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  • Seed Saver Cowl

    Here's an easy, mindful & meditative make. My favorite kind. I whipped up two in one week (!) -- gave one to my mom because she is great and kept the other. I really enjoyed my time with this project as both my early morning stitches, to awaken and mentally prepare for the day ahead, and as soothing, late evening decompression-knitting. It's a pattern that asks just enough of your skill and attention, but not too much. If you're a newer knitter, this will get you very comfortable with simple increases & decreases, while still allowing you to enjoy your work. A veteran stitcher? Then it's simplicity is here just in time to save your holiday sanity. Whew!

    In this very wearable accessory, tidy rows of seed stitch anchor bands of gathered stockinette (aka ruching). It's the perfect project to showboat that extra special skein of uniquely hand dyed yarn -- that one of a kind yarnicorn you found at a fiber festival or on vacation. The overall shape of this cowl is almost like you cut the top and the bottom thirds off of a circle. Its "middle of a bubble" shape makes it drape and lay just right when worn. Knit one (or two!) for yourself, and/or as a quick and lovely gift that is sure to delight.

    P.S. Have you ever looked into seed saving? Do you already do it? I'm a backyard gardener, and the overall theme I had in mind for this design was the cycle of planting, growth and decline in gardening. I find participating in this cycle as a gardener very grounding. Anyway, as I knit, I kept coming back to questions I had about seed saving, and seeds in general. I thought about how I have to explain to my kids why many of the seeds from food we buy at the store won't necessarily grow more food for us if we just stick them in the dirt. I thought about heirloom plants, the relatively modern practice of buying new seeds each season (though don't get me wrong, I love a good seed catalogue), and of seed saving rights and legality (and the fact that that's a thing)... One of my favorite aspects of knitting, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this, is the potential for "AHA!" moments, or even just the quieter moments of understanding that come about from spending quiet time in this active, meditative state. My main AHA! moment knitting this cowl was that I should be a seed saver, not a seed buyer. Knitting this little accessory inspired a change in the way I want to grow food for my family, and a new challenge for me as a gardener!

    What might it inspire for you?

    MATERIALS

    - One skein Blue Highway Hand Dyes TexRanch WORSTED or approximately 225 yards of lovely and special worsted weight yarn.

    - US size 7 24" circular needle... Use a US size 6 if you tend to knit very loose (the yardage is close on this one). Tread lightly if you knit tight and usually to go up a needle size... you've been warned ;-)

    - one stitch marker

    GAUGE

    - Don't stress too much over this, but DO see the above note on needle size. My finished/blocked gauge was 4 sts per inch in seed stitch; 5 sts per inch in stockinette. 

    FINISHED DIMENSIONS

    - Blocked, laying flat and dry, loosely pulled into shape, cowl measures: 14" across at top (approx. 28" diameter); 16" across at bottom (approx. 32" diameter); 18" across at middle (approx. 36" diameter).

    PATTERN

    Take a deep breath. Get comfy.

    Cast on 129 stitches (bottom edge of cowl). Join for knitting in the round, and place stitch marker to mark beginning/end.

    Rounds 1-5: Work seed stitch (k1, p1). (Rows 2 & 4 will begin with p1 and end with k1.)

    Round 6/first increase round: (k3, kfb) to final stitch, k1 (161 total sts).

    Rounds 7-10: Knit.

    Round 11/first decrease round: (k2, k2tog) to final stitch, k1 (121 total sts).

    Rounds 12-15: Work seed stitch (k1, p1). (Rounds 13 & 15 will begin with p1 and end with k1.)

    Round 16/increase round: (k1, kfb) to last stitch, k1 (181 total sts).

    Rounds 17-22: Knit.

    Round 23/decrease round: (k1, k2tog) to last stitch, k1 (121 total sts).

    Rounds 24-27: Work seed stitch. (Rounds 25 & 27 will begin with p1 and end with k1.)

    Round 28: Repeat round 16 (increase round, ends with 181 sts).

    Rounds 29-34: Knit. 

    Round 35: Repeat round 23 (decrease round, ends with 121 sts).

    Rounds 36-39: Work seed stitch. (Rounds 37 & 39 will begin with p1 and end with k1.)

    Round 40: Repeat round 16 (increase round).

    Rounds 41-46: Knit. 

    Round 47: Repeat round 23 (decrease round).

    Rounds 48 - 51: Work seed stitch. (Rounds 49 & 51 will begin with p1 and end with k1.)

    Round 52/final increase round: (k3, kfb) to last stitch, k1 (151 total sts)

    Rounds 53 - 56: Knit. 

    Round 57/final decrease round: (k1, k2tog) to last stitch, k1 (101 total sts).

    Rounds 58 - 61: Work seed stitch. (Rounds 59 & 61 will begin with p1 and end with k1.)

    Bind off all stitches, knitwise.

    Weave in ends.

    Block. Here's what I do: Soak in lukewarm water with a no-rinse soap for hand knits. Squeeze out water very gently, then roll the cowl up in a dry towel and step on it to remove excess moisture. Lay flat to dry, gently patting into shape. Rotate from time to time as it dries, to prevent fold lines.

    Wear it! Gift it! Feel accomplished and unique.