The Cowl in Horseshoe Lace

I figured I would blog about some of my new designs–what I like about them, how the patterns can help my LYS customers, and some of my design inspiration and process (such as it is.)  All of these designs can be found at your LYS and at some online retailers’ sites.

When Laura and I dreamed up the Pedestal Buttons, we realized that we needed to show them in action, and that meant we needed some pattern support.  While I would welcome other designers to work up garments that highlight the new Jul closures (in fact, the pieces have been featured in Norah Gaughan Volume 9 for Berroco and also will be in the Kollage Fall pattern line,) the responsibility for creating pattern support especially to showcase the hardware has fallen to me.  Luckily, I have a lot of yarn around.  And designing in the yarns that I sell makes my life easier, so that’s where I started.

The Cowl in Horseshoe Lace for the Jul Topografie Collection is the first design we released.  It uses up just about every inch of 2 skeins of Terra or Organik from The Fibre Company.  I love the luxurious yet rustic nature of Terra, the best-selling yarn in this line, and the color and texture of the silk slubs work well in the horseshoe lace.  I like how the unpredictability of the yarn, used in a very regular, symmetrical pattern, throws off the symmetry just a little.  But the Organik has such great stitch definition.

I’ve used it for several designs so far and it is right up there in my top 10 yarns now.  That list changes a lot, because I have so much great product to choose from.  Really my favorites are changing all the time, depending on what I am using.

We finally settled on Topografie for the name of the pattern collection.  It is an alternative spelling of topography.

to·pog·ra·phy

 [tuh-pog-ruh-fee] 

–noun, plural -phies.

1. the detailed mapping or charting of the features of a relatively small area, district, or locality.
2. the detailed description, especially by means of surveying, of particular localities, as cities, towns, or estates.
3.the relief features or surface configuration of an area.
To me, this brings up the idea of  working with what is already all around you.  For our models we have used friends,
friends of friends, neighbors, and even the random friendly stranger.
 The settings where we took the photos are within a small radius of where these people work, live, and hang out in real life.  We did not do hair or makeup.  I like the look of people in their natural state, in their natural habitat.
I loved noticing the textures of walls, roads, and doorways, and this reminded me that knitting is a lot like constructing a building or a bridge.  You keep putting row on top of row, and the structure starts to take shape, until it becomes what it is going to be.  And there are many paths to achieve your desired result.  This kind of creating, for me, is using hands to describe what is in the mind by making something real that we can see, feel, enjoy, and use.
 I like how this cowl can be styled many different ways with the Pedestal Buttons and other Jul closures.  The hardware can be just decorative,
or functional (for instance, to “snug it up” if you really need the cowl to protect you from cold,) or both.  You can choose not to join the cowl into a cylinder, and you can decide to change the function of the piece altogether.
I love experimentation and flexibility.

Anyway, this cowl represents about 8-10 knitting hours for me, a fairly fast knitter.  Horseshoe lace is one of my favorite basic lacey patterns, since once I’ve done a couple repeats, I pretty much “get it,” and don’t need to keep track of rows any longer–I find it an easy pattern to “read.”  Lately I am really into knitting projects that can be picked up and put down, since I am trying to knit only in the evenings and when I have spare moments.  I want something that can go with me to a doctor’s waiting room, a car ride, and even happy hour.  I want to be able to chat or watch a movie and knit.  I think a lot of knitters like the same sorts of projects.  My goal is to keep my designs accessible to a wide range of knitters, simple, yet engaging.  Because of the construction of the cowl, the pattern is oriented vertically for this piece, where normally you see horseshoe lace done horizontally, like this and this.

I really think this pattern will work well in a big chunky yarn, and I am doing a reinterpretation of the design now in a fluffy DK weight–a shoulder drape, rather than a cowl, for a shop in a warm weather area, where you don’t get much use for a warm wool neck cover.  My friend Yvonne tested the pattern for me, and her version works really well in a beautiful, smooth Tosh DK.  And I like her model, too.  And here’s a link to my Ravelry designer page, in case you’d like to see the collection or “like” any of my designs.

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