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Ombre Cowl

It’s become more than evident to me that I cannot get enough of 1) neutrals and 2) cowls. First came the White Caps Cowl, a play of textures in soft creams; next the Shawl Collar Cowl, like a folded cloud; then the Salt + Pepper Cowl, a blend of crisp heathery fibers; and now, the latest addition to this mini-collection, the Ombre Cowl!

This Ombre Cowl explores the complexity of subtle shifts in shade and texture by combining three yarns of differing weights and fibers. Jade Sapphire’s sumptuous Zageo 6 Ply Cashmere starts the journey and grounds the bottom edge, while Madeline Tosh’s hand dyed Tosh Merino Light dominates the middle section, and floating along the top is Alchemy’s Haiku, a weightless silk and mohair blend.

In a gently rippling slip stitch pattern, these three fibers flow into one another with such harmony and grace that my love of neutrals (and cowls!) may be just beginning!

Make your own exploration into this fascinating world of fiber-play with our Yarn for Ombre Cowl kit. Choose from three beautiful colorways: Gray (pictured here), Navy and Natural. -Laura

Materials

Get all the yarn you’ll need to make this cowl with our Yarn for Ombre Cowl kit. Each one includes…

  • Yarn A: 1 skein of Jade Sapphire’s Zageo 6 Ply Cashmere, 100% Mongolian Cashmere.
  • Yarn B: 1 skein of Madeline Tosh’s Tosh Merino Light, 100% Superwash Merino Wool.
  • Yarn C: 1 skein of Alchemy’s Haiku, 60% Kid Mohair, 40% Silk.

Choose from three colorways…

Gray

  • 1 skein of Zageo 6 Ply Cashmere in Sterling
  • 1 skein of Tosh Merino Light in Silver Fox
  • 1 skein of Haiku in Platinum

Navy

  • 1 skein of Zageo 6 Ply Cashmere in Blue Steel
  • 1 skein of Tosh Merino Light in Dr. Zhivago’s Sky
  • 1 skein of Haiku in Cornflower Blue

Natural

  • 1 skein of Zageo 6 Ply Cashmere in Driftwood
  • 1 skein of Tosh Merino Light in Antique Lace
  • 1 skein of Haiku in Husk

You’ll also need…

  • US #8, 16-inch circular needles
  • US #6, 16-inch circular needles
  • US #4, 16-inch circular needles

Gauge

6 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in Heel Stitch, using Yarn A on US #8 needles

7 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in Heel Stitch, using Yarn B on US #6 needles

8 1/2 stitches = 1 inch in Heel Stitch, using Yarn C on US #4 needles

To swatch Heel Stitch…

Cast on 24 stitches (or any even number).

Row 1: *K1, slip 1 purlwise with yarn in back, repeat from * to end.

Row 2: Purl.

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until piece measures 3 or 4 inches from cast on edge.

Size

Finished circumference at top edge: 17 inches

Finished circumference at bottom edge: 26 inches

Finished height: 16 1/2 inches long

Notes

Slip all slipped stitches purlwise with yarn in back.

For assistance with knitting stripes in the round, please visit our tutorial right here.

All shaping is accomplished with needle size changes. No decreasing in pattern.

Pattern

Begin

With Yarn A and US #8 needles, cast on 150 stitches.

Place marker and join for working in the round being careful not to twist the stitches.

Round 1: *P1, k1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat Round 1 until piece measures 2 inches from cast on edge.

Next Round: Knit.

Next Round: *K1, slip 1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat last two rounds until piece measures 3 inches from cast on edge.

Next Round: With Yarn B and US #6 needles, knit.

Next Round: With Yarn A and US #8 needles, *k1, slip 1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat last two rounds until piece measures 6 inches from cast on edge.

Next Round: With Yarn B and US #6 needles, knit.

Next Round: With Yarn B and US #6 needles, *k1, slip 1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat last two rounds until piece measures 10 1/2 inches from cast on edge.

Next Round: With Yarn C and US #4 needles, knit.

Next Round: With Yarn B and US #6 needles, *k1, slip 1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat last two rounds until piece measures 13 1/2 inches from cast on edge.

Next Round: With Yarn C and US #4 needles, knit.

Next Round: With Yarn C and US #4 needles, *k1, slip 1, repeat from * to end of round.

Repeat last two rounds until piece measures 16 1/2 inches from cast on edge.

Finish

Bind off loosely using US #6 needles, or use the US #8 if you tend to bind off tightly.

Weave in the ends and gently block your cowl.

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44 Responses to Ombre Cowl


  1. Megan says:

    Hello-
    This pattern is fantastic! I am currently busting my stash before purchasing new yarn and so am curious as to approximations in yards for each yarn used. Thanks so much!

  2. Laura says:

    This is just gorgeous! The haiku yarn is gorgeous, and I love the colors you put together for the navy option… now I just have to save up for it ;) Thanks for the great pattern!

  3. Shannon says:

    Holy wow-ness!! I just ordered the gray kit and cannot wait to get my fingers on this yarn!! Complete luxury and simplicity – I love it!!

  4. Nancy says:

    This design is gorgeous. I am wondering if you can suggest substitute yarns in alpaca for those that cannot tolerate wool?

  5. purl bee says:

    Hello Megan,
    I am not entirely sure, between swatching before hand and pulling Yarn C from my stash and then donating the left overs of Yarn B, I can only provide approximations…
    Yarn A: I used nearly the entire skein. ~150 yards
    Yarn B: I used around half to a little more than half of the skein. ~250 yards
    Yarn C: I used approximately half to perhaps a little less than half of the skein. ~160 yards
    Hope this helps!
    Laura

  6. purl bee says:

    Hi Nancy,
    I'd love to suggest some alternatives…
    For Yarn A: Blue Sky's Sport Weight Alpaca or their Alpaca Silk
    For Yarn B: Blue Sky's Metalico or their Royal Alpaca

    Also, here is a link to all of our alpaca yarns: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/3-knitting-crochet-yarn?filters=16

    Their are lovely color options in all of these yarns, especially if you love grays like I do!
    Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.
    Laura

  7. SUZY Q says:

    Is the GRAY yarn in this kit blue or gray? It appears blue in your photos.

  8. purl bee says:

    Hi Suzy Q-

    The finished cowl is done in the Gray colorway but the kits are also offered in Navy and Natural.

    Thank you!

    Molly

  9. denise says:

    Beautiful!!! Thanks so much for sharing

  10. margot says:

    precioso, que buena idea la combinacin de las diferentes hebras.

  11. Mili Mahmassani says:

    Hi Laura, I am wondering if you could suggestion a yarn color substitution which would provide a "pop of color" to the natural yarn selections. I have a winter coat in a darker brown and would like to add a touch of coral perhaps. Also would you please suggest in which yarn (A, B Or C) I should add the color.

    I can be patient and wait for a new shipment as I am working on my third white caps cowl. I absolutely love your designs!

  12. purl bee says:

    Hi Mili.
    I love that you are doing your 3rd White Caps. That's rad!

    After looking at the different yarns and their colors that could act as substitues for Yarn A, B or C… I think I would use….

    For A – Kersti in 1111.5 (coral-ish color): http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/870-Koigu-Wool-Designs-Kersti-Merino-Crepe-Solids

    For B – Tosh Light in Antler: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/7957-Madelinetosh-Tosh-Merino-Light

    For C – Haiku in Platinum: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/1025-Alchemy-Haiku

    This of course is just one of several options… Let me know how it goes!
    Laura

  13. natashalh says:

    Wow – what a totally awesome idea! My mom is a huge knitter. I have to show her this idea!

  14. joanne says:

    Can I just say how much I love your blog and all the delicious things you have on display. It makes me happy to just browse and think about all the wonderful things I could make….If only I didn't live on the wrong side of the atlantic. PLM.

  15. Shelley says:

    Do you know if you are going to be getting in more of the grey color set in? You seem to be sold out :(

  16. purl bee says:

    Hi Shelley-

    Please send an email to customerservice AT purlsoho DOT com and they will be happy to let you know when we are expecting more, and they'll also send you an email once it comes in.

    Thank you!

    Molly

  17. Marga says:

    It is a lovely cowl. In the photograph it looks like you used the patent stich after the ribbing and untill color C is used. And then begins the heel stich. Or is it just me? In my project the heel stich didn't look like the picture but like the heel stich hat.

  18. purl bee says:

    Hi Marga,
    The cowl starts off with a basic 1 x 1 rib, then the rest of the piece is worked in Heel Stitch.
    Thanks.
    Laura

  19. Noemie says:

    This is so pretty. I have a beginner's question : when changing needle size, must I simply knit from one size to the other on the fly or should I transfer all the stitches to the new size first? I realize my question is quite basic but I can't seem to wrap my head around the fact that I'd have two sets of circular needles intertwined together, wouldn't one get utterly confused?

  20. purl bee says:

    Hi Noemie,
    Yes, you simply knit the stitches off of the current needle, on to the new working needle. No need to transfer all the stitches to the new size first. Once you do a few rounds, you'll get into a rhythm of switching needles with each round. It becomes almost like knitting with two straight needles in that once you reach the end of the round, you reach to put the empty needle in your right hand.

    Let me know if you have ANY question, beginner or advanced. We are happy to help!
    Laura

  21. yuniper says:

    Hi!

    Such a lovely design. I would love to make the cowl in the grey tones, but I would prefer not to use Cashmere (due to environmental impact of the grazing etc.) You mentioned this yarn could be subsituted by BSA's Sport Weight Alpaca or their Alpaca Silk. Which colourway comes closest to the one you used?

    Thanks!

  22. Lily says:

    Hi, can you tell me if the first row knitted is the RS or WS? Thanks!

  23. purl bee says:

    Hi Lily,
    Thanks for writing in. The first and each following round is a right side round… the beauty of working in the round. Let me know if you have any more questions.
    Laura

  24. purl bee says:

    Hi Yuniper…
    For the Blue Sky's Sport Weight, I would say the Natural Medium Gray from their Solids.
    For the Blue Sky's Alpaca Silk, the Slate.
    Manos Del Uruguay's Silk Semi Solid Blends has a nice color called Nickel
    Blue Sky's Suri Merino also has a nice dark gray called Dusk.

    Hope this helps!
    Let me know if you have any follow up questions on these.
    Laura

  25. yuniper says:

    Thanks for the tips Laura. The grey-tinted yarns you used seem to have a distinct blueish hue – at least that is what it looks like on the picture. Especially the cashmere one in "Sterling". This looks quite stunning. Looking at the yarns you suggested, maybe the alpaca silk in Slate comes closest?

    Thanks,

    Yuniper

  26. purl bee says:

    Yuniper…
    Another fantastic choice for replacing the 6-Ply (the one I think I would use) is Swan's Island's Worsted in Sea Smoke. It is a very light weight worsted and the heather gray they make would blend so nicely with the Madeline Tosh!
    Laura
    http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/6280-Swans-Island-Worsted

  27. purl bee says:

    Hi Juniper.
    After looking at the yarns in person yesterday, I think the Swan's Island is the best choice. You are right, there is a coolness to the grays.
    Laura

  28. yuniper says:

    Thanks for the tips Laura! If I were to use the Swan's Island one, would 1 skein be enough? Could I follow the pattern as if I were using the Jade Sapphire yarn, or should I make adjustments? Thanks again!

  29. purl bee says:

    Hi Yuniper,
    My pleasure.

    One Skein would definitely be enough.
    You should be able to follow the pattern as is. I do always suggest knitting up a swatch though, so you know you'll be happy with your fabric / needle sizes.

    Let me know how it goes!!
    Laura

  30. Samara says:

    Just got the kit in denim, love the colors. Can't wait to start the project. Sigh, I need to get the skeins wound into balls before I can start.

  31. Imogene rainey says:

    I have had no trouble with the pattern. I am using your briown – brige color scheme. All went fine until I bound off . I am a very relaxed knitter and yet found after binding off I could not get the cowl over my head. I took out the bind off row (not easy) added 40 stitches Across the row on a evenly distributed manner. I then cast off using a size 7 needle. It still will go over my…..or anyone else head. Any hints? Imogene

  32. purl bee says:

    Hello Imogene,
    My goodness, you added 40 stitches? Wow. I am a bit at a loss as to what went awry? May I ask, were you hitting gauge for all the different yarns? If yes, the circumference at the top of the cowl should measure 17-inches, comfortably stretching over an average adult woman's head (approx 21 inches). Perhaps working the last couple rows with your largest needle and binding off with your largest needle would give extra stretching allowance.

    Thank you for writing in. I am curious if anyone else has suffered similar frustrations.
    Laura

  33. Martha says:

    This cowl is really wonderfull. I started knitting it but I seem to have the same problem Marga reported, the effect of the heel stich doesn't look like the picture. Instead of nice columns of color flowing upward I have elongated stiches tha alternates in each k1, skip 1 row. This is particularly visible when i am working with two colors (ex yarn A and B)
    What am I doing wrong? Thank you very much for the help!

  34. purl bee says:

    Martha,
    I am not sure I totally understand by "elongated stitches that alternates in each…row". Are you working over an even number of stitches?

    The slip stitch rows should have 'elongated' looking stitches. There is one stitch in those columns to every 2 stitches in its neighboring column. This, along with the needle size change, is what brings the slipped columns forward and the knit columns back.

    Please let me know if I can help more. I'd love to get this figured out with you!
    Laura

  35. Martha says:

    Hi Laura,

    my bad! I was working on the swatch (even number of stitches) when I encountered the problem. My stiches seemed to be very irregular.
    I tried starting with a slip one then knit one, then slip one at the beginning of the purl row and it seemed much better.
    I am now working in the round on the cowl following your patter and I can say it is coming out quite nicely!!
    Thank you very much for the beautiful projects you keep sharing with us.

  36. Martha says:

    Hi Laura,

    my bad! I was working on the swatch (even number of stitches) when I encountered the problem. My stiches seemed to be very irregular.
    I tried starting with a slip one then knit one, then slip one at the beginning of the purl row and it seemed much better.
    I am now working in the round on the cowl following your patter and I can say it is coming out quite nicely!!
    Thank you very much for the beautiful projects you keep sharing with us.

  37. Imogene rainey says:

    The cowl is finished and fits right over my head! I checked my gauge and the measurements were correct. I tried just using the larger needles but once again I had to take out the bind off….mohair has a mind of its own….this is what I did. The next to last tow I used an 8 needle and increased every other stitch ..then knit one row then I bound off with a size 9! Believe it or not it looks just fine and all the invreases do not stand out, maybe I just bind off in too tight a manner. Anyhow I do,wonder if. Anyone else had the problem. imogene. P.s. The cowl is beautiful!

  38. purl bee says:

    Hi Imogene.
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I am going to add a note to the pattern about the bind off!
    Thank you again.
    Laura

  39. MrsB says:

    Ombre is so lovely and I'm thinking of making this pattern also in a variegated yarn, just to see what the outcome would produce.

  40. Paula says:

    Hi,

    I found changing the needle size every row was uncomfortable, specially when I got to yarn B & C. What would the result be without changing needles, but just knitting A; A&B with #8 needles. Yarn B with #6, and yarn B&C with #4 needles…

    Thank you again! I am on my second ombr cowl, I did the first in purples, looks great!

  41. Daphne says:

    Hello!
    I completely love this blog and all the amazing patterns! Quick question: what adjustments do I need to make if I want to knit this with 'normal' knitting needles (I.e. Not in the round)? Would it still work?
    Thanks in advance!

  42. purl bee says:

    Hi Daphne.
    Thank you so much for the kind words!
    You could cast onto straight needles and then work flat. Then once you have completed the cowl, use mattress stitch to seam up the side:
    video tutorial: http://www.purlbee.com/knitting-tutorials-finishing/2013/11/11/mattress-stitch-video.html
    photo tutorial: http://www.purlbee.com/knitting-tutorials-finishing/2013/9/27/mattress-stitch.html

    If you work this flat I would do a couple things.
    1. I would add 1 stitch to the cast on. There will be an extra knitted stitch at the end of each Right Side row and an extra purled stitch at the beginning of each Wrong Side row. This extra stitch will get eaten up when seaming the vertical edges together. This of course if totally optional, it just might make seaming easier.
    2. and more importantly, I would be sure to re-work the pattern so that my Wrong Side row is equivalent to the Rounds above that instruct you to "knit". This knit round on the Right Side will translate to a purl row on the Wrong Side.
    Please let me know if you have any questions!
    Laura

  43. Hi there .. could you make up a colourway in oranges or purples?

  44. purl bee says:

    Hi Fiona.
    Below are options for both a purple and an orange colorway.
    Thanks,
    Laura

    Purple:
    Jade Sapphire's 6 Ply in "Victorian Violet"
    Madeline Tosh's Tosh Light in "Curiosity"
    Alchemy's Haiku in "Amethyst'

    Orange:
    Jade Sapphire's 6 Ply in "Cousin Coral"
    Anzula's Squishy in "Persimmon"
    Alchemy's Haiku in "Michelle's Marigold"

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