This cowl idea stemmed from me wanting to make something squishy for around my neck using three strands of yarn together, but also not wanting to leave much (if anything) left over. I pored over stitch textures and options for ages as I knew I wanted something fairly simple which would allow the marled colours to shine, but also which wouldn’t be too boring to knit. There are already loads of (lovely) patterns in traditional fisherman’s rib so this is a different take on that. The full-sized cowl is designed to loop three times snug around the neck if you’ve got really cold weather, but it’s also really nice to wear in two loose loops. The pattern is very easily adjustable to make a two-loop or one-loop version - you would just need to make it either two thirds of the given length, or one third of the given length.

Swainby Cowl - original sample 


Alternative yarn suggestions:

All samples have been made using 5.5mm needles. They all work at the same gauge but the fabric is more/less dense depending on the yarns used.


Marigold cowl

Brimham DK (85% superwash extrafine merino / 15% nylon; 225m / 245yds per 100g skein)

Eldwick Lace (72% superkid mohair / 28% mulberry silk; 420m / 459yds per 50g skein)

Colourways shown: 1 x 100g skein of Brimham DK in Marigold; 1 x 50g skein of Eldwick Lace in Marigold

Swainby Cowl - Marigold sample


Variegated snowy cowl

Pendle Aran (100%superwash extrafine merino; 166m / 180yds per 100g skein)

Eldwick Lace (72% superkid mohair / 28% mulberry silk; 420m / 459yds per 50g skein)

Colourways shown: 1 x 100g skein of Pendle Aran in Snowy Owl; 1 x 50g skein of Eldwick Lace in Snow Leopard

Swainby Cowl - variegated sample


Blue cowl

Askham 4ply (70% baby alpaca / 30% silk; 400m / 436yds per 100g skein)

Lowther Lace (70% baby alpaca / 30% silk; 300m / 328yds per 50g skein)

Colourways shown: 1 x 100g skein each of Askham 4ply in Driftwood and Millpond; 1 x 50g skein of Lowther Lace in Larkspur

Swainby Cowl - blue sample



Coniston swatch

Coniston Fingering (56% superwash extrafine merino / 44% superkid mohair;
360m / 394yds per 100g skein)

Colourways shown: 3 strands of Thunder

Swainby swatch - purple  


Milburn swatch

Milburn 4ply (85% superwash Bluefaced Leicester / 15% silk;
200m / 218yds per 50g ball)

Colourways shown: Natural, Rain, and Catmint

Swainby swatch - Milburn


Laceweight swatch

Eldwick Lace (72% superkid mohair / 28% mulberry silk; 420m / 459yds per 50g skein)

Colourways shown: Natural, Steel, and Campanula. This creates a much more open fabric, but is very snuggly

Swainby swatch - laceweight



Tester samples

As always our testers did a fantastic job and we are really grateful for their time. They have tried many different yarn and colour combinations and all were fantastic.


Xanthe used Tempo 4ply in Wild Raspberry, Coal and Black Magic Rose.

Xanthe's Swainby Cowl


Madeline couldn't decide which third skein to us and so decided to use blocks of each. The yarns were a highly variegated colourful skein, a fluffy purple laceweight yarn and solid colour 4plys in grey and burgundy. You can see the differences on the two sides of the cowl.

Madeline's Swainby Cowl


Gaelle used Coniston Fingering in Mountain Hare, Coniston Fingering in Sand and Titus Fingering in Rust. She used 5.5mm needles but thinks it would have been more squishy on 6mm needles.

Gaelle's Swainby Cowl


Kathleen used Titus 4ply in Linen, Hayton 4ply in Hyssop and some Kid Seta. It looks so fabulous and cosy.

Kathleen's Swainby Cowl


Jo used two strands of Coniston Fingering in Thunder and one of Titus 4ply in Loganberry. Her gorgeous pup Ted definitely approves!

Jo's Swainby Cowl


Elizabeth D used Coniston Fingering in Thicket, Ash and Charcoal. There were two skeins of Thicket, one was a bit lighter overall and by adding sections of this in place of the darker skein it created a very subtle gradient in places.

Elizabeth's Swainby Cowl


Lisa used two 100g skeins of 4ply and one 50g skein of Lowther Lace in Driftwood

Lisa's Swianby Cowl collage


Kareen used three skeins from stash, one dark blue skein, one light skein with darker speckles and one highly variegated multicoloured skein. She went for a two loop cowl which was 138cm long.

Kareen's Swainby Cowl


Elizabeth S used Coniston Fingering in Tarn, Bedale 4ply in Larkspur and Keld Fingering in Beach Glass for her gorgeous cowl.

Elizabeth's Swainby Cowl


Georgina used a pink 4ply baby alpaca/silk/cashmere mix, a variegated red, pink and grey merino 4ply and a multicoloured mixed one is a high twist 4ply merino/silk mix.

Georgina's Swainby Cowl


If you have a Swainby Cowl that you would like to share with us do send us an email with the details and an image to and we will include it.


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