Combining Culture and Creativity: the Kumara Cowl

Today sees the release of the Kumara Cowl, a design that you'll be able to find in the new Holla Knits! issue. 

Let me take a moment to share the story behind this pattern: Kumara represents a lot of firsts for me. This was my first design proposal that I ever sent in and luckily, it happened to be my first acceptance. I've continued to submit plenty more design proposals to other magazines since then and have had to learn how to handle rejections (which I think I'm used to by now), but having my first design accepted really helped my motivation and confidence moving forward. So thank you Allyson for believing in my design!

Secondly, Kumara is my first pattern where I have incorporated a taniko motif into the design (I designed the Ngaru Hat after Kumura). Blending the Maori arts and knitwear designs has always been on the forefront of my mind ever since I picked up my needles to learn how to knit. 

Kumara is a seamless, tubular cowl that combines modern knitting with the Maori culture, with trendy stripes and a simple fair-isle motif that is rich in history and culture. The colorwork motif lends itself from Maori taniko designs, a form of traditional weaving. This particular patterning is called “rau kumara” or sweet potato leaves: an important stable food in Māori cuisine and is associated with the Māori god Rongomātāne, the god of peace. Long enough to be wrapped up cozily around the neck, you’ll be glad to have this piece in your wardrobe during the winter months!

I would like to thank two people for this design. Firstly, of course, Allyson Dykhuizen for accepting my design. It had been such a pleasure working with her - such great communication and friendly yet professional responses. I certainly hope I get the chance to work with her again in the future. Holla Knits! really encourages out of the box and unique designs, something that really forces the designer to step out of their comfort zone and try something new!

Secondly, I want to thank Julie Asselin for the yarn support. I used her yarn line Sevilla for the blue and gold sample and it was such a pleasure to work with. I'll be posting a Yarn Cakes and Tea episode about this later this week so I'll be able to gush more about it then!

You can get the Kumara Cowl pattern at the link below! I'll also be uploading it onto Craftsy and LoveKnitting later in the week (more purchasing options for the people!).

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But I won't be ending this post without a giveaway! Just leave a comment below (with your Rav ID) and I'll be picking out a winner at random this Friday! (Please note that the comments may not be mobile friendly. I'm still trying to fix the issue but you'll have to use a desktop computer in order to comment).

Entrelacement Shawl

This shawl was a custom design order for a Christmas present (how thoughtful!). While I used my usual shawl construction in this design, I focused on incorporating cables instead of the usual lace. 

The border is comprised of three sets of cable patterns. On each edge is a plaid cable, made so they run in opposite directions of each other. This frames the main cable pattern, four cable lines weaving in and out of each other. Stitches are picked up from one side of the border and the main body is knit in stockinette. Before binding off, a fews rows of garter stitch is knit to prevent curling and to add some texture. Shawl was then blocked and weaves tucked in. 

The client wanted a shawl that would be both beautiful and warm. I was originally just going to knit the Bellflower shawl with thicker yarn, but later opted on designing something new and with cables, since cables pack more warmth than lace does. I also used fine merino wool, the finer the yarn, the warmer it is, especially paired up with the right sized needles. This ensures the shawl to trap and retain heat better.

The pattern is now available for purchase on-site or on Raverly.

Knitting Class: Finished Projects!

This week, the ladies of Ubuyama finished up their first sets of knitting! As you remember, the first week they made a basic scarf with tassels. The next week was a seed-stitch cowl and today they finished their pom-pom slouchy beanies! Here are some pictures of their finished works; let's congratulate them!

They were all beginner knitters, so both them and I are very proud of what they achieved in a month. They have really good tension and their stitches were very nice and even.

For next week's lesson they want to make leg-warmers, which I think will be a good introduction to measuring gauge and adjusting the number of stitches for better fits.

Ochiba Cowl(落葉カウル)

I am surrounded by nature: green pastures, rolling hills, lush forests and grand mountains. It would be silly if I didn't knit a few items that weren't inspired by such views. Also, I was going through my earlier designs and thought it would be best to retire them. The first to go is the Honey Comb Cowl, and it is to be (hopefully) replaced by the cowl that I am naming the "Ochiba Cowl". Ochiba is Japanese for fallen leaves.

All Images @ Roston Willis. Here you can see how the cowl falls.

This cowl uses 300 yards of worsted weight yarn in superwash wool on size 8 32" circular needles and 5 straight needles. This current version incorporates cable, slip stitch and lace patterns, with picked up stitches and an applied border (I find myself quite addicted to those types of constructions). This was also the first time I blocked a cowl, which proved to be challenging at first but I ended up finding a good method. The finished dimensions here are 7" width and 21" length (42" circumference) but the width can be easily adjusted to any size.

From top to bottom: cables, slip stitch and lace.

While this cowl can be worn in any fashion, due to the nature of the slip stitch pattern, I think it is best worn wrapped around the neck. It fits cozily and is sure to keep the neck warm. Definitely a cowl for the colder seasons. 

I have plans to reknit this cowl with a thicker body (and in a green color!) and make some minor adjustments before writing up and publishing the pattern. 

Let me know your thoughts on this cowl? In the meantime, I'll be finishing knitting up a cabled/eyelet hat...