Have you seen the new Knitty yet? That’s me on the cover! Whoa!! Very exciting!
My pattern is pretty bonkers, but only because of the yarn, which I feel like shouldn’t even be called “yarn”… it needs some other name… It’s The BagSmith Big Stitch Merino, and it knits up on size US 36 (20mm) needles at a gauge of 3 stitches per 4 inches!
My pattern, Superduper (on ravelry / leethalknits), is a giant cowl that can be worn many different ways. Above, you see it as a double-layer cowl, with a smaller neck-warming inside, and a larger shoulder-warming outer tube. If that’s turned around, you get this…
…and then the inside layer can be pulled up as a hood, for ultimate head/neck warmth:
(I tested out the level of warmth in some windy freezing snow, and it is COZY!)
So then if you flip it completely inside out, the tubes arrange so they’re together, as one giant double-thick tube (instead of the bigger outside and smaller inside), making a ridiculously humongous cowl:
This style is a bit silly and impractical, yes, but fun, I think.
And then you can flip the outer tube out to un-twist the whole thing, and it turns into a kind of figure-8 scarf+handwarmer piece:
And if you pull that the other way, so that the two sides are the same size, it can be worn as a shoulder shrug kind of thing:
Personally, I like it as a cowl hood that’s all-consuming and makes one look like a super-cozy performance artist or something:
How about a little backstory? I was given the chance to design in this awesome yarn (and I use the term awesome in this case more with the dictionary definition in mind: extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear), which I could never afford to use normally, to be honest, not my normal yarn scene ;) So it was a really cool opportunity to have, and I thought it would be a fun design challenge to come up with a great pattern for it. My big bump sat around my house for awhile, as I waited for the inspiration to come to me…
…and eventually an inspired idea struck, I spent a few days sketching and swatching in a regular super bulky yarn to get the pattern figured out, and then I realized it was way too complicated and wasn’t going to work in this yarn. After days of work, it kind of hit me like a slap in the face, what was I thinking with this many-sectioned, modular, complex design?! That wasn’t going to work at all, I needed to simplify!
So, I started from scratch and spent several days developing a flat, simple-shaped design, which I thought would be perfect for the yarn. I knit up a sample using bulky yarn held triple-stranded, thinking that would be a similar weight to this yarn. It was fabulous, I loved it!! So then I knit up the real sample in this yarn all the way to the end, ignoring how much it WAS NOT working, until it was finished and I stepped back, and I realized how much of a complete failure it was. Turns out, this yarn is MUCH much heavier than triple-stranded bulky.
The good news about that design: it turned into Lemmy (below). The white Lemmy sample was the original sample, then when it failed for this project, I reworked the pattern and made the other samples in the other weights, and I’m really happy with that pattern, so it’s all for the best. (Side note: the first failed design is on hold for now, but I plan to also turn that into its own pattern in the future.)
I VERY carefully frogged that whole failed piece, started from scratch once again, having learned from all my mistakes, keeping it SIMPLE, and came up with Superduper. The final pattern uses the yarn in the best way, keeping to basic stitch patterns and simple shapes. I’m really happy (super duper happy) with how it turned out!
Of course, if you want to make a Superduper but the yarn is outside your budget, substitutions are totally possible. It might not be as easy as with most patterns, but if you think outside the box a little it shouldn’t be too hard. One idea: bulky yarn triple stranded twice, to make it 9-strands-thick, by chaining the whole skein using this technique, then chaining it again as you knit. Or 6-strands thick by holding two balls together and chaining them as you go. You’d need to play around with your bulky yarn to see how many strands are needed to get the approximate gauge – of course, you can mess with the gauge too, to make a slightly smaller piece. Another idea: knit with roving! Okay I’ll leave other ideas up to you, but I just wanted to say that I know this yarn is a very specialty item that most knitters can’t really justify buying (myself included) so if you like the item, you can making something work!
Let’s see, other fun things about the pattern… The cover shoot, in the snow, was done last weekend at Timberline Lodge (aka the Overlook Hotel from The Shining!) in some seriously cold, windy conditions. You can see above how I couldn’t control my hair at times, and I don’t know what I was doing in that outtake shot, but I think I got a bit silly from the cold! The cowl got put to the test in these conditions, and while my hands and feet were numb, my neck and shoulder region was toasty warm! The initial photoshoot, on the other hand, was done back in August (thankfully not during a 100 degree heat wave, just a normal August day in Portland), and I recommend NOT wearing this item in the summertime ;)
I think that’s that, everything you might want to know about Superduper! I hope some of you try making it, and then post photo in your ravelry projects so I can see! I don’t expect this to be one of my most popular designs, but it really is fun, and it knits up QUICK, like a few hours total, so if you have yarn that will work, give it a try! Fun knitting times!