Her Handspun Habit: Handspun Yarn For Shawl-Cowl Fusion

I love knitting shawls with my handspun yarn. In an effort to branch out and best utilize a truly delicious spindle-spun gradient and tweed yarn from earlier this year, I decided to knit a shoulder cowl. These popular accessories are a shawl-cowl combination, or “scowl.” I pulled a pattern from my Ravelry queue that I’d had my eye on for quite some time.

The trouble is that I don’t wear cowls, and as I’ve shared before, I rarely knit for others. However, as it turns out, the scowl (more than a cowl and yet not quite a shawl) is in a league of its own, and I’m smitten: I knit a scowl, and I liked it.

handspun yarn

Debbie’s Aurelia Cowl knit in handspun yarn. Photo by Debbie Held

Here are three reasons the shawl-cowl (scowl) style could be an ideal match for your handspun yarn:

1. These patterns are often adaptable in terms of yarn substitutions.
Whether your handspun is a light fingering or a heavy, DK-weight handspun yarn, a shawl cowl fusion can adapt seamlessly. Simply decrease or increase your needle size (based on your gauge swatch) in accordance with your choice of yarn for a lighter- or heavier-weight finished object. (Be advised that the size of the finished cowl will also change, though here again, the scowl is very forgiving.)

2. The scowl provides an excellent opportunity to explore how gauge, grist, and fiber selection impact knitted fabrics.
As an accessory that can be worn both decoratively and for warmth, a scowl provides a simple canvas for putting spinning theory into practice. Try choosing handspun yarn based on its worsted, woolen, or semi-spun qualities to see how they work. Use fulled singles to experience its lofty warmth and unique bounce; a dense 2-ply to open up lace patterns; or as I did, pair a semi-woolen, chain-plied yarn with a lace pattern just to see what happens. I found that my handspun yarn and pattern choice created a squishy, casual fabric that is as wearable with business attire as it is with a t-shirt and jeans.

handspun yarn

Debbie’ semi-woolen, chain-plied, handspun yarn. Photo by Debbie Held

3. Become a more intentional spinner.
The best way to learn how to spin exactly the yarn you want is to first figure out how to create the yarn you need. The only route to that marker is to use the yarns you spin. By far my biggest lesson with this project has been how very wearable a lace-based combination scowl can be, in both warm and cool weather. This accessory has become my go-to neckwear, and I’d recommend this or a similar knit to anyone interested.

Try a scowl with your favorite handspun, be it a tweed, gradient, marl, or any combination therein; I’d love to see your results!

—Debbie

Featured Image: The combination shawl-cowl is infinitely wearable and capable of adapting to all types of yarn. Photo by Debbie Held


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