Knitting the Uptown Cowl…in Something Other than Mirasol Miski

If you’re looking for a rewarding way to get back into knitting after the holiday rush, might I recommend the Uptown Cowl on page 76 of our February 2011 issue? (Look, Tanya has already made one!) It’s a quick and easy project and just right for adding a bit of pizzazz to your midwinter wardrobe.

Photo, Ryan Brook/Transcontinental Interactive

Photo, Ryan Brook/Transcontinental Interactive

Designed by Glenna C., the Uptown Cowl pattern calls for Mirasol Miski, a luscious 100% llama yarn that is so soft, you’ll almost forget cashmere even exists. Better yet, it comes in a wide range of appealing colours. And even better than that, the Mirasol Project supports development in Peru by providing education (as well as nutritious food and health care) to the children of local shepherds. Every skein you buy makes a difference.

Mirasol yarns are distributed nationwide by Diamond Yarn, but I realize that some of you have difficulty finding the yarn in your area. If you find yourself in that boat, here are a few tips to help you get your hands on a couple skeins – or to find a suitable substitute.

  • First, use the handy Diamond Yarn online store locator. Head to their webpage, then click “Buy.” Enter your postal code in the search box, and you should see a list of local stores that carry Diamond yarns, as well as a list of online retailers that do the same.
  • If there’s a yarn store near you that carries Diamond products, give them a call to see if they carry the Mirasol yarns. Or, shop online. (For example, this yarn is available online from Webs.)
  • If your LYS doesn’t carry the yarn and you’d prefer not to order over the internet, it’s time to think about substitutions. When you’re shopping for a substitute, take into account the feel and drape of the yarn, the weight/length per skein and the gauge.
    • The feel: Llama is very soft and fuzzy – so you want something similar. It’s going to go around your neck, after all, so having something that’s soft, cozy, and comfortable is key. Mirasol Miski has a lovely bloom and drapes softly when knitted, so you should look for something with a bit of a “halo” that isn’t too tightly spun. If you pick a smooth, sturdy yarn, the cowl will be too stiff.
    • The weight: Miski is a worsted weight yarn with 82 yards per 50 grams. If your LYS is organized by the weight of the yarns, head to the worsted section. When you find a likely contender, check the length and weight of each skein to ensure you’re in the right ballpark.
    • The gauge: The label calls for a gauge of 18 sts = 10 cm on 5 mm needles; for this project, we called for 15 sts = 10 cm on 6 mm needles. You can guess-timate a good match, but remember that swatching is always best policy.
    • (P.S. If you get great help from someone at your LYS, please buy the yarn from them. That’s another best policy!)

If you’re in a real hurry and don’t want to shop around, I think you could likely substitute Patons Divine (you’ll probably need to use smaller needles) or SWS – the self-striping yarn would add extra interest, I think. Tanya used Bernat Alpaca.

Have you made this cowl? What yarn did you use?