This is a little tale about a couple of dog walkers who are also knitters and really really love knitting and wearing cowls…
The thing is with cowls is that when you’re dogwalking and you bend down to clip the dogs leads on etc a cowl won’t flap about or get in the way like scarves do. I’ve long been a fan. Way before they were on-trend ;)
ECY yarn-enabler Debbie is the same. And she came to work one day with this gorgeous project - a cowl made using grey 4ply (Tempo 4ply) held double with pink fluffy baby alpaca (Lowther Lace). “Ooooooooh” I said (we say that a lot at ECY Shedquarters). I was very taken with it. Next thing I knew she’d finished it and was wearing it. It had a lovely fluffy section at the top where you knit with just the laceweight fluff and drop the 4ply. It was the perfect shape and size. Obviously this was going to be the next thing on my needles too!
The pattern is Nimbus Cowl by Purl Soho and it is free HERE.
I started by making one in what I thought was a rather juxtapositional yarn combination: Brimham High Twist held double with the aforementioned Lowther Lace. High twist merino/nylon with fluffy baby alpaca/silk? Yeah why not. It’s part of my job to try and test out these things after all.
I loved Debbie’s contrasting colour combination and the way it’s created a gorgeous heathered effect but the two colours I pulled out of my stash just gravitated towards each other, so I ended up with a no-contrast colour combination of Meadow Grasses (that’s the 4ply) and Green Tea (that’s the fluff). They are *perfect* together. The fabric they have created is thick and warm but soft and cosy too, of course. To be honest it’s a slower knit than it looks as there’s actually quite a lot of fabric there, but that means you get a nice cosy neck!
I loved it so much that basically as soon as I finished it I started another one. This next one was in Titus 4ply in Cloudless Sky (so… blue) and I wanted to use Eldwick Lace (fluffy kid mohair/silk) from stash but only had very light blue that would match; everything else was creamy or completely wrong. So I decided to use a few leftovers and create a sort of fade with the mohair. It’s really subtle - more so than I expected. And I also added a couple of random stripes - one in sparkly black and one in cream. It took me a while to decide on the mohair for the top section but I eventually decided to go for a colour pop inspired by nature, so I chose the lovely lime green/chartreuse Calamondin colourway. The colours together remind me of fresh spring buds against blue sky. This cowl is somehow even heavier than the first one, but it’s great for winter as the fabric is so warm and cosy, and due to the shaping it drapes beautifully covering the top of my shoulders which I find useful.
Of course I could have carried on making more 4ply + fluff cowls and it was very tempting but I knew I needed to move on; however I had just one more thing up my sleeve before I did. We’d just released this new laceweight yarn Bowland Lace (100% superwash Bluefaced Leicester) and I’d been wondering what the fabric would be like if I combined that with Eldwick Lace to make a lighter cowl. So that’s what I did. I used the same size needles (3.5mm) so got the same gauge but a more open fabric. I used colourway Bark alongside Eldwick Lace in colourway Compost, then to really switch things up for the top section I dropped the fluff and did it in just Bowland Lace. It was actually spring by the time I made this one and just the right time of year for it; so I immediately started using it and ended up wearing it pretty much daily until it got warmer! The lightness and softness of the fabric is just incredible - it doesn’t really compare to anything else I have. I have since ended up making a whole cardigan with these yarns held double because I love the fabric so much. The colour is a lot more understated so I appreciate that it’s not eye-catching, but it’s very ECY and I thought it was really classy. I often don’t want my knitwear to be popping in colour as I tend to wear bright patterned leggings (yes I am a child).
Anyway. When I posted about these cowls on social media they got a huge response from people who were inspired and wanted the yarn, so I put together a whole load of Skein Pairs - these are skeins of 4ply and fluff that I think go well together. They’re great for a wide range of project of course, not just this one. There won't always be loads in stock by the way; so it's worth checking back on that page or giving us a nudge about it if it's looking a bit empty.
Here are a few examples: these are Carlisle Fingering with Eldwick Lace. 😍
I hope this has inspired you!