Cowl No. 2 – back to the drawing board

I have thoroughly enjoyed my River Rock cowl. It is soft, lightweight, and warm. It collapses comfortably when I wear it inside my jacket, and when I pull it over my nose it stays up by itself and does a good job protecting my face from the biting winter wind. The yarn is fluffy, although during the first few weeks of wear there were many stray threads (hairs?) that stuck to my lips and earmuffs. Yuck.
 When I first wrote about the River Rock cowl I mentioned that I also had yarn to make a blue cowl. It’s Araucania brand yarn, a wool, camel, and silk blend that I thought would brighten up my black down coat. It called for 4.5mm needles, but I used 4 mm needles to make the cowl more wind resistant.

The stripe pattern created by the yarn was a bit of a surprise. And the camera doesn't quite capture the teal and mauve in the yarn.

This is a pattern I “designed” myself, where I simply cast on 130 stitches (10 more than I used for the River Rock cowl due to the smaller needles), started and ended with 3 rows of k1 p1 ribbing, and used stockinette stitch for the part in between. I wore it with the purl side of the cowl showing because I really like interplay of the bumps and the changing colours.

Good ideas, however, do not necessarily translate into a good pattern. 1. this cowl is far too roomy, such that I have to hold it up to my face just like I would with a scarf. 2. the ribbing at the top and bottom cause the body of the cowl to bow away from me. 3. the cold seems to go right through it.

Guess it’s back to the drawing board. I’m going to rip it down and eventually start over with another design. You see, I haven’t chosen a new design yet, and there are only 5 more weeks of winter.

Quilting with pre-cuts

Although there are many, many quilts I want to make (and have the fabric for), I haven’t thought to make a list. So last weekend when it was time to start something new, I didn’t know where to start. And because I was desperate to start sewing or cutting right now!, I went to my stash and decided I really should start with some fabric that I don’t love.  Why? Two reasons. First, I felt a responsibility to not ignore the stuff that I’ve turned lukewarm on. And second, I don’t dare cut into fabric I love if I’m not quite sure what to do with it.

Enter Beach House by Blackbird Designs.

Beach House by Blackbird Designs

As it happens, I had two charm packs, a honey bun, and some yardage, and I looked around for something to do with them. Somehow I stumbled on Millie Kriel’s blog where she showed some of the beautiful Cake Mix quilts she’s made. Perfect! Since I’m starting with 5″ charm squares and a honey bun made of 1.5″ strips, I know my blocks will be smaller than Millie’s, and that’s okay. The point is to make an interesting/nice quilt using what I have on hand.

Here’s a picture of all the fabrics in the line. There were 40 different fabrics in each charm pack, and seemingly the same in the honey bun. (Couldn’t be bothered to count.)

Fabrics in the line

Since my two lengths of yardage are part of the Beach House line, they blended too well to be the corner pieces. In my stash I found the perfect shade of deep wine from a small collection of Moda Marbles fat quarters I’ve had since the early 1990s. The catch? There’s not enough in a FQ to make  a border, and the closest local quilt shop doesn’t have this colour. Oh well, I’ll deal with that when the time comes.  
Here’s a picture of the blocks in progress.

Cake Mix quilt in progress

For possibly the first time, I am letting the quilt come together in a scrappy, unplanned manner. Normally I would want each block to be beautiful in and of itself, but with 40 fabrics to work with I decided to let randomness prevail. The only thing I’ve done to control the look of the individual blocks is to not have 2 of the identical fabric in the same block. Two of the same colourway in different prints is okay, and two of the same print in different colourways is also alright.
I’ll post again when the blocks are all done.