Lots ‘o cowls


This skein of Knit Collage “Pixie Dust” was a Christmas gift. I love the colors but have no experience knitting with this type of yarn. Thirty-five yards, 97 percent wool, 2 percent mohair, and I’m thinking that sparkle is the 1 percent “other.” So, clearly this needed to be something very simple to just let those yarn blobs pixie away.



I very much like to wear close-fitting cowls. They are the no-nonsense coziest. So, all I did was cast on 28 stitches on size 19 needles, in the round. Yep, I own a pair of size 19 circulars with fairly short cables. No one will mistake this for “off the rack!” I like the pebble look of this.

The consistent theme for my recently knit cowls has been close-fitting. This is the Augustine Cowl, a free Classic Elite pattern by Susan Mills.


Here’s a better view that shows the construction more clearly, despite my use of this difficult-to-photograph black shade of Berroco Flicker.


Laying flat, my Augustine Cowl somewhat resembles a lampshade. But it’s actually a nice-fitting, well-behaved cowl. The slight bit of easy open work at the top folds back gracefully at the neck. The flared-out bottom fits nicely over the shoulders. Flicker is a chainette yarn, in 87% baby alpaca, 8% acrylic, with the remaining being the sparkly bits.  It is unbelievably soft, with absolutely no scratchiness from the tinsel-like filaments.

The next two cowls are both knit in Dream in Color Classy with Cashmere, a 20% cashmere, 70% merino, 10% nylon concoction. It’s a very soft worsted weight. I liked everything about working with it, except that this Amethyst Ink colorway inked my hands and everything in the vicinity of the work (including rubbery stitch markers) a deep purple. Ick. A Eucalan soak seems to have solved the problem.

This is Purl Soho’s Structured Alpaca Cowl. It is a super-easy free pattern. My only modification was to work eight rather than nine repeats of the pattern. I wasn’t sure I had enough yarn left for the 9th repeat and it seemed to me to be tall enough with eight.


Again, the construction isn’t evident, but check out the Purl Soho link for a look at it in a light-colored yarn. The tab in front is one-by-one rib, knit through the back loop. You cast on stitches to continue working in the round. The front section is stockinette with some interesting decreases at each edge. And the back section continues the same ribbing as worked in the tab. This one is going to be great for chilly mornings in the kayak.

Here’s the same Dream in Color, knit in an easy meandering cable. It’s Angela Hahn’s Serpentine Cowl. The pattern is included in the Craft Tree Collection, “Easy Knitted Accessories,” and was also published in Interweave Knits 2011 Accessories magazine. Again, what I most like is the way the cowl hugs the neck and lays nicely on the shoulders.


More than 1500 Ravelers and many members of my Black Sheep Knitting Guild, have knit Kirsten Kapur’s Chickadee. It’s an easy linen stitch cowl. The pattern’s available free on Ravelry. Mine is knit in Mirasol Maylla, a next-to-the-skin soft yarn of 45% alpaca, 40% wool, 15% bamboo.


False Creek is an interesting quick-knit, worked up here in Cascade Lana Grande on Size 15 needles. The design is by tincanknits’ Emily Wessel and is available as a single pattern or as part of the Pacific Knits ebook.


There’s a lot of “give” in those size 15 stitches. In a pinch, this cowl can do double duty as a head-hugger.


If you’re wondering, those are JUL Designs “pedestal” leather buttons. They screw in place with that center brad.

This next cowl is a return to the close-fitting style: tincanknits’ Alexa Ludeman’s Lions Gate. Like False Creek, the pattern can be purchased individually or as part of the Pacific Knits collection.


I knit the 96-stitch version, shown here in Cascade Yarns’ Alpaca Lana D’Oro.


Warm pink throw

This is Jared Flood’s Umaro, knitted here in Cascade Yarns Lana Grande. Lana Grande is a super bulky wool. The pattern forms over 28 rows and is repeated six times. So, for a throw, it’s quite a quick knit. Flood’s pattern is completely error-free–so cool in an age when, either for insufficiency of test-knitting or publisher issues, too many patterns have mistakes in them.

The pattern had me flummoxed at first. I separated the 12-stitch repeats by stitch markers, thinking that would help me keep my place. But it turns out this pattern “jumps” the markers as you move along, so I had to remove them. That meant keeping a bit more alert to the charts than I am comfortable with, but after the second repeat I was already able to see when I screwed up and fix it quickly.

Flood recommends Lana Grande for Umaro and I came across it at 30% off, so that was a nice find. The yarn usually had at least 2 knots in each 80 meter skein, which was fairly easily dealt with because it spit-splices well.

I knit the pattern on size 15 needles. My gauge was off a bit, but the fabric felt right so I just plowed ahead. Instead of blocked dimensions of 47 inches by 58 inches, I ended up at 45 by 52. Not sure how I lost that much length, but I suspect I didn’t steam the blanket aggressively enough as I blocked it. Mine does not have quite the verticality to the pattern as Flood’s sample.

The other possibility?  I am not an experienced lace knitter. Until fairly recently I gave up on patterns that needed a yarn over between a knit stitch and a purl! I just couldn’t figure out how to do it. Kind of like “True Confessions”  time here. More than 50 years knitting and still much more to learn. Then I found these directions on Carole Wulster’s blog. I’m been using them on a (small) series of lace knits and they’ve been working like a charm. No more odd yarn overs that don’t match their partner yarn overs. I’ve just learned some call this approach a “cheater yarn over.”  Yipes. That sounds rather  judgmental. But do you think there’s a chance this particular yarn over technique might tighten the yarn overs a bit so that the shape of  the pattern changes some?