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Wednesday
Jan052011

Whit's Knits: Big Herringbone Cowl

This winter New York City streets are filled with people who have learned the secret of keeping warm. They are all wrapped up in the big soft folds of the oversized cowl. A long loop that you twist and double around your neck, it's definitely a glamorous touch in a what can otherwise be pretty frumpy season. Don't you love when fashion and function meet in such happy harmony?

This cowl was inspired by Joelle's classic Herringbone Poncho from her very first book, Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I have always been so taken with the drape and texture of Joelle's poncho that I was really excited to borrow her idea for this project!

I stuck with Joelle's choice of yarn, Blue Sky's Worsted, because it is by far one of Purl Soho's softest, most cuddly yarns, perfect for wearing around sensitive skin areas like your neck. A blend of fine merino wool and royal alpaca, it has a beautiful weight that creates cascading, dramatic fabrics. Just what I was looking for!

The cowl's final look keeps one foot in the past with a traditional herringbone stitch. It's such a distinctive stitch on such a powerful garment, you're going to feel about one foot taller when you wear yours!

The Materials

The Pattern

Gauge

15 stitches = 4 inches in herringbone stitch

Finished Size

14 inches wide and 58 inches around

Begin

Cast on 220 stitches. To ensure that your first round isn't too difficult, cast on fairly loosely; your stitches should easily slide up and down the needle.

Join into the Round

Make sure the stitches aren't twisted around the needle, and slip the last stitch you cast on from the right needle to the left needle (so that it is next to the first stitch cast on).

Place a replaceable jumbo stitch marker on the right needle.

K2tog and slip only the first stitch off the left needle (leaving the second stitch on the needle)...

...so it looks like this.

Continue

Round 1: *K2tog and slip only the first stitch off the left needle, repeat from * until 1 stitch remains.

Remove the stitch marker and k2tog, slipping the first stitch off the left needle. Place the stitch marker to the right of the first stitch on the right needle.

The next stitch looks like this...

Remove that stitch from the needle and twist it so it looks like this...

Round 2: *K2tog through the back loop (K2tog tbl), slipping the first stitch off the left needle, repeat from * to last stitch. Remove the stitch marker and k2tog tbl, slipping the first stitch off the left needle. Place the stitch marker to the right of the first stitch on the right needle.

The next stitch looks like this...

Remove that stitch from the needle and twist it so it looks like this...

Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 until piece measures 14 inches from the cast on edge, ending with all the steps of Round 2.

Here's what the right side of Herringbone Stitch looks like:

And here's what the wrong side looks like:

Bind Off

NOTE: You will continue to work the Herringbone Stitch for the bind off.

Bind Off Round: [K2tog and slip only the first stitch off the left needle] 2 times, pass the first stitch over (just like a normal bind off), *k2tog and slip the first stitch off the left needle, pass the first stitch over, repeat from * until 2 stitches remain (1 stitch on the left needle and 1 stitch on the right needle), knit the last stitch tbl and pass the first stitch over. Cut the yarn and pull it through the remaining stitch. 

Weave in the ends, gently block and then bundle up!

Reader Comments (270)

Thanks for the pattern! Love this herringbone stitch. Must say that it is VERY important to stitch loosely. My round 2 was slow going because I had my stitches too tight.
December 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristan
Hi Valerie,

Yes, exactly correct! Make sure that on the wrong side rows you p2tog instead of k2tog; and on the right side rows you K2tog tbl (like in the pattern). I would think that 5 or 6 rows of garter stitch at the beginning and end and on the sides would be a very nice touch!

Sounds beautiful! Please let us know if you have any more questions along the way and thanks for this one!

Whitney
December 29, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi,
I was wondering could I knit this with a category 5 yarn? I started one with a cotton category 4 yarn, but it seems to be really holey ( if that makes sense).
Thanks, Roya
January 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoya
Hi Roya-

You should knit this in whatever yarn size and needle size gets you the correct gauge which, for this pattern is 15 stitches = 4 inches in the herringbone stitch.

Thank you for your question!
Molly
January 6, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Is there any way to print out the directions, or just write them out? Pictures are great and helpful
January 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTieta
Hi Tieta-

Yes, you can print this out in one of two ways:

1- Click the "print" button at the bottom of the story just before the comments. This will print all of the photos at their large size so it will be quite long.

2- Copy and paste just the text and photos you want into a Word or Text doc. This will be fewer pages.

Thanks for getting in touch about this!
Molly
January 15, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Thank you for the pattern, its very beautiful despite my mistakes - dropped stitches and gaps during that tricky twisting stitch-traveling marker, but I think I know understand how the marker and have even fixed some dropped stitches (but only on the Row 2).

I have two questions First, my wrong side does not look like braiding rows, but braiding row, purl row, then braiding row - however the right side looks like the herringbone on the picture - do you think this because of differing tension of the rows or because of looping (I loop the yarn on top of the right needle on both k2tog and k2tog tbl)?

Also, do you have any insight or suggestion how to use two colors (i.e., could one introduce a new color at the marker or would it be better to start a new color in the middle; also would one change color every two rows or very one row?)
January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBettina
I love this ! - "It's such a distinctive stitch on such a powerful garment, you're going to feel about one foot taller when you wear yours!"
January 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMandy
Hi Bettina,

It's possible that your back looks slightly different from our picture because of tension issues, but feel free to send us a photo of yours if you want to double check! (You should, by the way, wrap your yarn over the right needle in a counter clockwise direction for both rounds of the stitch.)

And I haven't tried to knit this stitch with two colors. I imagine that the "jog" (i.e. the disruption in stripes that happens when they are knit in the round) would form a diagonal line and would be pretty tricky to rectify. However, I encourage you to experiment! Maybe first try something with way fewer cast on stitches, like a hat, and if it works, then you have both a hat and an exciting new idea!

Thanks so much for your questions and good luck!

Whitney
January 20, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi! I love this pattern and would like to make it using Blue Sky Suri Merino. How many skeins do you think I will need? Thanks!
January 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLee
Hi Lee,

Three skeins of Suri Merino should be just enough, although you might be safer with four. Also, in case you don't know, the Suri Merino is a bit thinner than the Worsted Hand Dyed. It's a good choice, but you may want to go down a needle size and/or cast on more stitches.

Thanks for asking and please let us know if you have any more questions!

Whitney
January 22, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I tried casting on for this several times and had a terrible time getting the cast on loose enough to work the stitches around the needle. I tried a knitted cast on so that I could make the stitches super loose. That worked great! I wound the yard around my finger and the needle to make a good sized stick. Thought I would share the idea :)
January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGeniene
Not sure if I'm asking this right but ...What's the pattern count ( number of stitches per repeat ) as ild like to make this a bit smaller ...
March 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStacey
I haven't read other comments, but I'm wondering if there is a trick to keeping the edges flat. I've tried gently blocking but the edges still seem to curl. Anything else I could try? This is such a beautiful pattern! Thanks!
March 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRana
HI Stacey,

You can actually cast on any number of stitches you'd like and the repeat will work!

Thanks for asking and please let us know if you have any more questions!

Whitney
March 10, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hello Rana

The edges of the cowl do curl a little bit (especially the bind off edge), but with blocking, plus the weight and size of the fabric it does end up nice and flat. Because the Herringbone Stitch is essentially all knitting on one side and all purling on the other, it will have the tendency to roll.

Thanks for asking!
Whitney
March 10, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Love the pattern, and it would all be coming along nicely except one problem: after a couple of rounds, I've noticed a problem going up right along the join / where I change from round 1 to round two––there's a messy-looking break in the pattern. What am I doing wrong and how can I fix it?
March 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
Hi George,

Like most knitting in the round that involves a stitch pattern or stripes, you will see a bit of a "seam" at the transition (in this case it's a diagonal seam). However, I found that giving an extra tug to the first stitch of every round really helped clean up the "jog".

Please let us know if you have any more questions and thanks for this one!

Whitney
March 31, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
If you are knitting this on straight needles, how do you end the first row when you are down to one stitch?

The normal pattern on circulars requires that you remove the marker and start another k2tog, but you can't exactly do this on straight needles. Also, do you need to twist on straight needles?
April 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChaela
Hi Chaela,

On the knit side, you should knit the last stitch through the back loop, and on the purl side you should purl the last stitch normally.

And I think you're also asking if you should twist the first stitch of each row the way you do here for the first stitch of each round, and the answer is no. If you are knitting flat, you don't need to twist any stitches!

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

Whitney
April 10, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

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