Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sallah Cowl

It's been a busy couple weeks for designs recently, and I'm still catching my breath.  But I wanted to talk a little bit about my design in last week's Knitty, the Sallah Cowl!

(all photos are copyright Bristol Ivy and star the lovely Dana, who was kind enough to do an early morning photoshoot with me on my birthday in August!)

Sallah was designed with a couple key features in mind: I wanted it to be a one skein project, and I wanted it to use variegated yarn.  I knew (from personal experience!) that single skeins of hand-dyed variegated sock yarn are incredibly tempting in yarn stores, but (also from personal experience) they can sit around for a while, waiting for the perfect project that will utilize their gorgeous colors without creating a muddy mess.  Combine those needs with an amazing stitch pattern that a German visitor to my local LYS showed me, and I knew I had a good combination! My super wonderful mom knit the original sample for me, and did an absolutely marvelous job.  Thanks, mom!

(we shot these behind the big barn at Gilsland Farms, one of the local Audobon locations, and one of my favorite places for a shoot.  It's also where I shot Telemetry and my own photos for Winnowing!)

Sallah is knit on the bias, which also helps move the variegation around even further and aids in preventing pooling.  However, this has led to a few questions from knitters, so I thought I'd go over a couple points here.

The first concerns the measurement point after completing the increases and starting the body.  The pattern indicates to measure along the left edge, but with a fabric made of ribbing and an odd shape, where exactly is that? Here's a quick diagram to help illustrate.

The bottom point is your cast on, and the top point is your bind off.  You're aiming for a parallelogram! (Thanks, mom and 6th grade geometry!) Keep in mind, too, that you'll measure that left edge unstretched--this comes into play with the question below.  Another note is that row gauge is pretty critical to this project (as all measurements are based on it), so make sure you're keeping careful note.

This second question concerns the cowl length before seaming; the final measurements are 22" in circumference, but you will start the decreases at 17" in length along the left edge (what we were talking about above!), creating a finished product 17" in circumference.  So where do those extra five inches come from?

Well, ribbing is stretchy.  And Sallah is knit on the bias.  When you combine those two things, you will add both length and height during the blocking process, when you'll stretch the whole project out to match the pattern dimensions.  Just give it a try--trust me!

Lastly, Sallah is almost completely customizable to whatever length you'd like! There are a couple bits of math to keep in mind, and it's necessary to have a scale for this part.
Step 1: weigh your ball of yarn before starting.
Step 2: weigh your ball of yarn after performing the increases.  Note this amount--you will need the same for your decreases.
Step 3: calculate an amount for your I-cord edging.  We reserved about 20g for the I-cord on the original cowl, for a 22" circumference, so proceed accordingly.
Step 4: Add the amount of yarn used for your increases together with the amount needed for your I-cord.  You can now knit on the body of the cowl until this amount of yarn remains! It may involved some complicated algebra to make sure that the changing circumference and the changing I-cord amounts meet up (algebra was 8th grade for me), but it shouldn't be too bad.

I hope this helps with your Sallah experience; it's been so much fun for me to see all the projects popping up on Ravelry so far.  I can't wait to see more!


  1. I am very happy to see the diagram and additional information about this cowl. I have been measuring the wrong side and it now looks like I have about 10 inches too much in the body section (total mength on that side now at 27 inches).

  2. So helpful, Thanks!! Is there a method you think is best for seeming the short sides together at the end?

    1. Hi Andrea, thanks for your inquiry! I used a mattress stitch, but it's a little tricky with the twisted rib and the different sized stitches. I would try it, but if you don't like the look, go ahead and use whatever you're most comfortable with. A couple knitters on Ravelry used the applied i-cord that circles the top and the bottom to seam the two sides, and I love how that looks!

  3. Thank you for this post! It helps a lot!

    1. My pleasure, Desiree! So glad I could help.

  4. Fabulous! Your added notes here are SO helpful. Thank you so much. I'm getting ready to c/o this project.

  5. I absolutely love this pattern and am definitely going to make it for myself. However, first I'd like to make it for my mother, as I know she would love the lighter yarn weight. My problem is that she's not a big fan of the cowl and prefers infinity scarves that she can loop around, so I'd be aiming for a circumference (or length along that left side) of around 56 inches. I know I could just keep on doing increases until I get to that - but that would make it obnoxiously wide and I'm not sure how to correct that without making the end result look like it has 2 different patterns (as in, I would only increase every 5 rows or something).

    Do you have any advice for this; for adapting this pattern to a longer infinity scarf? Feel free to tell me if I'm just not being realistic thinking it can happen :)

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  6. Wait......I think I was thinking about it wrong. I checked out a ton of Ravelry pictures and the pattern again and I think I have a handle on it - you'll just increase the number of times you repeat the body section (where there are no increases or decreases) until it's the length you want and then start the decreases. For some unknown reason, I didn't realize there was a body section that didn't have (net) increases/decreases.

    And if I want the depth to be smaller than 13 inches, stop the increases and start the body when it's at the depth you want, or maybe a couple inches less than the depth you want, because of what will be added in the blocking process. So if I was aiming for a 10 inch depth, I'd stop around....8 inches maybe.

    So if what I'm trying to end up with is an infinity scarf that has a 56 circumference and 10 inch depth, I would do my increases up until the left side is around 8 inches, then work the body section until the left side is around 50 inches, then start the decreases. I think. I hope.

    I'm detailing out my thoughts in the hope that someone will tell me if I'm right or not! :)

    1. You've got it! Exactly what you wrote in your second to last paragraph. I can't wait to see it!

  7. These detailed notes are wonderfully helpful. THANK YOU so much for taking the time to explain everything and respond to questions.

  8. I'm so glad I found this post! I was a little concerned that I was measuring the wrong part, and I'm not a very experienced knitter, so I really didn't want to do it wrong and have to frog. Thank you for clarifying!