Risers Cowl

My knitting design philosophy is born out of sheer laziness.  I love to swatch, but if the stitch pattern is too fussy, then I drop it.   (Purl 3 tog through the back loop? Nah.)  Many of the designs I do are for the average knitters I help at clinic.  (The Yarnery has a knitting clinic 3 times per week, and sometimes I am the clinician.  No lab coats, don’t worry.)  These folks don’t want fussy.  Those knitters who do, those who love working complicated patterns, don’t need me.  There are plenty of beautiful complex designs out there.  I’m sure you know where to find them.

I like to say that I am capable of working  complex knitting, but I choose not to.  I hope that is still true.  Maybe there will be a time in my life when I do knit complex items,  but that time surely isn’t now.  This also  seems to be the case for many other knitters out there.  I spent time recently with a knitting buddy who has made some of the most intricate Alice Starmore cabled designs.  She has done lots of lace and dazzling fair isle.

What was she working on?  A log cabin blanket for her new and first granddaughter.  She told me it is just as satisfying to her these days as making those gorgeous sweaters.  She loves playing with color and the log cabin provides that satisfaction.  She can put it down and pick it up without worrying where she is.  It looks good.  She is happy.

Also, many complex knitted items, sadly,  are really of interest only to the knitter.  (See Franklin’s amusing video.) Ask your family or friends what they would like you to knit for them, assuming they want anything.  My husband wants plain black socks.  (And the occasional Norwegian sweater, of course.)  My goddaughter wanted a simple grey cardigan.  Really, there is no shame in knitting easy or simple things.  It is your knitting, after all.  Simple doesn’t have to mean unattractive!

So when I set out to design (on request) a long cowl that could be doubled around the neck, in bulky yarn, I swatched with Misti Alpaca Chunky for hours.

I wanted it to look good both horizontally and vertically.  I wanted it to be a quick knit, simple and repetitive. What is better than a knitting pattern that repeats itself for a few rows, then staggers over a few stitches and repeats again?  Add a few rounds of simple stockinette and you have the sort of mindless knitting I love.  I only needed to pay attention on the row where the pattern shifted over, then it was knit the knits and purl the purls.  Even my husband commented on how much he liked the stitch pattern.  But the color?  “Looks like it can’t make up its mind what it wants to be.”  Tough, I like it.

Naming patterns is often a problem to me.  How many ‘cozy cowl’ patterns must there be? We have been discussing stair construction quite a bit here chez remodel madness, and this pattern reminded me of treads and risers.  ‘Treads and Risers’ sounds like a board game that you play with 5 year olds until you get cranky and start cheating to make it be over sooner.  (I confess to having stacked the deck with Queen Frostine on more than one occasion.) Risers seems a more pleasant name, so there you have it.  Risers is knit in the round, no seaming and a very quick knit.  (Thanks to Sarah as always for the photos.)  If you like to purchase simple patterns this is available on Ravelry, at the Yarnery, and coming soon to a LYS via Yarncraft.  If not, go check out the measurements on Ravelry and swatch for yourself.  I wanted the cowl to use only two skeins of this luxury yarn, because $30 for a big cowl seems doable, but $45 is a bit over the top.  If you have lots of yarn and want it wider, you could choose to do a few more repeats.  Or, do a shorter version with one skein.

Keep cozy!



8 responses to “Risers Cowl

  1. Your new pattern is gorgeous. In this case your simple knitting is based on complex considerations and tons of experience.

  2. Hear, hear! ‘Simple’ knitting for me is pure joy; it keeps my hands engaged while allowing me to be part of the environment around me while knitting -in front of the tv for example, or with a group of friends. It took me some time to get here, though- I found I had to forage through lace and fair isle and intricate cables to finally enjoy the simple and unadorned. My favorite sweater to date is the Gathered Pullover, which is simplicity and beauty personified. Love the cowl!

  3. It’s gorgeous ML. It looks like a really great gift knit. I like to have a mix of the simple and complex on the needles to please each of my fickle moods.

  4. That’s a design philosophy I can definitely get behind. 🙂

  5. Love this! It looks great doubled over in that top photos. Perfect gift knit. Another MLEgan hit. Want one.

  6. Oh god, I’ve just ordered yarn for a cowl and I thought I’d chosen the pattern, but this is really nice. Indecision looms.

    My Dad used to cheat at Monopoly and I was shocked when I found out (I was a lot older than five). Now I realize how bored he was and I appreciate his maing the effort.

  7. What a great pattern! I love the name, too (having had the same immoral urges with regard to certain children’s board games that seem designed to never, never end). And I absolutely agree that there are many many times when “simple” knitting is exactly the right sort of knitting, and it is exactly what both the knitter and the recipient crave. It’s sort of like a really good stew – it’s not fancy, but there’s a reason why people have been making things like that for centuries 🙂

  8. Love the pattern! Just finished it last night and it’s drying now after steam blocking. My only question is how you got it to be 45″ long! Mine is about 24″ long when steamed. Still looks great, tho’!

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