My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.



Now this makes me happy.


That is the start of a cowl. Unlike the Britta Cowl, which starts with eleventy-billion stitches and has you knit top to bottom (or bottom to top), this cowl is knit end to end. The green stitches at the bottom of the piece are a provisional cast-on. Once I have the cowl as long as I want it, I’ll graft the starting stitches to the end stitches to make a continuous loop.

Because it’s being knit in the round as a tube, it’s double-sided. I have one purl stitch running up each side to give it fake seams — this will aid in keeping the piece straight and flat when I block it.

I am using a U.S. size 3 (3.25mm) needle. The yarn is . . .

. . . leftover sock yarn.

People who have known me for a while know that I went through a long stretch of time when I knit socks, socks, and more socks. For each pair of socks knit, I have a ball of leftover sock yarn. I knit a lot of socks, therefore I have a lot of leftover sock yarn. You know the largest size L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bag? This one, in Extra Large. I have two of those stuffed full of leftover sock yarn. So I have lots of raw material.

I strung together a bunch of Fair Isle motifs, picked out two nicely contrasting balls of yarn, and had at it.

Knitting this is so much fun. I’m doing each motif in a different set of colors, so it’s always changing and therefore, always entertaining. At least it is for me. It wasn’t until I started knitting this that I realized how “un-fun” my last project was. Now, knitting this cowl, I am having to speak sternly to myself every night so I will put down the knitting and go to bed. I’d rather sit up all night and knit.

This little guy is pretty good at convincing me to put the knitting down.



  1. Looks great. Love the colors!!

  2. What a super idea! I am off to gather all of my saved ‘treasures’ :>)

  3. I love the cowl. Finally a great idea for my leftover sock yarn,

  4. How do you handle the “jog” at the beginning of a new color combination? Bury it in the purl stitch?

  5. Jennifer B says:

    I had seen and pinned a similar infinity cowl on Ravelry not too long ago. If you are looking for some inspiration you can see what others have done here:

    I do think sock yarn weight would be plenty thick, especially since it’s double sided. I don’t think I have enough sock yarn to attempt this yet, so I’ll keep working on more socks and get to this in a few years :).

  6. Catherine S. says:

    Makes me happy, too. Kisses to Mr. Floof! xoxo

  7. I recently finished knitting the fair isle cowl featured on the Vogue Knitting magazine’s latest issue’s cover. I love stranded color work and I just may have to make another one using my leftover sock yarn. I made a mitered square afghan from sock yarn scraps also.

  8. Beautiful. How many stitches? And I can almost feel how soft that cat is from the fluffy photo!

  9. KateJonze says:

    That is a really cool cowl! I wish I could get excited about Fair Isle knitting. I love the look, and have done it before, but just can’t get started again. And something like the cowl you’re working on would never be worn here. It doesn’t get cold enough.

    Still in love with Loki! ♥ (And, although I don’t mention it, I do miss Lucy.)

  10. I have a large Sterlite container filled with my leftover sock yarn. I have less leftovers than I used to because I finished a Barn Raising Quilt (from the Knitalong book) last year. My blanket is 49 squares, so that is a lot less sock yarn, but I still have more than enough to knit several more blankets.

    A Fair Isle cowl is a wonderful way to use sock yarn. Yours is looking wonderful! Are you using a particular book for pattern inspiration, or is it all “as the yarn speaks to you”?
    Jamie´s last blog post ..Spring Cleaning Comes Early, Plus Year End Wrap-up

  11. The colors and designs/patterns in the cowl are lovely!

    And I love the “squinchy eye” look from Loki!
    Lee Cockrum´s last blog post ..It’s a new year!

  12. Lovely! It makes me happy as well to look at it!

  13. Just gorgeous!

  14. Likes2knits says:

    Very Happy project indeed. Sure to cure the Winter blah’s.

  15. Dorothy in Kentucky says:

    I l8ve the cowl. It is gorgeous. And your little fuzzy guy would be hard to resist at bed time for sure.

  16. GeniaKnitz says:

    We have one of those LLBean XL Boat and Tote Bags, which I bought to use as a book to collect books from and return them to the library. It’s even embroidered “Library” – turns out it is so big if you fill it with books you can’t lift it! (Or at least I can’t and I’m pretty strong.)
    That’s a LOT of leftover sock yarn!

  17. Yes, indeed, there’s nothing like a “pitiful” griping cat, begging you to go to bed! “Meowmy! I NEED to go to bed now!”
    “Go ahead”, say I. Doesn’t work. Griping continues…I go to bed.
    Barbara Seiver´s last blog post ..A magnificent cat

  18. Cecilia David says:

    I hope that you share your pattern. Your creativity is an art form. Cd

  19. I just finished knitting my first color work project, the Engleberg cowl, featured recently on Fibre Space’s blog. It is so addicting! I would have to have stern talks with myself to go to bed also. I think your cowl is beautiful and I love to knit in the round so it would be perfect!

  20. great use of leftovers and reminds me of a sampler cowl…can’t wait to see your completed vest…

  21. All those colors! It looks so great. Perfect use for leftover sock yarn!
    Lizy Tish´s last blog post ..A Pefectly Cold Day

  22. Wendy, I just can’t get over how beautiful that cat is!!! Oh yes, I do like the piece you are working on now. I have never tried a Fair anything. Maybe one day I will. You certainly are an inspiration. Thank you for your blog. I look forward to them.:)

  23. Charlotte Nay says:

    I am in awe of your knitting skills and the short time it takes you to complete even the most elaborate projects. If only I had a fraction of the talent you have, I’d be happy!! The cowl you’re knitting is so beautiful. I love seeing pictures of your projects and reading your blog. And Loki is a gorgeous little sweetheart! 🙂

  24. Midnite Baker says:

    Charlotte Nay stated my sentiments, so “ditto” to her compliments. And I, sometimes, wish I had a stash like yours. Really love the cowl. Sparky has taken up permanent residence over the kitchen floor heat register for the duration of these arctic blasts or she is on my lap. Take Care. M

    P.S. Hope you will keep the blog, as I’m not a social media gal.

  25. Pamela Beeching says:

    Fabulous use of excess woolery. The possibilities are now endless in my head – I’m thinking cowl, mittens, hat, socks with matching fair-isle bands, cushions – in fact left to me, you would probably be a fair-isle be-decked shape blending into a fair-isle throw on your sofa and only be detected by the fact that Loki is sitting on top of you! I’m now eyeing up my Excess Yarn Vault (no piece of yarn over 6″ long to be thrown away in case it’s desperately needed for sock repairs and will come in useful even if I never need it ….).

    Thanks for the thought and your Fluff-Popkins is just the most beautiful creature.

  26. Wow Wendy what a fabulous idea, the cowl is gorgeous, thank you for the inspiration, I am now obsessing about what I could make with left over yarn!

  27. By using left over sock yarn, you know it will go with any pair of socks you decide to wear! lol beautiful

  28. I absolutely LOVE this! I made a similar “donut” cowl a month ago but just did a chevron stripe pattern, which is ok but yours is gorgeous! I also make lots of socks and have lots of little balls left – I usually make them into tiny sweater ornaments to give with presents at Christmas or to sell at our church holiday fair, but this is a great use of sock yarn extras. So glad you’re onto a fun project – life is too short for non fun ones.

  29. Shirley Gallagher says:

    This is just beautiful. The colors really pop!

  30. Ann Voorhies says:

    Excellent use of leftovers. Sigh!

  31. “Little” guy?!? Loki looks rather large & in charge from here. But the fur friends are always our little ones, aren’t they? I love this cowl idea. I imagine you’ll graft with Kitchener stitch, one it’s long enough. I have a whack of sock yarn, and really would like to have more socks — only the 40+ hour workweek gets in the way of knitting them up. If only the family could cut back on stuff like eating & having hot water…..
    CeltChick´s last blog post ..Weekend WIP update

  32. It is gorgeous! Do you separate your sock yarn into wool blends and 100% wool? A lovely woman sold and then gave me a ton of her orphan sock yarn balls and I make my son’s socks and mittens out of them. He is a skinny minnie due to his disabilities and one sock ball can make him an entire wristlet. And non of his socks match although I do try for color families! I wonder if I could borrow your idea and eke out a vest for him???? Thanks!

  33. Beautiful cowl! I did a pair of socks the same way last year & love them. Never thought about a cowl. Very inspiring. (43,000 yards of sock yarn in stash – counting leftovers) I’m about to embark on a sock yarn blanket, but I’m sure I’ll still have plenty when I’m done.

  34. I LOVE THIS! Tell us, dear Wendy, how many stitches around? I must make one!
    Meredith´s last blog post ..Year of Making — Week 2

  35. KathyM in SE VA says:

    I have leftover sport weight yarn (from various fairisle projects) and would like to do the same thing. How wide did you make the cowl and did you use any particular reference book to gin up the fairisle patterns? Thanks for the hint about the purl stitch along the sides. I’m looking at a pattern called “My Favorite Things” on Ravelry. Looks like another band of wintry weather headed our way. Hope you have plenty of bread and cat food – LOL.

  36. Such happy colors! Nothing like a warm kitty on a cold day.
    stay warm.

  37. You are such an inspiration! I’m fairly new to knitting, I haven’t attempted color knitting…yet. The Britta Cowl has me thinking about advancing my skills in that direction post haste! Now this! I would love to have even a tenth of your talent! And of course I always enjoy seeing pics of the knitting inspector.

  38. What a great stash buster! I love it!

  39. Your cowl makes me happy just looking at it! I can’t imagine how much fun it must be for you picking out the motifs, picking out the colors and getting into the rhythm of the knitting. I hope you offer the pattern when you are done because it looks like a winner.

    I love that you still love knitting so much after all the glorious knitting you have done over the years. It has been my passion for 20 years, and when I read your blog it makes me happy to think that I still have so much fun ahead of me. I haven’t even done a quarter of the knitting that you have done. You amaze me! I have been reading your blog for over ten years, and it is a constant source of delight.
    Suzanne´s last blog post ..Proud Mama

  40. Rachel Cutler says:

    As someone who uses your Socks From the Toe Up this sooo does not surprise me.

  41. Please tell us how many stitches are cast on. Thanx

  42. What a breath of fresh air in this horrid winter! So beautiful.
    Carol Entangled´s last blog post ..Okay, So the Gift Knitting Wasn’t All Roses