After realizing that she was the only female in her family without a craft, Mindy Dykman asked her high school boyfriend’s mother to teach her how to knit. That was 30 years ago. The relationship ended, but the knitting stuck.
Gilraen’s Cowl started – like many of Mindy’s other design ideas – with the question, “But what if…?” In this case, she wanted to knit a cowl to keep her warm in the winter that would lie flat under her coat. She also wanted something pretty and lacy because she loves lace. Gilraen’s Cowl was the answer, with its close-fitting, ribbed turtleneck that expands into a beautiful lace. The cowl is knit in the round from the top down in Berroco Ultra Alpaca.
How did you come up with this design?
Last winter, every time I tried to wear a scarf, my Border Collie puppy wound up grabbing it at some point during our walks. I was having a hard enough time managing her leash; adding the scarf into the mix, it’s a wonder we didn’t both wind up strangled. I wanted something that would protect against the winds of winter, but that would also be snug enough not to attract the attention of my energetic dog.
Is there a story behind the name?
Gilraen is the mother of Aragorn, one of the heroes of Tolkein’s epic Lord of the Rings books. I first read those books when I was 11 and they have been a major part of my life ever since; I’m one of those people who reads the trilogy annually. I chose Gilraen as my inspiration as she was a woman from an exiled people who would need the practical warmth of the cowl, but who would also have a hidden nobility as expressed in the lace.
Did you make it for anyone in particular?
On the one hand, I made this for me, and it will see active duty this winter. On the other hand, I pursued this concept because of the encouragement of a group of women I met on Ravelry who have been a sounding board and cheering squad for the past three years. So to the Remrants Posse, I thank you. This one is for all of you.
How did you decide on the yarn?
Practically, I wanted warmth, so I knew I wanted alpaca. I also knew that alpaca has this habit of growing over time, which is lovely when knitting lace but not so much if you want something that is close-fitted to *stay* close fitted. Ultra Alpaca fitted my needs beautifully because the 50/50 blend of alpaca and wool keeps the piece in shape but is also snuggly warm. I also absolutely love the soft heathery colour that the two fibres together create.
If you could knit something for anyone in the world it would be…?
My grandchildren… but not for a few years yet, thanks. No pressure, boys, take your time!
What’s your favourite thing about knitting?
I love the movement of knitting. From the sensation of yarn slipping between fingers to the rhythm of stitches as they move across a fabric, to the gentle movements of hands and needles. It is an immersive, tactile meditation. It’s also magical, really. How ridiculous that entire garments can be made using just two sticks and some string!