Editor’s Choice: Knit ahead for Christmas – Cowls!
In the next chapter of Merion’s search for patterns for gift knits, this week she looks for cosy, cheerful cowls…
Is there anything more cosy than a cowl? It’s a no fuss kind of accessory – it doesn’t drape, it doesn’t come undone, it doesn’t drip into your hot chocolate, or get stuck in your coat. If anything, it acts as a very useful crumb catcher and insulator against cold wind from whipping around your neck. What’s more, a cowl is a quick knit!
Christmas is getting closer, and I’m still working down my list of gift knit recipients – with only a few weeks to go, I need patterns that are speedy, satisfying and beautiful. You can knit cowls in any weight yarn – in fact, I’ve covered most weights in this selection. Super chunkies simply fly off the needles, and even an aran or worsted weight cowl works up quickly. Introduce cables, colourwork, faux plaid or use simple stitches and beautiful yarn – it’s a perfect recipe for a present!
I think we had better start with a clear definition of a cowl. My research tells me that the word cowl comes from the Latin, cuculla, meaning “a hood” and was possibly used in days gone by to describe the hood section of a garment, worn by monks as a way of keeping warmer in old stone buildings and churches. These days, in woolly knitting terms, it generally means a joined up circle of knitting that is worn around the neck – and it can be a neck height, compact accessory, or more like what we might call now, an “infinity” or “mobius” scarf that can be looped around the neck a couple of times or worn long.
Now that the history lesson is out of the way, let’s have a look at these wonderful patterns:
This might almost count as a ponchette, in the way it has a lovely v-neck and chunky cables that, at a pinch, you might be able to work down your shoulders. In your favourite chunky yarn, this would knit up fast and be such a fun project to make. I suspect this might work rather nicely in delicious Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky, in those signature DB shades we love so much!
I love the button detail on this cosy Redeemed Cowl by Amanda Lilley. That looks rather like Trinity Stitch to me – although the raspberry and blackberry stitches work in similar ways, producing such a fabulous textured finish. Of course the texture doesn’t just look nice – it’s there to trap the warm air too! This one is pictured knitted in Berroco Vintage Chunky – and if you haven’t tried the Berroco range of yarns yet, you’re in for a treat! Vintage Chunky is a blend of wool and acrylic with a little dash of nylon, so it’s completely washable – and the range of colours is absolutely beautiful – just have a look at how many blues there are.
If you are not of the chunky yarn persuasion, you might love this very pretty 4ply/fingering weight cowl, with an extremely pretty lace pattern. This beauty is knitted in Lang Yarns Baby Alpaca, a sport weight baby alpaca yarn that is as soft as kittens and warm too. Any sport weight or 4ply yarn is fine for this cowl – actually, I’d knit it in a DK too. You’re probably better suited to a solid or semi-solid shade to help the lace pattern bloom.
I include this little cowl recipe, because it’s a very quick, fun knit. I used MillaMia Naturally Soft Aran for a cosy, warm merino cowl, and the speediest way to create a plaid pattern is using knit and purl to make a wide rib, and pulling stitches up through the purl ridges using a crochet hook. There’s even a free photo tutorial, which shows you how to do it in easily digestible steps!
Combine your love of a lace motif with super chunky or chunky yarn. I love Karie Westermann’s Brygga cowl, it’s so warm and toasty, kntted here in the very affordable Twilleys Freedom Wool.
This caught my eye for two reasons – firstly I love the fact that it’s a little bit different. Elizabeth Feldgate describes it as “a bit of steampunk” – inspired by the elegance and decorum of the Austen era, and cravats worn by gentlemen, that gives the wearer “that extra bit of dash and panache to lighten the darker days.” Secondly, it is a fabulous knit for beginners. The pattern has two sizes, one for child-small adult, and one for medium-large adult.
Slip-stitch, or mosaic knitting is a fabulously straight forward way to create colourwork – it’s worked row by row using slipped stitches, and is tremendously satisfying! This gorgeous cowl is a fabulous introduction to mosaic knitting – and although the pattern suggests it’s an advanced technique, I personally think you’ll find it very much easier than that. The pattern is written for sport weight yarn – but you can knit it in DK, worsted or aran weight too.
I’m off to cast on and enjoy some more gift knitting! I hope you can do the same!
We’d love to see your Christmas cowls! Share your pictures with us on the Community feed!
Last updated: November 25th, 2016.