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Dear Kay,

The bulky cowl is a special category of handknit. Special as in specialfantastic. You get in and out so fast that you don’t even have time to wonder when you’re going to finish. You are finished. You made a bulky cowl!

The arrival of Jill Draper’s Brunswick bulky in our shop has of course sent me on a ramble to figure out what my pattern game is going to be.

Very fun.

Let’s go to the videotape:

Gin Thistle by Thea “Baby Cocktails” Colman. This is a dandy—with bulky yarns, you have to move fast to get any tricky bits in there. I love the way the cables transition from the ribbed edging. There’s art to be found everywhere, you know?

bulky cowls
PHOTO BY THEA COLMAN, taken in literal blizzard


Diagonal Striped Garter Stitch Loop from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. They’re a very clever bunch out there, the Churchmice living the dream on their dreamy Bainbridge Island in the dreamy state of Washington. Good for you, you tea-infused maniacs! Those of us sitting landlocked in the provinces plot our bucket-list trips to Churchmouse. It will happen, y’all. Meanwhile, we take comfort in their Diagonal Striped Garter Stitch Loop, a typically elemental and lovely design. Satisfies that craving for completion, and also the craving to make stripes. While living in the provinces.

bulky cowls
Photo by those wooded-island-dwelling folk at Churchmouse Yarns No We’re Not Bitter Or Anything


Biggie Cowls by everybody’s favorite bulky knitter, Kay Gardiner. What you can’t see here is the sideways cable part—madness! Note that the pattern calls for Super Bulky, which outbulkies our Jill Draper Brunswick. This means that you can make this pattern with Brunswick and end up with something slightly less biggie than the cowl shown here. Program note: Please stop writing—we can confirm that Kay’s dear daughter Carrie survived the modeling of this accessory, though some chiropractic and acupuncture may have been required.

bulky cowls
Photo by Kay “It’s Blurry On Purpose” Gardiner


Lush Brioche Cowl by Cassondra Rizzardi. The brioche bandwagon is a fun place to be these days. Kudos to Cassondra for making this cowl superlong for maximal enswathing of the neck zone. I can see Brunswicking the heck out of this thing.

bulky cowls
Photo by Cassondra Rizzardi, brioche enabler


KISS Cowl Simply Mosaic by Mary-Ann Lammers. I am not going to lie: mosaic knitting hasn’t been a thing for me. This clever pattern might just be the low-dose mosaic to lure me in.

Photo by Mary-Ann Lammers, shown here wearing HER invisibility cloak UNDER HER COWL


Portillo Cowl by Gale Zucker. This dotty piece of cake appears in Drop Dead Easy Knits, which remains one of our favorite books of the past year.

Photo by Gale Zucker; pattern by Gale Zucker. Show-offy? Maybe


Heavy Duty by Laura Aylor. This gem has a cool asymmetrical shape to it, knit in the round and magically longer on the back side. You could wear this one almost as a coat. Is it a cowl? A semi-poncho? Whatever it is, I love it.

bulky cowls
Photo by the ever-clever Laura Aylor

I could go on all day with the bulky cowl recommendations—but these are the top o’ the heap, A-number-one candidates fueling my fiber-fumed fantasies this week. We need a blizzard in Nashville, just saying. I’ve got a bale of Brunswick and the handknits lined up for one.




  • Curse you all and your knitting ideas! 😉 (really, just kidding)
    Oh, to have hours on end to knit, rearrange stash, update Ravelry pages, knit, drink tea, knit some more (with bulky yarn). Jobs, traveling spouse, chronically sick kid, tax preparation, putting the house up for sale. The list is endless. Real life stuff can be such a drag, cutting into knitting time.
    At least I had a delightful three minutes with MDK! Always a high point in my day. Thanks for that!!

  • When we went to Seattle for our honeymoon this October, I made sure a trip to Bainbridge and Churchmouse was on the agenda! Further confirmation that I married the right man. He happily sat and read while I wandered the store and pet all the yarn.

  • I have a possible KAL! Your post of Mary-Ann Lammers cowl led me to her DaVinci collection:
    She gives ideas on “cracking the code” for easy color pooling. Do you think MDK might want to tackle that with a yarn you guys pick in the future? I love the unique look, just phobic to math:)

    • Mary-Ann has a couple of groups on Ravelry, too. One for her designs and another she’s just started for accessories. I’m in both as Coffeeknitrepeat. 🙂

      • Hello Sue! Thanks so much for letting me know my pattern is here. Lovely way to start my day and I am honoured to be mentioned!

        • G’day Mary-Ann! You’re welcome. That’s what friends are for. 🙂

      • Thank you!

  • Churchmouse is delightful! First of all, you get to take a ferry, which is a novel experience (for me, anyway) and then the little downtown area is totally charming, and then the store itself is fantastic. Highly recommended bucket-list item.

  • Love that Portillo cowl!

    • Due to illness, snow, and life, I jost got my circs for making my Portillo cowl. It wont be finished for 02/13-14. Soon now, though, it will be on my needles. I am knitting it for Me (!). Such a great look; I can’t wait to wear it!

  • I am grieving my friends’ move away from Bainbridge Island for more than one reason. (1) They will be farther away from us. (2) I won’t have a reason to WALK (yes, on Bainbridge Island everyone walks everywhere) from their house down to Churchmouse several times a year. However, we will all still be in the same time zone. The people at Churchmouse are the NICEST YARN STORE EMPLOYEES EVER! And that’s saying something…

  • I have made a few verson of Kay’s biggie. Love it.

  • A bale of Brunswick would make a lovely gift for Valentine’s Day. Great cowls, and as we are still knee deep in snow up here in this part of Canada, one may appear on my needles this weekend.

  • To Kay “It’s Blurry on Purpose” Gardiner, I also employ this method of photography. We must compare notes sometime.

  • Yes! Bulky is the way! Great options thanks

  • I just finished a bulky cowl out of Clara’s beautiful Cormo –Suloinen by Ysolda Teague. The lace pattern is wonderful in the bulky yarn, and I finished it in two days. I’m considering making another out of Brunswick. Perfect gift.

  • Hahahahahahaha LOVE the caption of my Portillo Cowl. (Catching up on my week of MDK. )

  • Show off? MOI????
    Thanks for the shout out.

  • Gaptastic!

  • I was lucky enough to visit Bainbridge Island and Churchmouse Yarn and Tea this year. I bought the library vest pattern and some mango tea. And then crossed the street and visited a Quilt Shop!

    Bainbridge Island is really a beautiful place, but we stayed in Poulsbo because it was more in our budget.

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