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Dear Kay,

As you may know, I’ve done a fair amount of knitting in my life. I like to think I’m competent.

Today, however, I write with the tale of a humbling experience. Yes, humility is a good thing, but not really. It totally sucks.

Project: Kos Neckwarmer, star of the current Great Dickie-along now running over in the Lounge. Here’s the sample made for Field Guide No. 23: Glow.

Cute, right? A tasty snack, a bit of knitting, a quick trip to Norway.

I was aiming for a different vibe from the original Arne & Carlos colorway. I went with Rowan Norwegian Wool in Frost Grey, Frost Pink, Gold Nugget, and Wind Chime.

Think Jordan Almonds. Think Easter.

Three Things to Look Out For

Thing No. 1: Think about the pattern. The advice I dole out on the regular did not occur to me as I cranked away on this jolly chart. I knew there were decreases in there, but I didn’t think properly about how often to do the decreases.

Massive pro tip here: Highlight the decreases. Turns out, if you want to make a dickie that gets smaller as you knit toward the neck, you have to decrease with each repeat of the chart—not just one decrease per round. Astounding!

Thing No. 2: Make a gauge swatch. Suppress all cavalier thought along the lines of Oh I just made a hat using the same yarn at the same gauge I’m good lessssss goooooo. This Kos Neckwarmer is not the same as a hat, it’s just not. I cranked this thing, full of bravado, hubris, ego, certainty that I was getting 22 stitches to 4 inches/10 cm, never mind that I hadn’t done a single thing to check how my gauge was looking. How was it looking?

It was looking small. My gauge was more like 25 stitches, enough to cause significant shrinkage in the circumference, making for a somewhat inadequate dickie. I held out the pathetic hope that blocking would embiggen it, even as I knew this never works.

Blocking—just a quick bit of steaming with my faithful Rowenta—made my knitting look fantastic. This Norwegian Wool is really incredible stuff. But blocking did not add three inches to this thing. I can still wear this, definitely. But it would sit better with a bit more fabric in there.

Thing No. 3: Bind off loosely. In that photo of me, you can see that the neck is still on the needle, allowing for all manner of stretchy business as I tried this on. When I bound off, this stretchy business was cut to a mingy minimum, so much so that I had to redo it. Not a big deal, but easily avoided if you remember that this neck hole has to fit over a human head.

I made my collar shorter than in the pattern, not wanting a doubled collar. And I added the Gold Nugget edge because I didn’t want to get into a second ball of Frost Grey, and also: I really like Gold Nugget.

In Conclusion

I am about to make another Kos Neckwarmer, because I’ve got the fever now, and I’ve got knowledge—hard-won, humility-rich knowledge.



PS I finished this while watching the Oscars, which I will watch until the end of time no matter how much people bellyache about it. I love movies, period. I thought there were a number of really moving speeches. And the dresses were dreamy confections, with a lot of voluminous looks that had to be a trick to navigate in. What did you think?


  • Love seeing the before blocking/after blocking picture!

    • Thank you for sharing this hard-won knowledge. The colors you chose are gorgeous!

    • Your Kos dickie is adorable. Love the colors and your story.
      Re Oscar’s: Top Gun Maverick was the only movie that got us back into the theatre since Covid. I haven’t seen any of the others. It’s interesting to watch those Hollywood actors play dress up and have a party to congratulate themselves. They bring fantasy to us on the screen and in real life!!
      The fashion was beautiful but I miss the Red Carpet

      • I believe they’ll realize making the carpet beige (oh, excuse me, champagne!) was a horrible mistake and will NOT be doing that again.

  • I have to say, I kind of prefer your Kos fit better than the original – seems your smaller circumference won’t interfere with a coat shoulder, and it looks more streamlined without the rolled collar. Also, love the light and airy colors!

    • I think I agree with you. But my mom (95 and still perky) complains that her shoulders get cold on her daily walks, so I’ll make the original gauge dickie for her, and consider the Ann Version for me. Such pretty spring colors!

  • I appreciate the gauge (read sage) advice.

  • I finished my first Kos last week and your letter just put an end to my incessant questioning..”Is it just me…??” I experienced everything you mentioned!! Kos is such fun to knit, and its such a functional piece ( just came in from shoveling with a very warm neck and lots of compliments!!). I’m heading over to the Norwegian Wool page now! Your practical advice and creative palette has inspired me to start another!! Thanks, Ann!!

  • Ann – Love your Neckwarmer colors! Pink and gold are a great combo. Re: Oscars – totally agree with you as a movie lover. What I heard throughout was gratitude. It was a feel-good experience, and the fashion as always was amazing!

  • Thank you so much, Ann, for sharing these lessons learned. It takes courage to share one’s mistakes, but doing so is such a gift to others. Thank you for that generosity!

    • I heartily agree! Thank you, Ann, for having shared that it’s to be expected that seasoned and skilled knitters will have these experiences!

  • Your color choices are terrific, especially the gold, and the fit isn’t bad at all. I may be wrong but I think if you wet-blocked it you’d find another inch or so.

  • Your color choices are lovely!! I DO NOT have time to knit this now (do not cast on, do not cast on, do not cast on) but I will remember your advice. I had not knit charts in quite some time and recently started to swatch a chart and was reading right to left, top down — why would I do such a thing?! You have got this!!!

  • I agree that this fit is ok, but I get not wanting it to be snug. The gold tip is special—LOVE IT!
    As far those dresses—YUM. Ditto that pink satin (?) tux early on in the proceedings.
    Good luck with your next dickie!

  • The gold nugget trim looks great! Gauge really is key, isn’t it? Darn it. Loved the Oscars, the best in years. The happy mood. The gorgeous gowns which were better than they were in years too. And don’t we need to congratulate ourselves if we spend years getting a picture made, at huge risk and expense, with plenty of deflating failures along the way? Long live the Oscars.

  • Lovely!! Something else to look out for particularly when knitting a sweater is difference in stranding gauge vs stst gauge. In the past, knitting with sport weight wool I used a size 2 for the stst and size 6 for the stranding. (Pattern called for 2.5)

  • It’s such a comfort to know that even an expert can run into one of those humbling moments also. Annoying but then again good too cause what is life but one huge learning experience

  • Thanks for the tips! But you didn’t mention the real bear in the room, the cast on!! I just started mine last night and OMG so many stitches on tiny needles! I almost gave up right there. But I love the look and all things Norwegian so will persist. Re the oscars, I’m so sorry Colin Farrell and THOSE SWEATERS didn’t win.

  • Great colorway! Love the grey and gold together. And like others I think the fit is more modern really.

  • Oh my gosh, embiggen. My new favorite word!

  • If you have a subscription to the NYTimes, there’s an article on the woman who knit Colin Farrell’s sweater for Banshees of Inisherin.

  • I didn’t watch the Oscars, but did go look for the performance of Naatu Naatu from the Indian movie RRR.

    Thrilled that Everything Everywhere All At Once, Michelle Yeoh, and Ke Huy Quan won. I saw EEAAO in the theater with my daughter and then again at home. Loved the movie’s message about love and kindness and family. It just took a very wacky multiverse route to get there.

    And yes, I loved that it was OscarsSoAsian!

  • The colors look good on you, but even a very severe blocking wouldn’t add those three inches. Maybe you could attach an edging?

  • Thank you, Ann! As soon as my yarn comes in I’m casting this on for a quick knit, and your advice will be quite useful! I rarely swatch because I’m a lucky knitter that is almost always on gauge, but for this, I will swatch.
    Decreases…okay, I’m printing out the pattern and will highlight the decreases right now. Thank you!

  • Our last-few-days-down-to-the-wire Oscars cramming has given me so much knitting time that my Daytripper is already at the bottom ribbing. The cats will be bereft once it’s done. I just with Angela Bassett could have won as well, I usually end up with this sort of dilemma in one category or another. YES to the pink tux on Dwayne Johnson!

    • There’s nothing cats appreciate more than a pre-anchored human 🙂

  • Seeing the blocked knitting following the unblocked photos gave me the same sense of order in the world that Jen’s duplicate stitch video gave me yesterday. Maybe that’s part of the calm of knitting (which of course, we sometimes want to throw across the room.) I’m knitting a yoked sweater right now and shifting the gauge — maybe it’s time to take it off the needles and see what gauge I AM getting, instead of continuing on in wishful ignorance.

    We really enjoyed watching the Oscars this year. All the confectionery clothes, and so many sweet speeches.

  • Embiggen. Mingy. These words are KEEPERS! I currently have a sleeve cap that should be embiggened.

  • Speaking of the Oscars…. here’s another article about Delia Barry, the knitter of sweaters for the cast of the Banshees Delia Barry has knitted for many movies!!

    • I had read the New York Times article last week and enjoyed it. But this one was very interesting too! Thanks for sharing.

  • A groups of friends and I text back and forth during the Oscars, and we were underwhelmed, again. The writing is painful and frankly embarrassing (the Malala audience bit, and the bear) and it just smacks of self serving adoration. Go to the movies! but the ads were all for streaming services. I’d rather watch at home where I can’t hear the upteenth Marvel movie in the theater next door while inhaling stale popcorn and having my feet stick to the floor. The serious/adult movies play for about 5 days. The clothes – well, if you are wearing a $75,000 couture dress it better fit well and you need to learn to walk in it. And I hate the sheer/underwear/see all the boning trend.
    Just my two cents. I spent the time texting and weaving in a zillion ends on a project.

    • p.s. — gauge gets us every.single.time. Even though we just want it to work, and to just knit.
      le sigh.
      Your colors are beautiful.

  • I am embarrassed to say that gauge has never been my strong suit. This has generally been OK because I mostly knit things where gauge isn’t a major issue. So, Ann, I have a kind of dumb question. How is it that getting 25 stitches (rather than 22 stitches) to 4″ would cause significant shrinkage in the circumference of your garment?

    • Not getting gauge causes a problem as the pattern instructs one to cast on a specific number of stitches, with the expectation that number will equal a certain number of inches when worked. If your knitting is tighter – more stitches to an inch – or, looser – fewer stitches to an inch, the size of the piece being knit changes. Sometimes dramatically. One stitch more or less than gauge per only 4″ can be an entire size difference. It’s the numbers.
      I hope that helped.

      • Thank you JDU! I was just wondering because I thought if there were more stitches to the 4 inches, that would make the garment larger. I don’t really have a lot of confidence when it comes to figuring out gauge and an explanation is helpful.

        • It helps me to think about it this way: if you need to make *more* stitches per inch than the pattern indicates, then each of those stitches must be *smaller* than they should be, so the end result will be smaller.

          It’s kind of counter intuitive, because it feels like bigger number should equal bigger garment.

          I tried to write an analogy using peas vs cantaloupes, and how many of each it would take to fill a bucket, but it got away from me a bit…

  • I feel your pain. I just ripped the back out of baby sweater I am making from my own design- never bothering to see if the garter stitch gauge flat was the same as the stockinette gauge in the round. Spoiler alert…

  • It’s a turtleneck in an ice skating skirt. Kind of cute.

  • my neck feels warm just looking at it

  • I have to say, I love your color choice. No one will ever know that it was supposed to be bigger. I have been thinking of making it with the original colors, but now you have inspired me to create my own color palette. Thank you

  • I’m in the smaller-size-looks-better category (the intended garment doesn’t appeal to me) & love the colors but wondering if the gray is a warm grey per first pix (on you) or a cool gray like in the next? I’m loving the combo with the warm gray so just curious (could be my screen). One of my fav Oscar outfits was Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ gown & suit on guy with her, but lots of good ones.

    • I used the frost gray in my Kos and it is definitely the cool grey as in the close-up photo up top. I think it looks great with any colors you choose to pair it with… mine is with the peat for the background color, frost grey for the diamonds, and the velvet red, frost pink, blue (Coastal Fjord) and green for the hearts.

  • Glad to know others struggled with these same issues while knitting this neck warmer. I was able to steam block mine to embiggen it 😉

  • Ann, I love your colors! And every time I knit something that comes with another opportunity to practice humility, I think “I’ll knit another right away so that I can implement all my now-I-knowness!” Occasionally I even do it, and it’s so refreshing 🙂

  • …and the Oscar for the Most Honest Public Knitter goes to Ann Shayne! Thank you, Ann, for your spilling of making the funny mistakes we all make, but can’t imagine that you also do these things! I love your “cowl” and I’m betting that the next one is done just the way you
    like it 🙂

  • Hey Ann? Your faithful Rowenta. Is it an iron or a steamer? Deets, please!

  • Just jumping on the bandwagon here to say that knowing that you – a knitting goddess – can struggle with instructions makes me be kinder to myself about goofs and absences of mind! And what a revelation the blocking is! Thank you for sharing your ups and downs with us! Can’t wait to knit this!

  • Dear Ann,
    After reading your article I have knitted a swatch in the round using the first portion of the stranded knitting chart. The swatch has been blocked and is drying. If I do not get gauge I am OK with increasing the needle size to get fewer stitches in 4 inches. But I am not interested in using a needle size smaller that the US 4 to obtain more stitches in 4 inches. Would I achieve the size I want by casting on more repeats of the pattern and knitting with US 4 needles? Any advice you have to share would be welcome!
    Carolyn Dunlap

  • Very fancy and cheerful and looks fabulous on you.

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