” since I didn’t block them. Each of them has a lovingly made mistake somewhere that just goes to show how imperfect of a knitter I am.

Marion is the first cardigan by Andi that I completed knitting in September. I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Dove Heather. The yarn was originally intended for a Hermione fair isle sweater but I frogged the project.  The bottom band and neck band were completed before I discovered the wonderful thing known as a stretchy bind off.  I also made one tiny mistake in the cabling on the right side but it’s not very noticeable. I plan to knit Marion in a lovely yellow at some point.

imageHortencia is the second cardigan by Andi that I started and completed in November. It was actually done as a test knit for her pattern.  Knit in Cascade 220 Heathers in a lovely shade of dusty purple, it’s a cropped cardigan with full length sleeves and a collar. I have the perfect dress to wear with it, and the heathered yarn makes it lovely to pair with other pieces. The mistake in Hortencia is in the collar; somewhere on the left side I picked up two stitches in the same place resulting in a hole. However, due to the wide collar the hole is safely hidden from sight.

imageGinny’s cardigan is knit from Berroco Vintage DK in a dark teal color. I picked the yarn for it’s washability and it’s color. If I had to go back and do it again, I think I would have chosen Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca instead since the nylon strands in Vintage DK felt “weird” in my hands (I find I am more of a wool/alpaca blend kind of girl).  I make a mistake on the third owl from the bottom, but it’s not very noticeable. I left off the decorative pockets since they are not very functional in their small size (I need functional pockets). Blocking this was a bit of a pain since the Vintage DK contains nylon and acrylic, neither of which blocks very well.

imageIt took me so long to consider these cardigans complete because I have been adverse to blocking. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, but wool/wool blend with alpaca definitely blocks better than wool blend with nylon/acrylic.  It takes a long time to dry though; I had to lock the projects in my room while they dried to prevent one of my cats from playing with them and ruining all my hard work.

While I love wearing cardigans, I am slowly not liking knitting them. Except for Andi’s cardigans (which are cropped and quick knits), they take forever.  I thought I would never get done with Ginny’s cardigan.  The back and forth knit and purl rows were starting to drive me crazy. I have one more cardigan on my 2014 plans but the rest are pullovers.

Katniss Cowl Take 2 + Accessories

Once I had finished my Katniss cowl, I wanted to make another one that was more screen accurate. Two of my friends on Tumblr had made one using herringbone stitch, which is closer to the original piece. I can’t make up patterns on my own, so I chose to knit the cowl designed by AnaidDesigns on Etsy.

Originally I was going to follow the pattern exactly, except I planned on wrapping the icords with extra yarn. However, once the cowl was complete I didn’t like how wide the collar was on me and how it bulged in the back. I spent two days and a lot of hours ripping out seams and redoing everything. Eventually I got it the way I wanted and that best replicated the original.

Here are screen shots of the original.

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And here is the second cowl I knitted.

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And the back.

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I wanted to complete the outfit, so that meant a quiver, arrows, and a bow. I managed to find the NECA bow replica from the first movie still available at an online Halloween store. I didn’t need anything that I could shoot, just something that looked like I could.

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I made the quiver following the instructions from this blog. I had to make stuff up as I went along but managed to make a decent looking quiver. The arrows were made on the fly from six 5/16″ dowels, an exacto knife, feathers, and paint. Again, I wasn’t looking for something that could shoot, just look it.

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Now that everything is 100% complete, this cosplay is ready to wear this coming weekend to Ichiban Con.  I’ll be going with my favorite photographer, Sarah of Starrfall Photography, so there will likely be more photos later.

P.S. Please excuse the crappy iPhone photos.  I was in a bit of a hurry and haven’t charged my Canon camera batteries.

Happy New Year

Happy 2014 everyone!

2013 ended with me being lazy and productive at the same time.  I didn’t do any work related things and I didn’t do any traveling; while my mother/roommate went to visit my brother in New York, I stayed at home with the kitties and knitted to my heart’s content.  I completed a few projects and made headway on others.

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve started to make a few. Since this blog is all about my sewing and crafting, I’m only going to discuss those resolutions.  My crafting resolution is simple: knit and sew more.  I have plans to knit all of my close friends winter accessories as Christmas presents.  I have already started, but since I don’t know who follows me here I am going to refrain from posting any specifics.  I decided to do this now since there are tons of patterns and things I want to knit, but I knit so much for myself I can’t use them all.  There are going to be a lot of hats, cowls, and gloves coming off my needles before December rolls around again.

I also plan to sew more. I have this affinity for skater and circle skirts lately so I am going to attempt to be making a number of those.

As for cosplay plans, here are the top 5 picks for the time being.

1506258_699637143403097_1049951217_oI have no plans for anything anime/manga/kpop related. All of my plans circle around my current obsessions: Doctor Who, Hunger Games, and Once Upon A Time. Three outfits on my list – Katniss hunting, Katniss training, and Clara – are done except for a few accessories (shoes and/or wig).  I’ve already started the mock up for Katniss’ parade dress, and have a decent pattern in mind for Snow White. Since there isn’t much to be done, I am likely to add to this list (tentatively, I am considering adding Katniss’ arena outfit from the first movie and a Mary Margaret outfit).

As for the knitting, the following items are on my list to complete by the end of 2014 (and yes, these are for myself):

Dr. Watson’s Cabled Crew Neck Jumper
Chuck
Mereweather
owls
Effortless Cardigan
Mary Margaret’s Lace Tam
Mary Margaret Brioche Pullover
Kalaloch

I said I wasn’t going to knit a lot for myself and now look what I did. In my defense, I have the yarn for three sweaters already, and the lace tam does not take long.

Can I make these resolutions?  Crossing my fingers that I can.