Knitting Pattern Review

Knitting Pattern Review: Tamarack Cowl by Sarah Arnold

Here is something new that I want to do, every now and then a hand knitwear pattern review.  (Okay, did that sound a little Dr. Seuss-y to you too?)  I had the good fortune to hear that a local designer wanted a few people to test knit a couple of new cowl patterns she designed.

Testing is something I enjoy doing.  It gives me a chance to see the another designer’s pattern in the rough, and sometimes, the thought process behind the design.  Fun!

Meet Sarah Arnold: 

 Photo from

Sarah is “hotcheese” on Ravelry and one of the Group Administrators for the Ravelry group

Fredericton Fibre Fanatics.  Sarah hails from Fredericton, New Brunswick, a mom of two and  she is a voracious knitter.  Her “projects” page on Ravelry is very inspiring.  Sarah took the leap to hand knitwear designer and is producing some very nifty stuff.  I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah several years ago and when I saw her shout out on the FFF group on Ravelry for a test knitter, I jumped at the chance!
Tamarack Cowl by Sarah Arnold

 Image:  Copywrited Sarah Arnold, a.k.a. hotcheese

Pattern Description:
A cowl knit in the round.  Uses some of Sarah’s favorite knit fisherman cables and textured panels. 
Pattern starts with a deep knit two, purl two rib that flows neatly into the main pattern and transitions back to the the rib.   The recommended yarn weight is DK, with a gauge of 20 stitches in 10 cm (4 inches) in stockinette stitch on 4.5 mm (7US) needles.  Finished dimensions are approx. 26 cm (10 1/4 “) wide and 27 cm (10 1/2 “) tall after blocking, but the height is truly up to the knitter’s taste and yarn yardage.
Written instructions and charts included, with a chart/abbreviations key.
One size.

Pattern Layout:
I liked it.  Very professional and for me, is reminiscent of Jarod Flood’s pattern layout with its simple elegance.  Tamarack is three pages long and the page orientation is horizontal, which means you can hole punch it for a binder and view it length wise with ease.

Did finished object look like the photo/drawing in the pattern:
Yes, for the most part because I did only 10 repeats of the main patterns vertically, instead of the 13 shown in the pattern photo.

Were the instructions easy to follow:

Yes.  I knit from the chart and it was very clear, plus a good size.  Very easy on the eyesThe written instructions are listed row by row.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern:
(Remember, this is my own personal spin!) 
I liked the layout in general, although I felt it could have been compressed easily into a two page pattern.  I LOVED how the chart was presented.  Very professionally drawn and large enough to find where you are at a glance.
When I first started Tamarack, the quirky placement of cables and textured panels gave me a pause.  It’s not the typical “Let’s make everything a mirror image” kind of cowl.  As I knit, I discovered I really liked that.  It reminds me of my impression of Sarah herself:  quirky, confident, unique and, well, just plain fun.   I LOVED the choice of cables and textures.  Totally squishy and totally perfect for winter wear.  I can see me grabbing this cowl to shovel snow, to play with the kids outside, or to go walking downtown, shopping, in a crisp winter wind.
There wasn’t anything that I disliked about the pattern.  Sure, I’m not a huge fan of written instructions that do not utilize the “( _, _) x amount of times” type of format.  I tend to get lost in a lot of wording.  But that’s just me.  I think there are a lot of knitters that prefer the “everything written out” format.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
The pattern does not specified the particular cast-on and bind-off to use, so I went with my favorites.  The Ysolda Teague long-tail variation cast-on and the sewn bind-off.  I feel they give a really polished look to projects knit in the round that start/end in ribbing.
Since mine was a test knit, I knit exactly to the chart, only changing the amount of vertical repeats.
I did go with a worsted weight yarn from my stash, but I’m REALLY glad I took the time to swatch in the round.  I ended up going up to a size 5mm (8US) needle for the ribbing and a 5.5mm (9US) needle for the pattern at gauge.

Would you knit it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I will be knitting this cowl again!!!!
This cowl is a fast, fun knit.  I would even recommend it to a beginning knitter that wants to take the plunge into cabling.  Though I’d recommend learning to knit without a cabling needle for speed.

Tamarack is a fast, fun cowl to knit and is definitely worth paying for.  You will make more than one, and the finished object, design-wise, is of gift giving quality.   

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