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.


Sediment Collar


This little dickens was darn hard to photograph. It is Laura Bellows a/k/a Jul Designs “Sediment Collar.” The very deep purple color of this Berroco Ultra Alpaca is really quite wonderful, though you wouldn’t know it from my photo. In my opinion, the same cannot be said of the collar.

First, for the good news. Knitting the welts is a hoot. I’ve always liked to knit welts, which some call “tucks.” And the recommended technique of threading waste yarn through the row of stitches that will be knit together with the stitches on your working needle is not something I’ve done before. It worked quite nicely in terms of marking the row so that the welt came out straight.

I’d purchased the recommended Jul snap clasp for this collar. You screw in the three screws on each side and then snap in the middle. Easy peasy. I was incentivized because I found the pricy leather and stainless steel clasp half off at a shop closing sale.


I figured some of the younger female members of my clan might enjoy a sort of steampunky cowl. (Actually, they still might). But the weight of this clasp was just too much for the cowl. Granted, the Ultra Alpaca was not the recommended yarn. And though it actually knit up quite firmly, given the welts, it just drooped under the weight of that heavy clasp. Then there’s that little problem of a bulky, uncomfortable thing poking into you. I placed it in various places and just couldn’t make it feel (or look) right.

So back to the drawing board. I took out a mortgage and bought two Jul “buttons.” No half price this time. I think my Sediment ends up with a kinder, gentler look. It’s more comfortable too.

Sediment_newbuttonsThere’s just one problem. That lovely stainless steel center on the button is actually a screw. And the fabric has basically zero give, so you can’t just slip the cowl over your head. “Yes, Virginia…” you really do have to screw yourself into this cowl. Two screws, Sigh.

If you have any suggestions for a “save,” please leave your comments. And if any members of my clan are reading this and like it, do let me know!