Hi everyone, it’s Anna from Anna-Jo Sews here for my first post as part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network—how exciting! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful festive season and are feeling properly relaxed. Here in the West Country of England we’re having a typically wet and mild winter, but I’ve still been getting loads of wear out of this cute knitted project.

Now, I’m the first to admit I’m not the world’s best knitter. I’ve been doing it for years now, but only intermittently and I still feel like I have a huge amount to learn. You’re more likely to see dressmaking projects from me here in the future, but I’ve had a cowl like this on my wishlist for over a year now, and I thought I’d really better just get on and make it already! I was after a cowl in a deep, pinky-purple jewel tone to jazz up my winter outerwear wardrobe (currently rather drab in shades of black and olive) and give me something to smile about when it seems like it’s been weeks since I’ve seen any sunshine.

As luck would have it, I’ve been wanting to learn to how to knit cables for a while now, so when I stumbled across this Stylecraft Knitting Pattern on the Minerva website I knew I’d found the perfect project for me. The super chunky yarn makes it a relatively quick knit too, which is always a bonus in my book—yes, I’m the knitter who spent over a year on her last pair of socks. Speedy I ain’t!

The yarn I went for in the end isn’t the one specified by the pattern, but a gorgeous quality 100% British Wool Yarn which I’m pleased to say isn’t remotely itchy against the skin. I used the Geranium colour, but there are another 18 to choose from should you tempted to try it for yourself. My only slight quibble with the yarn is that it comes in hanks so you so have to wind it into balls yourself, but it gave me a chance to finally perfect winding a centre-pull ball using just my hands, so I’m feeling pretty smug about that.

The only other supplies I needed to get knitting were a Circular Knitting Needle and a Cable Needle. Out of the many circular needles available I went for a Knit Pro one as I’ve found them the best out of all the circular needles I’ve tried. This was my first go with the birch range and they’re lovely smooth needles, with a great quality cable that doesn’t seem to get kinked no matter how much you twist it. I’ll admit I probably should have hunted down a thicker cable needle to cope with my superchunky yarn, but the Clover ones worked okay and I’m sure they’ll be useful in the future as I definitely want to knit more cabled patterns.

Now, while this is a very simple project and could probably be attempted by anyone who’s knit something before, I have to say that Stylecraft’s instructions are minimal at best. You’re told to cast on, but there is no guidance as to what kind of cast-on would work best. After a bit of hunting I found a tutorial for a tubular cast-on that sounded interesting, and although it gave me some head-scratching moments it has resulted in a really neat looking edge with plenty of stretch—ideal for ribbing.

From that point on the cowl was simple to knit. It begins with six rounds of K2, P2 ribbing, followed by a cabled section. The cable pattern only calls for one type of cable stitch every sixth row, so it was really easy to memorise. I knitted most of this sitting on the bathroom floor while my little boy was in the bath, and it was the ideal simple project that didn’t require much concentration.

Once the cabled section is finished the cowl is edged with six more rounds of K2, P2 ribbing, and then you cast off. Simple! I found this simple stretchy cast-off which was again really stretchy—possibly too stretchy, to be honest, as this edge looks much more wavy than the cast on one. Never mind. I just wear it with the cast off edge at the bottom and the neater cast-on one at the top.

When I finished the cowl it looked pretty small and I was pleased to see I still had perfect tension. However, when I put it on, something happened. It S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D! Okay, so I was expecting it too, but I was still a little surprised and, if I’m honest, disconcerted at just how much it stretched out with wear. However, I’m now embracing the stretch as it gives me multiple options for styling this one. I can wear it pulled down over my shoulders:

Or folded in the middle to give a closer fit at the neck (this is the one I usually go for when wearing it under a coat):

Another look is a crazy sculptural collar, which reminds me of an Elizabethan ruff in a strange way:

I can even wrap it around my neck twice for a really snug fit on the coldest days!

This cowl has proved to be a godsend on chilly days and putting it on every morning really does cheer me up. Now I just need to knit a matching hat to go with it!

What’s warming you up this winter? Or keeping you cool if you’re lucky enough to be enjoying summer right now.

Anna-Jo x

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