A few folks have asked for a pattern for the Faux Isle cowl I showed a bit of in my Mixtape Marls post. The thing is I’m not a designer so much as a freestyler, and I don’t write patterns.
I knit like I cook, using loose ideas and flavors in a framework. I never follow recipes to the letter.
But as loosey-goosey as I am with my knitting, I do swatch, even if it’s a tiny swatch, or a swatch that becomes something else like a hat, cowl, or mitts. For me, having a swatch I’m happy with allows me to freestyle everything else. It’s like sharpening a knife before cutting a mound of vegetables—it makes everything good a little smoother.
And so, I’ve gathered the elements for my stranded colorwork cowl for you. Explore! Swatch! And Enjoy!
Size of cowl
Gauge (after finishing)
Stitch pattern repeat
The yarn I used is Neighborhood Fiber Company Rustic Fingering in Oliver, and a Freia Minikin in Maple (in the Picket Fence set). As much as I like the maple leaf color in the Minikin, I was most interested in pairing its blue and green with the gold of the Rustic Fingering, so I stopped knitting before the yarn turned red.
When I say cowl, everyone thinks of something different, it’s like saying, “cookie” to a baker. These yarns—knitted at a looser gauge and to suit my particular knitting mood—want to be a short cowl, the little extra something for when the cold blows inside the neck of your coat.
A short cowl for me is 22–24″ in circumference and 6–8″ tall. You may want something different. It’s a great idea to measure accessories you love and use those dimensions to adapt this recipe. Though this is a short cowl, there’s plenty of knitting space to allow the Minikin colors to merge and melt into each other.
I knit this at a looser gauge than the yarn calls for: 5.5 stitches to the inch, knit in-the-round and blocked. I like the drape that the looser gauge gives, and the stranding gives the cowl at a nice drape, rather than a listless drape.
I am nice—with a certain flair, wouldn’t you say?
I used an 8-stitch pattern from Mary Jane Mucklestone’s 150 Scandinavian Motifs. It’s number 18 if you have the book. Here’s a beautiful thing, any 8-stitch repeat motif will work. Feel free to hunt and gather one you like better.
I cast on 120 stitches (with an 8-stitch repeat and 5.5 stitches to the inch that’s a 21.8″ circumference), joined to knit in the round, knit four rows of garter stitch, knit my chart until I was close to 6″ of pattern knitting, knit four rows of garter, and bound off.
See, not a designer, not a pattern writer, but I like my results a lot.
Yes, It’s wider at the bottom
The eagled eyed knitters out there will notice that this cowl splays out at the bottom. The love-to-learn knitters will want to know how I did it.
Sometimes I want more width at the bottom of a cowl, so I knit top down and add width in the last inch and then bind off.
How? Please don’t tell my friend and technical guru Kate Atherley who would rather that I add stitches and do the math. I am a lazy knitter and it’s a cowl, so I either use a bigger needle or change my style of knitting to get a bigger gauge. Yep, moving from picking to throwing can change my gauge as much as half a stitch to an inch.
You can change so many things to suit your fancy when knitting a cowl like this. And with 120 stitches, a 4-stitch or 6-stitch motif will work too.
Knitting is so much like cooking, your ingredients, your spice, your style. If you follow what you like you’ll be content with what you make, and if you do make a cowl that you don’t particularly like, put it in your gift pile, no one will know.