One thing I’ve really enjoyed about designing my West Highland Way collection has been playing with new shapes. The Strathendrick jumper is an oversized garment with dropped, skinny sleeves, and the Shieling blanket is created modularly, with each square knitted borders-in, similarly to a hat crown. Meanwhile, this week’s pattern – Rowchoish – features an interesting multi-directional construction.

I have a few shrug-style garments, and find them really useful for throwing on when some extra warmth is needed while working at my desk. Such wrap-able shrugs aren’t in any way tailored garments, but are often created by just seaming together a variety of simple rectangular shapes. Couldn’t I knit something similar, essentially enveloping the body in a long wrappable rectangle, but make things even more simple — without seams? And might my wrap feature cables and even . . . bobbles?

Many years ago, I had a yen to knit a bobble-covered garment inspired by the interesting texture of the rhino arses I’d seen during a family trip to Edinburgh zoo . I bought some nice bulky grey yarn for the purpose and knitted about half of a somewhat wildly bobbled jumper. Then I tried it on and was terrified by my strange dalek-like appearance. So I exterminated my bobbly jumper and my next idea was to use the unravelled yarn in a seamless yoke construction with some owl cables. That idea became the first hand-knitting pattern I created . . .

. . . and the bobble jumper was consigned to history.

When I came to design Rowchoish I realised I’d not knit a single bobble for (gulp) 10 years! But when I tried working a few, in conjunction with a simple, sinuous, zigzagging cable, I realised they were rather fun! The bobbles would return!

First I knit a cable-y, bobble-y rectangle that was long enough to fit comfortably around my shoulders and drape over the front of my body to just above waist height.

Then I measured out the centre of the rectangle, picked up stitches from one edge, and knit downwards, to create a lower back . .

. . . by joining the back to the rectangles two short edges (with some simple ribbing) a three dimensional body-hugging shape was formed . . .

. . and all that needed to happen now was for a couple of ‘arms’ to be created in the ‘seam’ where front met back. Bingo!

When Tom created this pleasing schematic drawing of my new design it really made me laugh, as its bobbly appearance immediately reminded me of something . . .

But this time I had no inclination to exterminate my bobbly knitting, since I was pretty pleased with the result. It’s really comfortable! Really cosy! And really very wearable indeed!

I immediately liked the half-cardigan half-wrap thing that I’d created. And its most interesting element, it seemed to me, was the sculptural, textural effect of the cable and bobble pattern when worked at a large gauge. (Like Carbeth, Rowchoish is knitted with two strands of Buachaille held together).

From my failed rhino arse jumper to the creation of this interesting multi-directional wrap a decade later, I think I may well have fallen back in love with bobbles. And today, as I sit here, wrapped up in my cosy wrap, with a copy of Anna Maltz’s amazing new book on my desk, I find myself contemplating the intriguing Marlisle possibility of those bobbles.

I think it might be time to knit another?

I highly recommend Anna’s book. Find your copy here.
And if you would like to join the West Highland Way club (you’ll receive all previously issued patterns as well as Rowchoish, and 7 patterns still yet to come) you can do so here.

26 thoughts on “bobbles return

  1. The way you started this blog post I thought you were going to confess that Rowchoish was Gaelic for Rhino Arse!!!!
    So funny I just kept giggling through the whole post and had to re-read it to get to the truth!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hm, I have to admit that I like the owls better than the original source of inspiration:) I used to knit sweaters with loads of bobbles during the 90’s, but since I discovered the slip stitch created small bobbles in the montbretia design of your hap book – I am much more fond of those. they don’t stand out as much, but are much easier to knit, even if they make a dense bobble pattern. I used the same pattern for quite a few cowls now – simple to do but very nice in effect!
    and the big bobbles are a constant source of amusement for little kids that get carried around:)

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  3. You, your bobbles, and your landscape are so beautiful!

    This piece is kind of like a shawl – warmth wise – but it stays in place without a need to fiddle with
    it like a shawl that falls off shoulders. I can see myself warming up in this on cold mornings.

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  4. Your Owls pullover was your First Design??? I LOVE your Owls!
    Loved your story of your designing journey! Wish I could rock a classic dress the way you do!

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  5. I absolutely loves this!! I see bobbles and cables in my future. Enjoyed the history behind it- who would think a rhino could be so inspirational. Thanks Kate

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  6. I stopped putting bobbles in anything after I realized how dirty they get and how hard they are to wash clean, at least in my natural wool. So even though they are pretty, no more!

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  7. That is going to be perfect for me! I seem to be always putting things on/taking them off, eek shawl end just missed the gas fire under a pot…………..I will love wearing this. Your presentation is lovely. Thank you.

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  8. This is a truly lovely garment! Simple design yet effective for arm/ hand free doings. That color is stunning in the outdoor environment, well done

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