Pattern inspiration: Princess Franklin Plaid Cowl
I first stumbled across this fantastic way of knitting plaid 2 years ago. I had been searching for years, trying to come up with my own way, etc., but I was overthinking it and going for the wickedly complicated methods. The way to make it is amazingly simple: garter stitch stripes, and then weave in the perpendicular stripes to create stunning tartans. New favorite pattern.
I made the cowl for myself 2 years ago, and then again (but with a twist) last year as a graduation/birthday/moving to a new city/starting grad school gift for a friend (I was a little late getting it to her…). I used the school colors of her undergrad and grad school – both blue and yellow, funnily enough – and her favorite colors, purple and green. However, I decided to use Cat Bordhi’s Moebius cast-on, meaning I now had to weave stripes on the wrong side of garter stitch, as well as the right – you see, with this cast-on, you do so in the center of the fabric (along the equator) and knit out in both directions. For a stockinette Möbius, this means switching to knitting reverse stockinette halfway through your round to get everything to lay correctly. Obviously, I don’t have this problem with garter stitch. However, I do have the wrong side of garter stitch on the bottom half of the fabric, which means the tartan is ever-so-slightly different throughout the cowl. Oh well; I discovered it still looks cool.
I had a hankering to knit more plaid recently, so I went to my yarn stash, started pulling out colors that drew my eye, and then tossed them in the bag I was taking to my parent’s for Christmas. I grabbed red, green, navy blue, yellow, and cream. I knew I could create a tartan out of them; it was simply a matter of figuring out which one and then setting the stripe pattern. (Cue slight miscommunication and confusion between my sister and I when I asked her to check my pattern. I didn’t quite communicate all the steps I took in my head to arrive at my pattern.)
Christmas Eve, I pulled the yarn out of my bag, piled it all on my lap, and started hunting for tartans that (A) I like, and (B) are part of my heritage (I’m Scottish on my mom’s side of the family). After a few minutes of searching and not finding what I was looking for, I asked my mom what tartans I could make with the colors I had. She squinted, pursed her lips, and after a pause said, “try Stewart.” So I looked it up, and that (Royal Stewart Modern) was exactly the tartan I was looking for – I was just missing black yarn. Which of course when initially selecting yarn, I pulled out, looked at, said, “nah, I have navy blue already,” and put back. Fortunately, my mom still had leftover black yarn she was willing to part with. Christmas was saved.
Since I prefer scarves to cowls, I’m knitting a scarf this time. This has led to two big differences between the original pattern and my variation:
- I have to weave on both sides of the fabric
- What to do with all of the ends?!
Since the wrong side will never see the light of day in the original cowl, there is no need turn the other side plaid. But those scarves, they’re sneaky devils. You never know what sort of antics they’ll get into.
As for the ends, it was easy to hide them in both of the cowls – I followed the pattern directions for the first (gasp! I’m always changing patterns, just as with recipes), and I caught up the ends in the I-cord bind off for the Möbius cowl. It’s harder to hide the ends with this one, and be assured they’ll stay in place. Obviously the easy answer is just add fringe. But here’s the kicker. I hate fringe. I have no use for the stuff. I settled on braiding the ends together.
Once I finish my scarf, I’m going to move on to a matching hat and glove (or mitten) set. Undecided how I will create them, but I still have time to mull on it. (Only 72 stripes still to weave…)