Striving for the “perfect pattern" is the goal– the road to get there is often long, winding and fraught with frustration. At the end though, the satisfaction of the glorious finished sample and the perfectly elegant instructions of how to create it, it's simply sublime. The path that led to my newest pattern, the Vallo Cowl, is no different. Through many experiments, false starts, and a lot of head scratching, we got there!
I created the design concept about a year ago. I hardly remember making the first swatch. What I can recall, was that it was easy and I was very excited to bring this idea into the world. I shared my idea with Quince & Co. and they too were very excited to help me make the Vallo Cowl a reality.
Finally, just before Christmas, it was Vallo's turn. I wound up the gorgeous Phoebe yarn from Quince and Co. and pulled up my chart files, ready to go! What I remembered was that it was practically done already. However, reality did not align with this recollection.
What ensued was a ridiculous perfectionist's fever dream. The cowl, as I had envisioned it originally and also how it is now, was constructed from the bottom up. I'm generally not a fan of bottom-up constructions, especially for items that may need length alterations. I became doggedly determined to recreate the design with a top-down approach.
Many nights went by where I knitted swatch after swatch, hours past bedtime, trying to perfect a top-down double central decrease in colorwork that approximated my original swatch. I bought patterns from other designers to research how they did it. No dice. I invented a new—and very unexplainable—way to create a double central increase. I was never satisfied.
Sometimes you just have to give up on an idea, even if it breaks your heart a little. Bottom up would have to do.
So, I went back to my original thought and knew that this time, I was on the true, easy-going path. I cast on all 270-odd stitches for the border and got to work.
Then the math problems started. I won't bore you with those details—this post is long enough, but suffice it to say that there was some frogging.
By New Year's Eve, I had managed to knit about half of the cowl. That's when I started to become aware of that annoying little perfectionist that lurks within me, again.
She would make snarky little comments from the corner of the room.
“Eww, that part isn't very pretty."
Or, “This is not your best work, Alexis."
Or even, “People want to knit something special. This isn't special."
With every passing row, she became increasingly difficult to ignore.
Deep sigh. She was right. I ripped back to the beginning once more so that I could create this dazzling little detail on the back of the cowl. The back SHOULD be as pretty as the front. It's little details like this that make hand knitting so special.
I will always be proud of my Vallo Cowl design and all the work that I put into creating it. In the end, the last iteration of the pattern was an absolute delight to knit. The momentum of the funnel shape made it impossible to put down. The colorwork was easy to memorize and engaging. The finished piece is so luxurious and soft in the Quince and Co. Phoebe yarn. It's fun to wear and easy to style. It will become a staple of my 3-season wardrobe, certainly.
I hope you'll pick up a copy of the **Vallo Cowl and see for yourself. I've offered an introductory discount for my newsletter subscribers (check your email!) which also includes a generous discount from Quince and Co.for the glorious Phoebe yarn.
*The fine print:
• Leonarda Socks and Strozzi cowl were exclusive to the Quince & Co subscription box until April 2022-- keep your eye out for the public release soon!
• I should also note, I am linking to my PayHip store because I get a greater percentage of sales from that platform for this particular pattern. If you would like to see what other knitters are doing with their projects, visit the Vallo Cowl Ravelry page, which is maintained by Quince & Co yarn company.
• First three photos and last photo: © 2022 Quince & Co; Photography: Regan Kenny