My current work in progress:

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


Leftovers Cowl

It is done!


I finished this baby Sunday night.


The specs:

It weighs 647 grams. Round that up to 650 grams and estimate 400 yards per 100 grams, that’s approximately 2600 yards of fingering weight yarn.


The cowl is 13.5″ across and 83″ in circumference, but can easily be resized.

It’s unisex: it can be worn by either a woman or a man.




(A big thank-you to my coworkers EllenJayne and Lemiel for being such good sports and modeling the cowl!)

There is nothing terribly difficult in this pattern. You are only ever using 2 colors at the most per row and the motifs are, at the widest, 12-stitch repeats.  So the only techniques you need to know to be able to knit this are:

  • provisional cast-on
  • stranded knitting in the round (which is actually easier than working it flat)
  • grafting live stitches together.

If it is something you think you’d like to knit but you have no experience with stranded knitting, my advice is to try a small project first, like a pair of stranded wrist warmers. There are a bunch of free patterns for those on Ravelry.


There were a lot of questions in the comments about my use of colors (and thank you for all the nice comments about my color sense): did I plan out what colors I was using in advance? Not really — I just made sure that I was varying colors and that I had a nice mix of panels with dark background/light foreground and light background/dark foreground. Most of the yarns I used were semi-solids and heathers, with some variegated colorways as well. The variegated yarns I used were pretty subtle and I tried to make a point of pairing those with strong solids that showed a good contrast.


I’ve done a whole page of notes as part of the pattern: choosing colors, choosing yarns, and resizing the piece. You could knit this using just two colors, or you could use one color for the background and various colors for the foreground. There are a million different things you could do!


The pattern is available for sale on Ravelry, and for a limited time it is 40% off: for the next few days it will be $3.00 instead of $5.00. At noon on Sunday the price will go up to $5.00. The pattern includes detailed notes on resizing the cowl and also on choosing yarns and colors.


This is the most enjoyable project I’ve made in a very long time. It was such fun to knit, because I never got sick of it. I was changing colors every few rows so it was always fun and new.

And Loki thinks it makes a great pillow.



  1. That is one loooooong cowl! Beautiful though, I must say. And Loki is so adorable I don’t know how you stand it!

  2. Yay! I love seeing your Fair Isle knitting because it looks so even. Mine, not so much, but I will buy the pattern and knit this with determination and hope.

  3. Gorgeous! You’re lucky your coworkers didn’t run off with it!
    Kristen´s last blog post ..Julianna

  4. Beautiful! …..and so ‘s the cat 🙂

  5. Such a deal! Will hurry over to Rav to get my mitts on the pattern… And what’s a handknit without some kitty fur on it?

  6. 400 yards per gram? That would be one very fine yarn. Did you mean 400 yards per 100 grams (i.e., fingering weight)?

  7. looks great!!!

  8. I’ve enjoyed watching this grow from blog post to blog post – it’s so cool! Congrats on finishing it!
    Jessica Snell´s last blog post ..Yarn-Along: another Color Affection!

  9. Wendy, that cowl is beautiful! I think a project like that would take me a few years, but I have to one day become a fine knitter. Loki is a sweetheart!

  10. Thank you thank you thank you!

  11. Beautiful! Looks like somebody needs to get to work knitting Loki a pillow to rest all his floofiness on. Just saying….

  12. You made me want this, I just bought it, Thank you.

  13. If anything/anyone could make me knit something stranded, it would be this project and you. And while both your co-workers look great, I am pretty stunned by how well it looks on Lemiel. It is indeed unisex!

  14. Your cowl turned out so pretty! I really love the color combination. Hope someday I cant tackle such an ambitious project. Loki looks wonderful snuggled up against it too!

  15. Very beautiful! What a nice knit 🙂

  16. This is so beautiful! I just bought the pattern, thank you for writing it up. I love having something to do with all the leftover sock yarns.

  17. Midnite Baker says:

    Gorgeous cowl. My stash of sock yarns are mainly dark colors, so would need to find some lighter colors too. Got your pattern and found your instructions are always so clearly written. Really appreciate it. And, of course, our neck scarfs would never be complete without the occasional kitty threads. ;-)) Thanks for the pattern.

  18. It seems everywhere I look there is a fabulous bit of air isle to temp me….. This is gorgeous and every sock knitter will be able to use up those leftovers! Great cowl… your models!

    Loki is adorable.
    Anne´s last blog post ..Simple, but with a little something……

  19. Barb Rickman says:

    Got the pattern yesterday and will be knitting this for sure. I now know how to hold yarn in both hands thanks to Philosopher’s Wool video. Practiced on a hat and am now ready for this cowl. I have always wanted to do something with all this sock yarn I have and this is the project! YEAH!


  20. Is it reversible? I mean, does it have a right and a wrong side? I have not seen a purl side, but I also don’t remember reading anywhere that it was a tube.

  21. Loki has such fabulous taste! It’s quite lovely, Wendy, and great use of stash busters.

  22. absolutely gorgeous!
    Leslie´s last blog post ..Bjork 1!

  23. Your cowl is gorgeous. Thanks so much for making your pattern available. I can’t wait to get started.

  24. beautiful, congratulations!
    Britney´s last blog post ..cobble

  25. I bought the pattern last night and plan to make the cowl as soon as I finish my current sweater (which is 2/3 done). I have mini-skeins as well as tons of leftovers, so I may find myself making more than one. Yours is just beautiful!
    Jamie´s last blog post ..Spring Cleaning Comes Early, Plus Year End Wrap-up

  26. I really love this cowl and can’t wait to cast on. Why aren’t you on FB where I can follow you?

  27. Your cowl is beautiful, love it! Loki is soo adorable!

  28. Wendy it’s beautiful! You do such lovely color work. One day I’ll attempt it. It makes a great accessory for Loki’s handsomeness.

  29. Your cowl is just beautiful – I had to go buy the pattern tonight! Thanks for the discount this week – it is much appreciated! I’m looking forward to working on this.

  30. That is absolutely fantastic. I think it’s one of the best things you’ve knitted. The colours are perfection.

    Unfortunately my leftovers consist of 15 half balls of kidsilk haze, I can’t knit in the round and I’ve never tried Fair Isle so this isn’t a project for me. But I wish it was because it really is lovely.

  31. Yay! I got the pattern, thanks for making it available. I’m looking forward to working on this; it will be a long-term project for me, but something I can pick up on between the other projects I’ve planned. As they’re all cabled sweaters, this will give me a complete break! Loki is so lovely, I’m sure he’s getting lots of snuggles.
    CeltChick´s last blog post ..Knitting challenge for the duration of the Olympics

  32. Lynne in Florida says:

    Your cowl is absolutely gorgeous! Even on the monitor, the colors simply glow. It must be spectacular in person, and almost tempts me to learn Fair Isle. Alas, I seem to be in a total needlework funk at the moment. Knit, crochet, embroidery, sewing, it all palls. I can hardly WAIT until I come out the other side of this, which I’m sure I will. When I do, I’ll get right onto your pattern. Thanks, Wendy! (And give Loki a good ruffle of his belly fur for me.)

  33. Stunning! I’ve never done colorwork myself –I’m a solid-color sort of person– but I do appreciate the fabulous creations of others.

  34. Agree with all the posts – stunning would be my first word too!! And I sure hope you never get tired of our saying how lovely your knitting is and how handsome Mr. Floofy Boy Loki is, ’cause they are – lovely and handsome!!

  35. Kate (in Massachusetts) says:

    Yes – stunning is the word! It’s a nice memory piece too. I bet you look at a color and remember what you knit or where you were or who you knit for.

    When you mentioned that you were repeating a color for the first time and still had some you hadn’t used yet it sounded like you had all the yarn together before you started. Did you take a before picture of all the yarn? Silly question but it was my first thought after stunning!)

  36. Am I ever so glad you made a pattern for this!!!!! My daughter was looking at a magazine and commented on a scarf that was so vivid in color and design. I showed her your work in progress and she wondered if I would ever be able to make something so BEAUTIFUL with my left over sock yarn……Now I can tell her ‘ I’m gonna give it a try’. Thanks again. Purchased the pattern before I finished reading the post. Kudos for a stunning cowl pattern!

  37. Hi Wendy, I love, love, love it. Pretty sure I can find some leftover 2-ply in my stash to make this, lol. It looks like we could really get creative with the colour transitions – I’ve already thought up a few combos that would work. (How is that most days I can’t remember my passwords at work, let alone my name, but I pretty much know what’s in my stash, where it is, and how much I have at any given moment?!). The colours you’ve used look so cheery and almost spring-like! I’ll be picking this pattern up (if I can ever get this project at work done!!!).

  38. I LOVE your cowl! It is so pretty & for some reason, the colors remind me of spring. I’m attempting to make my own version but, well, let’s just say mine is no where near as special.
    Jeannie´s last blog post ..Brussels Sprouts

  39. Lovely. Thanks for the price break on the pattern…..mine is now in my library.

  40. Just wonderful!! Love love love the colors. I’m off to purchase the pattern now!
    Lizy Tish´s last blog post ..Olympic Wrap-up