08 March 2015

Sonic Boom Cowl, Feather & Fan Stitch Pattern

Feather and fan is a classic knitting stitch pattern. Anything that is a classic is so for a reason. Casablanca -- possibly the best dialogue in the history of cinema. Where the Wild Things Are -- a great visual description of childhood imagination. Macaroni and cheese -- comfort food that fills your belly and reminds you of home. The Feminine Mystique -- articulation of the "problem that has no name," which is really the universal human search for purpose in life. A little black dress or a string of pearls -- unfussy, modern fashion, subtly complimentary of feminine sexual beauty without being vulgar.

Feather and fan is a classic for several reasons.
  • Firstly, the stitch pattern gives you a lot of result for little work. Most variants of the pattern have action on every-other right side row -- i.e. every fourth row. That means three easy rows of knit all or purl all.
  • The clustering of increases and decreases bends the fabric to create a wonderful wavy edge. If you are ever looking for a stash-buster, a scarf or afghan of striped feather and fan is a satisfying solution.
  • The skill level is typically intermediate. It is a basic lace in that all the increase-decrease pairs are usually in the same row.
  • Finally, it is a pattern that offers opportunity for variation -- throwing in a row of purls, trying different numbers of yarn-overs or decreases, working more or fewer plain rows, even putting the yarn-overs on one row and the decreases on a different row. (See Jan Eaton 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns Iola WI: KP Books 2006, for an amazing array of ripple and chevron patterns, both knit and crochet.)
I've used feather and fan on the Sonic Boom cowl. Because this is a welted möbius, I ended up with some rounds worked from the knit side and some from the purl side. I think most knitters can work the knit side without my help. But some of you may be unfamiliar with working from the purl side, especially the ssp maneuver. Hence, two videos.

Feather and fan from the knit side:

Here is feather and fan worked from the purl side. While this is fiddly in places, the decreases I am using will match the decreases I worked for the knit side version. Thus, your fabric will be reversible. Glee!

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