Cosy Continental Cowl

‘Officially’ I am calling this the Continental Cowl…but in my head I like to think of this as my London Cowl.  Back in 2017, faced with a 13.5 hour flight from sunny Singapore to chilly London, of course the most logical thing to do was to spend the flight designing and crocheting a warm cowl scarf.  Double benefits of in-flight entertainment, plus a cosy scarf to keep me warm upon landing (as what I already owned was woefully inadequate, living on the equator as I do).  The couple of odd looks on the plane while I tried on what must have looked like a noose initially to make sure the diameter was the right size were totally worth it.

My travel essentials:

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I have to say my attempts at a selfie to capture the scarf out and about in London did not go well.  In every single one I took, I look like I am calculating the meaning of life rather than enjoying myself?  Perhaps I just need more practice…

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After delightedly wearing it almost every day for a week in London, I typed up the majority of this pattern while at Heathrow Airport waiting for my return flight to depart…and then naturally it has taken me over a year to get it over the finishing line! Is this just me, or do you also have a great talent for completing 90% of each project before dropping it for something new, no matter how much you love the end result?

I love the yarn I used for this scarf – well really, what’s not to love about big squishy scarves? Not only are they delightfully cosy and snuggly in chilly weather, but they are also one of the quickest items to bring to life.  They are both practical and extremely satisfying, and not too many crafts can fit that bill.

This particular yarn also serves the purpose of abating a small amount of guilt – many years ago I bought some very squishy wool with which to knit a birthday present for a friend and never did, and said wool has been sitting at home judging me ever since.  So I’m relieved it has finally been re-born into something wearable.  This yarn – Vera Moda’s Mawson – is a blend with 25% Alpaca, 25% Wool, 50% Acrylic.  For me this is just right, as 100% wool makes my skin crawl with itchiness, while the 50% alpaca/wool means the scarf has a feint smell of sheep at all times, especially when damp – is it too odd that this smell makes the scarf all the more comforting to me?!

Just look at this luscious squishyness:

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Although I am going to share with you the details of how I made this version of the cowl in particular – it’s more the concept of this cowl than matters rather than the precise details, I chose the hook size and number of chains based on what effect I liked after some experimenting.  I would recommend you experiment a bit as well with what effects you can get – as you can change any aspect of this cowl to make it perfect for your needs. For example, you could use a lighter weight yarn but just add more chains and rows. Or change the hook size depending on whether you desire a neater or looser texture (just remember you may need to increase/decrease number of chains accordingly).

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 ball of main colour yarn, and 1 ball of highlight colour yarn.  In this case I use an off-white (Vera Moda Mawson in Beige) to provide a neutral background for a pop of yellow (Vera Moda Mawson in Chartreuse), but entirely up to you.  In fact, you could do it all one colour for that matter.
  • 8mm crochet hook
  • Wool needle to thread in ends (optional, I actually just used the hook in this case as it was about making used of what I had available while travelling, but I do typically find it quicker with a needle)

STITCHES YOU’LL NEED TO KNOW:

  • Chain – CH
  • Single crochet – SC (double crochet in UK/AU terms)
  • Half-double crochet – HDC (half treble crochet in UK/AU terms)
  • Double crochet – DC (treble crochet in UK/AU terms)
  • And also how to do each of these two stitches into the back loops only – BLO (for this, you only stitch into the outer loop of the previous row of stitches, leaving the front row untouched.  This front row is thenvisible as a ‘stripe’ in the final product)
  • Slip stitch – SLIP

This cowl will be worked in a continuous round, rather than individual rows.  Do not break yarn at the end of each round, just keep going.  This means you don’t really have to pay much attention to counting, a real plus if you’ve hit a good movie on the plane.

Let’s get started!

SET UP ROUND: Starting with the main colour (white in this case) make a slipknot around your hook.

Chain 60. Because I was working with quite a large hook for a loose texture, I also had to make sure that I kept the chains very loose.  When you do your test swatch, also pay attention to how tightly you should be chaining at the beginning.  It may feel silly, but do a quick test that this is about the length you would like the final cowl to be.  It can be hard to judge, but it is so much better than finding out too far in that you want it longer or shorter!

Slip stitch the last chain on your hook to the first chain, being careful not to twist the chain.

ROUND 1: As this cowl will be a continuous spiral, we start off smaller and work out way up to the double crochets which will form the basis of the cowl.  SC into the first five stitches, HDC into the next five stitches, then DC into the remaining 50 stitches (total of 60 stitches in this first round)

You can see how these SC and HDC create a graduated slope in the picture below:

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From now on, we are going to be crocheting into the back loop only (BLO) of each previous row of stitches.  This creates the ‘stripes’ in-between each row for additional texture.

ROUNDS 2-7: Continue to DC BLO all stitches in each round (60)

Here we are now going to change colour (if you want a colour block effect – if not, just keep going with your first colour!).  There isn’t really any way of making this colour change invisible as we’re working in a spiral, but we can at least make it neat so it’s an attractive visible colour change.

For this, when you get to the last stitch of Round 7, pause when you get to the last yarn over and pull through (this means you’ll have 2 loops still on your hook).  Instead of doing the yarn over with your white yarn, yarn over with the yellow and complete the stitch.  Then, keep going with the yellow.  To ‘seal’ your ends, I like to do a small single knot between the white end and yellow starting yarn before weaving in.  Be careful to keep it small so it’s not visible, but personally I find it reassuring to have a little knot to keep it all together no matter how much you wear it!

This is what your colour change will look like:

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ROUNDS 8-10: Continue to DC BLO all stitches in each round, with your contrast colour yarn (60).

ROUND 11: This is our final round, and we’ll do the reverse to what we did at the start of the cowl to finish it off as a rectangle. DC BLO the first 50 stitches, then HDC BLO into the next five, and SC BLO into the last five.  Slip stitch to finish off, then trim and and weave in end.

And you’re finished! Delightful 🙂

Feel free to use this pattern for personal use, or to create item that sell.  I only ask that you credit me as the designer of the pattern, and link back to this original post rather than copying the content.  If you do make it – please tag me on Instagram (@the.artful.pea) as I’d love to see your work!

I can’t leave off this post without sharing some of the yummy yarn goodness from London…even if now these pictures are quite old! I was in love with the selections at John Lewis (the left two pictures) – a whole floor dedicated to yarn, fabrics, and ice cream coloured sewing machines?! They should be glad I didn’t just pitch a tent in the middle of the store.  I also made the traditional pilgrimage to Liberty London (two on the right).  Although I didn’t up up buying anything (I had to talk myself out of buying a mini tape measure in their signature fabric, just because) I loved browsing the crafting, homewares and stationery.

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