Last time we talked about good yarn choices for the cowl. This time I'd like to talk a little about provisional cast ons and how to make them super easy.
The Bouteloua cowl uses a provisional cast on that is unzipped at the end so it can be finished with a knit-on lace border. If you've never done this type of cast on before it can seen confusing and intimidating but it doesn't need to be hard.
There are a lot of different ways to do a provisional cast on, but my personal preference is to do a crocheted provisional cast on. The traditional way to do this is to crochet a chain as many stitches long as you need to cast on and then pick up the back loops of the chain and knit them with your working yarn.
An easier variation on this is to actually crochet your chain around your knitting needle - combining the chaining with the picking up of stitches into one step. Its a great trick and guarantees that your chain will unzip cleanly later without any split strands or twists that you can get when working the traditional chain & pick-up.
We've got a quick video below that shows you exactly how to do this:
The one thing you will want to remember with this cast on - you are not properly cast on until you have knit a round with your working yarn. I find most of the confusion with this cast on happens in that step, so don't forget it! Until your working yarn is on the needle your cast on is incomplete.
What if you want to make the cowl larger, smaller or without the shaping?
You'll want to plan ahead for this. There are two ways to scale the size of the cowl - by altering gauge or by altering the number you cast on. For small adjustments (if you want it just a little bit larger or smaller). I would recommend altering the gauge.
Most of the suggested yarns will be pretty accommodating of this and its the easiest change to make. Just go with 1-2 sizes up in needle size for a larger cowl or 1-2 sizes down for a smaller one. If you wanted to make the top narrower and the bottom wider you could even start with smaller needles and end with larger ones, changing to larger needles as you work.
If you want a more dramatic size change, or want to work with a yarn & needles that are considerably larger or smaller than the pattern recommends you will need to add or subtract pattern repeats. Because of how many stitches make up a repeat keep in mind this will be a BIG difference to the original.
There is also some extra math involved so that you will have the right number of stitches when you come back to do your lace border. For this to work out, if you want your cowl to be larger by one repeat you would provisionally cast on 120sts and skip Rnd 1. If you want it to be smaller by one repeat your would provisionally cast on 84 sts and Rnd 1 would be: *K21, M1; rep from * around - 88 sts.
What if you want a straight cowl with no shaping? This one's extra easy - just repeat rnds 3-10 of the cable chart for the entire desired length.
I hope that gives everyone the inspiration and confidence to get started! I will check back soon with notes on working the knit-on border.
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