Thanks for your well wishes, everyone, which I really have found most cheering. I am starting to feel better (O, the wonder of evil antibiotics) and my OWLS are almost making up for the disappointment of missing Harrogate. Here they come! (note: I do actually have a head. But it looks pretty rotten right now.)
I imagine many of you are familiar with The Owl. It is most frequently seen on this lovely kid’s cardigan, designed by Penny Straker (1962) but there have apparently been owls in circulation since the 1940s. There are several more recent designs which feature The Owl. These include a dishcloth, Jodi Haraldson’s baby owl vest and, (thanks to this link from The Lady yesterday), a pair of mittens. The basic owl, (or th’owl, if you will) is formed with three sets of C4B, C4F cables. Different renditions of th’owl have different elements: some feature branches or eyes in raised purl stitches, some do not. My owl amalgamates a few versions of the basic cable that I’ve seen, and was worked over 19 rows.
I mentioned yesterday that my owls were inspired by other owls. First in the list must be the glow-in-the dark inhabitant of Suzanne’s wonderful Forest mural (go and check out the full set of photos on Flickr, and read about it on Suzanne’s blog). And then there were Alexandra’s owls (Yes! you too can make them! See her super tutowlrial). Mandy’s hooters just about killed me, and Liz has recently been turning out several fantastic owls. All these wee owls were just so eminently covetable! How I loved them. How I wanted to wear my own owls! But could one get away with adult owls? I was unsure. For a while I hesitated. But then the knitting mojo kicked in, and I decided that I liked the owls so much, I didn’t care if people considered it foolish. No! For I would hoot and sport my owls with pride!
So I designed a seamless yoke sweater, featuring owls around the yoke, in the round from the bottom up. I wanted it to be very warm, and picked a chunky yarn (Steel Grey Suffolk from the Rowan Sheep Breeds range). But I also wanted it to be shapely rather than boxy, so knitted the yarn at a reasonably tight gauge to fit my exact dimensions with very little ease. I also worked waist shaping at the back rather than the sides, and lowered the front neckline using two Japanese short rows.
Rather than decreasing a percentage of the stitches in several stages, (as Elizabeth Zimmerman suggests in her seamless-yoke protocol), I held off on decreasing at all until I had completed the owls – which, at four inches high are over half the height of the finished yoke. I then decreased stitches very rapidly on alternate rows (I credit this design feature to Ysolda, who pointed out to me a while ago that women’s bodies do not actually ‘decrease’ that much between the bust and shoulder line), and then worked a few more short rows across the back of the sweater to create a raised neck. Bingo! The whole thing knit up very quickly.
Someone sent me a link to this article last week, in which I read that John Lewis’ sales of buttons have increased by 40% in the past year. I fear I may be at least partly responsible, as there are 32 John Lewis buttons on this sweater.
Now, I’m sure it’s just me, but I swear that after I’d sewn on their eyes, every single one of my owls assumed a different personality. I know, I know I am foolishly anthropomorphic. Twit. Twoo.
Needles: 6.5 mm circs
Yarn: Rowan Sheep Breeds ‘Steel Grey Suffolk’ (softens up nicely after blocking, will wear well, very little kemp in the yarn): 520g (5 skeins and a bit)
If anyone is interested, I may well write up this pattern: the way I worked out the shaping and the yoke decreases means that adapting th’owls to different sizes (or indeed, yarn gauges) is really very easy indeed.