Double Basketweave Cowl

UPDATE JULY 2018: I’m thrilled to be revising the recommended yarn for this pattern from the original (Sincere Sheep’s Luminous DK) to Sincere Sheep’s US-raised and -milled Cormo Sport — read an interview about the yarn here. The materials list and photos have been updated to reflect the new yarn; everything else about the pattern remains the same!

Double Basketweave Cowl - free pattern

Ever since I knitted that Jumbo Basketweave Cowl, I’ve been wanting to do another version — at a thinner gauge and long enough to wrap twice around my neck. And from the moment I first laid my hands on Sincere Sheep’s indigo-dyed yarn, I knew I had to knit with it, and that I wanted it piled up around my neck. So the two urges merged into this Double Basketweave Cowl. Double because it loops twice, because it’s knitted with two strands of yarn, and because I love it doubly as much as the jumbo version. It’s the knitwear equivalent of that most beloved and worn pair of blue jeans.* You can now get it as a kit!

It can also be knitted with a single strand of chunky-weight yarn, click here for the slight pattern tweaks for that.

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This is a super simple, easy to memorize knits-and-purls stitch pattern, knitted in a bouncy US Cormo wool, held double. Comfort knitting, in other words, and suitable for newer knitters. Feel free to knit more or fewer rows of the basketweave pattern for a wider or narrower cowl, but that will change yardage used. If adjusting for the circumference, multiply your stitch gauge by whatever you want your circumference to be, then round to the nearest number that is divisible by both 4 (for the ribbing) and 6 (for the basketweave pattern).


  • 2 skeins Sincere Sheep Cormo Sport (400 yards each; pictured in Anja* and Bare), or approximately 640 yards sport/DK/light-worsted yarn, held double throughout
  • US10.5/6.5mm circular needle (32″ recommended)
  • stitch marker
  • tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Measurements: (after blocking)

  • Gauge: 4 sts and 5.25 rounds = 1″ in basketweave
  • Size: 48″ circumference, 9″ tall


With yarn held double, CO 192 sts. Place marker and join in the round, making sure sts are not twisted around needle.
Ribbing round: [k2, p2] to end.
Repeat ribbing round 3 more times.
Next round: Knit.
Begin 10-round basketweave pattern (below); work it 4 times in full.
Repeat ribbing round 4 more times.
BO loosely in pattern.
Block as desired. Weave in ends.

Basketweave pattern:

Rounds 1–4: [k2, p4] to end.
Round 5: Knit.
Rounds 6–9: p3, k2, [p4, k2] to last st, p1
Round 10: Knit.


<< Fave, queue or download it at Ravelry >>



BO = bind off
CO = cast on
k = knit
p = purl
st(s) = stitch(es)

[ERRATUM: There was an error in the original version of this pattern, in the instructions for Rows 6-9 — the repeat was indicated in the wrong spot. It was corrected here on December 15, 2013. If you saved or printed the pattern before that date, please be sure you’re working from a more recent version.]

*Note that when using indigo-dyed yarn, as with a new pair of blue jeans, there will be some color transfer. Expect your hands to turn slightly blue while knitting (it washes right off) and for the soak water to turn blue when blocking the finished piece. After that, the dye should be set.










Marl Mitts

marl mitts fingerless gloves free knitting pattern

One of my favorite things to look at, think about, play around with is what happens when you hold multiple yarns together — either low- or high-contrast — and especially when you switch out yarns along the way. I’ll have a roundup tomorrow* of some of the things that inspire me in this regard, but meanwhile here are those latest mitts I mentioned on Friday, which I began without a plan and made up as I went along.

These are just Super Simple Mitts, with a few minor modifications:

  • CO 32 stitches on US8 (5mm) needles, holding two strands of yarn
  • Ribbed k2/p2 all the way up (except the first round of each color change — for those rounds I knit every stitch)
  • For the worked-flat section at the thumb opening, knit the first and last two stitches of each row, for garter edging along thumbhole

I had intended to do more color play with these, but I love black-and-white marl so much I just settled into it. For the second mitt, at my friend Sarah’s behest, I threw in a blue stripe as a tiny accent. I like things a little off-kilter, so that pleases me.

YARNS: The ivory, used throughout, is Cascade Eco Alpaca in Natural. The grey is Cascade 220 Heathers in Silver. The black is Shibui Merino Alpaca in Ebony (held single for the solid black stripe at the top of the mitt). And the solid blue is a single strand of Malabrigo Twist in Tuareg.


*10.30: Here’s that roundup I promised: The other breed of colorwork

The ridiculously cute baby gift

knitted origami baby booties pattern

I stumbled across this schematic for these adorable origami baby booties recently and knew instantly that’s what I’d be knitting for my aforementioned friend Rachel, who is due at any moment. Of course, then I had to fashion a little hat to go with them. I gave them to her at lunch yesterday and she said the booties are going onto his little feet the moment the baby is born. It’s hard to imagine a person this tiny, so I sure hope they fit! (Or that if they don’t, they’re too large rather than too small.)

knitted baby hat with tassel

Here’s what I did —

Yarn is Malabrigo Arroyo (sport weight) in Prussia Blue, held double throughout. Gauge for the hat is 5 sts/inch in stockinette; finished circumference is 13 inches. The booties are 15g of yarn. An additional 31g for the hat.

BOOTIES: CO 7 stitches on US9 needle; knit 22 rows. At end of 22nd row, using backwards loop method, cast on an additional 10 stitches. Row 23, knit back across all stitches then cast on another 10 stitches — you now have a T shape. Knit until total of 32 rows. Bind off, leaving a long tail. The cast-on edge is the toe. Thread the tail through a tapestry needle; fold the wings of the T toward the toe, overlapping them one direction on one bootie and the opposite direction on the other. Seam along toe and both sides; weave in ends.

HAT: CO 66 stitches on US8 DPNs; join for working in the round. Alternate knit and purl rows to create one garter ridge, then switch to stockinette. Knit until 4 inches total. Next round, *k9, k2tog; repeat from * until end of round. Next round, *k8, k2tog; repeat. Continue decreasing at same rate, every round, until 3 stitches remain. Cut 24-inch tail, thread it through remaining 3 stitches and pull tight. Use tail to create tassel. (Tassel directions at Purl Bee.)


The tassel was a bit of serendipity. While I was in the middle of the hat, I got the email newsletter from the Purl Bee with two utterly perfect new (grown-up) hat patterns, dubbed the Thank You Hats, one of which had this adorable tassle on top. It was an Aha! moment, and the perfect finishing touch. Thank YOU, Purl Bee!


Girl with a pink beanie

tosh dk geranium pink beanie knitting pattern

You probably need only look at these photos to see why I don’t really wear hats — it’s not the best look for me. But I had this beautiful skein of Tosh DK in a color called Geranium, and for some reason I wanted it to be a hat. For me.

I always thought if I were to ever knit a hat for myself it would be something like Eyen or Hineri, or at least the Dimple. But having settled on pink — and given the ease with which that could get too cute for me — I decided to keep it classic. Just ribbing and stockinette, sized for options: the full-on hipster beanie; slightly rolled for a more subtle slouch; or tidily turned up and snugged down. As it turns out, it looks best on my favorite neighbor:

If anyone wants the specifics, here’s a pattern for you


Materials: 170 yds of Tosh DK in Geranium; US8 needles (16-inch circular plus DPNs); 6 stitch markers, one of which is different from the others; tapestry needle

Gauge: 21 stitches = 4 inches in stockinette

Measurements: Brim circumfererence is approximately 14 inches unstretched, before blocking (fits my 23-inch noggin a bit loosely, as I like it); total height is 11 inches


On 16-inch circular needle, cast on 96 stitches

Place the unique stitch marker and join for working in the round

Knit K2/P2 ribbing until brim measures 4 inches

Switch to stockinette: Knit every stitch, every round, until piece measures a total of 8 inches

Decrease setup round: *Knit 14, k2tog, place marker; repeat from * until end of round (your original stitch marker continues to mark the beginning of the round)

Next round: Knit all stitches

Decrease round: *Knit until last two stitches before marker, k2tog, slip marker; *repeat until end of round

Continue alternating one knit round and one decrease round (switching to DPNs as necessary*) until you’ve completed a knit round with 12 stitches on each needle, for a total of 36 stitches

Decrease every subsequent round until you have 2 stitches per needle; cut the tail and, using the tapestry needle, thread it through the last six stitches; pull tight and weave in ends!

*When switching to the DPNs, note that you’ve got six stitch markers — six sets of stitches — and divide them evenly onto 3 needles. You should have one stitch marker in the middle of each needle, so you’ll knit the last two stitches before the marker, then the last two stitches on the needle. Don’t worry if you lose track of that BOR marker; each time you’ve got an equal number of stitches on all three needles, you’ve completed a round.


Special thanks to my friends Leigh and Sarah for the photos, and to the world’s most agreeable pug.


UPDATE 01.13.13 — This hat now belongs to fashion designer Gretchen Jones, who looks a million times better in it than I did.

A silk kerchief for my mother

artfibers casanova garter stitch triangle scarf

So this is the little kerchief I knitted my mom for Mother’s Day. She lives in the land of too much air conditioning, where it never hurts to have a little something to throw around your neck. And this is a pretty great little something.

I’m not gonna lie: there was a fleeting moment where I thought about keeping it. The yarn is Artfibers Casanova, which is two kinds of silk and a just touch of mohair. (Not enough to get up your nose.) I bought it back in October without any idea what I’d do with it, and this turned out to be perfect. It’s a little splitty, so the KFB’s were annoying to knit but, in the end, the fabric is magnificently soft and drapey, and the color is just exactly like the skin of an eggplant, with that subtle color variation and slight sheen.

garter stitch knitted triangle scarf

Obviously this is just good ol’ garter stitch. (Oh, hey! I finally made a garter stitch scarf!) “Pattern” details: I cast on 3 stitches on a 35-inch US9 circular needle and did a KFB at the beginning of every row until it reached about 32 inches wide (136 stitches). That took 80 grams, about 215 yards.

And now I’m kicking myself. On a flight on the 1st of December (which I remember for reasons I won’t bore you with), I started a grey alpaca garter triangle for myself. I intended for it to be sort of gigantic and decided a few weeks ago, after it’d been sitting on the WIP shelf forever, that I didn’t think it was heavy enough for the size I wanted it to be. So I frogged it, with the intention of redoing it in a bulkier yarn. It never occurred to me to bind off where I was and have a sweet little kerchief like this.

Anyway, I hope she likes it! Mom, I hope you like it!


Morse the second: F–k cancer

morse code cowl 2 cancer

I hope it’s in her hands by now, and I’m sure she doesn’t read this blog anyway, so here’s the story on that project I was being coy about.

Today is the final doctor visit of our friend Mary Elizabeth Williams’ cancer drug trial, and Mignon suggested a variation on the Morse Code Cowl might be in order: with the message “fuck cancer.” Mignon, who lives down south, designed a card with the Morse characters on the front and the URL of the Wikipedia page on the inside, so Mary Beth can make sense of it all — assuming the two packages show up reasonably close together! If you don’t already read MB at Salon and elsewhere, or haven’t seen her brilliant essays about her battle with cancer, read this now. She’s truly one of my heroes — a model of grace and humor in the worst of circumstances.

Since MB is rather petite, and I don’t know if she loves to have a giant pile of yarn around her neck like I do, I had intended to scale it down a bit for her. But it still came out about 30 or 32 inches around and I think I made it 14 inches deep. I believe she’ll also be able to pull it down around her shoulders like a capelet if she likes. Anyway, I hope she loves it, or at least laughs!

(Knitting specifics for anyone interested: The yarn is Malabrigo Twist, in Tuareg, held double throughout — approx 440 yds total — knit nice and snug on a US11 x 24″ circular. I cast on 88 stitches, knit the “cancer” row at 4 inches and the “fuck” row at 6. )

Arm leggings

navy armwarmers free knitting pattern

I finished these last week, by the way. (I haven’t been finishing enough lately.) Bob calls them my arm leggings. He sort of has a point — at this weight and length, with that inch of ribbing on the elbow end, they do look a tiny bit like I cut off a pair of socks. But I’m in love with them and have to resist the urge to wear them around the clock.

To recap, these are Cascade Pure Alpaca in navy. Cast on 42 stitches; 1×1 rib for two rounds; stockinette until 15 inches; 1×1 rib for 1 more inch; Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. (Very important if, like me, you want them long enough to pull all the way up to your elbows.)

Pleasant to make. Even more pleasant to wear!

(See also previous post and on Ravelry.)