My Funny Valentine Cowl

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Cast On: January 2015
Cast Off: March 12, 2015
Pattern: Improvised by Hooker Leo of A Hooker’s World
Yarn A: Red Heart Super Saver (Fiber Content: 100% Acrylic; Yarn Color: 0722 Pretty ‘n Pink; Yarn Weight: 4, Worsted)
Yarn B: Red Heart Super Saver (Fiber Content: 100% Acrylic: Yarn Color: 0319 Cherry Red; Yarn Weight: 4, Worsted)
Needle Size: US 8
Finished Size: approximately 72-inch circumference x 6.5-inch width

I can’t believe I finished in time for the Basic Two-Color Brioche Workshop I am teaching this Saturday at the Sand and Sea Knitting Guild. This project started out of It’s My Life Shawl (Stephen West Mystery Knit-A-Long: Exploration Station), which called for two-color brioche knitting; a skill I had never attempted. It seemed easy enough when I began, but then I dropped a stitch and went into a complete panic, as I had not inserted a life line. Fortunately, I was able to frog it back to the previous section and maintain the correct stitch count.

After that traumatic experience, I figured I better practice two-color brioche knitting, so I grabbed some acrylic from my stash and set out to learn by repetition. I’ll admit that I had to restart this project at least five times, but one I became focused I discovered that I had about a foot. I decided to continue practicing until it was long enough (my preferred length: 6 feet) for a scarf or a cowl; obviously deciding on a cowl. It wasn’t until it came to the seaming that I decided against giving it a twist. Actually, I am quite impressed with the neatness of the seam, as I was worried about how to bind off the brioche knitting.

Red Heart can sometimes be scratchy, but as I continued to work with these two skeins the scratchiness dissipated and I began to experience more softness. When I launder this cowl, I will use extra fabric softener for increased softness. The name of this project – My Funny Valentine by Sarah Vaughan – hints to the fact that I was hoping to finish by Valentine’s Day, but after a while of knitting, I began to get bored, quickly crocheting Circle In The Sand Mobius Cowl as a diversion.

With this project I finally learned how beneficial repetition is when it comes to learning a new technique. I can put the project down, pick it up and know exactly where I am in the pattern repeat; I began to notice how little mistakes were created by knitting the wrong strands; and most importantly, I could identify and fix mistakes before I got to far along.

Price: USD $50.00

By Mojee’s, I think I have it!

Basic Two-Color Brioche Knit
©A Hooker’s World

It all started with the Stephen West Exploration Station (AHW Project Name: It’s My Life Shawl) Mystery Knit-A-Long. I am supposed to be doing this with a friend of mine from One Skein Short Group (Every Thursday Evening; 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm @ The Vineyard Christian Fellowship‘s Coffee Connection, in the Gallery Room – dim lighting, at least, to my taste. EXCEPTION: Second Thursday of every month we meet at same edifice, but different room: The Park Room). I had never done brioche, but his tutorial seemed easy enough to follow, so I proceeded with confidence. About six rows in, I had dropped a stitch and had a complete traffic jam.

Not looking to frogging, I procrastinated. I’ll admit I sighed with relief when Ania injured herself New Year 2015 and was not able to attend the group; embarrassed by my inability to catch on to the brioche so quickly. I finally frogged about a week ago and was quite relieved that I had maintained the correct amount of stitches. The first thing I did was run a life line.

The next thing I did was grab two skeins of Red Heart Super Saver (Fiber Content: 100% Acrylic; Yarn Color A: Cherry Red, Yarn Color B: Pretty ‘n’ Pink; Yarn Weight: 4, worsted) and start practicing. After about three attempts, each ending with mistakes most attributable to lack of attention, I finally diverted my attention briefly by making two extra large yarn cakes from the skeins.

My third attempt – after about three tries – has resulted in the following; the most important thing learned: Attention Required! My knitting teacher, Ana, used to say “admire your work often.” This is a good practice when learning basic two-color brioche, or any new stitching method. The final benefit of much practice: you learn to read your stitches much better and can learn to un-knit, if necessary.

The picture above represents my best attempt at learning this technique. I hope I am not jinxing myself with this post. I am going to continue practicing until the skeins run out, hoping to become qualified enough to teach this technique, as I am teaching a workshop at the Sand and Sea Knitting Guild (meets second Saturday of each month; St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church) in about two weeks time.

Even as I become more knowledgeable about this technique, my mind is running with the thought of how this cowl would look with a mobius cast on, changing bias of the brioche knit.