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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Free Knitting Pattern: Braided Cowl

I published this pattern a while ago, but now I'm moving it to its new forever home on the blog. I hope you enjoy it! I will tell you that it is un-tested and it's written with the assumption that you know a little bit about knitting; in that way it's more of a tutorial than an explicit pattern.

I've been wanting to knit one of these in super bulky yarn; I bet it would make a really fast knit that way if you're looking for a last-minute holiday gift!

Anyway, here's the pattern - enjoy!

Braided Cowl
by Jessica Cook

Pattern Notes and Materials:
This particular cowl looks complicated but is really very simple. It comes with several finishing options and is easily customized using a different stitch pattern or yarn type than specified. Make this project your own in several ways and you'll be hooked on cowls in no time.

Materials Needed:
  • Yarn - I used worsted weight for the sample and it took approximately 185-195 yards. This pattern could be made with any type of yarn but I don't have guarantees on yardage if you change the yarn you use.
  • Knitting needles - I used size US 6 straights; again, if you use a different type of yarn you'll need to go up or down in needle size to make this work.
  • Tape measure
  • 3 stitch holders or scrap yarn
  • 6 stitch markers (optional)
  • Buttons (optional)
Gauge isn't overly important for this pattern, as you're going to use your own gauge to determine the finished product. This cowl is knit flat and seamed together at the end.


There are three options for finishing this cowl. The finishing option you choose will determine your cast-on method as well.
- Option 1: Grafting with Kitchener Stitch. For this method, use a provisional cast-on.
- Option 2: Fake grafting or whip stitching. For this method, use any cast-on you like; I used the cabled cast-on.
- Option 3: Button closure. For this method, cast on any way you like; you'll make button holes in the last few rows.

Knit the Cowl:
  1. For any option, you need to cast on a number of stitches that's divisible by three. Your cast-on edge will be the width, or height, of your cowl. For my sample, I cast on 60 stitches. Remember to match your cast-on method to the type of closure you want. If you're using thicker yarn, you'll need fewer cast-on stitches; for thinner yarn you'll need more.
  2. If you plan to make the cowl with a button closure, knit an inch of garter stitch (Knit every stitch of every row) and half an inch of stockinette. If you plan to do grafting or fake grafting, knit all stockinette. For your stockinette rows, knit like this:
    R1: Knit all
    R2: Knit 2, pm (sm in all subsequent repeats), Purl 56, pm (sm), Knit 2
    Repeat R1 and R2 for 1.5 inches. End your stitches on a purl row.
  3. For the next RS row, knit only the first 20 stitches. Put the next 20 stitches on a stitch holder and the final 20 stitches on another stitch holder (or scrap/waste yarn).
  4. Knit back and forth across the first 20 stitches only. Knit the following pattern rows:
    R1: Knit all
    R2: K2, sm, P16, sm, K2.
    Continue knitting until your first strip is approximately 18 inches long, measured from the cast-on edge to the live stitches on your needles. End on a purl row and put these stitches on a stitch holder or scrap yarn and cut your yarn, leaving a 4-inch tail.
  5. Take the center stitches off the stitch holder and put them on your needles. Knit back and forth on these stitches as you did in step four. Repeat this with the third set of stitches as well so that you have three strips of stockinette stitches, all on holders. Do not cut the yarn on the last strip.
  6. If your work has curled up, block the strips individually using steam or water. If not, keep going.
  7. Braid the three sections as you would braid hair. When you finish braiding, thread one knitting needle through all three sets of stitches in order from left to right with the RS facing you.
  8. Knit across all three sets of stitches, mirroring what you did with the setup rows. If you’re using grafting or fake grafting, knit stockinette (repeating R1 and R2) for 1.5 more inches.
  9. If you’re using the buttonhole method, you need to make the holes. So knit your stockinette, then switch to garter stitch and knit for two rows. On the third row make YO or Bind-off/ Cast-on button holes in the garter stitching. Keep garter stitching until your last section measures 1.5 inches total.
  10. Bind off for button holes and fake grafting. Stitch fake grafting together. For Kitchener, follow those instructions to seam the short ends together.
I should say that I have knit this only once myself, and it was a work in progress. For mine, I knit only a one-stitch garter stitch border and it curled a LOT, so the back was actually much wider than the braided front. If yours does this, do what I did and curl the back in on itself and sew a few stitches to even it out. If yours doesn't, then that's a good thing.
To make this cowl your own, try knitting the whole thing in garter, seed, or moss stitch. Put a cable down the center of each section or add a lace pattern. Make each strip longer for a more looped infinity scarf. There are a million ways to change the basic formula to make it suit your needs.

As with all of my patterns, feel free to knit this cowl for any purpose, including selling the finished items. Please feel free to link to this pattern online, but please do not copy the pattern itself and publish it elsewhere or sell the pattern as your own. Thank you!


  1. Thank you so much for the free pattern! I can't wait to make my own. :)

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