History of a scarf-cowl-thing-y

I don’t know if you follow me on any of the regular social media sites. If you do, you’ve watched this little cowl/scarf/thing-y (that’s a technical term) grow over the last couple of weeks. This lovely blue-purple tweed yarn was given to me by Peggie of ColorPurl to design something with. It’s her Finnegan Donegal Tweed, a lovely fingering weight yarn with awesome tweedy bits. Because yarn is tweed, it absolutely had to have cables. No question there. I thought it would be fun if it were reversible, too. The ribbed cables on the garter stitch ground took care of that. Though the cowl would be just fine knit up normally, I thought it would make it extra cushy and warm, if I held the yarn double, and used extra large needles (US 8, 5 mm). Right on. It didn’t take much knitting to realize that this was absolutely the right decision.

The only real problem was deciding how wide to make it. I thought it would be nice as a three-column scarf. So I cast on. Hm. I didn’t get far. It seemed way, way, way too wide. I frogged it, and started over with just two columns of cables. This is about as far as I got.

two columns

No. No, this isn’t what I wanted. Once the cables are in there, they pull in a lot. Way more than I’d thought. I frogged it again, increased the number of garter stitches between each cable, and on the sides. Nope. Still not wide enough. I’m back to the number of cable columns I started with: three. Okay. We’ll frog the whole thing again, and start over. Again.

three columns

This time, though I had more stitches on the needle than I did the first time, and it looked obscenely wide at 13 inches, I waited until I had done a couple of cable crossings before making any decisions. I’m glad I did. With the current stitch count, and the three columns of cables, the scarf shrunk from 13 inches across to only nine inches. Nine inches made me happy. I am good with a nine-inch-wide cowl. Now to knit on, fingers crossed, hoping it’ll be long enough. It is. Just. Good thing yarn is stretchy. I had 2.5 grams of yarn left. That translates into just under 11 yards. Not much. That was close. That’s okay, though. Never want to have too much yarn left over at the end of a project.


Before I cast on even the first time I decided to knit this cowl differently than any of my other cowl designs. Up until now, I’ve always knit them in the round. I’m not quite sure why, it probably had something to do with the early decision to do a reversible cabled cowl, but I thought it would be fun this time to knit the cowl flat, add buttonholes toward the far end. This way the cowl can be worn differently with different things, in different circumstances, simply by buttoning it differently. If one wanted, because it’s reversible, it could be buttoned with a half twist, making it into a Möbius. I think that would make it even warmer on a cold day. Maybe. Would it? I don’t know, actually. I can’t wear cowls, so I don’t know this from personal experience. Thick, cozy cowls with a Möbius twist look extra warm. To me, anyway.

Now we’re down to it. I need good, firm, large buttonholes. I’ve knit buttonholes into any number of sweaters over the years, and some buttonholes work better than others. A few years ago I knit buttonholes that I particularly liked into a cardigan, Corinthian. It took a few tries, mostly because I kept doing something wrong (here I have to say that I was really glad that I thought to run a lifeline through the last stitches before the buttonhole row). I think I must have knit that buttonhole row at least four times. Maybe five. With perseverance, I finally conquered the buttonhole row, and finished up the cowl. Ta da!


You know what this means, don’t you? Yes, buttons. I dug through my button stash. Except for some plastic ones that wouldn’t work at all with this cowl, and quite a few buttons that are far too large, I finally found two different buttons that I thought might work. As an aside, I have to say that I am notorious for my indecision where buttons are concerned. Back when it was time to choose buttons for Corinthian you could all but see the cloud hanging over my head. The more people I asked, and the more buttons I had to choose from, the more confused I became. I solved the whole thing by taking the sweater, and all the buttons, to Mom, and had her pick. It was such a relief to have that decision made. Anyway, I took a picture, posted it online asking for opinions.

two buttons

Most people liked the Celtic dragon button best. Though I truly love that button, even have it in a couple of sizes, I was worried that the beauty of the button would be lost in the texture of the cowl. The silver shell had its fans, too, but perhaps it’s a bit too bright, and might distract too much from the cowl. You can see where this is leading, can’t you? I searched my favorite button site, and came up with a few more buttons that ought to work.

more buttons

I asked online again. The simple Celtic knot and the shell were the favorites. My friend Karen (blogless), a tried and true lover of pretty much all things Celtic, actually preferred the darker shell button. Hm. Well. We’ll see how they work on the scarf itself. I ordered the top and bottom buttons. They’ll (hopefully) be here next week.