Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where are All the Crochet Cowls?

....And by "cowls" I also mean crochet infinity scarves, eternity scarves, neck gaiters, smoke rings and snoods.* What all of these have in common is that they're warm tubes for the neck, and some can be worn as hoods, or wrapped around the shoulders like capelets, or extended down to warm the chest and back.
** Chainmaille Crochet Cowl IN PROGRESS **

These flattering neckwarmers are plenty practical because they stay wrapped around the neck effortlessly. You can't beat how their luxuriously soft and cozy look frames the face and shoulders, especially if they have a lot of loft or drape. This fashion trend started off big on last year's runways for both sexes and is still going strong.

Slathered Slip Stitches
It's as easy to knit your own cowl as it is to knit the traditional first project, a scarf; so it's easy to understand why cowls are a hot trend among hand knitters.

What about crocheters though? I wonder why it's not such a hot trend to crochet cowls? Crochet is perfect--fast, easy, soft and warm!

I have the brand-new Cowlgirls book of cowl designs by Cathy Carron, which are all knit. It pushed me over the edge (into blogging LOL). It's an inspiring book and I'm eyeing all my yarns and crochet stitches with new cowls, infinity scarves, eternity scarves, gaiters, wimples, smoke rings and "snoods" in mind.

Is it my imagination? Am I missing a 'Crochet the New Cowls!' book or pattern booklet on the market? When patterns for knit cowls are offered, I almost never see crochet options also.** Why not the same sense of excitement about all the crochet cowl design possibilities?
Mr. Stretchy (a Slip Stitch Tube) as "gaiter"

OK, so crochet cowl patterns do exist. I did a search in Ravelry and turned up 290 results. That's a lot! For some perspective, when I searched for knit cowl patterns....2135 results. Wow. Well, crocheters are off to a good start.

Mr. Stretchy as a more relaxed cowl; also works as a hood
I'm tempted to start a blog just for cowl crocheters. Here are a few notables: Check out Robyn Chachula's Tusculum! Amy Houck's superfine yak fiber Cosmopolitan Cowl. And OMG, Danielle Kassner's Cloister Cowl!
My own slip stitch "Mr. Stretchy" is available as a downloadable PDF crochet pattern at my website, and coming soon to my Ravelry Store. The others pictured here (Chainmaille, Slathered, Pallas) are being written. I think Pallas will stay a traditional long scarf with an "infinity scarf" option in the pattern.

(I know that a lot of people probably want a super fast, easy, and free crochet cowl pattern option so try this one or Melissa Mall's or this one.)

Pallas Scarf as an "infinity scarf" experiment
I found a very new Flickr Group for crochet cowls. There's a Ravelry forum "Cowls" that includes crochet, has almost 3700 members, and has very helpful information. For example, someone who has made many cowls recommends a 26-inch or so circumference and minimum of about 18 inches in height if you wish to comfortably have the option of wearing it as a hood.

*It seems that as of last year, "snood," which historically has been a hairnet--like a bag to hold long hair at the back of the head--now also means what I normally would use the term "cowl" or "wimple" for. Do a Google search for "snood" images to see what I mean.

**Funny coincidence, right after I posted this entry, I received the latest Caron Connections newsletter and it features two new crocheted cowls and a knitted one!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Frostyflakes Scarf/Wrap All-Gauge 'Superpattern'

Name on birth certificate: Frostyflakes Scarf/Wrap

100% mulberry silk, DK wt
Birthdate: July 9, 2010. The heat of summer, when anything can happen.

Takes after: Filet crochet and Spiderweb stitch sisters; the eccentric corner-starting, sideways-crochetin' side of the family.

Caron Simply Soft yarn & silver bells
Malabrigo Lace wt (merino)
Quick Scarf of alpaca & silk
Beaded Cashmere
Well now, Frostyflakes is a zesty little firecracker. Her name is a bit unusual (she's not particularly frosty, nor flaky) but that's because she was born with Uranian aspects to her rising sign. She snorts and hums "Don't Fence Me In" loudly if she hears any talk of swatching, stitch gauges, or yarn requirements.

She's been known to say (holler, actually), "Silk and alpaca blend? Let me at it. I DON'T CARE how many yards are in a skein, dang it I don't need to know. Just give me a crochet hook a little bigger than what the label calls for and I'll have a beaut for ya before sundown. Git now."

Scarf-sized: 150 yds sport wt
Watch your yarn stash around her because she'll take anything and whip it up into a gift scarf or wrap (might want to supervise her around bead stashes too). Her style is, get a running start, jump on the horse and ride at full speed (double crochet stitches and chains). She does however indulge in some fancypants tastes when it comes to the horses she'll ride (i.e., yarn).

Frostyflakes was conceived when a particular yarn put a twinkle in her ma's eye. The exact moment was Saturday afternoon in the market of the 2010 CGOA national Chain Link conference, held in Manchester NH. A particularly sunny Melissa Leapman was in the Leilani Arts booth. She held up a glowing skein of pure mulberry silk yarn and said, "Have you seen this? It's wonderful." I said, "I wonder how many I would need to make something?" She showed me her crocheted shawl and said, "This only took ONE skein. That's really all you need." (See first photo.)

Three Beaded Amigos (red=lace wt & seed beads; white=heavy lace wt & glass beads; blue=light worsted wt & silver bells)

The yarn whispered sweet nothings in my ear, like "if you start in one corner and increase steadily until I'm half used up, then you'll know how big your wrap will be and then you can work your will on every last inch of me." And, "I'm so drapey and delicious that simple double crochet stitches will look great. Group them into some dramatic solid sections, surround them with starry open spaces, and our love will live on forever."

The Scrapbook of Frostyflakes
(Like a doting Mom, I'll update this section whenever newsy items occur.)
  • To learn more about the Frostyflakes cornerstart crochet pattern, or to purchase and instantly download it, go to my pattern website here. To do the same in my Ravelry Store, go here. (If you go to my website, you can see lots more patterns--by me, and by Doris Chan, before they appear in Ravelry.)
  • Frostyflakes has a social life over in Ravelry. Even if you don't visit her page to purchase the pattern, look at the tabs across the top and you can see the Frostyflakes projects other Ravelers make, when she pops up as a topic in forums, Ravelers' comments, and yarn ideas.
  • Frostyflakes has her own Flickr set here. Actually she has two. One is public, and one can be accessed only by using a special pass found in her pattern!