Somewhat Cowl -- August-October 2006

So I was wearing this the other night, possibly while a tiny bit tipsy, and was disconsolately staring at myself in the mirror thinking "but it's not quite right". Something about the cowlish neckline just wasn't flattering for my figure. It was fine, mostly, but not the gorgeous, glamorous item I'd hoped for, and a tiny annoying voice in the back of my head was insistently telling me that I knew I wouldn't wear it very often. All that work and all that stunning, beautiful (expensive!) yarn would sit in a neatly folded pile in my wardrobe, taunting me every time I saw it. What a waste.

I kept fiddling around with the neck, pulling it this way and that and trying to make it stick out a bit more, and then tried flipping it backwards. And OH MY GOD. Suddenly the neckline was fabulous, and a bit kooky, and much more flattering and definitely something that I'd actively choose to wear. So today, while decidedly more sober, and after confirming with my housemates and my boyfriend that yes, the new way totally works, I carefully sewed the back of the cowl into its new, fulltime position. Am I mad? Have I ruined what was a perfectly good design? Tell me what you think because I'm genuinely curious.

Old style on the left side, new style on the right. The lighting was much better in the morning 'shoot', as you can see, and those pictures also show the colour of the yarn more accurately.

Before and after, front view. Also, in case you're wondering, I swear I'm wearing the same clothes underneath this in both pictures, and am holding exactly same posture. See what I mean about flattering to my figure?

Before and after, back view.

Ooh, pesky cowl, suddenly I feel like I've won again and I'm right back in love with you. Largely to do with the yarn as well, to be fair (although no disrespect to the pattern) -- believe me when I say this stuff is absolutely gorgeous. Madly extravagant? Oh yes. But utterly, utterly beautiful, butter-soft and with a delicious sheen. And warm, gosh, like you wouldn't believe. When I was wearing it the other night I found myself decidedly grateful that I'd gone for the short sleeves instead of the three-quarter-length version. It has its own spoiled-princess little quirks, mind: a tendency to twist up dramatically on the working yarn between the garment and the ball, and varying degrees of thickness (definitely spun slightly unevenly, but I guess that's the magic of silk). But overall it is just simply beautiful. I realised how completely spoilt I'd been when I picked up some RYC baby cashsoft to start a new project. That's RYC baby cashsoft, yes, one of the cosiest, softest wool yarns around, and yet which seemed positively harsh compared to what I'd become accustomed to. I think I should knit with string for a little while, to balance things out a bit.

And the cowl itself, the wayward thing? Yeah it's a prety glam jumper, all in, more so for my figure once I'd made my adjustments to the neckline. I added some length to the body, as per usual, and did a couple more waist decreases (and matching increases). A tip for people considering this pattern: if you'd rather your cowl stands out more than Wendy's or mine (in its standard, pre-amends, version), pick up many more stitches that Wendy suggests for the bottom part of the cowl. Mine lay flat like that because I only picked up 10 stitches (as per the pattern) along a part that's 20 stitches wide -- picking up 20 would have made it much looser and cowly. This pattern overall was delightfully clear and easy to follow. And top-down raglan patterns in general? Real genius and I'll most certainly do one again.

For completeness -- here's a lovely blurry photo taken shortly after the 'eureka!' moment.

Details: Somewhat Cowl, size Small, knitted in Debbie Bliss Pure Silk (less than eight hanks) in 04 (cream), on 3.75 and 3.5mm bamboo circular needles and 3.75 and 3.5mm bamboo DPNs. Took around eight weeks (yes yes, I'm not a speedy knitter at the moment, I'm fine with that), of which intense knitting only happened over two or three weekends.

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