knit smocked cowl

knit smocked cowl

I mentioned that I was working on a pattern featuring smocking, and here it is!  I’ve been sitting on this Malabrigo Rastita for almost a year now, waiting for the perfect pattern to come my way.  When I didn’t find an existing pattern that piqued my interest, I started to think that I should just come up with something on the fly.  The first time I saw smocking, it blew my little knitting mind.  While it can be used for shaping in a garment, I was drawn to the idea of something that’s a little bit of a cable, a little bit of a rib, and all together like nothing I’d ever seen before.  My test swatches were far more traditional, but I made the impromptu decision to adjust things on the fly and stagger my smocking to get this kooky but orderly motif.

knit smocked cowl

Calling something like this a pattern always feels a bit silly to me, because you know I’m not a pattern follower.  Honestly, coming up with a “pattern” like this could not possibly be easier.  Once you settle on a repeat that you like, just cast on in an interval of that repeat until your piece is the size you’d like, then knit away until either you or your yarn are done.  That said, I know people love strict patterns, so here we go!

Phoebe Smocked Cowl

Edit to add:  I worried that my photos and written explanations wouldn’t be sufficient, so I went ahead and filmed this quick video that explains how the cowl is constructed and shows you exactly how to create the smocked stitch.  I hope you find it helpful!

knit smocking tutorial


The smocked stitches use a “wrap” of yarn that is pulled from the back and used to gather the stitches together into a semi-cable look.

For this pattern, the smocked motif contains a set of 6 stitches (2 knit, 2 purl, 2 knit).  To create the smocking, follow chart in pattern up until the set of 6 stitches that you want to smock.

1:  Insert the needle to the left of the final knit stitch in your group of 6, directly in between 1 knit and 1 purl stitch.

2:  Scoop up your working yarn with the needle and pull it in between these two stitches, bringing a large loop of yarn to the front.

3:  Place this loop on your left needle.

4:  Knit the loop and first knit stitch together as 1, then continue in pattern (so, knit 1, purl 2, knit 2)

If the written instructions are unclear and you prefer video, look above!


1 skein Malabrigo Rastita in Lotus
Size 7 (4.5 mm) needle with 16″ cable
stitch marker
row counter
tapestry needle


Truly, this is unimportant.  If you’d like to work with a smaller yarn, just cast on additional repeats.  To work with a larger yarn, try using fewer repeats.


Cast on 168 stitches.  The pattern uses a repeat of 12 stitches.  If you’d like a larger cowl, cast on additional stitches in multiples of 12 (example: 180, 192, 204, etc)

Pattern is established by knitting 2×2 rib.  Follow chart below, knitting in rib pattern for 11 rows, then smocking stitches as marked.  Continue pattern by knitting in 2×2 rib for 11 more rows, then smocking alternate stitches as marked.

To smock stitch, on row 12: (knit 2, purl 2, perform steps as outlined above, purl 2), repeat to end.

To smock stitch on row 24:  (perform steps as outlined above, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2), repeat to end.

My cowl contains 4 repeats (rows 1-24) of the chart below.  When you’ve finished knitting as many repeats as desired, follow chart to row 23, then bind off in place of row 24.

Weave ends.  Soak cowl and block aggressively.

Smocked Cowl Chart

knit smocked cowl



Follow Your Arrow 2 Clue 5 Knit Picks Hawthorne

Follow Your Arrow 2 Clue 5 Knit Picks Hawthorne

I’m happy that I set things aside for a bit with Clue 4.  Do you ever hit a wall with projects and think ugh, I don’t even want to do this anymore? That was me, half way through Clue 4 when I knew there was a mistake, knew I need to fix it, and, in order to do so, knew that I needed to sew in an afterthought life line and rip back quite a few rows.  With that kind of work ahead of me, I admittedly just wanted to abandon the whole thing and move onto easier, more mindless projects.  I’ll admit something else – while I love my yarn and am enjoying the mystery knit along process, I haven’t been entirely thrilled with my actual shawl.  Individually, I like the clues.  Together, I like the look of the clues, but I went into this project anticipating lace and that’s definitely not what we got.  So are the risks with a MKAL, I suppose.  Thankfully, we saw a bit of lace in Clue 4 and Clue 5 offered more of the same.  Now that more and more finished shawls are popping up every day, I’ve made a complete turn around, going from barely liking my own shawl to loving some of the finished projects.  I can’t wait to finish my edge and get this bad boy blocked so I can appreciate the final piece.

For Clue 5, we had the option of continuing the motif set forth in the previous stage or doing a knit-on edge.  With so much extra yardage to work with, I chose the clue that extended the pattern from my previous choice.  I’ve also been working on some optional add-on rows and I’m thinking about trying to stack the other Clue 5 on top of this one.  Some knitters on Ravelry, those more industrious than me, have already knit test swatches to figure out how the two clues would stack together.  The photos above show Clue 5 in its completion as written.  From here I just need to decide how much further I’m going to go.  If this process has felt excruciatingly long to you, no worries!  The next (final) time you see this project, it’ll be finished.



I filmed this unboxing early last week and loved my box so much that I wanted to post it immediately.  I got some great feedback on my last video when someone asked about the pattern that was included as part of our box which is something I certainly should have shared last time around! I’ve been sitting on the video since I filmed, just waiting on this month’s pattern to be released.  In defense of Fiberista Club, they’ve intentionally held off on posting spoilers or sharing the pattern because some boxes were delayed (through no fault of their own) but I finally decided that I didn’t want to wait any longer.  If you like to see a proper unboxing, check out the video above.  If you just want to see what we got, take a look below.

February Fiberista Club yarn subscription box / Spellbound Fibers

February Fiberista Club yarn subscription box / Spellbound Fibers

This month’s box featured two weights of yarn from a new independent dyer, Spellbound Fibers.  Our boxes contained skeins of either Super Chunky or Lace weight superfine merino wool.  I received two skeins of their Lace yarn, called Air, in the colors Dream Within A Dream (purple) and Willow Mist (green-y blue).  Each skein has plenty of yardage to complete a project, so I’m passing Dream Within A Dream along to my Mom as a thanks for that buffalo wool she shared with me a few weeks ago.  In addition to the yarn in our boxes, we received a surprise tote!  I’m certain that the patterns are coming soon, so stay tuned on those.

If I haven’t made it clear enough already, I’ve been really pleased with my decision to join Fiberista Club.  My only critique so far would be with how patterns are handled.  I didn’t download last month’s pattern in a timely manner, and its now showing as a purchase-only option.  We’re still waiting on this month’s pattern and I get the feeling that the excitement has already passed for a lot of subscribers and we’re moving along to other projects.  This is literally month two, so I totally understand that they may be dealing with some growing pains and will try to be patient!  Being a small business owner has made me farrrrrrrrr more understanding and flexible than I used to be.  Sometimes things happen and it sucks and its really no ones fault, sometimes you plan and plan and things just don’t execute perfectly.   If you watch the video, you’ll hear me run through a bunch of incredible updates and changes that they’re already making and I’m certain the club will only continue to improve as the months go on.


Follow Your Arrow 2 Clue 4 Knit Picks Hawthorne

I’ve talked about learning my lesson with lifelines no less than two, maybe three times now, right?  Anyone want to guess who got a little too full of themselves and didn’t put one in after Clue 3?

Clue 4 finally gave us the option of adding in some lace work, which immediately decided my clue for me.  After a few rows, my lace looked like it was shifted off by a stitch or two.  I recall that my stitch count in Clue 3 worked out perfectly and my lace count in Clue 4 was working perfectly, but with the lace shifted over a bit, there was obviously an issue somewhere.  I knew something was wrong, but couldn’t find the issue, so I set FYA2 aside for most of last week and worked on other projects.

Last night I finally convinced myself to do what I knew needed to be done – sew in an afterthought lifeline and rip back to the last row where I could verify, without a doubt, that things were accurate.  Honestly, I still haven’t figured out where the issue happened the first time around and things are working perfectly this time around… so…. mistakes happen, I guess? I’m a bit behind schedule right now, but should finish up Clue 4 before the end of the today and hopefully churn out Clue 5 before next Monday.


easy top down ribbed knit socks

I’d hoped to shared another video with you today, specifically the unboxing of my February Fiberista Club subscription, but a little shipping hiccup means the box hasn’t yet arrived and we’ll have to get to it next week.  Without that safety net, I decided I was finally forced to share my first pair of socks.  I’ve been avoiding this post for ages and not because I’m unhappy with the socks; I think they are quite nice for a first go. With the teeny tiny little toes of my mother and the foot width of my father, my feet are ill-proportioned clodhoppers and I found myself very (seriously, very) stressed about sharing photos.  Julie from Knitted Bliss gave me a great little push when she shared her stunning Stripey Socks yet commented on her “weird feet”.  From an outside perspective, I see gorgeous socks and perfectly normal feet which made me think I’m just being too hard on myself. She gave me a great suggestion about choosing the right angles and I chose to leave out a few particularly offensive views, so – breathe – here we go.  Since I’m new to socks, I’m going to overly analyze the entire process because…. of course.

easy top down ribbed knit socks

easy top down ribbed knit socks

These are the A Nice Ribbed Sock, free on Ravelry, and a great intro to basic sock construction if you’re a newbie like me.  The yarn is Ella Rae lace merino in fingering weight.  Since the yarn was adopted from my Mom’s stash, I don’t have labels to know the colorway.  The color is nowhere near something I’d pick, but I was going for low investment risk, so I went with what was on hand and I’m pleased with them in the end.  You’ll see a little bit of pilling in these photos so I’m not sure it’s a yarn that I’ll jump to use again, but that could also be the result of their frequent wear and not an issue with the yarn.  The socks were knit on a size 2 fixed circular needle, top down, one at a time.  At the moment, you couldn’t pay me to use DPNs, so I didn’t even consider pulling mine out for my first pair of socks.

easy top down ribbed knit socks

easy top down ribbed knit socks

These are a typical top down sock.  If you haven’t worked one before, I’ll run through the basic construction -  You start at the top and work a nice stretchy rib for the cuff.  You then continue in pattern (in this case, 3×1 rib) to the necessary length (mine were intentionally made a bit short as I didn’t know what yardage I had to work with) before dividing the stitches in half to work the heel flap.  This pattern calls for a subtle motif of slipped stitches that I think is lovely.  I know it’s nothing unique, but it makes a dense fabric that can withstand some wear and I just find it really visually interesting.  The heel is turned with a series of short rows, then you pick up stitches along the heel flap to make the gusset.  Once done, you rejoin with the other half of the stitches that were previously set aside and work your tube to the desired length before decreasing for the toe.  The toe is just a series of standard decreases, but I love the way all the tidy little stitches line up.

easy top down ribbed knit socks

Fit wise, I’m quite pleased with the sock.  I did increase my stitch count to 72 instead of the 64 that was called for, because I worried the standard size would be too tight.  Next time I think 68 is the perfect size for me.  While I didn’t enjoy the heel construction method, it’s a go-to method in the sock knitting world and offers a great fit.  I was worried about the fit of the toe because it’s done symmetrically and my toes have a very orderly slant from biggest to littlest.  Still, I find that the fabric stretches to accommodate them quiet well, without any baggy extra.  Are these magical socks?

I’m a serial “second sock/mitten/glove syndrome” person and had to actively force myself to finish the second sock.  In fact, you know that held my new projects hostage until the second one was done.  If you’ve been reading for any time at all, you also know that I hate leftover yarn.  Knowing these two things about myself, I decided that my next trial method would be two-at-a-time toe-up socks.  Spoiler – those bad boys are in the works as we speak.  Doing two at once means I’m almost entirely unlikely to abandon the project half way through.  Doing them toe-up means I can use every little inch of yarn.  Based on the way things are already going, I think I’ll greatly prefer this method.  As for my next heel, I’m thinking short row, but welcome any suggestions!  What is your favorite method?




In progress: Follow Your Arrow 2 – Clue 3

by Stef on February 8, 2015

in Knitting

follow your arrow 2 knit picks hawthorne

follow your arrow 2 knit picks hawthorne

I’ve finished Clue 3, so I think I can say I’m at least 50% done by now!  I usually force myself through a pattern in just a few days, so I’ve found that I actually appreciate not having control over the timeline here.  New clues are released on Monday and I’ve been able to finish mine in time to snap some photos during daylight on Wednesday.  I can then set things aside and focus on other projects until the next clue is released.  This means that I have multiple projects in the works at one time, but knowing that I can’t make this one move any faster is a lovely departure from my normal ways.

Clue 3 gave us the choice between a pattern that featured smocking and another with long cables, which is what you see here.  Honestly, I was more drawn to the smocking option and preferred it at quick glance, but I’m writing a pattern at the moment that uses smocking and didn’t want to unintentionally influence myself by picking up little tricks or details from this pattern.  My pattern is nothing special – just a straightforward cowl featuring that amazing Malabrigo Rastita that I’ve talked about a few times – but I was drawn to the smocking technique and wanted to play around with it.  It’s an unfortunate coincidence (for me, no one else!) that my pattern was already in progress when I saw that FYA2 utilizes a similar technique.  While this clue wasn’t my first choice, I think it plays well with my two previous selections and I’m very pleased with where the shawl is headed.  So far my only annoyance throughout this process is that the shawl is curling like crrrrrrazy, making it a little cumbersome to work on and take pictures of.  I was tempted to go ahead and block it, but couldn’t find a way to do so without creating a big wet mess.

I went into this project assuming we’d work on another lace shawl like last time, but clearly I was misguided.  Since we only have two clues remaining, I wonder if we’ll see some lace work in the final clues or continue on our mostly solid shawls…?  If you’re doing FYA2, how is it going so far??




Video // Yarn Chat #1 (Buffalo Wool, Knit Picks Hawthorne Review, Tanis Fiber Arts & More!)

February 4, 2015

I had so much fun on my last video, I knew I wanted to find a way to keep doing them every few weeks.  I don’t have a fancy name yet, so consider this a yarn chat… coffee talk… whatever works for you!  The video ended up being very long, so I tried to keep […]

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In progress: Follow Your Arrow 2 – Clue 2

February 2, 2015

In the comments on my last post I told Kate that one of my favorite things about Ysolda’s knit alongs is that I always learn something new.  The first Follow Your Arrow pretty much taught me how to knit lace, though not without some struggles.  We’re only on section 2 of Follow Your Arrow 2 […]

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Stash Update – January Purchases

January 29, 2015

January was a pretty slow month for purchases! After doing my Yarn Club roundup in December, I started following Tanis Fiber Arts on Instagram.  Tanis posted about her big Boxing Day etsy shop update and I immediately rushed over to her blog to check out the yarns that would be available.  Don’t quote me on the […]

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Getting the Jeep road ready

January 28, 2015

I honestly wish I could tell you that I’m taking a lead on the work on the Wagoneer because I’m certainly neither adverse nor incapable of at least lending a good helping hand.  The problem is, we don’t have the space and I don’t have the time.  Side note - I’m going to start calling our mechanic […]

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