Knitty: little purls of wisdom
beauty shot


The Kayak cowl was a present I designed for my cousin Mary, who loves to kayak but finds that scarves are too bulky (and too likely to fall in the water). But she needs something to keep her neck warm, so here is my answer to the problem. Created for those two-three ounce handdyed tops that I never seem to be able to resist, this cowl can be snug or longer. The knitting is straightforward but the cowl does involve grafting the two ends using Kitchener stitch. However, you can also make it just a BIT longer and use buttons; just start with a garter edge and put four equally spaced yarnovers before your closing garter edge! This double basket stitch from the Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns is very stretchy and interesting, not wholly reversible but very similar on both sides.

For the spinning, I often split a four-ounce handdyed top into two equal halves, since I only need a little more than two ounces. I set one half aside for another project and then split the remaining half in half again and I am ready to spin. Because BFL and BFL/Silk blends make particularly bouncy yarn when spun worsted and Navajo plied, I drafted one of my lengths and then spin it worsted-style. I join these two lengths end to opposite end, so if the colors ran blue-green-yellow, I would spin the first length blue-green-yellow, then join the next length yellow-green-blue. With this arrangement, after Navajo plying and knitting, I will be grafting the same colors together and preserving the colorway that the dyer created for me.

spacer model: Laurie Osborne
spacer photos: John Beichman


Width: 5.5 inches
Circumference: 15 inches


Lavender Cowl
(shown above)
spacer Laras Creations BFL Combed Top; 2.2 oz (half of 4.4 ounce top); WaterPixie ColourWave

Green Cowl (shown below)
spacer FriendsinFiber BFL combed top; 2.2 oz (half of 4.4 ounce top) ounces; Greenflash

Red Cowl (shown below)
spacer Handdyed BLF/silk roving; 2.2 ounces (see dyeing instructions here)


Spinning Tool: Ashford Traditional [scotch tension]
Niddy Noddy: Ashford, 75cm
Finished Yarn:
spacer Wraps per inch: 14
spacer Ply: Navajo
spacer Yardage used: 120 yards
spacer Drafting method: worsted

Commercial Yarn Alternative

spacer Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino [55% merino/33%microfibre/12% cashmere; 125m per 50g skein]; color: Lilac; 1 ball

Recommended needle size
[always use a needle size that gives you the gauge listed below -- every knitter's gauge is unique]
spacer 1 set US #5/3.75mm straight needles OR 1 short US #5/3.75mm circular needle

spacer yarn needle
spacer 2-3 yards of smooth waste yarn



20 sts/32 rows = 4 inches in st st
28 sts/34 rows = 4 inches in patt st, unstretched

[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here.]

This pattern uses a slightly unusual method for a provisional cast on: use a smooth contrasting color yarn, and your preferred CO and work a few rows. Then join your working yarn to work the project. When the time comes to undo the provisional CO, snip the last stitch of your contrast knitting right at the edge, and slowly unravel this yarn, exposing the lower edge of the first row in the project yarn.

When you unravel, you might find that you have one stitch more or less than the stitches on the other end of the project. You can fudge it, either by creating an extra stitch on one end, or by working together two stitches from one end with one stitch from the other.

Instructions for grafting can be found here.

Rib Pattern
Note: The pattern starts on the wrong side and your grafting row occurs on the RIGHT side.

Row 1 [WS]: P3, (k2, p2) twice, k2, p12, (k2, p2) twice, k2, p3.
Row 2 [RS]: K3, (p2, k2) three times, p8, (k2, p2) three times, k3.
Row 3 [WS]: P3, (k2, p2) three times, k8, (p2, k2) three times, p3.
Row 4 [RS]: K3, p2, (k2, p2) twice, k12, p2, (k2, p2) twice, k3.
Row 5 [WS]: P3, (k2, p2) twice, k2, p12, (k2, p2) twice, k2, p3.
Row 6 [RS]: K3, (p2, k2) three times, p8, k2, p2) three times, k3.
Row 7 [WS]: P3, (k2, p2) three times, k8, (p2, k2) three times, p3.
Row 8 [RS]: K3, p2, (k2, p2) twice, k12, (p2, k2) twice, p2, k3.
Row 9 [WS]: P3, k2, p28, k2, p3.
Row 10 [RS]: K3, p2, k11, p2, k2, p2, k11, p2, k3.
Row 11 [WS]: P3, k2, p1, k8, p2, (k2, p2) twice, k8, p1, k2, p3.
Row 12 [RS]: K3, p2, k1, p8, (k2, p2) twice, k2, p8, k1, p2, k3.
Row 13 [WS]: P3, k2, p11, k2, p2, k2, p11, k2, p3.
Row 14 [RS]: K3, p2, k11, p2, k2, p2, K 11, p2, k3.
Row 15 [WS]: P3, k2, p1, k8, p2, (k2, p2) twice, k8, p1, k2, p3.
Row 16 [RS]: K3, p2, k1, p8, (k2, p2) twice, k2, p8, k1, p2, k3.
Row 17 [WS]: P3, k2, p11, k2, p2, k2, p11, k2, p3.
Row 18 [RS]: K3, p2, k to last 5 sts, p2, k3.


CO 38 stitches in waste yarn. Starting and ending with a RS row, work 5 rows in stockinette stitch.

Change to project yarn.
Work Rib Pattern until 6 full repeats have been worked, and work Rows 1-17 of a seventh repeat.

Carefully detach your first row from your provisional cast on (see pattern notes) and with RS facing, graft the two ends together.


Block and weave in ends.


Laurie Osborne is thatlaurie on Ravelry and, in her non-knitting life, a professor of English literature at Colby College in Maine. Guess what her specialty is!