Yell Island Cowl, a Slip-Stitch Pattern to Push Your Boundaries

Recently, I noticed that my collection of handknitted winter accessories doesn’t contain any long cowls. That’s a gap I intend to fill soon: a long cowl twisted into 2 loops can really warm up the neck and shoulders while looking simply elegant. Fortunately, Love of Knitting Winter 2017 includes 5 potential candidates.

I could work Heather Zoppetti’s cabled Connacht Cowl and then try grafting in pattern for the first time ever. Or I could combine a self-striping yarn with a solid in Marly Bird’s “Faux Isle” Spitsbergen Cowl. I could adapt Andi Javori’s beaded Jūratė Cowl into a longer piece, so I could double it. I could make Cassie Castillo’s delightfully ridged Scalloway Scarf and then sew the ends together. At the moment, however, Sara Kucharik’s slip-stitch Yell Island Cowl tops my list.

Other options from Love of Knitting Winter 2017, clockwise from upper left: Connacht Cowl; Scalloway Scarf; Spitsbergen Cowl, Jūratė Cowl.

Why the Yell Island Cowl? It’s time to mix things up in my knitting—that’s part of my plan for 2018.

1. I haven’t worked a slip-stitch pattern in ages, and my 17 in 2017 knitting challenge has included plenty of cables, lace + beads, and colorwork projects in the past year.

2. Sara used 2 chainette yarns in her sample, Maai and Rain from Shibui Knits, but not all chainette yarns are the same! Maai combines alpaca and merino, so it will practically float in the air. Rain uses shiny mercerized cotton. Its weight will provide drape to the cowl. I plan to use the same yarns so that I can experiment with interesting combinations.

3. Too often, I play it safe with color. Sara chose a classic gray-on-gray combo, but I want to take some risks. Usually I pair colors by choosing a “melody” color and then adding harmonies, like a doo-wop song. This cowl’s slip-stitch pattern doesn’t work that way: the 2 colors get equal time, so there’s no dominant melody. Can I handle a duet with, say, a rich violet and a deep gold? Am I ready for poppy orange and a light blue-green? Or bright blue and apple green?

If I can retrain my eye to appreciate unusual color duets, someday I could even move up to polyphonic music.

Go for baroque,

I’ll use the suggested yarns, but not the sample’s colors, for my Yell Island Cowl.

Pattern Details

Yell Island Cowl by Sara Kucharik

Difficulty Easy

Finished Size 48″ circumference and 7″ tall.

Yarn Shibui Knits Maai (70% super baby alpaca, 30% fine merino): #2003 ash (light gray; A), 2 skeins.

Shibui Knits Rain (100% cotton): #11 tar (dark gray; B), 1 skein.

Needles Size 6 (4 mm): 32″ circular. Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.

Notions Marker; tapestry needle.

Gauge 23 sts and 50 rnds = 4″ in patt.

Want to help me out? Suggest other color combos in comments—the wilder the better! And wish me luck.

See these projects and more in Love of Knitting Winter 2017!

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