Pretty Thing Cowl

I’ve never made a cowl before. To be honest I was never entirely sure I saw the point. I think I wondered if they wouldn’t feel just a bit too restrictive about my neck. So I never made one. Until recently.

You see, I came up with this great idea with my mate Jodi in Alabama that we should do a swap. She writes this great blog, The Drunch. She’s very funny. And she’s got four little boys, three of them born at the same time, so you know there’s a lot of humour she needs to get her through her days.

Also, she’s a new knitter. And a very good new knitter. I’ve never seen anyone do what she’s doing – in her first year she’s knitting lace shawls, socks, you name it – she’s jumped in boots and all and the results are fabulous. But she’d never heard of a swap and when I explained it, she was dead keen. We decided July was our deadline and I started knitting an Ishbel shawl. I’ve had trouble with Ishbel in the past, even though it’s Ravelry’s #1 shawl and every knitter on the planet, or thereabouts, has made it.

Long story short is that Ishbel and I will part ways and never meet again. For someone who’s done some very complex lace, Ishbel leaves me cold and blubbering in the corner, riddled with self-doubt. Something went wrong and well, let’s just say, as much as I love Ysolda Teague’s patterns, Ishbel and I are through. Let us never speak of her again. I wanted Jodi to have an ishbel from me and it didn’t happen.

So my friend Gretchen made a suggestion. A cowl. A particular cowl – the Pretty Thing, designed by Yarn Harlot. I knew it was the right thing to do. I believe Alabama has very mild winters. You wouldn’t want a heavy scarf or anything like that. A cowl seemed like just the thing to keep a bit of nippy air off the back of your neck. And here it is (because Jodi received it in the mail today so now I can post pictures). It’s modelled here by Alice’s big sister, Jenny.

pretty thing cowl

As always, bright red is a pain to photograph but I think you can see the stitch detail and see how pretty it is. So aptly named.

This was such a great, easy pattern. Really nice lace over 60-something rows. I knitted most of it above central Australia. Now that we’ve got relaxed laws about knitting on planes, I knitted 80% over the 10 hours of flying I did between Canberra and Darwin. It was fabulous plane knitting. I loved every single stitch.

pretty thing cowl 2

And when I tried it on after it was done, I decided that maybe cowls could be for me after all. This one is a lovely fit. It’s not too tight. And the lovely soft patonyle felt good against my throat.

Jenny liked it too.

pretty thing cowl 3

I think I’ll be making more of these. Just perfect as a satisfyingly quick but interesting knit.



24 thoughts on “Pretty Thing Cowl

  1. Cowls are shorter than scarves, and quicker! I think that’s why I like to knit them. They’re a good quick gift.

    Ishbel: I’ve knit two, and by the end still couldn’t memorize the stitch pattern. That’s really unusual for me. It just wasn’t intuitive.

    And I didn’t know Alice had a big sister! Sweet model.

  2. just gorgeous! i’ve had my eye on that pattern for a while – good to hear you recommend it. it looks great in cheerful red! i love cowls that are soft and loose, they dress up a plain neckline, and act like a scarf that doesn’t need readjusting.

  3. I love cowls, I made a few for Winter. I wore them almost every day. They’re so easy to pop on as I rush out the door and add a decorative something to my rather plain daily uniform of jeans and tees.

  4. Fowls are popular in Calgary to keep you warm? Funny typo!

    You know I really think the cowl only exists in the knitting world. I know shops sell them but I’ve yet to see one on a person of non-knitting descent.

    They are a bit strange. But quicker than a scarf and do the same job!

  5. I love cowls! The are soooo versatile. No ends to have to stick inside your jacket or blowing around outside. And they are so easy to pull off and on especially on commuter bus rides! Yours is brilliant!

  6. Cowls are just scarves without those bothersome ends. They will muss your hair going on and off though. You did a marvelous josb, and it truely is a pretty thing!

  7. I remember when the yarn harlot made up that pattern and thinking it was really pretty but I don’t “get” cowls. I don’t like things around my neck and only tolerate scarves in the winter because it is really cold here. I like the red color. It is bright and vibrant.

    I am one of the few people that ishbel didn’t speak to. I never felt the desire and now will steer clear. If so many excellent and talented knitters had problems, I’m sure I’d perish from frustration.

  8. Still not sold on cowls. I think it may be the curly hair that gets all staticky. I don’t need to be pulling yet another thing over my head. I love a long scarf that just wraps round and round. But I don’t want to knit that either. It would bore me to tears!

    But your cowl is very pretty!

  9. I’m starting to come round to the idea of cowls, particularly the idea that it reduces bulk you sometimes get from stuffing scarf ends into coats (why yes, I am a wee bit fussy). They also seem a good way to bust stash.

    I really like the eyelet rows on the edges, tis a surprising but nice detail.

  10. It looks fantastic in the red. I haven’t tried a cowl but I do like a short buttoned scarflet. I’ve thought about trying a longer loop that you can double over or wear long if you don’t need as much warmth.

  11. I haven’t ripped out my Ishbel yet, but I may be the next one. I’ve done tons of lace, too, but this pattern just hasn’t come together for me and has spent most of its life in a bag at the bottom of the knitting basket.

    I’m so glad to hear that Pretty Thing is a a good pattern. I bought it a while ago and have some gorgeous yarn for it. Yours is very inspiring!

  12. I also used to think they were kind of strange – especially the longer ones that people tend to wear as necklaces. But now I think they’re genius, really – none of those long drapey ends that always come undone on scarves or get caught up in things, with all the same benefits of a scarf. Your pretty thing came out beautifully, too!

  13. Well, Ishbel can’t say you didn’t try. I knitted a cowl, not for me, but it was a relaxing and fun knit, just round and round. The red lace looks very pretty.

  14. I had never needed a cowl and wasn’t even keen on scarves till we moved higher up than Rosered is. Leaving at 5:30 am for the station quickly made me change my mind. I also made one for a friend in NZ who cycles a lot. It’s cold in Christchurch in the winer and I thought a cowl might be easier and safer to wear on a bike. She loved it.

    Yours looks very pretty and the red came out well on my monitor. I’ve made another couple this year for gifts. I did two Ishbels and enjoyed them, although I preferred knitting the beret and have done a couple of them. I’ve really enjoyed Evelyn Clark’s Shetland shawl pattern and Bron’s Brangian. Sent my first Brangian to same friend in NZ after the earthquake. She said it felt like a hug.

  15. I like a cowl. they’re especially good on windy days as you don’t have to worry about the ends of your scarf blowing around.

    That one is a very pretty thing and I think the red shows the stitches off really well. Red is such a great colour for a scarf – it almost warms you before you put it on…

  16. I made a cowl for my sister and began to see the point when I did, but still haven’t taken the plunge for myself.

    I haven’t knitted an ishbel either, and if you’ve had problems I think I’ll stay away from it!

  17. im not a fan of the cowl either, restrictive, no neck. but this one is really lovely, and suits jenny very well. im sure jodi will love it. i too can not for the life of me get ishbel to work either. i actually was planning one for you in purple wollmeise. i can tell you now because its not happening either. and why is red so hard to photograph, actually? youve done a great job here, mine comes up as always hot pink.

  18. I’ve never seen the appeal of the cowl, and I still don’t – but if I did, I’d definitely make this one – it is such a pretty pattern and it looks great in the red, a lovely flash of colour. And probably a lot easier to wear for a mum of 4 boys than a shawl in any event!

  19. The cowl looks beautiful and yes red is a hard color to take a pic of isnt it. I had a bit of trouble with my Ishbel too, having to rip out one section about 3 times but in the end I conquered it and decided that knitting it once was enough!

  20. I haven’t made cowls for myself as I have a short neck and cowls seem to make it shorter. It’s the same reason I don’t wear turtle neck tops. Until recently I had no one else to make one for. But they are very pretty, and this one came out wonderfully. Another job well done, Helen!

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