Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Zigzag Ribbon Stitch Cowl

Zigzag Ribbon Stitch Cowl

There's only one way to intro this piece, and that's with an extensive discussion of the yarn. I knew I had been eyeing this particular fiber for awhile, but I didn't realize how long it had been until I finally bought it and brought it home. I say that, of course, because as much as I look for this yarn online, I can't find it. By the label alone, in fact, it appears to be the exact same yarn that I used for the Pretty Plum Cowl. But it isn't - it's lighter weight, and a different color. At the end of the day, then, all I can really tell you about this yarn is that it's a cotton bamboo blend that's more of a sport weight (even if the label calls it a dk).

And now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the pattern! Since I knit a lighter-weight yarn on slightly larger needles, the piece gets that nice stretched-stitch look. The subtle stitch pattern is also very suitable for both solids and variegated yarns, and adds nice texture to the piece. Furthermore, although this piece is knit back-and-forth, it's seamless, and is joined by a provisional cast-on and a Kitchener stitch graft. This gives the mesh neck even more delicacy, and really suits the airiness of this cowl!

Yarn: Schachenmayr smc Cotton Bamboo Batik (50% Cotton, 50% Bamboo; 131 yards [120 meters]/50 grams); #95 - one to two skeins (I got by with one)

Close-up, for your viewing pleasure
Needles: Size 6 straight needles

Notions: Tapestry needle

Gauge: 24 stitches = 4 inches on size 4 needles

So let's get started! We're going to begin this piece with a provisional cast-on, instructions for which you can find here. So, using this technique, cast on 20 stitches. Then, knit the following set-up rows:

Set-up Row 1 (right side): knit

Set-up Row 2: purl

And once that's done, we're going to work the following row until the piece measures about 8" long and you've just finished a wrong-side row. So here's how you'll proceed:

Neck Row: k1, * yo, ssk; rep from *, end k1

As I mentioned, then, knit this row until piece measures 8" and you've just finished a wrong-side row. And now we'll knit the following transition rows, which go as follows. It's also time to include our special notation for the pattern, which you'll find below.

lifted increase (li): insert right-hand needle straight through the middle of the next stitch in the row below, and knit; then knit the stitch on your needle normally

back lifted increase (bli): insert right-hand needle into the back of the next stitch in the row below (so down through the purled loop behind the stitch on the needle), and knit; then knit the stitch on the needle normally

Transition Rows 1 & 3: knit

Transition Rows 2, 4 & 6: purl

Transition Row 5: * l1 * (40 stitches)

Transition Row 7: * k1, l1 * (60 stitches)

And once those 7 rows are done, it's time to begin our main pattern, which is Zigzag Ribbon Stitch from page 123 of Barbara G. Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, and goes as follows:

Row 1 and all wrong side rows: purl

Row 2: * l1, k2, ssk, k5 *

Row 4: k1, * l1, k2, ssk, k5 *; end last repeat k4

Row 6: k2, * l1, k2, ssk, k5 *; end last repeat k3

Row 8: k3, * l1, k2, ssk, k5 *; end last repeat k2

Row 10: k4, * l1, k2, ssk, k5 *; end last repeat k1

Row 12: * k5, l1, k2, ssk *

Row 14: * k5, k2tog, k2, bli *

Row 16: k4, * k2tog, k2, bli, k5 *; end last repeat k1

Row 18: k3, * k2tog, k2, bli, k5 *; end last repeat k2

Row 20: k2, * k2tog, k2, bli, k5 *; end last repeat k3

Knit rows 1 - 20 five times, and then knit row 1 again. Then, we'll do a couple more transition rows. Like so:

Transition Row 1: * k1, k2tog* (40 stitches)

Transition Rows 2 & 4: purl

Transition Row 3: * k2tog* (20 stitches)

Knit rows 1 - 4 and then transfer live stitches to a scrap of yarn (we're going to graft our provisional cast on stitches and these guys later). Block. Once your piece is blocked, transfer each set of live stitches to a size 6 needle and then, using the Kitchener stitch, graft together. Tuck in ends.


  1. This is a lovely cowl! Thanks so much for sharing! I really like it, even though it's a little beyond my capabilities.

    1. I'm glad to hear you like it! And what intimidates you, the grafting and provisional cast-on? You could always just skip those steps and seam it... :)

  2. Really pretty!! I would skip the grafting and provisional cast-on and just seam it. Would need to practice my seaming first! I don't always do it too well - LOL!

    Linda in VA

    1. I screwed up my Kitchener stitching for the longest time... kept repeating the first two rows (oops!). Luckily this project turned out better :)

  3. I think I'll have to seam - that stitch intimidates me - at first reading, the pattern almost scared me off - but then I took a deep breath- a sip of coffee - and started over. This is NOT going to be beyond me. I CAN do this. These patterns make me stretch my skills, and as a person who stays in her comfort zone as much as possible, it's a little scary - but I will LOVE showing this off! TY for the pattern!

    1. Oh yeah, you can totally do this! The stitch is different but not too difficult to keep track of, and once you learn to use a provisional cast on you'll have so many options! Plus, even if you kinda maybe sorta screw it up, it'll still look decent! Let me know if you have any questions. :)

  4. Lovely pattern, and not really difficult, just took me some practice to get used to the lifted increases. One question, when I finish the final transition row, the working yarn isn't in the right place to do the Kitchener graft. When I put the right sides of the cowl together, the working yarn will either be on the front needle or on the left end. Did I miss something? I can just throw in another row of knit stitches, but I thought I'd ask.

    1. Hi there!

      First off, I'm glad you like the pattern! :) And I think that I was just trying to have the same number of rows on both sides of the pattern, although that's not necessary (sometimes the thinking-through is better in hindsight). Long story short, throw in another row of stitches if you'd like! :)