Hibou Express

owls1Like many knitters, I remember seeing Kate Davies’ Owls pattern for the first time on Ravelry a few years ago and thinking it was both beautiful and fun, but also way out of my league. So I promptly forgot about it, and when I came across it again at a time when I considered I was a knitter competent enough to tackle it, I didn’t see myself wearing this shape anymore.

Then my favourite yarn shop closed its doors and I went and bought about half its stock in the closing sale for fear I would end up with Phildar as my only option again (okay, I know I’m exaggerating; Phildar is not that bad – I really like these three yarns for example, and their magazines – it’s just that I prefer having more choice locally).

Owls3Among my haul was this beautiful tweed yarn I had been eyeing for months even though I don’t even usually like tweed yarn. I had always found it too expensive, especially for a tweed yarn when I was supposed not to like tweed yarn (how many times can I write “tweed yarn” in one paragraph?), but there were the last nine balls with a nice discount, so this time I yielded to the temptation, without really knowing what I would knit them into.

This yarn being a thicker one than what I’m used to, I had trouble finding a pattern I liked that would suit it, but then, as you guessed it, my Ravelry search eventually led me to the Owls pattern again, and although I still couldn’t see myself wearing that sweater as is, I suddenly had the idea of simply cropping it! Now there was a shape I was sure I’d wear a lot!

Owls4It was really easy to crop the body of the sweater (you can read my Ravelry notes if you’re interested in how exactly I did it), and it made a fast knit an even faster one: can you believe it was knit in five days?! I couldn’t believe it either, but the thick yarn coupled to the fact that it’s a close-fitting sweater and that I cropped it made it my fastest knitting project ever, by far.

It took me two more days to sew on the 32 buttons. 32 buttons is a lot of buttons to sew, and I must say I was tempted to leave them off, as I had seen some people had done, but I had already bought them (what was I to do with 32 buttons?), and also once I saw how much cuter the owls looked with their button eyes, I knew they were worth the effort!

Owls5Other than that, I really enjoyed knitting this sweater and watching those cute owls almost literally flying off my needles! The only thing I didn’t like, but that’s a detail really, was that the pattern tells you to close the armholes by grafting some stitches you have put on hold… but that this was far from sufficient to close them! I don’t know whether I did something wrong (I don’t think so because I’ve read other people have encountered the same problem), but I ended up with two large holes on each side of the grafting of each armhole. I closed them up with a few stitches and this took no time at all and looks good after all, so no real problem here; I just found it weird that the method that was recommended in the pattern actually didn’t work.

Owls6Another word of warning, if you ever knit a cropped version of this sweater: the waist ribbing might look freakishly tiny before you reach the stockinette body. Mine was small enough to fit my cat! I freaked out a little bit, but I decided to trust my gauge swatch and go on knitting, and things started to look more normal once I had hit the body, which stretched the ribbing and made it start to look human-sized, phew!

Also about the size, if you want a close-fitting sweater and fall between two sizes like I did, I’d recommend going with the smallest size: according to the schematics, the size I chose is supposed to fit a 30-32’’ bust, mine is 33’’ and I’m really happy with the fit of my finished sweater, even with a few layers under it!

Owls2Though I’ve come to realise such a thick sweater doesn’t need that many layers to keep you warm. It’s one of the warmest sweaters I’ve ever owned. As a matter of fact, I have to make sure I’m never wearing anything too ugly or revealing under it in case I have to take it off or faint form the heat when I’m teaching!

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