I finished my random What's Leftover Cowl and I have to tell you that I love it! TOTALLY impractical for our California climate, but I don't care. It was a blast to make and I might just hang it up in the office for inspiration and a reminder that not all things in life need to be calculated.
I pulled yarns at random from my two gigantic zip bags of Shetland scraps and leftovers. Some were as short as 2 yards, while others little balls were 10 yards or more. Some 4 ounces total.
I divided this bounty into lights and darks. Of course, there were lots of medium values, which I assigned to lights or darks somewhat arbitrarily.
Then I arranged these two piles into pleasing (to me) movements of color.
I then wound these into balls, knotting the yarns together, creating "magic balls." I didn't try to figure out which colors would meet in the patterning—it was a total surprise.
I found a ball of grayed, mid-value, red-violet heather that I used in all the plain rounds between patterns. This helped to meld the wild array of colors. (I don't know why I grabbed that ball from the bag—I was looking for a nearly full ball and this one caught my eye.)
Now and then I had to edit: sometimes very similar colors would come up against each other, obscuring the patterning to much (I didn't mind a little blurring here and there, though).
I followed the Steampunk version of the Inspira Cowl pattern by Celery Stalks on Ravelry, with a bit of variation: At the decrease round I decreased by K4K2tog. This kept the decreases in pattern. I then altered the pattern in the remaining rounds to P2K3; K2P3; and P2K3. Narrowing the column from 3 to 2 isn't all that noticeable given that the cowl is slouchy.
Other details: Used a size 3 needle to achieve a 5-stitches-per-inch gauge (I'm a loose knitter). My shoulders are too broad for this cowl to drape over them, but that's OK—I prefer the scrunched at the neck look.