The New Cowl Neckline: A Long-awaited Cast On but a Speedy Finished Object

It’s been a while since I shared any knitting finished objects or ‘FOs’, despite there having been quite a few, so I thought I’d jump back into it with a top that I’ve been knitting in my head for years, but only just got around to actually knitting.

Does that happen to you?

Sometimes, if I don’t get round to knitting something that’s in my mental queue for ages it just slips away and never happens. Sometimes patterns stay there, lurking, just waiting for their time to come. That’s what happened with this one and it only took about 10 years!

The pattern is the The New Cowl Neckline from Susan Crawford‘s A Stitch In Time Volume 1:

a 'splitscreen picture' showing on the left: a full picture of the top from the original 1930s pattern modelled by a tall slim white woman with a blond waved bob hairstyle and on the right a side details of the reworked version from A Stitch in Time modelled by a slim white woman with a swanlike neck cropped just above the mouth and extending doen to the elbow.
Left: from the original 1930s pattern, Right: the re-worked A Stitch in Time version

Originally a single sized 1930s pattern that Susan has updated for a wider size range, I’ve wanted to knit this pattern since I got the book yet it has never quite happened.

Since our move I’ve been focussing on knitting from my stash and having been participating in the Crimson Stitchery #stashless2020 initiative to knit mindfully from ones existing stash. Prior to the changes to Ravelry, the online knitting and crochet social network, I was part of a wonderfully active and insightful online conversation around stashing, consumerism, the environmental and social impact of craft and lifestyle related conspicuous consumption etc. in the Crimson Stitchery Ravelry group. I can’t link to that any more but I can direct you to The Crimson Stitchery You Tube Channel which I whole heartedly recommend.

I digress, but, it was as I was thinking about what to do with a 140g end of cone 4 ply wool silk blend, that this pattern came back to to mind. I really wasn’t sure I’d have enough yarn for it but figured out that I’d find out soon enough and made a few modifications to improve my chances. Spoiler – it worked:

a full image of The Cowl Neckline Top from A Stitch in Time Vol. 1bphotpgraphed from the front against a brick and render wall.
The Cowl Neckline Top from A Stitch in Time Vol. 1

Firstly, I decided against the sash, this was a combination of necessity and preference. I wanted this to be a warm weather garment and in the heat we’ve had this summer clothes that hardly touch the body are preferable to those that hug, cinch or tie.

Secondly, I started with a provisional cast on and knitted the top shorter in the body before starting the shapings. That way if I ran out of yarn the top would be a little more cropped, if I didn’t I could come back and add more length if I wanted.

Thirdly, I also decided to work the body in the round, no stitches and therefore no yarn lost to seam selvedges or sewing up, so I cast on the front and back stitches minus 2 stitches and instead worked a reverse stocking stitch, single stitch column, fake seam up each side of the body.

Finally, I have to confess that I didn’t swatch! Friends out there will be gasping and tutting I know, and wondering about the cheek of it given how often I’ve preached about the necessity of swatching. In my defence, I was quite prepared to pull it back and start again but just felt that at a loose gauge on a larger needle and with the weight of the silk, the garment itself would be a better judge than a smaller swatch, I know excuses, excuses, I just wanted to cast on, and it was provisionally after all!

A few inches in I decided that although my gauge matched that of the pattern on the recommended needle size, the fabric was a little looser than I’d like for a garment that I wanted to wear with just a bra underneath, anything more, such as a camisole, would defeat the object. So, I dropped down a needle size and continued, re-measured my gauge and made some adjustments to account for a different stitch and row gauge and knitted on.

The body completed, I weighed my remaining yarn, knitted a sleeve, again making adjustments for my gauge, weighed my yarn again and despite having just a worryingly small ball left, had more remaining than I’d used on sleeve 1.

A picture of the top front of the Cowl neckline top showing the short handkerchief sleeves, photographed against a red brick and render wall.
Neckline detail

Both sleeves completed I sewed them in and tried it on, all good so far. Then I unpicked my provisional cast on and knit 8 rounds of 1 x 1 rib to mirror the shoulder detail and cast off.

Side view of the cowl neckline top showing the 1 by 1 rib of the shoulder transitioning to the spine with double yarn overs used to shape the sleeve.
Side view showing the 1 x 1 rib of the shoulder transitioning to the sleeve increases. You can also just see the reverse stocking stitch fake seam at the side of the body.

I had 6g of yarn remaining and a top that I love and that knitted up in no time at all, well, if you set aside all that ‘thinking’ time!

Do you have knits that took you ages to get round to, but once you did you wondered why on earth it took so long?

Until next time,

Take Care and Happy Knitting,

Tess xx

Side view showing the square back neck detail created when sewing in the ribbed sleeve cap

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