Braided Cowl

Braids tacked together, cowl completed.

Braids tacked together, cowl completed.

Not so long ago, I was tagged in a post on Facebook by a friend.  It was a blog post that she shared of a crocheted and braided cowl.  I assume this was intended as a hint.  I’m in need of a project, and I haven’t crocheted in quite a while, a perfect excuse to break out those nicely crafted wood hooks.  The post was constructed well.  It contained a pattern and a video one of her subscribers posted on YouTube.  The pattern calls for Vanna’s Choice acrylic yarn, but I thought I would find something a little nicer for her – I want it to last her a lifetime.  I chose Plymouth Yarn Company Inc’s Encore yarn.  It’s made from 75% Acrylic-25% Wool.  It’s a little softer, and warmer.

The way the stitches are worked creates a lot of texture

The way the stitches are worked creates a lot of texture

The pattern is easy to follow, especially with the video.  It’s mostly constructed with Half-Double-Crochets, with a few singles and slip stitches thrown in for good measure.  What makes it so different is where she instructs you to make the stitches.  After your first row of HDC, you work subsequent rows, not into the tops of the previous row’s stitches but into their vertical bars.  This pushes the tops of the stitches towards the front of the fabric and gives it a unique look and wonderful texture.  Each braid is worked by making four connected legs, then braiding them.  The braid is worked in a way that reminds me of bobbin lace.  Tabs are created on both sides of the braid.  A second, longer braid is created, just like the first.  The braids are connected and a band crocheted with a buttonhole on one side and button tab on the other.

Stone button and buttonhole

Stone button and buttonhole

I had a hard time finding a button that I liked, and would fit the buttonhole properly.  Crochet tends to be a tad stretchy, especially under its own weight.  I knew the buttonhole will stretch over time, so I modified the button-hole a little.  The buttonhole is 3 stitches wide, but I made the top only one stitch wide, so it will fit the button, but will remain tight on top.  I found a button that is longer than it is wide – perfect!  It is the proper size in width, so it slides through the buttonhole easily, but it’s long enough that you need to purposely unbutton it to remove it.  Best of all, I think it’s long enough that it can be buttoned and lifted over the head, no need to fiddle with the button.  The button fits in well with the design of the cowl, it’s grey, and made from stone with some nice characteristics.  It has a nice organic look.

Both braids are complete and joined.

Both braids are complete and joined.

I found some things about this project that I didn’t care for.  There’s a need to tack down the braids after you’ve braided them to keep the braid tidy and straight.  However, the two separate braids are too separate.  They lay against you independently from one another.  It defeats the purpose of wearing it if it opens up and separates where you want it to keep you warm.  This may be from using a yarn that contains wool, as it may have a “firmer” or stiffer drape.  What I did to counter this was to lay them evenly and tack them together much the way the braids themselves were tacked.  It has a much nicer look now.  All that’s needed now is to sew in the label and slip it in the post.  The downside is now I wish it were mine.  It was a fun project, maybe I’ll make another.  The other downside is that we’re nearly in Summer here in Florida, it won’t get much if any use this year, but she’ll have something to remember me by.

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A website devoted to learning, sharing and teaching a wide range of fiber arts. Inkle, Tablet and Navajo style weaving, Spinning, Knitting, Crochet, Sewing and Lace Making. Silver Work, Beading and Tool Making grace my bench as well.

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