Gansey cowl pattern

I’ve just published my second knitting pattern on Ravelry, which is very exciting. I dipped a toe in the designing water in 2016 by listing a free hat pattern, Blue Selbu, but the latest one has involved a lot more work and consequently I’m charging a modest price for it. It’s a seamless, gansey-style cowl that I have called Everything But The Gussets, or EBTG for short.

Everything But The Gussets cowlEBTG started out, as so many of the things I make, as a present for a friend who lives in Cornwall. She took me to Polperro Museum in late summer 2017 and was quite taken with the knitted items we found there. I offered to make her a gansey/knitfrock – she’s a good friend and I enjoyed knitting my own gansey very much – but she’s not a big wearer of heavy sweaters and asked instead if I’d make her a long cowl. It so happened that I’d been wondering what on earth to do with half a cone of yarn left over from my gansey, so I rashly promised that she’d have a cowl by Christmas.

When I got home from Cornwall I started thinking about how to make this cowl, a process I ruminated on for some time as my posts from the time show (especially Designing a Gansey Cowl, Part 1 and Part 2). I looked at various designs and none of them seemed quite to fit the bill. In particular, I wanted the stitch patterns not to have an obvious “right way up” but to look OK hanging downwards, which meant the cowl would need to be knitted longitudinally and the end grafted to the start to create the loop. But I also wanted to incorporate the Channel Island cast-on, which meant each edge would need to be worked from the cast-on edge inwards, towards the middle.

Gap needing grafting

Mini cowl proof of concept

As I thought about this, it suddenly became obvious that what I was trying to create was a giant, circular shoulder strap. That seemed appropriate for a gansey-influenced design, and I set to work knitting a mini cowl in acrylic yarn, starting with two narrow bands knitted in the round and then linking them together by working the central portion of the cowl between them, back and forth, taking in live stitches from the bands at the end of every row. The concept worked and I was then able to design the cowl for real. Needless to say it didn’t get finished for Christmas that year, but it was well received when it did eventually arrive in Cornwall.

That was just over a year ago, and I did nothing more until last autumn. With the cowl-wearing season fast approaching, I thought I might as well write up the instructions in case anyone else wanted to create a similar item. It just seemed a shame to consign all my notes to the bin, and I was curious as to whether anyone else would want to knit a cowl with such an unusual construction. Finding a few kind souls who’d be prepared to try and knit from the draft instructions was going to be essential. Of course, I should have started the pattern-writing process a lot earlier, because by the time I had it all charted and down on paper it was almost Christmas again and no one had the time to do any test knitting. But come the New Year, four fearless testers started work and, I’m happy to say, all managed to complete a cowl without any significant problems.

Everything But The GussetsNevertheless, the testers’ comments have enabled me to improve the clarity of the pattern substantially, and I’m confident now that any moderately experienced knitter will be able to make a successful cowl. Knowing that some people prefer a shorter one, the final version of the pattern has the option to knit a cowl that’s only 2/3 as long as the original. And the tester who made the short cowl was kind enough to allow me to use a photo of her lovely example in the pattern.

You can find info on both of my published patterns on the Knitting Patterns page.


About yorkshirecrafter

I live and work in West Yorkshire.  I've always enjoyed crafts of all types, from woodwork to lace-making.  I also enjoy anything mathematical, which makes knitting a favourite pastime, especially complicated designs.  I've been advising businesses and industry on environmental matters for 30 years and also have an interest in green living, especially where it saves me money. I live with my husband and our Maine Coon in a 100-year-old cottage that constantly needs something doing to it.  Fortunately, I enjoy DIY too.
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