60 Quick Cowls is a vibrant and charming collection of cowls the reader can make using merino/alpaca blend yarns. What a wow of a book! If you have some familiarity with knitting, there will be plenty of projects for you to try. The projects are all gorgeous; soft and pretty. A cowl knits up fast and is definitely fashion-forward, just as the book says. The projects range in skill level from one to four (a "four" level project is one where the knitter is able to work patterns with complicated shaping and finishing). Most of the projects are on a level two to three range. All the projects call for Cloud or Duo Yarns from Cascade. Cascade is a family owned business which was founded in 1987 and is going strong. It is no wonder, either, when you see the amazingly chic and lovely cowls offered in 60 Quick Cowls.
The book opens with a fun section explaining where alpaca comes from. Called "Peruvian Gold", alpacas are also raised in North America. They are very light on their feet and barely harm the environment in any way. They are sweet, gentle animals who are members of the Camilid family. They are directly descended from vicunas. If you have never felt vicuna fabric, you are not alone, as this fabric is very expensive and rare. It was originally guarded like treasure. It is still used sparingly. Only Incan royalty could wear it for years. Alpaca is nearly as soft. It is called "the cashmere of the Andes".
Once the reader has been introduced to the alpaca, it's on to the projects! A real advantage of this book is that the cowls are photographed in two ways in practically every instance. The first photo will depict the model holding the cowl, completely knit in her hands, so you can see a view of it straight on. The second photo is a larger, brilliant close up of the same model wearing the cowl. It is easy to picture yourself all cosied up and looking equally as fashionable, using these photos and your imagination.
One hardly knows where to begin when choosing from these cowls. Each one has flair and personality. You may like the look of "Leaning Tower" a tall, diagonally ridged cowl knitted of vanilla colored baby alpaca/ merino wool, designed by Cheri Esper. This is a second level project and looks snug, warm, and perfect for a winter day. Perhaps you want something more dramatic which you might like wearing indoors and out. The cowl shown captured by a brooch, called "Entrelac Blocks", designed by Rosemary Drysdale, could be just your style. It is a ridge stitch cowl with a woven look. Meant for third level knitters, the yarns used are Cascade's merino wool/ baby alpaca in plum and anemone. What a sophisticated look!
Second level knitters will fall in love with the cape-like mood of "Bold Shoulders", complete with a turtleneck, and a decorative bobble design which is really pretty in dusty teal. Designed by Deborah Helmke, this uses Highland Duo yarn in baby alpaca/merino wool. This is such a dreamy project!
Perhaps you would like a cowl to knock their socks off. Try the "Curled Up in Cables" cowl, designed for third level knitters by Ashley Rao. What a statement this cowl makes, in Cascade Yarns Cloud in Pumpkin, a mix of merino wool and baby alpaca. The pattern alternates cables with dropped stitches. The cowl is superlarge and very lush looking. I love picturing myself in this one, cuddled up in all its snuggly warmth. You will too!
As a gift, 60 Quick Cowls, Luxurious Projects to Knit in Cloud and Duo Yarns from Cascade Yarns, might be the inspiration for the crafter in your family to really take off and soar. This book, paired with a gift certificate to enable her to cover purchasing yarns and needles, would set anyone to dreaming over the holidays or on her birthday, picturing what she will choose to make first! This is a lovely, fun and creative book!