“Billow and breeze, islands and seas Mountains of rain and sun All that was good, all that was fair… over the sea to Skye” Robert Louis Stevenson One of my favourite poems and recently adapted for the theme song to the Outlander TV series. Oh, the romance! I designed Skye Boat Shawl first but I was so enamored with the reversible stitch pattern that I wanted a cowl too. I love them both. The slip stitch rib on both pieces is completely reversible and I love the texture it adds. The lace pattern is reversible too, but does not look the same on both sides. One side is a pretty lace motif that reminds me of buttercups… And the other side, which I think is my favourite of the two, reminds me of rustic hand woven baskets… This brought to mind the two sides of Claire’s life on Outlander. It’s really a romantic idea, but let’s talk knitting. Sometimes, when designing a piece, you accidentally stumble upon the perfect yarn with the first sample. This does not happen very often. Most times it’s the opposite, it’s the second sample that works the best. I’ve had 2 skeins of Tosh DK in my stash forever. I love Madelinetosh but mostly, I work with fingering weight. And most of my stash is made up of fingering weight too. So when I decided to make a heavier, warmer, winter shawl, I didn’t have much choice when digging through my stash. I came across the 2 skeins and decided to give it a try. I had always loved the color, called Copper Penny. So onto the needles it went. And it was perfect. Tosh DK has a lot of body and bounce and that’s exactly what these two designs need, to really show off their stitches. It made the ribbing pop and created amazing texture in the lace. And it practically flew off the needles at the larger gauge. I loved the sample and it’s the perfect size to wrap around the neck on a cold day, but I was craving a larger version. Something that I could cocoon around myself and sink into. I found the colorway Olivia at a local shop and I immediately loved it. And it was a new color to me, which always gives me a little thrill. Here is the 3 skein version in Tosh DK, with generous dimensions of 64 inches wide by 28 inches deep. Have I mentioned that you can make this shawl any size at all? The main pattern is an 8 row repeat, which you may work as many times as you like, for the perfect size shawl for you. The shawl is begun at one wingtip with a few stitches and then knit across to the other wingtip. The finished shape is just slightly asymmetrical. The stitch patterns are easy peasy and all the lace work is done on the right side rows. Once the two shawl samples were complete, I just couldn’t let go of the stitch pattern. I checked my stash for other heavier yarns and came across an old favourite, Malabrigo Rios. This yarn has similar properties to Tosh DK and I thought it would work for a cowl. So next on the needles went a 2 skein cowl using the colorway Teal Feather. I ran the ribbing along the top edge of the cowl, to add some subtle neck shaping. It worked out great and I loved the cowl too. But I started wondering what a smaller version would be like. Something I could even wear indoors on a cold and drafty winter day. Or under my coat on a walk. I decided to see if I could make a small version using just one skein of Tosh Dk. I loved the idea of turning a single skein into something useful. And it would work up quickly, what a great idea for gifts. This time I selected the Tosh DK in the colorway Betty Draper’s Blues. I’m a huge fan of the TV series Mad men, whose character Betty Draper wears this shade of blue quite often. I played with the width a bit, making it 2 inches narrower, and I was able to get 26 inches in length, before blocking, which turned out to be perfect for the size I had in mind. The cowl is begun with a provisional cast on, but it’s the easiest provisional cast on, in my opinion. It’s done with a crochet hook (but you don’t need to know how to crochet!) and your stitches go right onto the needle using waste yarn. Cut your waste yarn, begin your beautiful yarn and you are started. I’m a big fan of Knit Purl Hunter videos on youtube. She is awesome at explaining everything step by step and her videos are clear and concise. If I’m searching for a technique, I always turn to her channel first, as I know I will get a quality video. She very generously agreed to share her video on the crochet cast on with us. Easy right? Once the length of your cowl has been knit, it’s quick to join the two ends together using the three-needle bind off. Knit Purl Hunter has a video on that too. Check out her awesome website, with all her videos here. I really like working cowls lengthwise. For some reason, it seems to go faster when the rows are short. And best of all, you can try on the cowl or even block it, while still on the needles. No guess work on how long it will be in the end. I love that. Like the shawl, it’s very simple to change up the size of the cowl, to suit your preferences. Change the depth by adding or subtracting stitches, in multiples of 4. And to change the circumference, simply knit your piece longer or shorter than directed. If you are not sure what length you’d like, block it on the needles, as I often do, to get it just right. This has been a very long post, so I will end now by saying a big thank you to Teresa for test knitting for me.
The two patterns, Skye Boat Shawl and Skye Boat Cowl are for sale on Ravelry beginning today. I’m running a special promotion until midnight Friday November 28th. Purchase one the Skye Boat patterns and receive the other one free. Details on the pattern pages on Ravelry.