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Stitch Block Cowl

Knitters who have made their fair share of garter stitch scarves, ribbed hats and stockinette sweaters, will understand the hankering to shake things up a bit. I love the rhythm and certainty of the basic stitches, but every now and then I relish the challenge of stitch patterns that unfold in surprising ways, that teach me yet something else about the wondrous potential of knits and purls!

I've done a lot of knitting in my life, so much that I sometimes wonder if there are any stones left unturned, but this Stitch Block Cowl took me into new terrain. I've knit colorwork and I've knit "in the row below", but I've never done the two together. It's terrifically easy and proves, once again, that knitting is inexhaustibly interesting.

Each of the three stitch patterns in our Stitch Block Cowl employ this simple technique of knitting stitches in the row below (don't worry, we explain what that means in the pattern with photos and everything!). This is ultimately a lot like slipping stitches and has the same effect of creating a very cozy fabric with a whole lot of squish and depth. Add to that the remarkably soft merinos of Purl Soho's Worsted Twist and Madelinetosh's Tosh Merino and you've got one voluptuous cowl!

Ready to take your own journey into uncharted knitting territory? Make sure you pack one of Purl Soho's Yarn for Stitch Block Cowl kits, in this pretty Yellow, subtle Gray or icy Blue. And don't forget to send a postcard! -Whitney

Materials

Our Yarn for Stitch Block Cowl kit comes in eight colorways and includes...

  • Color A: 3 skeins of Purl Soho's Worsted Twist, 100% merino wool.
  • Color B: 1 skein of Purl Soho's Worsted Twist, 100% merino wool.
  • Color C: 1 skein of Madelinetosh's Tosh Merino, 100% superwash merino.

The eight colorways are, clockwise from the top left corner...

Yellow

Oatmeal

Pink

Navy

Aegean

Aqua

Pale Blue

Gray

You will also need...

  • A US #7, 24-inch circular needle. (You need a circular needle because one of the stitch patterns requires you to slide the stitches from one of the needle to the other.)

Gauge

5 stitches = 1 inch in garter stitch, using the Color A.

4 stitches = 1 inch in any of the three stitch patterns.

Size

Finished Dimensions: 12 3/4 inches wide by 60 inches around

NOTE: To change the width of the finished cowl, cast on any odd number and follow the directions as written.

Note

All three of these stitch patterns use the technique of "knitting into the row below." Here's how to do it...

Insert the right needle into the center of the stitch below the first stitch on the left needle. The place to insert the right needle is indicated below by the arrow.

And here is the needle going into that place...

Now knit as normal, bringing the working yarn around the right needle in a counter clockwise direction and pulling through a stitch. When you allow the stitch to fall off the left needle, it will actually be two stitches: the one from the previous row and the one from the row before that. It may feel like you're doing something dreadfully wrong, but if you've properly inserted the right needle, then all will be well!

Pattern

Block #1, Rambler Pattern

Here's the right side of the finished Rambler Pattern:

And here's the wrong side:

With Color A, use a Provisional Cast On to cast on 51 stitches. (Why a provisional cast on? So that at the end of the project you can graft together the two ends, avoiding a seam. However, if you find a Provisional Cast On a bit overwhelming, then just use a regular long tail cast on, and when you're done, you can sew the two ends together. Your cowl will still be beautiful!)

Row 1 (wrong side [ws]): K2, *p1, k1, repeat from * to last stitch, k1.

Row 2 (right side [rs]): K1, *k1 in the row below, p1, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, k1 into row below, k1. (See Pattern Note, above, for "k1 in the row below" instructions.)

Rows 3-8: Repeat Rows 1 and 2 three more times.

Row 9 (ws): K1, *p1, k1, repeat from * to end of row.

Row 10 (rs): K1, *p1, k1 in the row below, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, p1, k1.

Rows 11-16: Repeat Rows 9 and 10 three more times.

Repeat Rows 1-16 until piece measures 20 inches from cast on edge, ending with Row 14.

Block #2, Checked Rose Fabric

Here's the right side of finished Checked Rose Fabric:

And here's the wrong side:

Row 1 (ws): With Color A, k1, *k1 in the row below, k1, repeat from * to end of row.

Row 2 (rs): With Color A, k2, *k1 in the row below, k1, repeat from * to last stitch, k1.

Row 3 (ws): With Color B, repeat Row 1. Do not turn the work at the end of the row.

Row 4 (ws): Keeping the wrong side of the work facing you, slide the stitches to the right end of the needle and with Color A, repeat Row 2. Turn the work.

Row 5 (rs): With Color A, repeat Row 1. Do not turn the work.

Row 6 (rs): Keeping the right side of the work facing you, slide the stitches to the right end of the needle and with Color B, repeat Row 2. Turn the work.

Repeat Rows 1-6 until piece measures 40 inches from cast on edge, ending with Row 5.

Block #3, English Rose Tweed

Here's the right side of finished English Rose Tweed:

And here's the wrong side:

Set-Up Row (ws): With Color A, k1, knit into front and back, knit to end of row. (52 stitches)

Row 1 (rs): With Color B, k1, *p1, k1 in the row below, repeat from * to last stitch, k1.

Row 2 (ws): With Color B, knit.

Row 3: With Color C, k1, *k1 in the row below, p1, repeat from * to last stitch, k1.

Row 4: With Color C, knit.

Rows 5 and 6: With Color A, repeat Rows 1 and 2.

Rows 7 and 8: With Color B, repeat Rows 3 and 4.

Rows 9 and 10: With Color C, repeat Rows 1 and 2.

Rows 11 and 12: With Color A, repeat Rows 3 and 4.

Repeat Rows 1-12 until piece measures 60 inches from cast on edge,...

If You Used a Provisional Cast On

...ending with Row 4.

Next Row (rs): With Color A, k1, *p1, k1 in the row below, repeat from * to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k1. (51 stitches)

Cut all the yarns, leaving a 32-inch Color A tail.

Put the Provisional Cast On stitches onto a second (preferably smaller) needle.

Thread the Color A tail onto a tapestry needle. With wrong sides together (being careful to not twist the cowl), hold the two circular needles parallel to each other and use the Kitchener Stitch to graft together the cowl's two ends.

If You Used a Long Tail Cast On

...ending with Row 5.

Next Row (ws): With Color A, bind off in purl.

Cut all the yarns, leaving a 32-inch Color A tail.

Thread the tail onto a tapestry needle and with wrong sides together and making sure the cowl isn't twisted, sew together the two ends. Sew under one cast on stitch and then across under a bind off stitch, continuing back and forth until you're done!

Either Way...

Weave in the remaining ends and gently block your cowl, if desired. Then wrap yourself up!

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101 Responses to Stitch Block Cowl


  1. Lissa says:

    I love purl bee and I use tons of your patterns. But this fully takes the cake! I am way too excited about this gorgeous cowl. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

  2. Michelle Withrow says:

    Hi,

    I'm a pretty experienced knitter, but I just can't seem to figure this pattern out! In rows 1 and 2, the first stitches are K2 and K1, respectively. When I follow the pattern as written above, the Knit rows do not line up to make the alternating vertical rows which make this pattern so great! Am I missing something super obvious that I just can't figure out? Please any help you could provide would be so appreciated! I have tried several times with small changes and can't seem to make it work.
    Thank you!!!

  3. Sara says:

    I have three skeins of Suri Merino in the color snow. Do you think I could use that as color A, along with the PS Worsted Twist and Tosh Merino? I'm wondering how the alpaca would fare with this cowl.

  4. Lottie says:

    This is such a beautiful pattern – thanks for sharing.
    I'd love to turn this into a baby blanket – wider and shorter than the cowl.
    Do you think this feasible with the yarn kit, or would I need to purchase more yarn?

    Thanks in advance.

  5. Olivia says:

    Beautiful cowl! Could you please give me some options for replacing the worsted twist? Thank you!

  6. purl bee says:

    Hi Olivia-

    Sure! You can use any worsted weight wool yarn such as Anzula's For Better or Worsted: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/7913-Anzula-For-Better-or-Worsted

    or Cascade 220: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/649-Cascade-Yarns-Cascade-220

    or Manos Del Uruguay Maxima: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/7529-Manos-Del-Uruguay-Maxima

    Thanks for your question!

    Molly

  7. purl bee says:

    Hi Michelle,

    It may help you to know that there is a one-stitch garter stitch edge on both selvedges, so the first (and last) knit stitch of each row is an edge stitch. Additionally, I would double check that you have cast on an odd number of stitches and that you have followed the pattern exactly as written. It may be, also, that you haven't worked far enough along to see the stitch pattern fully emerge.

    Please let us know if you're still having problems and we'll try to figure it out with you! Thanks for asking and good luck!

    Whitney

  8. purl bee says:

    Hi Sara,

    The Suri Merino is a bit thinner than both the Worsted Twist and especially the Tosh Merino but perhaps not prohibitively thinner. Another consideration is that the suri fibers might make knitting into the row below a little tricky, since they'll have the tendency to catch on neighboring strands, not allowing the "dropped" stitch to fall down to its proper place.

    Having said all that, I do think the Suri Merino would work out okay. Try it and see!

    Thanks so much for your question and please let us know if you have any more!

    Whitney

  9. purl bee says:

    Hi Lottie,

    With the yarn in the kit, you'd have enough to make a baby blanket that measures about 25 inches by 30 inches. If you buy an extra skein of Color B, you'd be able to stretch it a bit bigger!

    Great idea and great question! Thanks for asking it and good luck!

    Whitney

  10. Kim says:

    Hi ladies!

    If I wanted a wider scarf, can I just cast on more stitches in an odd number?

    Thanks!

  11. Ela says:

    Hi, with the English Rose Tweed, with row 3, would it be right side or wrong side? Thank you.

  12. Dee says:

    I am knitting this beautiful cowl and have a problem… I made a mistake in the checked rose section… I un-knitted to the row past the mistake… but my needles have both colors of the working yarn (white-blue-white-blue etc.) While knitting this section I have never had this pattern on my needles. Help! How do I un-knit to fix a mistake using this knit in the row below technique? I am stumped… Can you help?

  13. Lily says:

    Gorgeous!! And I bet the blue kit is divine. How much is your learn to knit book alone?

  14. purl bee says:

    Hi Kim,

    Yes, that's it!

    Thanks for asking and good luck!

    Whitney

  15. purl bee says:

    Hi Ela,

    You work the English Rose Tweed pattern back and forth, turning the piece at the end of each row, as usual, so Row 3 is a right side row.

    I hope this helps you finish up! Thanks for your question and please let us know if you have any more!

    Whitney

  16. purl bee says:

    Hi Lily-

    Thank you!

    We don't currently sell our how to knit booklet outside of the how to knit kit, which is available here: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/8946-Purl-Soho-Learn-to-Knit

    Thank you!

    Molly

  17. Jo says:

    Thanks Whitney for taking the time to answer. Yes this is what I needed to know. All best wishes!

  18. Desirae says:

    I have the same question as Dee. I have made a mistake in the rose section and have tried to fix it. Ended up just starting over, ugghh. I'm scared to start again without knowing the answer. Thanks, Desirae

  19. Paola says:

    Hi!
    I'm writing to let you know I included this project in my "Top DIYs of the Week" on my blog:
    http://www.wemakeapair.com/wordpress/2014/02/21/top-diys-of-the-week3/

    Have a nice day,
    Paola

  20. purl bee says:

    Hi Dee and Desirae,

    Oh dear! I answered Dee some time ago, but due to some horrible technical glitch, the answer never posted. I'm so sorry, Dee! Let's try again…

    As Dee mentions, when you un-knit the Checked Rose pattern the stitches on the needle alternate between the two colors. To fix this, first figure out which color appears to be regular knit stitches and which one is coming from two rows down with a horizontal strand of the other color yarn crossing in front of it. You need to reknit all of the stitches that come from two rows down by pulling the horizontal strand through the stitch on the needle in the direction (i.e. from front to back or from back to front) that will make it the same kind of stitch as the ones you are leaving alone.

    I hope this gives you both the confidence to forge ahead. Please let us know if you have any other problems and we'll do our best to fix them!

    Whitney

  21. Jess says:

    I started working on this today and I'm liking it but not liking it. My K1Bs look loose. . .or really you can see the yarn carrying. My K1Bs don't look raised and definitely are not as tight as in your photos. I want to make this lighter for a spring/fall use since by the time I finish it'll probably be spring. So I took a suggestion from a previous post and I'm using Louet's Euroflax linen. In regards to that post you mentioned "…so the stitch patterns may not "fill in" in the same way they do here, but I imagine they will be beautiful in a less structured kind of way!". And I'm guessing the yarn is the reason why my K1Bs don't look as tight or raised?? Or do I need a tighter gauge? Could washing help?
    I'll stick to it because I don't really have another pattern in mind for the Louet and I really like the pattern.
    Thanks in advance!

  22. Lauren says:

    Hey!

    I just got your kit today in the mail (yay!). Sadly, I've been repeatedly knitting and frogging the ramber pattern portion of the pattern because all of my stitches are flush and I'm not getting the gorgeous rib look that in your photos.

    Any idea what I could be doing wrong?

    Thanks!

  23. Maathini says:

    Love this cowl pattern Whitney! Have been looking for sooo many patterns for a possible snood/cowl project and am really pleased to have bumped onto your blog site. Keep posting your cool, creative and innovative ideas.

    Happy knitting :D!

  24. Andrea says:

    If I just wanted to do the English Rose Tweed throughout the cowl and still have it be 60in would 1 skein each be enough and would I just start the pattern with row one after casting on 51 stitches (so two rows of color A) or would I cast on 52 stitches instead (just one row of color A)? Should I still use the kitchener to close the cowl or would something else look better? Thanks!

  25. purl bee says:

    HI Jess,

    Yes, the Louet Euroflax will definitely have a different look than the merino I used. It is thinner and much less soft and "fluffy". It also has a heavier drape. If you're not liking the way yours is turning out, I suggest playing with the needle size and also blocking your work. Linen takes on a whole different life after it has been blocked!

    I hope you find, in the end, that the linen was a good choice. It's one of my very favorite yarns! Please let us know if you have any other questions and thank you for these!

    Whitney

  26. purl bee says:

    Hi Lauren,

    A couple of customers at our store have reported the same problem. Luckily, one of our managers, Thomas, figured out a solution! It may seem radically different than the pattern as written, but the result is actually the same. Some people just seem to have an easier time knitting into the row below if the stitch above is a knit stitch rather than a purl stitch (and it doesn't matter which it is, since it's getting dropped!). So, try this…

    Rows 1, 3, 5, and 7: K2, purl to last stitch, k1.

    Rows 9, 11, 13, and 15: K1, purl to last stitch, k1.

    I hope this helps you get the embossed texture of the stitch pattern. Please let us know if you have any more questions and thank you so much for this one!

    Whitney

  27. purl bee says:

    Hi Andrea,

    If you're using Worsted Twist, then yes, you will have just enough with three skeins (1 of each color). I would use a provisional cast on to cast on 52 stitches with Color A, knit 1 row (still with Color A), and then continue on with Row 1 of the stitch pattern, as written. And yes, I would still use the Kitchener Stitch to graft together the two ends!

    Thanks for your questions and good luck with your English Rose Tweed Cowl!

    Whitney

  28. Fiona says:

    Hey!

    I just ordered the navy yarn kit…. Can't wait but have to as its up to 3 weeks postage to Australia. Thanks for answering everyone's questions as I'm sure once I get started I'll be walking down the same path! Very excited. Xx

  29. WSchopf says:

    Finally a cowl where the back doesnt look like the back. Most cowls and scarfs look great on the front, but the characterless solid purl side looks so unattractive when it shows while being worn. I can't wait to make this! Thank you for your creativity and sharing!

  30. Mary says:

    Hi, could I us a cotton yarn 1 I can't wear wool and love the pattern? An suggestions from your cotton, linens, any other fiber? Thanks

  31. purl bee says:

    HI Mary,

    Sure, cotton would be a lovely choice! I'd recommend Blue Sky's Worsted Cotton. It's extremely soft in a nice loose spin that imitates a typical merino worsted. You can pick your palette right here: http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/721-Blue-Sky-Worsted-Cotton

    Thanks for the great question. Please let us know if you have others and good luck!

    Whitney

  32. Julia says:

    Hello,
    I'm about ten inches into the rambler section and the pattern is coming out beautifully. My edges, however, are kinda bumpy and starting to curl. Is this something I can block away at the end or should I add a crochet edge?
    I'm making this as a straight scarf so I'd like to have the hanging ends lie flat.
    Thank you!
    Love your patterns,
    Julia

  33. Kathleen says:

    Any left handed guides?

  34. purl bee says:

    Hi Julia,

    Your edges probably aren't going to be perfectly flat, but blocking will help! If, in the end, you'd like an even neater edge, then yes, you can decide to do either a single crochet or slip stitch edging, or consider an attached I-cord!

    Thanks so much for asking and please let us know if you have any other questions!

    Whitney

  35. purl bee says:

    Hi Kathleen,

    We don't usually have any specific advice for left hand knitters, since most lefties knit the same as Continental-style righties (i.e holding the working yarn in the left hand and working from right to left).

    If you need help translating the instructions for your method of knitting, we'd be happy to help. Please let us know what it is and we'll work it out with you! Thank you for your question!

    Whitney

  36. Adrienne says:

    I'm on the 3rd pattern and loving the knit the row below technique and already plotting my next project. I'd like to convert the checked rose pattern into baby blankets (for a friend expecting twins!) using the Blue Sky Worsted Cotton, an approx 30" by 36" blanket (which I think is just shy of doubling one scarf section) – can you help me guestimate approximate yardage? Both blankets will have the same Color A but will have different Color B's. I was thinking about 2 to 3 skeins of color A and 1 skein of color B for each blanket? Does that sound about right? If so, for the two blankets, I think 5 skeins of the shared color A and one each of the two coordinating colors. Thanks!

  37. Adrienne says:

    Oh, and I was thinking maybe a 5-stitch garter stich border, too!

  38. Jennafer says:

    Hi Whitney,
    I just started knitting the cowl & am a couple of rows in on the rambler section. I gently "tugged" at my knitting to see how the pattern was looking & all of my knit 1 below stitches dropped. What am I doing wrong? I frogged and started over a few times & still can't figure it out. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Jen

  39. purl bee says:

    Hi Adrienne,

    Great idea! You're going to need more yarn than that though. I'd guess 7 or 8 skeins per blanket. And the ratio of Color A to Color B is 3 to 1. So I'd suggest getting at least 15 skeins of Color A and 3 skeins of each Color B.

    Please let us know if you have any questions along the way and make sure to send a picture of the finished blankets (with babies, please!)!

    Whitney

  40. purl bee says:

    Hi Jennafar,

    That's disconcerting! It sounds like you are not getting the tip of the right needle into the stitch below the one on the needle but are instead inserting the tip somewhere next to the stitch. Make sure you identify the stitch below and that the needle is, in fact, going into the center of it. Really study the photos at the beginning of the pattern and compare your knitting to them so you can really analyze where to put the needle.

    I hope this helps. Please let us know if you continue to have the same problem and we'll see what we can do to get you on the right path!

    Whitney

  41. Joanna Fung says:

    I have a quick question about the pattern. In Block B, Checked Rose Fabric, I have to knit the second block until the piece measures 40 inches from cast on edge. When you say "Cast on edge" do you mean the origional cast on that is all the way at the bottom of the piece or the cast on of color B at the end of the checked fabric?

  42. purl bee says:

    Hi Joanna,

    I mean the original cast on edge (at the beginning of the Rambler Pattern).

    Thank you for your question and please let us know if you have any others!

    Whitney

  43. Robyn says:

    Hi Purlbee,

    Regarding the alternate "Thomas" way, it says for rows 9,11,13,15 to k1, purl to end of row. Should it read "K1, purl across to last stitch, K1"…..this way it would retain the garter stitch selvedge?

    Thanks for your super lovely pattern and advice!

  44. purl bee says:

    Hi Robyn,

    So true!! I am so glad you pointed that out! I edited my response to Lauren so no one (else) gets confused, and we all have you to thank for that… Thank you!

    Whitney

  45. Randi says:

    Hi, I am a little confused with the provisional cast on. So what I have found is that my provisional cast on will be pulled into the 2nd row stitch with the knitting into the row below method. The whole reason for a provisional cast on is to pull it out a the end to graft the cowl together. But how will that work if the provisional cast on is knitted into the 2nd row?

  46. purl bee says:

    Hi Randi,

    I agree that if you were knitting into your provisional cast on, you'd be trouble, but actually, for Row 2, when you knit into the stitch below, you should be knitting into Row 1, not the provisional cast on. You may want to try a practice swatch (if you haven't already) to make sure you understand the "knit into the row below" concept. Or maybe just knowing that you should be knitting into Row 1's stitches will get you on the right path!

    Please let us know if you need more help and we'll be happy to give it!

    Whitney

  47. Stephanie says:

    I cannot WAIT to knit this cowl! I just ordered the kit. This is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever seen (knit-wise). Love yellow!

  48. Christine Lynch says:

    how do I print this pattern without all the other information and comments. I do not see a print symbol on the new format. Please help. thanks

    • Molly from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Christine-

      Unfortunately our new site does not have a print button (although we are working on addressing that.) For now we recommend that you cut and past just the info you want into a Word or Text doc and print from there. We know this isn’t ideal and apologize for the inconvenience!

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      Molly

  49. Mandi says:

    Hello, thank you for another wonderful free pattern. I was knitting while tired and messed up the rose section. Any advice on unknitting to get back to my mistake?

    • Whitney from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Mandi,

      It is a little tricky to fix mistakes in the Checked Rose section. A couple of other readers have had the same question. You can read my answer to them above, and I’ll write it again here:

      When you un-knit the Checked Rose pattern the stitches on the needle alternate between the two colors. To fix this, first figure out which color appears to be regular knit stitches and which one is coming from two rows down with a horizontal strand of the other color yarn crossing in front of it. You need to reknit all of the stitches that come from two rows down by pulling the horizontal strand through the stitch on the needle in the direction (i.e. from front to back or from back to front) that will make it the same kind of stitch as the ones you are leaving alone.

      I hope this makes sense you. Give it a try and if you get in a pickle, we’re here to help! Thanks so much for your question and good luck!
      Whitney

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