Introducing Martina Behm's Wood Warbler cowl

We have had the exciting phone call to say our books are on their way, so we're into the final countdown until parcels start landing on doormats around the world in September. The complete eBook will be uploaded to our shop and Ravelry on 6th September, when we will also be launching the September pattern video tutorial at Mason-Dixon Knitting. To pass the time between now and then, we're going to reveal a pattern a day this week, starting with our cover design: the Wood Warbler cowl by the wonderful Martina Behm.

Martina Behm's designs often combine surprising simplicity with knitting interest, and are always beautiful to wear. Her design for A Year of Techniques fulfils all these criteria, and more! Thank you Martina!

The Wood Warbler cowl is one of those knits that remains a complete mystery while it's on your needles, the final shape only becomes clear right at the end.

Only the garter stitch stripes give a clue as to the cowl's structure. Image © Jesse Wild.

Only the garter stitch stripes give a clue as to the cowl's structure. Image © Jesse Wild.

This month's technique will be garter stitch grafting, and the cowl allows you to practise last month's provisional cast ons as well. You will find the video tutorials over on Mason-Dixon Knitting on the official pattern launch day - 6th September 2017 - but in the meantime you can get in training by reminding yourself of the provisional cast-on methods at last month's post.

Starting with a provisional cast on, the cowl is worked on the bias in garter stitch stripes. Clever shaping and cast-off edges makes the bottom edge of the cowl (a V shape), and when the cowl is complete the cast-on edge is grafted to the live stitches. The pattern instructions include a schematic to help you visualise what's happening, but just go with the flow and it all becomes clear at the end! 

Only the difference in colour between the cast-on and final edges gives away where the cowl has been joined. Image © Jesse Wild.

Only the difference in colour between the cast-on and final edges gives away where the cowl has been joined. Image © Jesse Wild.

The cowl uses two shades of Schoppel-Wolle Gradient that are striped against each other. This yarn was new to me at the start of the project, and is now a firm favourite on my needles. It uses Schoppel's reggae felting method, which creates a yarn that's really straight. Now I know that sounds really odd, as yarn is usually either twisted or incredibly delicate, like pencil roving or plötulopi, but Gradient neither appears twisted or delicate. The fibres in Gradient are lightly steamed using Shoppel's reggae felting method and the result is a yarn that's soft and yet "straight". The yarn is classified as a DK-worsted weight, with a recommended needle size of 3.5-4.5mm, but for the Wood Warbler cowl we're using it at a looser gauge, which makes a cosy, drapey fabric. And we've not even started to talk about the colours!

The colours!

Gradient (as the name suggests) features colours that fade from one to another in a long, gradual colour repeat. In fact the colour repeat is so long that it takes more than a ball of yarn to repeat. The sample cowl is knitted in Shadows / Schatten which combines a gradient of white through to dark grey with Yellow Filter / Gelbfilter, which moves from greys through to yellows and greens. Yellow Filter is currently out of stock with Schoppel, but we have a good range of alternatives available. Shadows is a great shade to combine with pops of other colours... How about In the Meadow / In der Wiese with its bright greens and teals? Or Indian Rose / Indisch Rosa in warm pinks and reds?

I've already made a cowl in the original colourway, but I'm itching to cast on some other combinations... You can get your hands on lots of options for different combinations of colours over in our new Yarn category in the shop. We've added all the yarns used in A Year of Techniques so far, so if you fancy a Zauberball to knit another pair of Hyacinthus armwarmers, or perhaps some Socks Yeah! for an Alex or some Antirrhinum socks, the yarns are ready and waiting for you. We've also restocked the seasonal kits, and the Winter Kits will be available to pre-order at the end of this week.

Thank you once again to Martina Behm for creating such a versatile design for A Year of Techniques, and for introducing me to this lovely yarn! It's not too late (at all) to join in with A Year of Techniques - if you order a print + ebook combination (£19.99 plus shipping) you'll get the first 6 patterns now, with the remaining 6 delivered on 6th September, and the print book will be shipped very shortly. We can't wait to share it with you!

If your local yarn shop would be interested in stocking A Year of Techniques, they can order wholesale copies from our distributor, Chester Wool Company