An Advent Project: The Tavis Cowl

This is the time of year when, if like me you want to get into a vaguely festive mood by watching knitting related Vlogmas* videos on You Tube, you’ll also see a range of yarny mini-skein advent calendars being opened. Not everyone is doing it this year and interestingly a lot of knitters have DIY advent calendars made up and swapped with friends with particular projects in mind. Ready made calendars can be pricey and like so many things, I like both the DIY approach and thought that goes into those put together with a specific purpose or project in mind.

What I particularly like about about advent projects where the knitter works on a project for a small amount of time each day, is how they encourage knitters to make time for themselves, for some mindful knitting at a time of year when it can be easy to get caught up in the general frenzy of things. This year, despite all the restrictions, seems no less likely to go down this road to me. As we try to find ways of sticking it to the virus we’re working twice as hard to make things seem as normal as possible despite it…

So I decided to use the opportunity of Advent to start (and hopefully complete) a project I’ve been thinking about for a while. This is the Tavis Cowl from Susan Crawford’s new pattern collection Evolution. This is by no means the only project I want to work on from this collection, I’m already on my second Cloudin sock and am planning Annemor in my head, but Tavis seemed like an ideal Advent project.

The Tavis Cowl Modelled By Susan Crawford (Copyright: Susan Crawford)


I’ve spoken about how much I love and wear my Litmus cowl here on the blog, and the longer Tavis can be worn in a similar fashion, although it’s knit differently.

Also, thanks to my experiments with natural dyeing, which I’ve also shared here in numerous posts, I have a large number of mini skeins that would be ideal for this project.

Naturally dyed yarns from my experiments during the summer

I have to say I’m really pleased with my dyeing experiments, not just because of the range of colours but also because of the range of plants I’ve used and got to know better in the process. All these yarns were dyed with plants from the garden, some precious, some pretty, some historic, some thorny, and some ‘weeds’. All were derived from plants which have a different primary purpose in the garden and the elements used for dyeing would simply have gone directly into the compost heap had they not detoured through the dyepot. As a result of these associations and this process of learning, this also makes an Advent Tavis feel like the ideal project for the end of our first full year here, the year that 2020 has been, and as a refection of learning, growth and friendship.

A quick bit of maths suggests that I need to work approx 6 rounds/half a motif chart a day, and at that pace should have a day or two to graft the cowl together and block it in time for a Christmas Day dog walk.

I may need to dye or overdye some skeins to get a little more contrast and variation for the colourwork patterns, which I can do as I go along. I’m also tempted to dye a skein with marigold to add in. I’ve been collecting the flowers from the plants I grew for the veggie patch where the chemicals in the roots deter pests, but haven’t had chance to try them for dyeing yet…

I don’t want to impose rules on myself with this project, so I may do a few extra rounds some days to effectively make up for the days when I may be pushed to get a full set done. I’ll be sharing my progress on Instagram and hopefully here too, along with some additional advents posts I have tentatively planned.

Do you have an advent project on the go, or a special cast on planned for over the festive period?

Until next time,
Take care,
Tess xxx

Annemor – My ‘planned’ festive cast on from Evolution By Susan Crawford (Copyright: Susan Crawford)

*During Vlogmas video podcasters post daily videos on You Tube sharing what they’re up to in the run up to the festivities.
See for example, The Crimson Stitchery, Hawthorn Cottage Crafts, By the Lakeside, Skeindeer Knits, Stranded, Brooklyn Knitfolk.

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