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Thursday
Jan302014

Whit's Knits: 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

The 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.)

The Pattern

Gauge

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

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

Finished Size

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.

Pattern 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!

Begin: 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 Porvisional 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!

Reader Comments (96)

Beautiful! I am always amazed at the many beautiful adaptations of knit and purl! Can't wait to try!
January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAbby
Thank you for sharing this pattern, its beautiful. I would love to make this cowl, as soon as I finish a few of my WIPs...
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterfeather
Beautiful! I love all three color combinations.
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMiwako
Devine! Thanks fro the pattern and great photos.
Sheila
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersheila
This is gorgeous! Looking forward to casting on; I have some yarn that needs an interesting pattern :)
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaeleigh
What a wonderful design! I hope you can answer my question: Do you recommend picking up the dropped stitches with their k sts on the return row (the row after knitting the k1b rows) in these stitch patterns? Thanks so much for your help!
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIslington Thorpe
Would be great to take a weekend class on these techniques. Any chance?
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine Nietzel
LOVE the pattern!! Could I substitute Purl Soho worsted Twist for the Tosh merino? would I need 2 skeins not one?
thanks!
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkim
I cannot wait to spend my weekend working on this! Thank you for the inspiration!
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMolly
Hi, maybe my English isn't good enought to understand well the pattern, but why are you talking about wrong and right side if you use circular needles?

Thanks
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBatu
Hi Batu-

This pattern is not knit in the round. It is knit straight and then sewn together at the end. We use circular needles to knit almost everything because we find them easiest to use, but in this case you also have to use them because there is one stitch pattern here that requires you to slide the stitches from one of the needle to the other. But for the other two stitch patterns you will be using the circular needles just as you would straight needles.

Thank you!

Molly
January 31, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Again, another beautiful pattern. You are not doing any good to my Ravelry queue....
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAriane
Wow! Absolutely stunning.
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJane
I really love this pattern but I guess I am just beig dense. I cant figure out how to do these stitches If I insert my needle and come out with a stitch as you show for pattern one what happens to the stitch just to the right ofcwhere I insert my needle? Is that the one I purl? Amy chance of gettimg a short video oosted of how to do these stitches?
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBecky Walsh
thanks a lot ! It is gorgeous !!!
January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterm(i)e
Love this! Such pretty stitch patterns ans something new to try!
February 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLizy Tish
Hi. I have stayed to make this with different yarn. I was wondering what to do with the stitch on the needle after you do the knit in row below. Thank you very much!
February 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSofia
All three fabrics are so beautiful they almost deserve to become 3 separate scarves! If I wanted to use the rose check pattern exclusively, would I begin by doing the last row of the rambler pattern then starting Row 1 (ws) of the rose check? Thanks !
February 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJo
Hi Islington Thorpe,

Although there may be stitch patterns that require you to do that, these don't. Here, you just knit through the stitch from the row below and it catches the stitch from the last row, so actually no stitches are literally "dropped".

I hope this clarifies the process for you. Please let us know if you have any other questions and thanks for this one!

Whitney
February 1, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Kim,

Sure! Since you only use about 55 yards of Color C, one skein of Worsted Twist would be plenty.

Thanks for your question and please us know if you have more!
Whitney
February 1, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Do you have a yardage estimate for Colors A and B? You note Color C only needs 55 yds. Am delving into stash to get started!
February 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJane
Fantastic cowl, so creative! I've always loved the style and simplicity of your knits. Just one question: does the pattern fully use up all five skeins of yarn, or are there significant leftovers? Thanks!
February 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAriadne
Hello! I was wondering if you could place the approximate amount of yardage used for each color in this scarf? I would like to use some leftovers if possible...

Looks like the total is about 650-670 yards according to Ravelry
And Color C uses 55 yards.

What about Color B and Color A?
February 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlice
Beautiful ! Can't wait to 'send' it to my sister--it's she who knits. I know that soon I will be the lucky recipient of this lovely cowl. Thank you.
February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Chung
I am absolutely in love with this and will be buying the yarn as soon as I can. This is stunning!!!

I do have a question though, and it's a pretty basic question. I've only ever knit two scarves (the first was from the Learn to Knit kit you guys sell) so I apologize for the beginners confusion. Do you cut the yarn for each color change and then have all those tails to weave in? Or is there some easy method for leaving it attached so you only have tails to weave in for each color block?

Thanks for the help!!
February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer G
I LOVE this scarf!! Joining the three fabrics into one scarf really makes for a beautiful accessory! The english rose tweed is my favorite ;)
February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany
Can you give yardage needed of each color? Since other brand skeins come in different yardage. Thanks in advance!
February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNina
I don't want to make a cowl but use these stitches for a throw/afghan. So beautiful.
February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPenny
I can't wait to try this new pattern. You never cease to amaze me with your beautiful ideas. I'm in knitter's heaven with this one.
February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJenny
This is beautiful. Would love to see a photo of the entire thing laid out, to get a sense of size, depth, how the patterns flow into one another. Thanks for another gorgeous project!
February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCayt
This is gorgeous! I've been in a knitting rut for a loooong time. Haven't found inspiration or project that gets me excited when I first learned to knit. Can't wait to start on this -- this IS the project I'm looking for!
February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna
This is truly lovely!! I am anxious to purchase this kit and make! Thank you!
February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJanis
This is absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait to use these stitch patterns. Could you suggest some yarn to make this cowl for spring/summer? Would a cotton or something lighter weight work ?
Thanks
Charlotte
February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlotte
Just ordered the kit and wondering if the pattern will be included? So hard to print off this blog unless one wants all the illustrations (which are always lovely).
February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPat
Hi Pat-

The pattern is not included in the kit, just the materials. To print without all the photos we recommend copying and pasting the text (and whatever photos you need) into a word or text doc and printing from there.

Thanks so much for getting in touch!

Molly
February 3, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I think I'll use pink and red as my contrast colors. A valentine scarf!
February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDesirae
Hi everyone who wonders about yardage,

Here's the breakdown: Color A uses about 450 yards; Color B about 160 yards and Color C about 55 yards.

I hope this helps with all of your plans and thanks for asking!

Whitney
February 3, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Becky,

There isn't a stitch to the right of the one where you insert a needle, but there is a stitch ON TOP of the one where you insert your needle, and that one you simple let fall off the left needle. As I mention in the pattern, this may feel a little alarming, but it's perfectly safe! And the stitch to purl is the next one on the left needle, as usual.

We don't have any plans for a video tutorial of this technique yet, although, of course, we'll see how many requests we get!

Keep trying; it may not be as complicated as you think! Please let us know if you have any more questions and thanks for this one!

Whitney
February 3, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Sofia,

After you inserted the needle into the stitch in the row below, did you knit it? As I say in the Pattern Note, you should 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.

So, the short answer to your question is you should knit it and let it fall off the left needle!

I hope this gets you going. If not, please let us know and we'll help some more! Thanks for asking!

Whitney
February 3, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Ariadne,

You end up with about a quarter of the third Color A skein left; almost no Color B, and about 3/4 of the Color C skein. Here is the breakdown of actual yardage used: Color A about 450 yards; Color B about 160 yards and Color C about 55 yards.

Thanks for your question and good luck with whatever plans you have up your sleeve!

Whitney
February 3, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
that is STUNNING!!! i LOVE it!! wow.
February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjen
This is a beautiful pattern. any chance the store will offer this as a class?!
February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle
Pretty please: video tutorial would make it less daunting to give this a go!
February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennyV
Hi Jennifer G,

Excellent question! You do NOT cut the yarn each time you use a different color. Instead, you just drop the yarn when you're done with it and pick it up again the next time you need it. This is called "carrying" the yarns. It's very easy, just make sure you don't tug the yarns too tightly up the selvedge because that will give you a taut edge. Also, you should consistently carry the new yarn in front of the old yarn for a neat look.

Thanks for asking and good luck!

Whitney
February 4, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Charlotte,

A perfect substitute cotton would be Blue Sky's Worsted Cotton (http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/721-Blue-Sky-Worsted-Cotton ). It is about the same gauge as the Worsted Twist (maybe a needle size thicker) and is super soft and cozy.

If you'd like to go with something thinner in a summertime fiber, consider also Blue Sky's Skinny Cotton (http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/3823-Blue-Sky-Skinny-Cotton ) or Louet's Euroflax linen (http://www.purlsoho.com/purl/products/item/380-Louet-Euroflax-Originals ). Both of these are more tightly spun than either the Worsted Twist or the Tosh Merino, 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!

I hope this gives you some good ideas. Please let us know if you need more and good luck!

Whitney
February 4, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi! I totally fell in love with this pattern and already bought some yarn to start it! But I have a question about "carrying the yarn". Could you specify the method a bit more, so I can find a helpful video, etc? What will I have to search for? Is it "stranding" or "intarsia" or "carrying the yarn up the side" or "across the entire row"? Silly questions probably, but I have never done that before and need some visual help to manage it! (Also I am German and did not know there is an English and a continental method, so I was really confused when I watched your videos! ;-) I learned the continental method.)
Thank you in advance! Your blog is wonderful!
February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterUte
Hi Danielle,

Good question! I'm so excited to be teaching a Stitch Block Cowl class this spring. It will be on Thursdays, from 6pm to 8pm, April 24th, May 1st and 8th. You can get all the details right here: http://www.purlbee.com/classes-at-purl-soho/

It's going to be a lot of fun; I hope you can join us!

Whitney
February 6, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Ute,

By "carrying", I mean "carrying up the side", which is super easy! It just basically means dropping the yarn when you're done with it and picking it up when you need it. Two things to keep in mind are keeping your tension relaxed so you don't end up with a taut edge, and also, pick up the new yarn in front of the old yarn for a consistent and neat edge. Our Slip Stitch Dishtowels have a picture of this in the Pattern Note section: http://www.purlbee.com/the-purl-bee/2013/6/16/whits-knits-slip-stitch-dishtowels.html .

I hope this helps. Knitting in a second language has its own set of challenges, so please let us know if you have any more questions and good luck!

Whitney
February 6, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Thank you thank you thank you for posting this pattern. You read my mind, I was definitely in a knitting rut and this pattern is such a delight to knit. I love patterns that are really simple but the finished product make it seem like I'm a really advanced knitter!
February 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarai Warren
Hi Jo,

I'm sorry it's taken me a little while to get back to you; I wanted to go back to the source of this stitch pattern, Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, to see what she suggested. In the original Checked Rose Fabric pattern, BW says to cast on an odd number of stitches with Color B and to knit one preparation row. She then begins the actual stitch pattern with the same Row 1 that is in our pattern.

I hope this is what you need to get started! Have fun and please let us know if you have any other questions!

Whitney
February 7, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

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