I ride my bike to work every day, (almost) no matter what the weather. Most mornings I drop our daughter off at school and continue past the sea and along old railway paths to the studio. There’s a segment that follows a busy road, the dump and an out of use but still stinky sewage treatment plant, but it’s still a pretty idyllic commute, especially compared to the rush hour city centre traffic I was used to dealing with. In some ways this time of year is the hardest to dress for, I’m too lazy to change when I get to work, and it seems a bit ridiculous to need special clothing just to ride to work — I did buy really good waterproof trousers this winter and can’t believe how long I got by without them. In the winter I don’t need to worry about overheating and just layer up, but right now the weather is wildly changeable, and I find that even if I don’t need a sweater or coat while cycling my neck and hands still get cold.
I love knitting and designing shawls, but I don’t end up wearing them very much anymore. Much as I like the jaunty image of cycling along with my scarf fluttering behind me, the reality is that the wind is constantly changing direction, especially close to the sea. Wearing a shawl and a scarf is more likely to result in the ends getting dangerously caught up in my spokes or the wind snatching it out to sea before I have a chance to react.
Lightweight cowls are the perfect alternative to a shawl or scarf when you want to be able to toss something on quickly and know it will stay in place. I’ve really enjoyed designing them over the last few years and now have a few options to fit different styles. These are all one skein projects — I often find a single skein shawlette is kind of a pain to wear, so these are a really nice way to make the most of a special skein.
There are 3 of my cowl patterns that fall into this sweet spot; Poza, Thebe and Fraxinus.
Fraxinus is an elegantly shaped cowl worked in the round from the top down, the stitch patterns all feature the same, repeated ‘v’ shape formed from simple yarn overs, decreases and slipped stitch cables. By progressively working these further apart the fabric becomes less dense and the cowl widens to flow over the shoulders — without any change in stitch count. The repeated elements and lack of shaping make for a fun project that’s interesting without requiring too much concentration. Originally designed for our club, we reknit it in Callisto for EYF this year.
Poza makes the most of a single skein of a luxurious yarn. It is worked in the round from the bottom up with gentle shaping to taper it towards the neck. It’s long enough to drape in beautiful, soft folds or to pull up on the coldest days. Poza was designed as part of Knitworthy 5 last autumn and uses Floating from A Verb For Keeping Warm.
Thebe has the look of a top-down triangular point in front, kerchief style, but the fact that it’s a loop prevents it from slipping off. I love this style for cycling or walking on our windy beaches. It is also made in Callisto- we have it available in the original club colour as shown and if you go through the product page you can also see it in some of the other colours.
An alternating cable cast on is a useful, stretchy cast on for ribbing that’s less fussy to work than a tubular cast on. It’s worked like a regular cable cast on, but instead of casting on each stitch knitwise stitches are alternately cast on knitwise and purlwise.
This tutorial includes both step by step photos and videos so you can use whichever suits you better.
This post was originally in our newsletter last week and since then several subscribers have reached out with incredible kindness to say that they'll miss the club but want to keep supporting us. We appreciate that so much, and, although we obviously need purchases to keep the business going there are lots of other ways that you can support us. I've added a few notes at the end on ways that you can support our business and my design work without spending money. All of them apply to other small yarn businesses, and many of them to small businesses of all kinds.