a tax-time knit for comfort

Aah, tax time.

With our anniversary on April 14th, taxes are filed early. Some years we rejoice; some years we pay. This was a year we had to pay.

When I first saw the Comfort of a Friend Shawls for a doll and girl I wanted to begin knitting right away! The shawl isn’t sexy, but it’s practical and I really like practical garments that I can wear. When I learned that Laura Ricketts also designed an adult version and that, this lovely shawl* (sized xs-3x!) would be the first Knit-a-Long after the book release, I was definitely excited. Then Heather told me it was planned to start on April 16th… because we all need some comfort that day and I knew I would be knitting along. Will you join us?

comfort shawlSince the tax-man received my check, I went stash diving for a yarn I adore and I know brings me comfort, Lion Brand Wool-Ease. Why Wool-Ease? It’s a work yarn. It’s a yarn for wearing and living in. It will hold up to the abuse I give my clothing. This particular batch of Wool-ease was destined to become a blanket for the house and was purchased long before we made any interior decorating decisions. Over the winter I finally proclaimed defeat (as I snuggled into a store-bought blanket) and ripped that project. I love the colour and it will provide nice contrast to my daily uniform of black. I will be able to wear this around the house and will not stress about if the cat cuddles a little too closely and we get tangled up or if I spill coffee everywhere. Again. The yarn holds up through repeated washings and dryings that in a year or three I could even still wear it out in public without fear of it looking overly worn. Is it a sexy yarn? No, but I love it.

Since my taxes are filed and paid and I needed a traveling project, I cast-on last week. Yes, I broke the KAL “rules” but we’re a low-stress bunch.

The designer recommends beginning the ribbing with a long-tail tubular cast-on for a lovely, smooth, seamless, and elastic edge.

I enjoy working different cast-ons, but I also have a known love affair with Judy’s Magic Cast-on (aka JMCO). It’s not just for sock toes! I keep turning to it in my designs and love it for provisional cast-ons. I’ve enjoyed using it in a few projects for a tubular 1×1 rib and decided to give it a go on this for a 2×2 rib.

What?! Can you turn knitting started in-the-round into ribbing knit flat? Yes.

How? First, watch this youtube video by Lorilee Beltman. You set up this cast-on by knitting one round, then fold the work in half to create the ribbing which will be knit flat. It sounds more confusing than it is. Just trust me. Is this as stretchy? I don’t think it works as well for 2×2 rib, but I still like it. Will this pull on the bias? Yes, a little. The instructions below are modified from how I did my setup, I believe beginning with a larger needle will both increase the stretch and reduce bias pull. I’ll test it when I knit my second shawl, because yes, I will be knitting at least two!

Using JMCO cast-on the desired number of stitches onto 5 mm (US 8) needles (This is easiest with two circulars or magic loop. Remember: half of the total is on each needle.)
Round 1 – Knit around.
Row 1 – Next, as demonstrated in the video, fold the work over (as if you were to do a three needle bind-off). Change to a 4mm needle. Knit two stitches from the front needle, purl two stitches from back needle, repeating this pattern until all stitches are worked.
Row 2 – Continue in established 2×2 rib (beginning with a k2 or p2 as appropriate) as per pattern instructions.

comfort shawl ribbing unstretched

comfort shawl ribbing stretched

I promise not every post in the foreseeable future will be about the book! Assisting with some of the coordination of all the many pieces has meant this book is something I think about constantly and it has seeped into all parts of my work and life.

* note: The adult version of the shawl was offered as a special thank you pattern for those who pre-ordered. It is not available in the book and is a separate pattern available for purchase. Thank you.