Andrea’s Equilibrium Cowl: A (Color)Work in Progress

Don’t you just love it when a knitting project comes along that it’s easy to say “yes” to? When you love everything from the patterning to the fiber content to the technique used, and the price is right, it’s time to jump your queue and and cast on. The Equilibrium Cowl Kit checked all the boxes for me and now it’s flying off my needles in record time.

Working for Interweave is totally amazing because inspiration is everywhere. Working for Interweave is also really stressful, because, again, inspiration is everywhere. My queue has grown beyond my capacity to ever complete and my bedroom floor is covered in piles of knitting magazines and books. It takes something special to rise above the noise these days.

A few weeks ago, I saw knitscene editor Hannah Baker working on a gorgeous, geometric black and white cowl from across the room and had to actively restrain myself from interrupting the meeting to get the details.

“Wow, wow, wow I LOVE that,” I announced, hurrying up to her after things had wrapped up. “Tell me all about it.”

She introduced me to Interweave’s latest kit, the Equilibrium Cowl designed by Karolyn Kern, and a few days later I had the cowl on my needles.

equilibrium cowl

It was destiny! The day my Equilibrium Cowl Kit arrived, I was dressed to match it.

Here are the five things that made this cowl knitting pattern a must-make for me.

1. An Intriguing Mix of Chevrons and Herringbone

I’m a big fan of classic, versatile prints that never go out of style, like chevrons and herringbone. Herringbone knitting patterns are particularly trendy right now, in a variety of scales, textures, and color palettes ranging from dramatic black and white to low-contrast shimmers.

equilibrium cowl

The Equilibrium Cowl features both herringbone and chevrons, with one print at a small scale and the other much larger. The mix of scales and the bold, high-contrast neutral colors make it a powerhouse accessory for mixing prints in your outfits! You can also fold part of your cowl over to show off that double-sided action.

2. Clever Construction That Looks Harder Than It Is

At first glance, many knitters assume the Equilibrium Cowl is double-knitted. In reality, it’s just simple stranded colorwork, knitted as one long tube and folded in half!

Confession: it’s been a few years since I chose a colorwork project. This cowl knitting pattern is perfect if you’re slightly rusty or brand new to stranded colorwork. You only use two colors at a time and the project itself is a great lesson in stranded knitting. (If you’re an accomplished colorwork knitter, this bad boy will be done before you know it!)

The first colorwork chart has consistent-length floats all the way through: just two stitches. It’s a great way to ease yourself into stranded knitting and figure out how to hold your yarn to keep things even. Then, just when you’ve got that chart comfortably under your fingers, the pattern mixes it up.

equilibrium cowl

Next you’ll have to manage slightly longer floats (though still only six stitches maximum) and the float lengths change from row to row. But you’ll be ready, thanks to all that practice! Just keep loose; if your floats are a little on the long (and snag-able) side, it won’t matter because they’ll all be safely folded inside of the tube. You probably don’t even need to tuck in your ends . . . I won’t tell if you don’t!

3. Double-Thick Stranded Fabric for Maximum Coziness

Speaking of floats, did you know that stranded colorwork is one of the best ways to add a little insulating warmth to your projects? Yarn floats create a cozy “lining” that traps warm air. The Equilibrium Cowl is a double-thick stranded knitting project, so that’s four, count ’em, four layers of fabric snuggled around your neck.

Yes, that is four layers of warm, alpaca fabric you see there.

No matter what kind of cold weather gets thrown your way as winter turns to spring, your neck will be ready.

4. High Contrast Colors in a Plush, Fuzzy Yarn

The Equilibrium Cowl uses Cascade Eco Alpaca, a worsted-weight, 100% undyed baby alpaca yarn. If you’ve never knit with Eco Alpaca, this is a great opportunity to try it out.

Eco Alpaca has great drape, is extremely soft on the hands as you knit, and is just the right mix of stitch definition and halo for the project. Since the colorways used (Black and Natural) contrast each other so sharply, the design looks crisp and clean despite the inherent fuzziness of alpaca.

5. The Price Was Right

Not sure a kit is a good deal? In this case, it really, really is. A kit is a convenient way to knit with the exact yarn used by the designer for coveted true-to-photograph results. Eco Alpaca is pretty affordable for a 100% baby alpaca yarn, but it can be tough to track down and you might not be able to find Black and Natural together at your LYS. With the kit, you’ll get a full skein of each at a great price, which will leave you with adequate leftovers to make yourself some cute matching mitts, boot cuffs, or a headband.

Plus, the Equilibrium Cowl Kit includes a digital edition of knitscene Accessories 2012, which will become a go-to if you love small, quick-to-knit accessories that use classic prints in creative ways.

Just a few fan favorites from knitscene Accessories 2012: Wellington Mitts, Check Slouch, Lokken Kerchief

I’m more than halfway done with my Equilibrium Cowl Kit, and while I can’t wait to wear it, I will miss having it in my project bag. I’ll check back in once it’s finished!

For now, let me know in the comments: what makes a project special enough to you to bypass your queue and get on the needles immediately?

Yours in Stitches,

Black and White and Rad All Over: Knit the Equilibrium Cowl

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