Cowlabunga 2021 starts April 4th

Cowlabunga 2021 starts April 4th

What is Cowlabunga?

Cowlabunga 2021 is a 6 week long KAL/CAL (Knit along or crochet along) of cowls hosted by Loraine from Woolly Madly Deeply and myself. All our cowl patterns are eligible to be entered.

You can find Loraine’s patterns in her Ravelry store or her Payhip.

You can find my patterns in my Ravelry Store or my Payhip.

You can join in the chat in our Ravelry group – Knitting (and Crochet) Across the Pennines or in our Facebook Group of the same name.

Cowlabunga 2021

Tell Me About Cowlabunga 2020

We had such fun with our cowl knitting and crocheting last year, didn’t we? It was initially kicked off to coincide with the release of Loraine’s pattern Find My Way cowl. We had some amazing entries and some worthy winners of the prizes.

Jadzeea made a version of Ziga Zig Ahh!

Stringnbeans made a beautiful Find My Way

You can find more projects in the Cowlabunga FO Thread on Ravelry.

Cowlabunga 2021 starts April 4th 1

When is Cowlabunga 2021?

From Sunday 4th April 2021 at 15:30 UK time through Sunday 18th April 2021 at 23:59pm we will be discounting all the cowl patterns we have available by 25% using the unique code Cowlabunga2021. The KAL itself will then continue to run until Sunday 2nd May 2021 at 16:00 UK time.

We will have a cast on party live in our Facebook group on the Sunday afternoon. You will be able to join us in the chat to tell us which patterns you have chosen and which yarns you will be using. We love to see your WIPs and FOs so don’t forget to post in the FB or Ravelry groups with pictures. And tag us when you are posting on social media!

Is there a Cowlabunga Discount?

There most certainly is! This year we will be using the discount code cowlabunga2021 and you can use it as many times as you want! Just put the patterns you want into your Ravelry shopping cart, enter and apply the code between Sunday 4th April 2021 at 15:30 UK time through Sunday 18th April 2021 at 23:59 pm and 25% will be taken off the price. You will be able to buy more than one pattern but if you choose to buy from both of us you will have to check each shop out separately.

What Prizes Can I win?

This year we will be offering pattern codes and e-books as prizes. Last year I don’t think we realised how much the Covid pandemic was going to affect life, the post included! And I must admit that I was absolutely terrible at getting to the post office to send off my physical prizes. So this year we have decided to keep everything digital. Both Loraine and I will be offering codes for our single self published patterns and some e-books of our collections.

Show Me Some Eligible Patterns!

Both Loraine and I have released new cowl patterns since last year, so even if you entered before there will be something new to tempt you. However, if you already own one of our cowl patterns you could make it again. Test knits are also eligible if the pattern releases before the event finishes on Sunday 2nd May 2021 23:59. As long as you don’t cast on before 4th April 15:30 you can enter your project for a prize!

You will find a bundle of all our eligible patterns on Ravelry – Cowlabunga Cowls

Emma and Loraine

Wondrous Wheatsheaf Poncho coming soon!

Wondrous Wheatsheaf Poncho coming soon!

Wheatsheaf Poncho Pattern is coming soon!

I’ll be publishing the Wheatsheaf Poncho Pattern very soon and our email subscribers will receive an exclusive discount code, just for them.

Here are some photos of my testers garments, Karen did some short rows on hers, but the others worked the pattern exactly as written.

I love this cool purple that Cathy chose, she’s a beautiful lady and this compliments her colouring so well. The buttons look glittery almost in this photo, but check the one below that for a close up. Cathy knitted the L Size.

Wondrous Wheatsheaf Poncho coming soon! 2
Cathy’s Poncho worn with buttons over one shoulder/arm
Wondrous Wheatsheaf Poncho coming soon! 3
Cathy’s spider web buttons, black web over a white background.
Wondrous Wheatsheaf Poncho coming soon! 4
Cathy’s Poncho worn with buttons to front as a cape

Karen’s poncho is in another cool colour, this multi tonal pink handspun is to die for. Karen knitted the S/M size.

Wondrous Wheatsheaf Poncho coming soon! 5
Karen’s Poncho folded longways like a shrug, you can see her short row shaping. Karen’s yarn is fabulous, it’s her own handspun using various shades of pink to create a jewel toned mix which is gorgeous.

I’m always glad to see some different yarns used for testing and when Nita suggested James C Brett Rustic Aran Tweed in the colour way 30 Dat I was delighted. It’s a blend with 20% wool, blocks nicely, washes well and has amazing colours. Isn’t it stunning? It’s also an affordable option. I like this yarn because the colours, like Stylecraft, are consistent and dyelots rarely matter very much. Nita knitted an XL size.

Wondrous Wheatsheaf Poncho coming soon! 6
Nita’s Poncho worn the traditional way with buttons over shoulder. I love the red, tweedy yarn she chose which adds interest to the stocking stitch fabric and works really well with the cables.

I knitted my Wheatsheaf Poncho with some Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool in the Spruce colourway. It’s a heathered mix of greens both warm and cool. It’s machine wash, softens with each wash and is really affordable for those on a budget. I’m wearing the XL sized Poncho and it used around 520g of yarn, so 1 and a bit 400g balls.

Wheatsheaf Poncho in green worn by Loraine
Wheatsheaf Poncho in green worn by Loraine
The Wondrous Wheatsheaf Sweater is finished 2021

The Wondrous Wheatsheaf Sweater is finished 2021

Wheatsheaf Sweater – what did I learn and what do I love?

I finished the actual knitting of the Wheatsheaf Sweater on Saturday night while on a Zoom call with some friends from the After Party group on Ravelry. We always have a lot of laughs and enjoy chatting, but knitting or crochet happens at the same time. I was picking up the neckband of the Wheatsheaf Sweater and cast off/bound off my stitches not long before I left the chat to go to bed.

I prefer a fitted knit to a saggy, baggy knit that swamps me. The 20 year old me would be appalled, she liked to cover up her shape and hide her body.

I like that I have a waist, boobage and curvy hips. The belly, less so, but it’s the same belly that covered my son and kept him safe during my pregnancy, so I can forgive it anything.

I love the two cables that run up the front of the sweater and split at the V neckline to follow the V shape and create a beautiful design line. If you’d like to see more of the project, you can see my Ravelry project page here.

I learned a long time ago that I prefer to seam and knit flat. But I also know that many of you prefer seamless knits so there will be two versions of the pattern to suit both types of knitters. For this cable, I prefer bottom up as it’s easier to work the cable, so I will probably stick with that.

Wheatsheaf Sweater right shoulder as worn
Wheatsheaf Sweater right shoulder as worn

Wheatsheaf Sweater – let’s talk ease

I wanted 1-2 inches of negative ease at the bust, pre-blocking. After blocking, it’s a perfect fit. At the lower body, which is Aline in shape I wanted it to fit me without too much extra fabric, a neat but good fit. My preference is based on my own shape and knowing what suits me. I’m not tall, only 5ft 2in and I’m a curvy girl. Boxy knits or oversized items absolutely swamp me and all that extra fabric makes me look a lot bigger than I am. Not a good look for me.

For a modified drop shoulder sweater you might want 2-4 inches on the body, but the most important measurement is the shoulder width on the back. That measurement needs to fit you. With a modified drop, it’s easy to adapt, as you can work the lower body wider (Aline, straight or with waist shaping) and bind off more or less stitches to get the shoulder width you need.

Understanding your sleeve length also helps. The sleeve for a modified drop shoulder sweater is lengthened to fit the armhole gap. If you make your upper body narrower, add length at that part of the sleeve, if you make it wider, reduce the length of the sleeve top. There’s a little bit of easy maths involved, but you’ll love your sweater so much more if it actually fits YOU.

Me in the sweater
Me in the sweater

What would I do differently?

I’d have knitted the sleeves with a couple of inches of ease. They’re a good fit, no extra fabric and the cables look good down the centre of the sleeve. That said, an extra inch or two for comfort would be nice. Though with washing and wearing, I know this yarn will relax a bit. Next week it’ll be a looser fit on those sleeves. I’m also carrying a bit of lockdown fluff, which I’m planning to shift over the coming months which will make all the difference, no alterations required.

What is the Wheatsheaf Sweater a Modified Drop Shoulder?

It’s one of the best ways to go with the current trend for Drop Shoulders but have a garment that fits someone with narrow shoulders. Just because something is popular, fashionable or on trend, doesn’t mean it’s for me or you. Wear what suits you, the shapes that flatter your figure and leave the high fashion to others.

The shoulder seam ends at the main shoulder bone, at the top of your arm, not near your elbow. The line of the shoulder and armhole draws the eye up to your face, now down the body to the extra fabric or droop of standard drop shoulder sweaters.

If you have lovely broad shoulders, then a standard drop shoulder will look great on you, so please go for it. But, for those with a narrower upper body, they’re not usually the most flattering shape.

Drape, Fabric and Swatches

Other considerations include drape and how the fabric of the sweater behaves. Does it drape nicely or is it so firm that it could stand up without you wearing it? I’ll state the unpopular view that a swatch will tell you a great deal, I’ll also add that one of the best, absolute best swatches for a sweater is a sleeve. It’s large enough and heavy enough to show you have the yarn will really behave on the rest of the garment, rather than a six inch square which only tells us how it behaves in a small piece of knitting or crochet.

You can work your sleeve swatch in the round or flat, whatever suits the pattern you’re making, but that one item will tell you so much and save you a lot of time.

For those working top down and in the round, a large swatch of any kind is your friend. I will admit that for top down sweaters, where I have used the yarn before, I have a rough idea of the needle size I will need to get gauge/tension. I’ll just cast on and crack on with the knitting or crochet. However, I measure A LOT, during that first part of the knitting. I need to know whether it’s going to be wide enough, do I need to add length, adjust my increases etc. So pay attention at this stage of your garment.

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Wondrous Wheatsheaf Sweater pattern planning 2021

Wondrous Wheatsheaf Sweater pattern planning 2021

About the Wheatsheaf Sweater

I cast on for a Wheatsheaf Sweater to go with the Wheatsheaf Poncho. It’s a V neck sweater and I’m knitting the Aline version, not least to match my own shape as I’m bottom heavy or pear shaped. I am using Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool in the Oatmeal colourway. I’ll be writing the pattern to work in the round (bottom up) and also a seamed version. I have talked before about how seams add strength and structure to a garment, they also stop it moving around the body when worn.

I also had to consider the cable pattern and what impact that would have on the fabric of the sweater. Because the cable pattern uses more stitches per 4 inches/10cm, I had to add extra stitches to maintain the correct width of each piece of the sweater. That was easy for the sleeves and back of the sweater as they only have one central cable panel. However, on the front which has two cable panels, it required thought to centre the cables, add some stitches between them to make a seam stitch either side of the V neck.

Shoulders and Fit

I do like the trend for drop shoulder sweaters, but with slimmer shoulders and a larger lower body, it’s not a good look for my body shape. I decided to go with the Modified Drop Shoulder, I’ll add a diagram below this section so you can see what that means.

Drop Shoulders typically have the seam part way down the arm, which can be unflattering for those with slim or narrow shoulders as the jumper looks like it’s falling off the body and you end up with a large amount of fabric under the arms.

A modified drop shoulder, in this case, has the seam moved in to sit on my shoulder line, the sleeves are extended to match the difference between the underarm position and the new shoulder/armhole line. The solid line at the top of the sleeve shows the extra length added to the sleeve to ‘fill’ the armhole area but keep the shoulder seam where I want it to be.

Wheatsheaf Sweater body showing modified drop shoulder line, v neck and aline body shaping
Wheatsheaf Sweater body showing modified drop shoulder line, v neck and aline body shaping
Wheatsheaf Sweater sleeve schematick, you'll see the sleeve is longer, the portion above the solid line at the top of the sleeve is the extension which fills the armhole gap.
Wheatsheaf Sweater sleeve schematick, you’ll see the sleeve is longer, the portion above the solid line at the top of the sleeve is the extension which fills the armhole gap.

Wheatsheaf Sweater Sleeves

The photo below shows both sleeves, on in progress, the other completed and blocked, they are worked flat for my prototype garment, but the pattern will be written to include instructions for working in the round too!

Wheatsheaf Sweater Sleeves, worked flat
Sleeve two showing cable detail and a 400g ball of the Stylecraft Special Aran with wool in the oatmeal colourway
Sleeve two showing the first repeat of the cable pattern in the centre of the sleeve. The sleeve is shown with a 400g ball of the Stylecraft Special Aran with wool in the oatmeal colourway

I’ll be starting the test knit for the sweater pattern on the 20th February, if you’re interested, do sign up in the test volunteer thread to receive an earburn/message when the test starts, here. Or, sign up for our newsletter here.

Suitable yarns for the Wheatsheaf Sweater

You need an Aran weight or heavy worsted weight yarn. Cascade 220, Berroco Vintage or Vanna’s Choice would be suitable or any Aran weight yarn. I used Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool because it’s affordable and machine washable.

Finished Unique Wheatsheaf Poncho Pattern 2021

Finished Unique Wheatsheaf Poncho Pattern 2021

Finished Wheatsheaf Poncho Pattern

It’s finished, done, no more knitting on my Wheatsheaf Poncho. The buttons are sewn on, for the third time and ALL the ends are woven in. I am so pleased. Please excuse the photos, my hair is at that annoying stage where I don’t seem to be able to do anything with it.

Wheatsheaf Poncho worn by Loraine.

Loraine is looking past the camera and wearing a Spruce green poncho, the Wheatsheaf cable runs up one edge of the poncho and it is fastened on one shoulder/arm.  The yarn is Stylecraft Special Aran with wool and is a heathered mix of Teal and Khaki.
Loraine is looking past the camera and wearing a Spruce green poncho, the Wheatsheaf cable runs up one edge of the poncho and it is fastened on one shoulder/arm. The yarn is Stylecraft Special Aran with wool and is a heathered mix of Teal and Khaki.

I’m a UK size 20 (Covid fluff, enough said) and wearing the XL sized Poncho, it took just over 472g of yarn but as always, I add at least 10% to the yardage/usage in the pattern to allow for different knitting styles.

Who is the pattern for? I’m a busy Mum, I work, I’m a Parish Councillor, volunteer Director of our local Housing Association and seem to always have something to do. While I love complex cables and fancy lace patterns, I sometimes just need a project I can pick up and knit a few rows when I have time. The Poncho is mostly stocking stitch but the cable pattern adds enough interest to make you want to knit more rows to see the next bit.

It’s a relaxing and easy TV knit for nights in with the family and perfect to soothe your shattered nerves after a day of cooking, cleaning, home-schooling, shopping and making sure everyone else is fine. It’s also a nice warm project for those days you have to watch the kids at dance class, football or other activities when you’re the Taxi as well as Mum.

There are no bands or borders to pick up. The icord and ribbed bands are knitted as you go, absolutely no picking up of stitches, no faff, no cutting yarn or working in different directions. It’s super easy.

I had a drama with the buttons, the first set, sewn on with a Hobbit needle and Mermaid hair were too small and the poncho fell off me. I found larger buttons. Spent another 30 minutes trying to thread the wrong end of the Hobbit needle because I couldn’t see the hole, the Mermaid hair was so thin and fine I was ready to scream. I found my reading glasses and put on every light in the living room, honestly, the heat it generated must have had the Police thinking I was growing a cannabis crop.

Button set two were also too small and I didn’t have enough of one colour. I ended up ordering larger buttons and they are PERFECT. That said, there may have been some swearing while I battled with needles and fine thread.

To be fair, my buttons stash was used to make NHS ear/mask savers, but I’d forgotten all about that when I went hunting for buttons.

Poncho Sizing

The Wheatsheaf poncho pattern is sized from S/M through to 4XL and is easy to adjust to fit by either casting on more stitches in the stocking stitch part of the poncho (the middle of the cast on) for width or adding cable repeats for more length. It is worked in a rectangle and bottom up (if the rectangle is laid flat). Unlike most of it’s style which are knitted sideways.

It’s a versatile piece and a relaxing TV knit so you have enough interest from the ‘one more row’ cables but also can just chill in the stocking stitch portions.

I’m including photos of the poncho on Vicky, my tailor’s dummy who is smaller than I am, but you get the idea. I can be buttoned top to bottom to make a long tube with buttons either end, this create sleeves with the middle section being the body of a shrug.

If you button one side to the other, as shown in the photo above, you can wear it like a poncho as I have, or move the buttoned section to the centre front like cardigan/cape.

Wheatsheaf Poncho worn by Vicky, the tailor's dummy.  The buttons are fastened at the front to wear as a cape.  These are the second set of buttons, the final ones match the yarn.
Wheatsheaf Poncho worn by Vicky, the tailor’s dummy. The buttons are fastened at the front to wear as a cape. These are the second set of buttons, the final ones match the yarn.

The pattern is currently being test knitted in our Woolly Madly Deeply group on Ravelry.com, you can check out tester’s projects and comments here.

The pattern will be released on 14th March, if you’d like a special subscriber only discount code, sign up for our newsletter here. It’s easy to adjust in width (the long edge of the rectangle) or height/length (the short edges with the cables) by adding or subtracting cable repeats.

Sign up for our newsletter to get an exclusive launch discount of 30% when the pattern is released.

Wheatsheaf Poncho Gallery

Suitable yarns for knitting the Wheatsheaf Poncho

Any aran weight yarn should work, the important thing is to achieve 17 sts per 4 inch/10cm. I used 5.5mm needles and it gave good drape with my Stylecraft Special Aran with Wool yarn. I used the Spruce colour way which is a mix of a muted teal and khaki to create a heathered green. I love it.

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